The promising promises of the Communist Party would eventually prove false as Stalin’s totalitarianism became a reality after World War Two. Communism, arguably the largest political rivalry to Western Socialism, started off simply with a very large promise of equality.
But, just how does Communism attempt to make everyone equal by incorporating economic, social, and political policies? Pure communism, defined simply, can be identified through the classic cow example of looking at political corporations. If you have two cows, then your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. However, this is not the case as the original ideas, the promising promises of communism, were erased as governments became overcome by greed. As communism in Russia became more and more, well put, corrupted, it morphed into something much more unfair, and unequal.
Now you have two cows, and you have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. But, one may ask if communism is all as bad as western propaganda has declared it. While Communism has been labelled as a “defeated rival” to capitalism and socialism for quite some time since the ending of the Cold War, it has been as influential in modern government as any other government, having both positive and negative affects as it affected not only Russia but the entire world since its’ takeover in Lenin’s Russia and the eventual empowerment of the bourgeoisie, spreading communist ideals (eventually) to China, Vietnam, and even Korea as Stalinism crashed upon the lives in a post World War Two society.
Lenin led the Bolsheviks in revolution against the Tsarist government to empower the working class, ending the so-called reign of the bourgeoisie, or upper class. His idea, known as the vanguard of the proletariat, was to kickstart the creation of the perfect, Utopian society, where communism would reign. Lenin chose his men wrong, and eventually, on January 21st, 1924, he died of a stroke, allowing Joseph Stalin to take power.
One can argue that Stalin, as a communist leader, preserved and enlightened ideas originally set by Lenin and even Karl Marx himself, but this can be proven false easily. Stalin transformed the communist ideals, turning Russia in essentially into a dictatorship where the people had no power, much similar to the Tsarist government they had just revolted against under Lenin, if not worse. The idea of communism that gave hope for a new age to Russian citizens, sparking a revolution against the Tsar government, was the promising ideal of equality. This can be seen as a positive idea, something that could have changed the world had not it been for greed in the leaders of the communist party.
However, Stalin’s involvement during World War II against Hitler’s Nazi Germany proved to be helpful, as he, several years into the war, demanded assistance from the Allied Nations, including Britain and America. He believed, correctly, that his nation was the major force in Europe against Germany at the time. However, without any help, Germany would succeed and triumph. Prime Minister of Britain Winston Churchill and thirty second president of the United States Franklin Roosevelt agreed to assist the Communist Dictatorship of Russia under Stalin, realizing that at the time Germany was the bigger evil of the two. This, at the time, was true, as Germany held more of a threat to the world than communism. However, this began a massive domino effect, as Stalin increasingly grew more and more corrupt after World War 2. Josef Stalin, propelled by Communist ideology and aggressive Soviet expansionism, played a major role in beginning the first stages of the Cold War, however, he did in fact die before it began.
But, back to the question — if Stalinism was different than the original promises of Communism enlightenment, did it impact society as a positive influence, or a darker negative one? Most would argue for negative, as Communism has been labeled as this massive, corrupted evil to society. However, one fails to notice that it wasn’t the promises stated by the original intentions that tossed this idealistic political name into the negative actions its leaders chose. Corruption seeped through the very cracks of the original foundations, as everyone is equal turned into everyone is equal* *except for the dearly beloved leader and his cabinet, as they will be worth more than the average communist civilian, as one can clearly see in Korea, Vietnam, and China take Communism under their wings. Stalinism, the ideology and policies adopted by Stalin, which were based on totalitarianism, centralization, and the pursuit of pure communism, brought more of a negative impact onto the Russian people, who had been involved in the overthrowing of the Tsar system to get rid of said “corrupted leaders”.
If you have two cows, then your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. That is how communism can be easily understandable to even the simplest of minds. Equality for all, the end of free market. The government controls all regulations, making everything free and fair. Introducing Stalin, this idea is considered false, and totalitarianism is placed into a willing Russian economy. Communism, at first, played a massive positive political role onto history, erasing the Tsarist way of government in Mother Russia and placing this all holy idea of free will, free power, and equality for all. However, all that glitters is not gold, and as the people removed the leader they hated from power, Lenin took power. Lenin, as a semi stable leader, attempted to show the world how good Communism was, taking pride in the revolution in a way much similar to revolutionaries in the past.
Ideas were shared, and communism became the way of life in Russia. Then, Stalin dropped the hammer on Russian lives harder than he, along with FDR and Churchill, defeated Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Oppression became a reality, communism morphed its’ way into Stalin’s totalitarianism idealistics. In comes the negative reality focused on today in the Western World. To summarize, Lenin intentionally did more of a positive influence, however, his choice of figureheads set back communism, as Stalin can be considered one of the most negative aspects of communist leaders.
The Cold War begins. Political confusion ensues, and eventually a man by the name of Nikita Khrushchev takes power. Many would argue that the ideas of de-Stalinization, the process of political reform in the USSR that began surprisingly shortly after the leader’s death in 1952.
These reforms very effectively changed and removed the institutions that placed Stalin in power back after Lenin’s unfortunate demise. Stalinism political systems and labour cam systems, created, dominated, and enforced by Stalin himself, were taken down. One may see this as a positive gain, attempting to propel the names of Russia and Communism out of the trenches they had buried themselves into in the past few years under Stalin. Now, the year is 1956, February 25th to be precise. Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, gives his famous speech, titled “On the Personality Cult and its Consequences”, which concerned the steps to proceed to glory, and discussed Stalin. He impressively shocked listeners, denouncing Stalin’s rule, claiming him as inconsistent with Communist ideology. He condemned treatment of the Bolsheviks, supporters of communism, who had been executed as mere traitors under Stalin.
The new leader has successfully bashed Stalin’s ideals and political standpoints after his death, and the totalitarian rolls over in his grave. This can be argued as a massive positive gain against the negativity that has stained the cloth of communism, as the dictator’s wrath ended and ideals set by him in years past were diminished to nothing. De-Stalinization reached its peak in 1961, during the Cold War. By order of the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, Stalin’s body was finally removed from Lenin’s Mausoleum in the Red Square to a new location, somewhere near the Kremlin wall. Also, on November 11, 1961, the “hero city” Stalingrad was renamed, replacing the dictator’s name and attempting to extinguish all memory of the man. All positive, as they tarnished the name of Stalin even more. However, one could point out that these can also be negative, as they were attempting to cover up the past. The past repeats itself, and communism eventually spread to other dictators in Korea, Vietnam and other countries in Asia.
Khrushchev intentionally caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, something that rocked the world. As leader of a powerful country, he sought to intimidate the American people, and more importantly President John Kennedy. Communism takes another negative blow, and as good intentions slowly began to turn corrupt again. The Cuban Missile Crisis happened due to a greed for power. The tense confrontation between Kennedy and the Soviet Union during said crisis ended up as a defeat for Russia, and Soviet weapons were forced to withdraw from Cuba.
This weakened Khrushchev, and eventually led to political downfall as a conspiracy forced him into retirement in 1964. While some can argue that Khrushchev’s idea to intimidate America continued the Cold War, one can easily show that the Cold War did no real harm, and actually boosted innovation technology with the household technology boom and the space race, making life easier for both Soviets and Americans. Thus, Khrushchev was more of a positive influence on the world, much like how Lenin was.
“Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The words spoken by President Ronald Reagan, the eighth president to be in office during the Cold War, will forever remain as encouraging words to finally put an end to the threats, which were encouraged by Stalin, strengthened by political differences, and expanded by Nikita Khrushchev. Mikhail Gorbachev, possibly the most sane of the leaders mentioned above, allowed several countries to abandon communism. He supported democracy, and most importantly, the original ideals of Communism, which by then had been forgotten.
His glasnost, or openness of the Soviet Union, proved to be positive time after time again. Perestroika, economic reform and restructuring, boosted Russia’s failing economy, and yet again proved to be a positive idea. He pushed for democratization, and pushed for a brighter world — where the Cold War could end. These reforms inspired, neigh, enlightened Eastern Europeans, and thanks to him a treaty could be formed with America. Although some may attempt to argue that he betrayed communist ideals by disbanding the Soviet Union and backing down from becoming a World Power, one can easily be shown that he didn’t betray the ideas of pure communism, or even Leninism, but the negative aspects of communism Russia had become known for.
A true hero to the Soviet Union, despite the fact he is the one that disbanded the union himself. There is no evidence or argument to argue against the fact that Gorbachev was anything but a positive influence on the world, tearing down the Berlin Wall and dissolving the union itself.
Communism, once a political idea filled with promising promises from the minds of Karl Marx, and eventually Lenin. Promises of equality for all, political freedom. The end of free, corrupted markets. However, the world soon realized that this is not the case, as corrupted men took charge of politics. Stalinism was forced down the throats of Russian citizens, the cold war begins. However, as stated before, only one of the listen four communist leaders can be labeled as negative. The ideals of totalitarianism and stalinism proved to be false, as the leaders afterwards attempted to erase him from history altogether. Lenin started a revolution, creating a shift in power and toppling the Tsar system. Khrushchev encouraged the Cold War, but in turn influenced innovative household technology and the space race. Gorbachev looked back on pure communism, making a treaty with America and disbanding the Soviet Union.
Perhaps communism isn’t as bad as one may argue, and it is more than obvious to see that three out of four communist leaders agree so as well. The hammer (and sickle) may have dropped hard on Russian lives during Stalin’s reign, but without communism, the urge to go into space and create better technology would have been put off. Ironically, the urge to stop communism from spread did good, showing that communism, in fact, has done more good than bad in modern history.
Of course, for the sake of this article, I chose the argument that most people would not agree with. Was communism good or bad to history? It honestly depends on who’s position you’re looking at.