Discussion on communism and post communism

Communism and Postcommunism

Perhaps no other topic in comparative politics has been as researched and discussed as the phenomenon of communism. The Cold War, driven by the ideological conflict between communism and democracy, was a political battle of wills between the two great superpowers of the twentieth century. As such, it was a natural topic of research for political scientists. This brief examination will be by no means a complete record or analysis of research into communism but will briefly discuss some of the more pertinent aspects of what communism is as a concept; how political scientists have studied it; and how countries, most prominently Russia, have transitioned from communism.

Communism in Practice

The first thing to understand about communism is that the brand of communism actually practiced by the Soviet Union, China, and their subsidiaries is not the theoretical construct of communism initially envisioned by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto. Recall from Chapter 3 that Marx and Engels looked at history and saw in it a history of class struggles. The owners of the means of production, the bourgeoisie, sought to have control over the working class, the proletariat. They theorized that once a society had become industrialized and education had spread so that the proletariat came to realize how they were being used, a final revolution would occur. The proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie and eliminate any form of the state or government; the resulting society would be one in which all people were considered equal and shared ownership of both the means and results of production.

It’s obvious why such an ideology would be attractive to those outside of the bourgeoisie. Particularly in countries where poverty and inequality were rampant, communism was easily able to gain a foothold. However, those same countries, Russia and later China, were not the theoretical hotbeds of communism that Marx and Engels envisioned. Neither were industrialized (both were incredibly agrarian in their economy), and neither country had an educated working class that had come to realize and support the communist doctrine. Instead, both countries saw revolutionary leaders emerge that took the seed of communist ideology and infused it with local flavor and characteristics that made the communism that came to be practiced unique in each country.

 

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