2 BackgroundCommunism comes from the French word commun, or belonging to allCommunism has a long history of those who believe that sharing ownership in society creates equality amongst all its membersThis would create a harmonious society free from conflictThe impact of the Industrial and French Revolutions greatly influenced communist thinking: As the Industrial Revolution strengthened the desire for change, so the French Revolution encouraged people to believe that such a change was possible.Socialism emerged as a concept in the early 19th century, describing a society with shared ownership of wealth
4 Karl MarxA German philosopher and economist born in 1818, who lived in England for most of his lifeHe was aware of the growing gap between rich and poor in newly industrialised countries such as the UKHe believed a socialist or communist society would redress this balance
5 Marx went further than his socialist predecessors He suggested in his many writings that a socialist society was inevitable, whether it was wanted or notMarx wrote that the whole of human history was a struggle between the ruling classes and the downtrodden classesHe believed the ruling classes naturally created their own oppositionCapitalists, who were growing in number needed an army of ordinary workers, the proletariatCapitalism used a variety of institutions in order to maintain order over the proletariat, which Marx referred to as the superstructure.
6 Marx believed the proletariat would eventually tire of their conditions and rise up against the capitalists, seizing their wealth and ruling in their place.Society would then share in profits that had previously been owned by the fewThe workers would make up almost the entire population, leading to democratic ruleMarx could not predict what would come after this rule by the workers, and he predicted that old rulers would prove dangerous for a while, a period who named the dictatorship of the proletariat.During this period, certain freedoms may have to be restricted before true socialism could be implemented.
8 Socialism and communism Under socialism there would be shared ownership, but people would still be rewarded depending on how much work they didOnly when society had enough of everything to go around would communism developUnder communism, people would give what they were able to and take what they needed.There would be no need for states, armies or police forces, racial and gender equality.
9 The Communist Manifesto (1847-8) ‘Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE’
10 The spread of MarxismThe theories of Marx convinced many, with many Marxist political parties being founded around the world.Lenin was particularly influenced by Marx’s ideas, sharing his hope and certainty that what they were doing was right.The most famous example of this was the 1917 Bolshevik seizure of power, however even here Marxism was not fully achieved, as a small working class took over a largely peasant country.Russia was not a capitalist society in the truest sense and therefore was not ready for socialismThis need to fit a socialist policy in a country not ready for change would result in the oppressive communist regime with many changes to Marxism
12 The development of Marxism By the time of Marx’s death in 1883, it was becoming clear that capitalism was generating huge profits.Against Marx’s ideas, those in power of the more advanced countries ensured that a share of the increase went to the poorest members of society, the gap between workers and capitalists was not getting widerEven the poor were getting richer with pensions and unemployment pay improving conditions further
14 Each Soviet ruler interpreted Marxist ideas in their own way. Lenin realised that the workers would need support in their attempts to gain higher wages and better conditionsHelp was therefore given to workers striking in St Petersburg. The leaders of these strikes were exiled, but Lenin realised a change of tact was needed.He argued that rather than attacking the superstructure, it was better to attack the ruling elites at the base and overthrow the existing order
15 Lenin outlined his views in his 1903 work ‘What is to be done’ He believed there was no need for a democratically elected constituent assembly which would eventually be controlled by the massesInstead he argued for a Party Central Committee who would govern in the interests of the workers until the workers could take control themselvesThis caused a split within the Socialists in Russia into the Bolsheviks (Marxist Leninists) and Mensheviks (Marxists)After the October Revolution, Lenin began to implement his version of Marxism fully.There was still opposition in the party, most notably between Lenin and Trotsky, who wanted communism to spread throughout the world and not just RussiaThis changing policy shows a constant adaptation to policies in order to keep opposition to a minimum
17 After Lenin’s death and the ensuing power struggle that led to Stalin’s rise to power, more changes were implemented to Marxism-LeninismStalin argued that the base of society could only be altered by using a special superstructureHe therefore introduced a command economy and five year plans in order to prepare the base.Stalin was to assume total control of the superstructure to prevent the damaging infighting that had weakened Lenin’s ruleTerror and the creation of a cult of personality were therefore to be utilised to gain the support of the people.
18 There is widespread debate over Stalin’s long term aims for adopting such a brutal and repressive regime.It may be that this system of government was the only one suited to Russia at the time, that Stalin’s megalomania drove him to such brutality or that he was simply building on foundations laid by Lenin
20 Stalin’s oppressive regime had created many enemies, too afraid to speak out and tarnished the reputation of Russia abroad.After another power struggle, Khrushchev emerged as leader of the Party, sharing power under a system of collective leadership where responsibility was equally shared.However, dispute within the party forced Khrushchev to execute many of those that opposed himKhrushchev was also concerned that Stalin’s death would cause many to question communist rule and look for alternative forms of ruleHe therefore instigated a programme of deStalinisation which sought to renounce Stalin, discrediting many of his actions and labelling him as an enemy of the people.The cult of personality that Stalin had created meant many were not ready to hear such vehement words against a leader they respected and who they believed was working for the good of the country.This mounting opposition therefore caused Khrushchev’s fall from power in 1964