To understand the logic of the USSR’s powerful influence on many countries in the world, it is important to clarify its ideology. The USSR employed a strict system of ideological measures to take large territories under its control. The idea of communism lied on the basis of the organization of any sphere of life in the Soviet Union. The application of communist concepts in the USSR took its roots in the ideas established by Marx and added to by Lenin, which gained the title of Marxist-Leninist doctrine.1
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Ideology as a system of people’s opinions within a particular territory and time resembles the primary interests of these people embodied in social and political structures. The whole arrangement of international actions taken by the Soviet Union during its history complies with the theory of obsession with encirclement or imminent attack. Utilizing militarization of the national manufactory, propaganda, and terror, the Soviet Union leaders, managed to establish complete obedience to the Communist Party that was the powerful core institution in the country.
Any ideology, when adopted massively, is capable of forcing development using available resources. However, the communist ideology was spread over Europe aggressively and oppressively. After World War II was over, Stalin and his successors continued expanding communist ideas over the potentially dependent countries trying to institute their control over the lands, resources, and people. Among the numerous countries that fell under the oppressive influence of the USSR were Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and others. Thus, the Soviet Union caused wars using its communistic ideology as an economic, propaganda, and political tool to invade weaker countries, establishing its monopolistic control over them.
The USSR Communist Ideology, Its Expansion and Invasion in Other Countries
During the history of the Soviet Union, its leaders employed a system of strategic actions aimed at building the super-country with an extraordinary national doctrine. According to the cognitive psychology theory of obsession with encirclement, the communists in USSR took primarily preventive military steps to eliminate any opportunities for the possible enemies to intrude in the country. The national ideology addressed complete social equality and common public property as opposed to the private property that was aimed to be eliminated.2 The communist idea initiated at the beginning of the Soviet Union formation and remained prominent throughout the history of the country.
The Soviet Union Communism as an Ideology
Since the early 1900s when the Revolution eliminated the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union was starting to form, the communist ideas were incepted as the leading ones. Communism as a pure concept “only deserves its name … if it advances toward community and communication, not toward hierarchy.”3 The Marxist-Leninist ideology was the initial form of communism in the USSR that existed in the 1920s. Its main idea underlines the superior power concentrated in the arms of the Communist Party, the leaders of which rule the country and the People’s Republics as its constituents and lead it to the communistic future.4
The common goal of every citizen of the Soviet Union was reaching class equality, establishing the power of proletarians with complete restriction of any capitalistic relations.5 Marxist ideas initially employed in the Soviet Union targeted the unification “of the idea of humanism and collective production.”6 However, the reality of the world did not allow the humanistic idea to be implemented with the help of the same humanistic techniques.
Winston Churchill called such an approach hiding behind the “iron curtain” that was employed in both the USSR and such countries like Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and others.7 To understand the process of the Soviet invasion of these countries, it is essential to analyze the actions implemented by the USSR leaders toward each country.
The Soviet Invasion in Poland and Hungary
Upon the end of the 1940s, the USSR remained a leading state capable of influencing the political development far above its borders. The results of World War II “opened up an array of policy options for the Soviets”8 Stalin and his successors employed a policy of expansion of communist ideology which was called the “Stalinization of Eastern Europe.”9 However, Stalin had no intention to “annex the occupied states of Eastern Europe” because their fusion could lead to conflicts between Poland and East Germany, Hungary, and Romania.10 Nevertheless, the crisis in Poland and Hungary in 1956 caused a wave of influential actions from the Soviet Union’s side.
The financial situation among the average Polish citizens rapidly worsened, and the economic development indicators declined. The majority of peasants rebelled against the ruling system and demanded change. In response to the demands of the Polish people, the concept of building socialism under Polish conditions was formulated. It revised the agrarian policy, the normalization of relations with the Catholic Church, the development of workers’ self-government, and the establishment of more equal relations with the USSR.11 Forced collectivization was stopped, and individual peasant farms dominated the agrarian sector. Emphasis was placed on the development of simple forms of cooperation.
In comparison to the Polish crisis, the Hungarian question was resolved less quietly. In 1956, Hungary also faced difficulties, and people demanded a change of the ruling powers. The students’ protest with the requirements for the revision of the social-political system in the country emerged into a mass rebellion. In response to the process, the Soviet military units were introduced to the Hungarian territory which took the strategically important institutions under their control.
Such actions emphasized anti-Soviet movements and only worsened the situation. Thus, the communist party was restored, and the overall events were called anti-Soviet. Khrushchev remarked that the events in Poland and Hungary were outrageous and could not possibly lead to the development of the countries because the only possible path for them is the road of socialism.12 The oppression and terror in Hungary, as well as the policy of propaganda, enabled the Soviet Union to retain its power in these countries and spread the communist ideology there.
The Soviet Invasion in Czechoslovakia
The 1960s in Czechoslovakia were marked by the split in the leading party authorities. Those remaining true to Stalin’s ideas wanted to proceed with the previously utilized politics. However, there emerged a bloc that needed the reformation of the existing ideological system. Such a collision of interests led to the students’ demonstrations in 1964 and 1967.13 A series of events enabled some liberal reforms of the regime and gained the title of “the Prague Spring.”14 The leaders of the Soviet Union needed to react to such a dangerous situation and implemented an operation aimed at the elimination of the massive moods. The military forces entered Prague in 1968, took over the radio stations with an aim to spread the communist propaganda and ensure people of the need for the Urgent Soviet intrusion.
The Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan
USSR went far to establish its power over the Western world and empowering itself invading satellite countries. According to Warsaw agreements, the Soviet Union was empowered to preserve a zone around its borders to ensure military readiness in case of war. Such an approach was utilized due to the consequences of World War II and led to some tragic outcomes for the bordering countries. In 1979 it invaded Afghanistan and stood against the armed opposition of the Republic citizens. The power of propaganda enabled the social-political system of the USSR ruled by Brezhnev to take the territory under control with an ultimate aim to make it a dependent land.15
However, unlike with other Eastern European countries where the military forces entered the territories and managed to stabilize the situation within a relatively short period, here it emerged in war. As a result, the withdrawal of troops in 1986 still imposed difficult Soviet-Afghanistan relations.
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The policy of intrusion and expansion of the communist ideas in the countries of Europe was dictated by the need of the Soviet Union to establish its prestigious image on the international arena, proclaim the power of communism as a single ideal political system. The logic of such actions becomes clear when applied with the theory of obsession with an imminent attack that led the country’s governors. All the foreign and domestic interventions implemented by the USSR were aimed at the building of the utopic empire where humanism and collective production would emerge as a single unit. It was vitally important to preserve the ideology and protect it from alien intrusion. Consequently, the empire did not manage to deliver its central message to others without the utilization of oppressive measures.
The Soviet Union used the policy of terror and oppression to establish communist ideas on its territory and the lands of other countries of Europe. The propaganda that covered the communist expansion during World War II and after it was the most reliable tool, which proved its influence together with military oppression. It appeared within the framework of total isolation from outer factors of influence, which, according to the Soviet ideology, would only damage the efforts put into the building of communism. Thus, hiding behind the “iron curtain,” trying to preserve the power of its influence in Europe to be able to withstand the competition with the West forced The USSR to expand its communist ideology using invasion.
Applebaum, Ann. Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.
Jones, Robert A. The Soviet Concept of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine. New York: Springer, 2016.
Kemp, Walter A. Nationalism and Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: A Basic Contradiction? New York: Springer, 1999.
Kenez, Peter. A History of the Soviet Union: From the Beginning to Its Legacy. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Humanism and Terror: The Communist Problem. Translated by John O’Neill. New York: Routledge, 2017.
Naimark, Norman M., and Leonid Gibianskii. The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949. Boulder: Westview Press, 1997.
Pipes, Richard. The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1997.
- Robert A. Jones, The Soviet Concept of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine (New York: Springer, 2016), 78.
- Peter Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union: From the Beginning to Its Legacy, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 121.
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humanism and Terror: The Communist Problem, translated by John O’Neill (New York: Routledge, 2017), 146.
- Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923 (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1997), 255.
- Ibid., 151.
- Ibid., 152.
- Norman M. Naimark and Leonid Gibianskii, The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997), 1.
- Robert A. Jones, The Soviet Concept of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine (New York: Springer, 2016), 45.
- Ann Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012), 20.
- Robert A. Jones, The Soviet Concept of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine (New York: Springer, 2016), 52.
- Walter A. Kemp, Nationalism and Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: A Basic Contradiction? (New York: Springer, 1999), 144.
- Ibid., 149
- Ibid., 157.
- Ibid., 40.
- Robert A. Jones, The Soviet Concept of ‘Limited Sovereignty’ from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Brezhnev Doctrine (New York: Springer, 2016), 183.