Communism: Overview

Communism is the belief that everyone in a society should be equal and
share their wealth. It is an outgrowth of socialism and Anabaptism (Laski 45).
It became a firmly rooted term after the Russian Revolution of 1917. According
to the words of Karl Marx, "From each according to his ability, to each
according to his needs" ([email protected]). These theories were spread by
Karl Marx. He believed that what a person made of himself reflected his effort
(McLellan 1). He also believed that communism, or the state of equality was
ones "final stage in life" (Leone 1).
Communism basically started in 1847, with the formation of the London
Communist League. This was an international association of worker, whose sole
purpose was to write a "theoretical and practical program which would serve as
the basis for uniting the working classes of Europe" (Leone 1). The London
Communist League asked Marx for help in drafting a document to represent their
standings. He composed the "Communist Manifesto" or "The Manifesto of the
Communist Party" (Leone 1).
The Russian Revolution helped foster communism. The Russian Revolution
started with the with the assassination of Rasputin. In March of 1917, the Duma
declares a prvisional government, including czars. During this period, there
were also massive strikes by the workers. It was furthered by the abdication of
Czar Nicholas. The Russian Revolution itself occured throughout 1917, with the
start of the March Revolution. In April of 1917, Lenin return from exil in
Switerland and denounced the established provisional government. The next
general step was the gaining of the seats in the Petograd Soviet Parliment by
the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks picked Lenin to then head the government, just
several days after the November Revolution. During this revolution the peasants
storm the palace, taking total control of the government. At this point, the
power was given to Lenin. Almost immediatly he issued the New Economic Plan,
which instituted the one party system or communism. They basicaly supported the
basic communist theories of Karl Marx, as interpreted by Lenin. He installed
many of his beliefs and helped reorganize the people, and essentially
emmancipatte the working class. He also is credited with the creation of the
Soviet Union. Unlike many of the countries previous leaders, he had more of the
peseants support. This was extrememly influential later in his career (McKay,
et all 880). When he came into power, he gave land to the peseants (Laski 48).
He even went as far to nationalize the banks of Russia.
Lenin had help with the running of his government, especially from
Joseph Stalin. Stalin helped to advise Lenin on almost all of his problems. He
even went as far as to help lead the Red Army in the Civil War (Brzezinski 25).
The theory of communism was developed by Karl Marx. He was born in
Trier of the Rhineland Germany to Jewish parents and spent his life in an effort
to improve the life of the average working man (Foreman 6). Marx is probably
best known for his masterpiece, the Communist Manifesto.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx put forth his philosophy on society and
the way it would change. In essence, he developed "a set of proportions about
human society and the way it is supposed to behave over time" (Daniels 5).
Communist\'s state that the "greatest freedom, freedom from want, can only be
realized went he abuses of big business are eliminated" (Leone 6). This would
require her citizens to give up everything they own, and trust completely in the
stability of their government.
The Marxist theory describes the cycle through which society revolves in
six basic steps. First, economic development would lead to the formation of a
class structure. This would occur because people would assume different roles
in the production of process, such as worker or supervisor. Second, the before
mentioned classes would struggle for dominance, and fight to gain power over the
other classes. Third, the classes would form political organizations to further
the cause of the class. Fourth, the economic conditions would change, causing
new classes to arise. Fifth, the addition of more classes would intensify the
struggle for dominance. And sixth, the lower class would rise up and overthrow
the upper class. The cycle would then begin again with the new upper class
bringing about economic prosperity (Daniels 6).
Marx cannot be given the entire credit for his ideas. He collaborated
with a fellow German, Fredrich Engles. Engles met Marx in 1844, at the tender
age of 24. From then on, the two combined ideas and wrote not only the
Communist Manifesto, but also the three-volume Das Kapital (Forman 138). Engles