Essay, Research Paper: Communism


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Communism is a concept or system of society in which the community owns the
major resources and means of production rather than by individuals. (Beers 670)
Which means if that theory was true, everything should be shared between people.
That also suggests that society wouldn’t need a government because this
society would be without rulers. However, communism also involves the abolition
of private property by a revolutionary movement. In the early 19th century the
idea of a communist society was a response of the poor and dislocated to the
beginning of modern capitalism. (Carr 28) At that time communism was the basis
for a number of Utopian settlements. Most Communistic experiments, however,
failed eventually. Most of these small private experiments involved voluntary
cooperation, with everyone participating in the governing process. Later the
term communism was reserved for the philosophy advanced by Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels in their Communist Manifesto and movement they helped create in
Central Europe. Since 1917 the term has denoted those who regard the Russian
Revolution as a model that all Marxists should follow. (Beers 670-71) Beginning
with the Russian Revolution the center of gravity of global communism has moved
away from Central and Western Europe from the late 1940s through the 1980s,
communist movements were often connected with Third World strivings for national
independence and social change. (Beers 729) Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in
the city of Trier in Prussia now Germany. He was one of seven children of Jewish
Parents. Marx attended high school in his hometown in (1830-1835). During high
school years he was always politically rebellious and often was drunk and
disorderly causing him to spend a lot of time in jail. After high school he went
to university in Berlin. In October of 1842, Marx became an editor of the paper
Rheinische Zeitung and as the editor wrote editorials on socioeconomic issues
such as poverty. However, the Prussian government suspended it because of
“pressures from the government of Russia.” So, Marx went to Paris to study
“French Communism.” In June of 1843 he was married to Jenny Von Westphalen.
Paris was also the place were Marx and Engels joined forces at the end of August
in 1844. This time they had more in common. Engels had rejected the Young
Hegelians and other “radical bourgeois” acquaintances. And Marx had moved
rapidly into communism. They had reached a common point. Marx had introduced
Engels to the editors of a new radical journal in Paris called Vorwarts which
after a vague beginning had become an organ of revolutionary and communist
propaganda. But later on, a Prussian government in 1845 closed down the Vorwarts.
Forcing Marx along with a small group of others, among them the Russian radical
Mikhail Bakunin to move in Brussels, the capital neighboring Belgium. The rest
was history. (Rice 1-74) In their writings Marx and Engels tried to analyze
society which they described as capitalistic. They pointed out the differences
between ideals and reality in modern society. Rights granted to all had not done
away with injustices, constitutional self government had not abolished
mismanagement and corruption, science provided mastery over nature but nor over
fluctuations of the business cycle and the efficiency of modern production
methods had produced slums in midst of abundance. (Beers 495-96.) They described
all human history as the attempt of men and women to develop and apply their
potential for creativity for the purpose of controlling the forces of nature so
as to improve the human condition. In this ongoing effort to develop its
productive forces, humanity has been remarkably successful; history has been a
march of progress. Yet in developing productivity, various social institutions
have been created that have introduced exploitation, domination and other evils
humanity pays for progress is an unjust society. Every social system of the
past, Marx argued had been a device by which the rich and powerful few could
live by the hard work and misery of the powerless many. Engels and Marx believed
that the capitalist system too was flawed and therefore bound to destroy itself.
They tried to show that the more productive the system became, the more
difficult it would be to make it function. The more goods it produced, the less
use it would have for these goods, the more people it trained, and the less it
could utilize their talents. (Rice 55-60) Capitalism in short would eventually
choke on its own wealth. The collapse of the capitalist economy, it was thought,
would turn in a political revolution in which the masses of the poor would rebel
against their leaders. The proletarian revolution would do away with private
ownership of the means of production. But after a brief period of proletarian
dictatorship the economy would produce not what was profitable but what the
people needed. Abundance would reign and inequalities and coercive government
would disappear. (Rice 57-60) All this Marx and Engels expected would happen in
most highly industrialized nations of Western Europe, the only part of the world
where conditions were ripe for these developments. The basis fallacy of Marxist
economics is that they invariably stress need, or demand and depress output
productivity and supply. (Riskal) From its beginning Communist rule in the
Soviet Union faced a variety of problems. In the early years the government’s
very existence was challenged repeatedly by its enemies within the country. When
the Communist party emerged victorious it was faced with the need to rebuild the
nation’s ruined economy and to train the Russian people for life in the 20th
century. Later, all efforts were concentrated on the task of transforming a
backward country into a leading industrial nation and a first rate military
power. (Beers 717, 723-25) The task was ambitious, the obstacles were formidable
and there was no time to waste particularly after the disastrous interruption of
World War II. (Beers 717) The Soviet leadership therefore was ruthless in
marshaling all available human and material resources for the job of
modernization. The resulting system of total control has been labeled
totalitarianism, but others have called it Stalinism, after Joseph Stalin the
leader who shaped and controlled the government of the USSR for more than a
quarter of a century after Lenin’s death. (Riskal) Stalinism of course in no
way resembled the Communist Utopia that Marx and Engels had envisioned. Three
decades after Stalin’s death USSR was still ruled by command it was a society
administered in authorial fashion by a managerial bureaucracy which in many ways
was no less conservative no closer to the people that huge bureaucracy tend to
be everywhere. The country’s cultural and intellectual life remained
substantially under the control of the ruling party. Party ideology meanwhile
stressed that socialism had been attained and communism was near. (Riskal) The
relationship of this first Communist State with the rest of the world was
consistently troubled. To the West, a Communist government always appeared as a
threat and from very beginning there were attempts to destroy it by force of
arms, attempts that may have reinforced the efforts of the Communist government
to save itself by promoting revolution everywhere. Yet in its isolated and
endangered position, the Communist regime also was needed to establish workable
relations or alliances with other countries. Between 1945 and 1975 the number of
countries under Communist rule increased greatly, partly because revolutionary
Communist movements gained strength in various parts of the Third World. (Beers
781, 805) In this manner the former isolation of the Soviet Union has been
lifted, but the hostility between the Communist and the non-Communist world has
to some extent, been complicated by deep antipathy within world communism. Rapid
political changes in Easter Europe, the USSR and elsewhere between 1989 and 1991
dramatically reduced the number of Communist regimes.
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