Communism is one of the most influential political ideologies of all time. Through recognising its influence, we can gain a further understanding of the significance of the role communism played in the development of the Cold War. The Cold War (1947-1991) was a 44-year battle between the U.S and the Soviet union over the Americans growing concern of the communist party. This titanic battle between communism and capitalism is arguably the defining struggle of the 20th century. This essay will provide a brief overview of the communist ideology and information regarding the rise of the Soviet Union under Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.
Communism is a political ideology which can be defined as a system in which the individual ownership of assets, such as land, machinery and property, belong to a political party (generally the government) and are shared between the whole community. The ‘Father of Communism’, Karl Marx, a German philosopher, believed all inequality’s and suffering were a result of capitalism. He proposed his ideology in his ‘Communist Manifesto’. His manifesto emphasised the instability of capitalist governments and the importance of class struggle whilst also outlining the basic requirements needed for a communist society. His work, in conjunction with a dissatisfied working-class, revolutionised industrial workers throughout the world and created an international labour movement throughout Europe.
As Marx predicted, communism was a revolutionary global movement. Russia adopted communism in 1917 after the Russian Revolution. The long lasting famine and severe poverty that — the country, resulted in several protests the government and military couldn’t keep under control. The leader at the time, Czar, was forced to abdicate, triggering the formation of a provisional government, which Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik party soon overthrew, thus beginning the implementation of communist practises. Lenin ruled over the country for — years, was initially very popular among Russian people with his anti-war agenda. His popularity only increased when he promised “Bread, Land and Peace” to the populations affected by the severe poverty and famine. However, when Lenin only received 25% of votes in the 1917 election, he used strong military force to avert a democratic assembly. He established the Cheka (also known as the Secret Police) and authorised the political repression called the Red Terror. The country soon broke out into a civil war between the Bolshevik party and the White Guard, an anti-communist group. This civil war ended when Lenin died of a heart attack in 1924. Stalin’s brutal reign then began.
Stalin was a deceptive leader who ruthlessly clung to power. Several mass executions and imprisonment were a result of his reign. Some of these include; the Purge of Intelligentsia, the Scorched Earth Policy, the Katyn Massacre and the Starvation of the Ukraine. Citizens under his totalitarian regime were constantly bombarded with government propaganda and were denied access to external information or other cultural influences. His party didn’t just supress subversion through torture, arrests and executions, but he also supressed individualism by limiting the availability and content of knowledge available. These censorships had been devised to meet his ideological needs of communism. This restriction of knowledge was a restriction of freedom itself.
During World War II, America and the Soviet Union were allies, fighting alongside each other. However, the relationship between these two countries had always been tense. Stalin’s tyrannical, totalitarian rule over his country had made the Americans concerned and very wary of his actions. The Americans delay into World War II resulted in the death of millions of Russian soldiers, leading to the Soviets eventual resentment of America. This mutual disease and enmity resulted in the beginning of the Cold War.