Background of Socialism and Marxism
Communism are more accurately called
economic and social systems rather than political
systems. However, the real world application of the economics
behind socialism and communism requires a particular form of
government able to support it.
Early socialists wanted to
create self-sufficient communities where everyone owned
everything together, and where no one was left in need of
anything. In other words, all property and work was shared
for the benefit of the entire community. Socialists believed
that if there was no money and everyone's needs were met, war
and fighting would stop.
a German living in London, England, and
Friedrich Engels wrote
The Communist Manifesto to explain their ideas. In it,
Marx and Engels claimed that all of history was a
continuous struggle between people who had material goods
and wealth, and people who did not have any (the "haves" vs.
the "have nots"). They also said that
capitalism, an economic
system in which factories and businesses are owned by private
corporations, took advantage of the
class, and, therefore, should be abolished.
Marx and Engels believed that all over Europe the working
proletariat, would overthrow the capitalist
system and form their own governments in response to
capitalist abuses. Further, they thought that such governments
would create a classless society in which all wealth and power
would be shared equally among all people.
The Communist Revolution, as predicted by Marx and Engels,
did not occur. What neither man had considered, was that
nationalism, a feeling of intense pride and devotion to one's
country, was even stronger than the desire to be free from
The Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) /
first time Communists successfully overthrew an established
government, it was not even a capitalist one. In Russia, in
Vladimir Lenin led a group of socialist
Bolsheviks, in a coup against
Czar Nicholas II.
Lenin promised the
people "peace, land and bread," but used secret police and
brutality to create a one-party government where the
Communist Party, and not the people, had the ultimate
power. Lenin's successor,
Josef Stalin, turned
Russia, now called the Soviet Union, into a
Every aspect of
people's lives was controlled by the government. To strengthen
its control, a
command economy was put in place by the
Communist Party. Under a command economy, government officials
make all economic decisions.
peasants to give up ownership of their land and live on
government-owned farms called collectives. On a
collective farm, all animals and equipment was owned by the
state. The government controlled the prices paid to the
farmers for their products, and forced them to fill quotas,
or production goals.
Republic of China
As in Russia, the
communist revolution in China was not one of workers vs. owners, but one of imperial government vs. poor starving
peasants who felt that government had abandoned them. After
civil war, China became a Communist nation in 1949.
The newly communist China looked to the Soviet Union for
leadership, but quickly turned in a different direction.
The leader of the Chinese Communist Party,
Mao Zedong, wanted to transform China from an
agricultural society into a modern industrial power. Mao
undertook a number of programs in order to achieve his goal.
communes, a Chinese version of the Russian
collective, tried to renew Chinese culture. He also launched a
series of agricultural and industrial production initiatives,
and improved the social standing of women.
controlled nations are not all on the other side of the
world. In fact, the closest one is less than 100 miles
south of Florida. In January 1959, revolutionaries
Ernesto "Che" Guevara and
Fidel Castro, a self-described
Marxist-Leninist, take over the Cuban government and establish
a Revolutionary Government. Castro has continued to lead
Cuba since 1959.
Impartial justice is unknown in societies living
under a totalitarian government. In Cuba, China and the
Soviet Union, human rights were overlooked in the effort to
create a strong Communist nation. Tens-of-millions of
protesters were killed.
In each county, the goal of turning agricultural nations
into powerful industrial giants only led to
famine and further
suffering for the general populace. In all cases,
private citizens ended up in even more strictly controlled
societies, where personal freedoms were severely restricted,
and most people feared to speak out against government
corruption or abuse.
The Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 after most of its
satellite states rejected communism and regained their
independence through popular revolution. China is still
controlled by a communist government. As of this time,
Castro still leads Cuba. He is one of the longest ruling
dictators in history.