Communism in the Soviet Union and Why It Failed

Topics: Soviet Union, Communism, Cold War Pages: 5 (1573 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Communism in the Soviet Union and Why it Failed

Communism is defined as "a system of political and economic organization in which property is owned by the community and all citizens share in the enjoyment of the common wealth, more or less according to their need." In 1917 the rise of power in the Marxist-inspired Bolsheviks in Russia along with the consolidation of power by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the word communism came to mean a totalitarian system controlled by a single political party. This came to justify that the means of production is controlled and the wealth is distributed with the goal of producing a classless or possibly a stateless society. The ideological meaning of communism arose in 1848 with the publication of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They believed that communism is inevitable and is an outcome of the historical process. They believed that the "struggle between an exploiting class, the capatalists at present age, and an exploited class, the workers, would enter a crucial stage in the period of capitalism where industrialization occurs and that the effects of industrialization is to heighten and intensify the internal contradictions in capitalism." To put it bluntly they believed that the ownership of industry would be in fewer and fewer hands where the workers would plunge into a state of ever-increasing misery. These impoverished workers grow in numbers and organize themselves into a political party which would lead a revolution in which they dispose of the capitalists. The proletariat would establish a society governed by a " dictatorship of the proletariat" based on communal ownership of the wealth. According to Marx this phase of human society is referred to as socialism. Communism is the final transcendence of this revolution in which there is a break up and elimination of the state and no class division. That is the primary reason that it was called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. What was the problem with this system of government, if this is a workers paradise what happened ? What did the Soviet Union do wrong to cause a breakdown of their ideal system ? In this paper I will explore the rise of the Soviet power and causes of the 1991 breakup.

The person who started the whole transition into a communist empire was Vladimir Lenin. He felt that the working class was not capable of starting this revolution on their own and needed a professional group of revolutionaries to guide it. This led to Lenin and Bolsheviks coming into power in 1917. The Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist party and under the leadership of Lenin took control of government and outlawed all of the other political parties. In 1918 they became the ruling party of Russia and formed a dictatorship so they could ensure the Soviet transition from capitalism to socialism. The communist party arose in opposition to both capitalism and socialists of the Second International who had supported their capitalist governments during World War I. The name communists was specifically taken to distinguish Lenin's followers in Russia and abroad from such Socialists. Following their victory in the Russian Civil War in 1918, the Soviet Communists followed a cautious policy of limited capatalism during the New Economic Program until Lenin's death in 1924. Lenin's successor, Joseph Stalin, forcibly accomplished the transition from capitalism to socialism. During his years in power the party grew from about 470,000 to millions. He nationalized the Soviet industries and agriculture. A rapid industrialization program was pushed on the people even though they lacked materials. Police terror was also used to suppress dissent and opposition. This became known as Stalinism.

Communist rule was confined to the Soviet Union until the end of World War II. The Soviet Red Army liberated several countries in eastern Europe from the Nazi...
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