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Communism refers to a socioeconomic system of governance that advocates for communal ownership property and means of production. It is augmented by socialist economic and political ideologies. On the one hand, in communist countries, social and economic classes are nonexistent because the state considers all the citizens as equals. On the other hand, the state controls everything. Karl Marx was responsible for the emergence of and spread of communism, especially in Europe.
His ideologies and socialist theories appealed to many people because they were against poverty and oppression. According to Marx, communism could be achieved through the advancement of socialism and related ideologies that encourage unity and sharing of resources among people (Evans & Jenkins, 2008). Communism emerged after the failure of capitalism. In communist societies, production and consumption are socialised to provide benefits for everyone.
Also, personal ownership of property is not allowed under this rule. According to Marx, the state is an instrument of dictatorship and anarchy (Evans & Jenkins, 2008). The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was one of the earliest communist societies to embrace the ideologies of communism.
Despite widespread criticism, the Soviet Union grew into a technological and industrial hub in Europe. The collapse of communism announced the emergence of an era of new governance and rapid economic as well as social changes around Europe.
History of communism in the USSR
Communism in the USSR began with the adoption of socialist ideologies developed by Karl Marx (Evans & Jenkins, 2008). In the 1840s, Marx began publishing his works that comprised numerous theories on socialism that sought to encourage communism as a way of fostering societal development. The theories were later used to develop a form of socialism known as Marxism. Marxism spread in the Soviet Union because it contained ideologies that were against poverty and oppression, which were rampant in the Soviet Union.
Georgi Plekhanov introduced communist ideologies in the USSR. After communist ideologies spread, a group referred to as the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was created to fight communism. However, the group split into two factions that had different ideologies and leaders. Julius Martov and Vladimir Lenin assumed control over the two groups. At that time, an autocratic leadership headed by the Tsar ruled the Russian empire.
Poverty was rampant among many people in the empire. In 1905, a revolution arose because of the oppressive rule of the Tsar. The revolution led to the creation of small groups of councils that comprised workers only. The councils were referred to as “soviets.” The groups exerted a lot of pressure on the Tsar’s government that resulted in the creation of democratic leadership that was responsible for the abolition of communism.
Communism versus capitalism
Communism is based on the ideology that every person in society is entitled to food and shelter, as well as protection from social evils, such as racism, discrimination, and poverty (Downing, 2007). According to communism, everyone in society should enjoy the benefits that emanate from communal labour.
The main goal of communism in the past years was to improve the lives of poor people as well as allow poor people to rise to the middle class through improvement of their financial positions in society. Equality is achieved through even distribution of wealth. The state owns everything to prevent a certain group of people from owning businesses and means of production.
On the other hand, in a capitalist system, individuals own property, social and economic classes exist, the government system is democratic, and free enterprise is encouraged. Under capitalism, individual progress is encouraged other than societal growth. Private establishments provide education and health services.
Also, wealth is unevenly distributed because of the system’s focus on individual progress (Evans & Jenkins, 2008). According to capitalism, competition among individuals spurs growth. Freedom to create personal wealth encourages individuals to exploit their potential to the maximum. In contrast, communism teaches that great achievements are realised when people work together.
The collapse of communism in the USSR
The collapse of communism in the USSR began in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall (Downing, 2007). The revolution that fuelled the collapse was peaceful and brought tremendous reforms in the Soviet Union. The collapse of communism ended a regime of the dictatorial rule that had been lasting for more than 40 years (Evans & Jenkins, 2008).
Despite a government ban, disbanded groups of civil unions created a civil society that advocated for the abolition of communism. After Mikhail Gorbachev assumed power in1985, several changes took place (Downing, 2007). He abandoned the policy of using military force to preserve communism and formed a government that was elected by the people.
On the other hand, the communist government in Poland started negotiations with civil society groups to avoid a revolution. The union assumed power and abdicated communist ideologies. These reforms inspired Germans to riot and advocated for the abolition of communism. The riots led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. After the Berlin Wall had fallen, other countries, including Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia, organised revolutions to pushing for reforms (Downing, 2007).
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The collapse of communism was characterised by peaceful riots and revolutions in various countries around Europe. Revolutions later spread to the Soviet Union. In 1991, Gorbachev handed over power to Boris Yeltsin, who was responsible for spearheading the dissolution of the Soviet Union (Downing, 2007).
Communism refers to a socioeconomic system of governance that encourages communal ownership of means of production and property. Under communism, the state owns everything because no individual is allowed to claim ownership to any enterprise or property.
It operates on the notion that every person in society is entitled to food and shelter and should be protected from social evils, such as racism, discrimination, and poverty. Communism emerged after the failure of capitalism. In communist societies, production and consumption are socialised to benefit everyone. Also, personal ownership of property is not allowed.
In contrast, a capitalist system is characterised by the existence of social and economic classes, individual ownership of property, and a democratic system of governance. Under capitalism, the progress of the individual is encouraged more than that of society. Many nations in the world operate under capitalism. Even though communism encourages equity in society, it discourages development. In the USSR, communism collapsed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The fall of the wall encouraged revolutions in other European countries. States in the Soviet Union also participated in similar revolutions that led to several changes in systems of governance. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991 after Gorbachev handed over power to Boris Yeltsin. The collapse of communism heralded a period of rapid economic, political, and social growth.
Downing, D. 2007, Communism, Heinemann, New York.
Evans, D. & Jenkins, J. 2008, Years of Russia, the USSR, and the Collapse of Soviet Communism, Hodder Education, New York.