Communism is a political ideology that had the most significant effects in comparison to other ideologies such as capitalism in the 20th century. The term communism was coined in Paris in the 1840's and referred to a form of social organization and a set of interconnected but distinct phenomena designed to realize an ideal. As a form of social organization, communism would eradicate private ownership of property with the aim of creating an orderly and just society (Pipes, 2003). This essay seeks to explore the emergence and decline of communism with the aim of seeing whether the ideology is a viable idea that can be put into practice again.
The industrial, British and French revolutions are credited as the origin of the idea of communism. The revolutions showed that the poor could successfully threaten the place of the rich and powerful in the society. Karl Marx, a German philosopher, saw the huge gap that existed between the rich and the poor and believed that this could be rectified through the idea of communism. The ideals of communism were "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs (Pipes, 2003)." To attain this objective, a communist country would have no social classes and no individual ownership of property. The idea was first rejected with those against arguing that the economy will not grow under such a system since people will not put in much effort. However, in later years countries in Europe and Asia embraced the idea with Russia and China the most notable countries.
Before the formation of the Soviet Union, there were cases of social unrest, famine and failed leadership. The struggles culminated in the Russian revolution of 1917 under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922. Lenin replaced the individual capitalist governments with a communist government. At the end of World War II, many countries were controlled by the Soviet government who imposed communism. The then US president Winston Churchill coined the term the iron curtain to refer to countries that had shunned capitalism and adopted the Soviet Union communism. Lenin used the works of Marx to come up with the Marxism-Leninism philosophy.
Although the vision of communism had been adequately defined by Karl Marx the first leaders to adopt communism starting for Vladimir deviated. The most vivid example is Soviet Union rule under the leadership of Josef Stalin, he deviated from the idea of having a classless society and created a society where those who were in government were above the rest. Communism came to be associated with leaders who ruled despotically and violently. The leaders in a way could not afford to relax their authority. All leaders starting with Vladimir who disguised themselves as representatives of put-upon workers ended up eliminating millions of them. A terror campaign in the 1930s under the rule of Stalin saw the death of many individuals in world history. From the period 1937-38, the communist government executed approximately 1000 people each day. The deaths surpassed the executions by the disposed of Czarist government which had executed 4000 people during its 85-year rule (Pipes, 2003). This was a deviation from the initial vision of a communist ideology aimed at creating a just society.
The intensified spread of communism leads to the cold war, in which the Soviet Union and the United States each with the help of its allies competed for political and military supremacy. One-third of the world's population was under the spell of communism in the early 1980s (Pipes, 2003). Communist regimes exhibited some characteristics that included, Marxism-Leninism philosophy, rejection of capitalism, one-party state, and the domination of economic activity by the government. The ruling communist party restricted religious activity, controlled the media, silenced political dissent. In a nutshell, communism became a symbol of dictatorship.
Towards the end of the 1980s, the people in these countries were tired of the ruled, and there was a growing desire for both personal and democratic rights. The continued oppression, hunger, censorship and in general a life full of hardship led to protests. In 1989 the symbol of communist, the Berlin wall was brought down. The Soviet Union and the eastern bloc finally broke marking the end of communism. Communism had burned itself out, demanding too much while offering too little (Pipes, 2003).
In sum, communism remains a bad idea that led to human suffering to as late as the 1990s. Today the ideology is only found in countries such as China, North Korea, and Cuba. Nevertheless, the ideology in these countries is in its deathbed. The reintroduction of communism in some countries such as Nicaragua failed miserably. It is therefore apparent that communism is an ideology based on a false that led to economic failures. For instance, the agricultural sector was the most hit regarding economic failure. The forceful confiscation of private property such as land affected the farming routines leading to man-made starvation of unimaginable dimension. The food problem saw a million people die in each and every country that practiced communism (Pipes, 2003). To revive communism thus will be madness concerning its costly effects.
Pipes, R. (2003). Communism: A history. New York: Modern Library.
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