Jordan Elissa Period 2
In theory, communism is a wonderful and innovative idea. All men are equal and taken care of by the government. No one man is wealthier or superior to another and there is no private property; everything is evenly distributed. Yes, this idea in theory is great but I do not think that Marx took the logistics into account. Like he was proposing in chapter one of The Communist Manifesto, communism was on the rise and would take hold in some governments; however, how communism played out in these countries was nowhere near what Marx was proposing.
“History of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” There has
not been a time since the world was created where all men were equal and living comfortably and lavishly. According to Karl Marx, without class struggle, there is no history. Marx believed that communism would bring class struggle to an end; however, communism has been presents in several countries and class struggle has remained prominent. The majority of Chapter I. Bourgeois and Proletarians highlights on the hierarchy of the Bourgeoisie, the factory and business owners, over the Proletariats, the working class. At the end of the chapter, he hints that the Proletariats outnumber the Bourgeoisie to such a high degree that it is inevitable for the Proletarians to take over. This coup would supposedly bring forth communism and end the class struggle.
The theory of communism will indeed end class struggle , but not this so-called communism that takes several countries captive today has only ended lives and created worse living conditions that ever before.
As we have all learned from our history classes, the communism in Russia and China does not resemble the true definition of communism. This supposed peaceful form of government has led to extreme levels of poverty, famine, and bloodshed…yes bloodshed. Remember the Cold War, Korean War, and the Cambodian Civil War? How exactly did this happen? What went so wrong?
The icy tendrils of communism began to sneak its way into Russia in 1861 when serfdom was abolished. For those who do not know, serfdom is where peasants are tied to a piece of farmland. These peasants were allowed to raise their families on the land, but had to obey the demands of their master. The government thought that they were being just and doing a good deed by abolishing serfdom; however, it resulted in millions of peasants without houses.  On their own trail of tears, the peasants fled to the cities and became employed in factories. The factor life was miserable and inhumane, for the workers were barely paid enough to survive and worked long, grueling hours. The peasants, the majority of Russia, were now vulnerable to any radical movement; anything that would get them out of that oppressive situation.  Lenin, impressed with Marx’s idea of Communism, based his political party, the Bolshevik Party, off of its principles.Lenin constantly disregarded the idea that the working class could achieve socialism without the guidance of leaders. He believed that socialism “would be achieved by a band of revolutionaries at the head of discounted but non-socialist working class.” Lenin purposefully disregarded Marx’s ideas. He was so power hungry that he refused to let communism run its natural course. The so-called guidance of leaders resulted in a tyrannical rule and a more distinct division between the classes. Lenin shares some responsibility in blackening the name of communism because the actual idea of communism is peaceful and beneficial to the members of society. When Stalin came into power, he took everything Lenin did to a whole other level. He established himself as the dictator of the Soviet Union. Marx intended communism to be a stateless ideal, which is where Stalin made his first mistake. He placed himself as the leader of the movement. How can Russia be stateless if the communist movement is led by a superior political party? According to Marx, there is supposed to be a leader in the beginning who sets up the communist government and ensures that communism is fully followed; however, the leader is eventually supposed to back down once society is working properly and following communist guidelines. In theory, someone has to coordinate things but how does the coordination lead to a divergence between ruling classes and people from the get go? Stalin disregarded and abused Marx’s ideas. He developed a “personality cult” where he enforced all artists to paint, draw, sculpt, only him.  Furthermore, under Stalin, the freedom of the Russians was swept out from under them. They could read and listen to what the government allowed. Those who disobeyed were sent to labor camps. Class struggle is still alive and well under Stalin’s rule because the people are not equal; there are superior and inferiors in Stalin’s twisted society. Moreover, communism was supposed to free the people from oppression; that was the whole point of communism! Instead of liberating people from their oppression, Stalin is oppressing them further by seizing their freedom. They are not living comfortably and equally as communism promises. No, this is not true communism. It is a tyrannical twisted version. Class struggle was not abolished but worsened, for the rules of real communism were not followed.
In 1921, the Communist Party of China was formed. The notorious Mao Zedong took control of the party in 1927.Twenty years later, he led a revolution, which resulted in the communist party gaining full control. Mao followed Stalin’s example of “development through heavy industry with surpluses extracted from peasants.”9Unfortunately, consumer goods were not a top priority. One of the main aspects of communism is private property and consumer goods. Mao was not interested in seizing private property and enforcing equal distribution of wealth. Furthermore, communism went awry in China because Mao dismissed Marx’s version of communism and did his own thing. Through industrialization, class struggle increased because factory workers increased in numbers and were working under the owners and government. This mirrors Chapter 1 of The Communist Manifesto , for the proletarians were working under the Bourgeoisie in the factories under oppressive conditions. Eventually, Mao broke away from Marxism ad Leninism and began following his own version of communism, Maoism. Mao attempted to modernize society through the Great Leap Forward. The purpose of The Great Leap Forward was to industrialize China. Things did not go as planned which resulted in many Chinese dying from starvation. Moreover, during a cultural revolution, Mao successfully overthrew his enemies at the expense of millions of people who lost their lives and were persecuted.
Communism in China did not result in the end of class struggle or a peaceful society, due to the heavy industrialization and utter disregard in traditional communist views. The industrialization led to a further divide of the people and resulted in oppressive conditions. As the years passed, Mao did not follow Marxism, but his own version of communism, Maoism. Obviously, there would not be the same results as promised by Marx if Mao followed his own guidelines.
Communism always seems to attract evil leaders. Pol-pot, Mao-Zedong, and Joseph Stalin were all awful human beings who are responsible for millions of deaths. It seems ridiculous that the people of Russia, Cambodia, and China would allow such monsters to rule over them. Communism started in these countries because the majority of the people were impoverished and living in unsuitable conditions. They were all victims of class struggle. The people were vulnerable and easy targets for these tyrannical monsters. This is similar to pre-World War II Germany. The country was overloaded with debt and inflation was unbelievably high. Citizens were pushing wheelbarrows of cash because the value of the dollar had decreased such a tremendous amount. Hitler promised the people an out from their suffering and money troubles. This got the peoples’ attention. They were promised a release from poverty. Eventually, he gained complete control of Germany and 11 million people died under his orders. Hitler would not have gained power if Germany was not vulnerable due to debt and inflation. The people would not have been desperate for change; they would not have listened to and followed any individual promising change. This is how leaders like Pol-pot, Mao Zedong, and Stalin have come into power. A nation has to be weak and desperate for change for communism to be an option. With communism, all people would be equal; there would be no more class struggle, for class struggle would end with new found equality. Unfortunately these promises were empty. Pol-pot, Mao-Zedong, and Joseph Stalin all put their own personal twists on communism. Under their rule, there was still a division of the people: the leader and his government and the rest of the people. Conditions of living worsened and oppression wreaked havoc upon the newly Communist nations.
Communism does not end class-struggle, as it’s supposed to, but keeps it going. This occurs because communism is a form of government; therefore, a group of people are in charge. In the case of communism, the people in charge are temporary and are supposed to insert communist ideals in society, and then back down when the society is functioning fluidly. In Russia and China, the leaders of government were power-hungry, so they did not step down. Stalin and Mao became tyrannical leaders and sent their countries into oppression far greater than when their nations were capitalist. It seems as though, it is not possible to put Marx’s version of communism in place successfully. Communism welcomes ruthless and tyrannical rulers who would not normally come into power. Mao and Stalin were given their opportunity to rule because their countries were, so weak and impoverished that the people were eager for a way out. In a perfect society, the theory of communism would work; however, in the world that we live in, a perfect society does not exist, so communism will never be what Marx intended.
1. “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1). Accessed December 8, 2014.
3. “Rise of Communism in Russia.” Rise of Communism in Russia. Accessed December 8, 2014.
7. Montague, Richard “Marx and Lenin’s Views Contrasted.” World Socialist Movement. Accessed December 8, 2014.
8. “Life in USSR under Stalin.” Life in USSR under Stalin. Accessed December 8, 2014.
9. Chu, Ruven, Daniel Lau, Shane Moriah, and Amos Schallich. “Communism and Computer Ethics.” Communism: In China. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Chu, Ruven, Daniel Lau, Shane Moriah, and Amos Schallich “Communism and Computer Ethics.” Communism: In China. Accessed December 9, 2014. http://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/communism-computing-china/china.html.
“Life in USSR under Stalin.” Life in USSR under Stalin. Accessed December 9, 2014.
“Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1). Accessed December 8, 2014. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm.
Montague, Richard. “Marx and Lenin’s Views Contrasted.” World Socialist Movement. Accessed December 9, 2014. http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2000s/2001/no-1169-december-2001/marx-and-lenins-views-contrasted.
“Rise of Communism in Russia.” Rise of Communism in Russia. Accessed December 8, 2014. http://www.worldology.com/Europe/Europe_Articles/rise_of_communism.htm