The Rise of Russian Communism

The Rise of Russian Communism

Karl Marx. British and French thinkers came up with the general
concept of socialism in the mid-1800s, calling for community-controlled
wealth and property, administered by rulers through pragmatic reasoning,
without religious influence. Religion and capitalism were viewed as
harmful to society, resulting in inequality and the exploitation of the
masses. This movement would influence Karl Marx, a Prussian (German)
Jew. Marx wrote the book titled “Communist Manifesto” (1848), which
advocated a system without classes and privately-owned property.

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Marxism
was essentially a specific type of socialism which defined political
characteristics to the general idea of socialism. For example, socialism
could theoretically exist within the framework of any political entity,
from a cohesive state to an anarchist setting. Marxism strived for the
elimination of political borders. Marxism also called for an end to
religious authority and influence, while the general concept of
socialism was independent of theological impact.

Communism’s Appeal in Russia. The seeds of future Russian
Communisms were sown with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Serfdom is a
form of slavery where peasants are tied to a piece of farmland. They are
allowed to use the land to provide for themselves and their family, but
are forced to succumb to the will of their master in all things,
including military service whenever needed. The abolition of serfdom
resulted in a mass exodus from the agricultural areas to the cities,
where the new working class found employment in factories as part of
Russia’s industrial revolution. However, they had no leverage as a large
collection of individuals and were easily exploited, working for
miniscule wages. The consequential poverty epidemic made the general
public very open to the idea of communism. After the loss to Japan in
the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, and the sorry state of the Russian
Empire, the conditions were ripe for a fundamental change.

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Lenin. After Marx’s death, Lenin was strongly influenced by
“Communist Manifesto”. Having never met Marx, he based the platform of
his Bolshavek party (later known as the Communist Party) upon its
principles. Marx had predicted that communism would first take root in
England and France, spreading throughout the rest of the world from
there. However, he did intimate that Russia might be more ready to
embrace communism, since it had not been democratized like the west.
Lenin took this mission upon himself, and sought to carry it out once in
power via the Communist Revolution in 1917. In Marxism, communism was a
stateless ideal. Lenin believed that it would be embraced by the working
class majority throughout the entire world after taking root in Russia.
However, communist revolts that took place throughout the rest of Europe
after WWI were successfully defused by incumbent powers.

Stalinism. Upon the death of Lenin in 1925, Stalin outmaneuvered fellow
Lenin disciple Trotsky to inherit the reigns of the Soviet Union.
Trotsky sought to continue Lenin’s efforts of aggressively establishing
Communism throughout all the world, since communism was inherently
stateless, and was not intended to exist within the framework of the
traditional notion of a “nation”. Stalin was more practical, learning
from the resounding defeat of communism in other parts of Europe. He
instead espoused the concept of focusing on strengthening the Soviet
Union, under Communist ideals, while simply supporting communist
revolutions whenever and wherever they arose. Stalin’s ideology proved
more widely accepted, and became the “M.O.” of the Soviet Union from
that point forward.

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