A few years after cessation of the 1st world war, democracy was viewed as the best way of governing countries in Europe. During this time, tyrannical governments in “Russia, Germany and Austria” were brought down and substituted with republics (Shlapentokh 70). As such, all the 7 states formed in Europe were republics in nature and democracy seemed to take its toll.
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However, a drastic turn of events occurred and many states which had embraced democracy fell under dictatorship. Only England and France retained democratic type of government (Paul 131). Italy and Germany were thereafter seen as Fascist countries while Russia (Soviet Union) was viewed as a Communist nation.
The official name of Soviet Union was “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)” (Shlapentokh 70). Soviet Union extended from “the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific Ocean”. The first political party to reign in Russia was Bolshevik party which was led by Vladimir Lenin. Soon after seizing power, the party attuned its strategy in order to agree with citizens’ needs and remain in supremacy. On that note, it changed its name to “Russian Communist Party of the Bolsheviks” during the third month of the year 1918.
In addition, the party leader approved a number of rulings so as to gratify the pressing needs of Russian citizens. This involved donating pieces of land to the poor, allowing employees to take control of industries and permitting people to work for a maximum of eight hours per day (Paul 138). Further, Lenin disclaimed covert agreement and foreign debts although he sought peace with Germany. All these efforts got massive backing from the citizens as their wishes were being realized.
Later on, Vladimir Lenin acknowledged citizens will to hold an election for Constituent assembly. People voted in favor of Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks while Lenin’s party secured a quarter of all the votes cast (Curtis 197). Following the humiliating defeat, Lenin used the Red Guard to forcibly disband the Assembly thereby gaining temporally control over the situation although some resistance still persisted.
There was more trouble as Lenin signed “Brest-Litovsk peace treaty” with Germany in search of peace where Russia lost big chunks of land and iron deposits (Shlapentokh 79). This made Lenin’s opponents to feel disgruntled and civil war erupted and lasted until 1922. This war was mainly between the white and red Russians although foreign governments, backed by their own reasons, interfered with it in support of white Russians.
The fight was more serious in five locations which included “Caucasus and Southern Russia, in the Ukraine, in the Baltic, in Northern Russia (Murmansk and Archangel) and in Siberia” (Shlapentokh 85). Lenin won the battle due to factors like support from workers, better coordination by his soldiers, and use of psychological torture as well as reorganization of the economy among other reasons.
This was followed by serious famine as farmers lost hope in agriculture. In addition, factory workers lost commitment due to lack of wages and this led to reduced output. Further, trade declined due to disintegration of communication and transport systems.
During this time, “Communist Party of Soviet Union” was the only legalized organization and it proposed the introduction of “local and regional” democratic administrations (Meissner 123). Precisely, party organs at those levels of governance were to be in control in such areas.
Supreme Soviet was the uppermost legislative organ while the senior most executive organ was the ‘Politburo’. The government controlled people through underground policing. The law enforcers in this case would locate political rebels and eject them from the party or charge them for ‘counter-revolutionary’ involvements.
Lenin succumbed to death in 1924 and Joseph Stalin acquired control which he exercised until 1953 when he died. Joseph Stalin acted as a supreme leader between 1929 and 1953. In his era, 3.7million citizens were accused and jailed due to perceived felonies of counter revolution (Meissner 110). This included 0.6 million people who received life jail terms, 0.8 million individuals who were jailed to extradition and 2.4million citizens who were jailed to detention centers and work facilities.
During Stalin’s era, the 2nd world war emerged and the Soviet Union army was found unprepared. To maintain control in the Eastern parts of Europe, the leader organized the “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Germany on August, 1939”.
A covert treaty handed “Eastern Poland, Finland, and Estonia” to Soviet Union while “Lithuania and Western Poland” were handed to Germany (Paul 150). In September, both the Soviet Union and Germany raided Poland. In the same month, Finland was attacked by the Soviet Union and this led to Emergence of Winter war.
In 1936, the president of Germany, Hitler, condemned “Jewish Communism in My Struggle” and expressed his intention to attack Soviet Union (Curtis 195). This prompted Stalin to seek support from Western democracies. He enticed those nations by giving the constitution to the Russian citizens as a sign of democracy.
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Hitler raided Russia in 1941and Stalin’s army put up a brave fight although the Nazi’s were highly advancing. Majority of Russian soldier were captured as war prisoners. Soon, the German army had surrounded Moscow but their surge was effectively checked by “winter and a Soviet counter-offensive” (Shlapentokh 91). Since then, Russian military rescued it land and even captured Berlin in 1945.
Leaders who came after Stalin acted more like socialists than dictators. In Leonid’s era, USSR assault to support Afghanistan was commenced in December of the year 1979. In 1985, the president, Mikhail Gorbachev, tried to resurrect the dying communist regime through minimizing rivalry with US and lowering the level of political hounding.
However, communist principle of centralized ritual management of the financial system was not abandoned. Mikhail’s main guiding principles “were Glasnost -openness, and Perestroika –restructuring” (Meissner 117). However, these policies were ineffective and the fall of USSR was witnessed in 1991. The Russian citizens favored capitalism instead communism.
Poor decisions involving various policies led to disintegration of USSR. These involved poor management of economy, labor force and foreign interactions among others. To date, the relationship between Russia and some western countries is strained. However, Moscow is still trying to recapture its lost glory.
Curtis, M. Totalitarianism. New Jersey: Transaction, Inc., 1987. Print.
Meissner, B. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union: party leadership, organization, and ideology. United States: University of Virginia, 2008. Print.
Paul, Ellen, F. Totalitarianism at the crossroads. United States: Social Philosophy and Policy Center and by Transaction Publisher, 1989. Print.
Shlapentokh, V. A normal totalitarian society: how the Soviet Union functioned and how it collapsed. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2001. Print.