Communism in the Soviet Union and Why it Failed

Communism is defined as "a system of political and economic organization in
which property is owned by the community and all citizens share in the enjoyment
of the common wealth, more or less according to their need." In 1917 the rise
of power in the Marxist-inspired Bolsheviks in Russia along with the
consolidation of power by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the word communism
came to mean a totalitarian system controlled by a single political party. This
came to justify that the means of production is controlled and the wealth is
distributed with the goal of producing a classless or possibly a stateless
society. The ideological meaning of communism arose in 1848 with the
publication of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They
believed that communism is inevitable and is an outcome of the historical
process. They believed that the "struggle between an exploiting class, the
capatalists at present age, and an exploited class, the workers, would enter a
crucial stage in the period of capitalism where industrialization occurs and
that the effects of industrialization is to heighten and intensify the internal
contradictions in capitalism." To put it bluntly they believed that the
ownership of industry would be in fewer and fewer hands where the workers would
plunge into a state of ever-increasing misery. These impoverished workers grow
in numbers and organize themselves into a political party which would lead a
revolution in which they dispose of the capitalists. The proletariat would
establish a society governed by a " dictatorship of the proletariat" based on
communal ownership of the wealth. According to Marx this phase of human society
is referred to as socialism. Communism is the final transcendence of this
revolution in which there is a break up and elimination of the state and no
class division. That is the primary reason that it was called the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. What was the
problem with this system of government, if this is a workers paradise what
happened ? What did the Soviet Union do wrong to cause a breakdown of their
ideal system ? In this paper I will explore the rise of the Soviet power and
causes of the 1991 breakup.

The person who started the whole transition into a communist empire was Vladimir
Lenin. He felt that the working class was not capable of starting this
revolution on their own and needed a professional group of revolutionaries to
guide it. This led to Lenin and Bolsheviks coming into power in 1917. The
Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist party and under the leadership of
Lenin took control of government and outlawed all of the other political parties.
In 1918 they became the ruling party of Russia and formed a dictatorship so
they could ensure the Soviet transition from capitalism to socialism. The
communist party arose in opposition to both capitalism and socialists of the
Second International who had supported their capitalist governments during World
War I. The name communists was specifically taken to distinguish Lenin\'s
followers in Russia and abroad from such Socialists. Following their victory in
the Russian Civil War in 1918, the Soviet Communists followed a cautious policy
of limited capatalism during the New Economic Program until Lenin\'s death in
1924. Lenin\'s successor, Joseph Stalin, forcibly accomplished the transition
from capitalism to socialism. During his years in power the party grew from
about 470,000 to millions. He nationalized the Soviet industries and
agriculture. A rapid industrialization program was pushed on the people even
though they lacked materials. Police terror was also used to suppress dissent
and opposition. This became known as Stalinism.

Communist rule was confined to the Soviet Union until the end of World War II.
The Soviet Red Army liberated several countries in eastern Europe from the Nazi
Germany control. The soviets sponsored and helped form the communist
governments in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, East Germany,
and North Korea. Stalinism became the basic model for most of these new
governments. After Stalin\'s death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev began a rapid rise
and in 1956 repudiated Stalin\'s "tyrannical excesses" in his famous "Secret
Speech" at the 20th party congress. The next year he became the parties leader.
Krushchev ended the practice of "bloody purges" of the party membership, but his
rule aroused dissatisfaction among the other party leaders. He was kicked out
in 1964. Leonid Brezhnev succeeded him and was general secretary until his
death in 1982, when he was succeeded by Yuri Andropov. Andropov died in 1984
and the position was passed to Konstantin Chernenko. After Chernenko\'s death in