Simply put Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims to establish a society where property is communally owned, and private ownership does not exist.
According to communists, two classes exist in society and this is the sole reason for all conflict. The first class consist of the proletariat and the working class, who form the majority of the population. The second class is the bourgeoise, who makeup a very small part of the population. The Bourgeoise class managed to enjoy a lavish life by profiting off of the work done by those in the proletariat class. The communists changed this by putting a law in place that replaced private ownership of property with social ownership.
Communism originated from Victor d’Hupay’s idea of communal living. In this system property is shared and all benefit from the community’s work. Modern Communist ideology developed during the French Revolution with the “Communist Manifesto” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They presented the French Revolution as an important turning point in history. It overturned the older feudal structure and replaced it with a new system. Furthermore, they discussed the earlier struggle of the nobility with serfs, and the division between the Bourgeoise and the Proletariat.
Communism aims to make a classless society. Marx and Engels and many of their followers rooted for a proletarian revolution. They wanted a social revolution that would eventually lead to the last stage of human development. This would mark an end t of the class based division. They wanted an era without social class, religion or property. A popular Marxist slogan at the time was that the state would function “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
The Soviet Union
They did not use Marx and Engels Ideas until after their deaths. In the October Revolution of 1917, after the Tsar was ousted, a new group known as the Bolsheviks came to rise with Lenin at the head of it. Prior to this revolution, Lenin created the idea of Marxist theory of Vanguardism. Vanguardism is a group of politically enlightened elites. They ushered in the communist revolotion. Lenin died soon after the civil war and his successor Stalin took over in 1927. He used many tyrannical methods to pursue brutal ethnic and ideological purges. Tens of millions of people died between 1922 and 1950. In addition, the war with the Nazis created casualties.
However, with the use of a five-year plan, the Soviet Union saw rapid industrialization and reached new economic heights. Its GDP growth rate outpaced the USA between 1950 and 1965 but it was still slower than that of its capitalist counterparts.
In 1991, the Soviet Union’s communist system fell apart and became a more lenient system. This did not affect the economic growth in the Soviet Union. However, it decreased the amount of criticism from others.
Why Did Communism Fail?
There are a multitude of factors responsible for the failure of this system. However, researchers pinpointed specific ones over the years.
- Absence of Incentives: One of the basic principles of Communism is that there is no presence of sole motives and sole profits. Communism thrives on everyone working for each other’s benefits rather than their own. This eliminates the presence of competition in society. Competition in society leads to greater pace in development and innovation. In a communist society this was not present.
- Central Planning: One of the Inherent problems with communism was the presence of centralized planning. Centralized Planning aggregated the data for every project created. As a result, humongous amount of data made the whole process a lot more complex than it would have happened with a federal structure or with some sort of planning at regional level.
Lastly, concentration of power in a few hands indirectly gave them an incentive to reap benefits and retain their position. Additionally, inefficiency and corruption became common practice in countries like East Germany and Soviet countries which in the end led to the collapse of the economy.
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