Communism Over Time
Karl Marx is often referred to as the father or founder of communism, a form of government that involves the people of the country controlling the factors of production. Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, which described his views for communism. He believed that the bourgeoisie and the proletariats, the wealthy and poor classes, were constantly fighting for power.
Marx's ideas for revolution describe the two classes spontaneously beginning a revolution to overthrow their government. The revolution would then end with the dictatorship of the proletariates. Although he predicted the revolution, he noted that it could not be accomplished in a rural area, but in only an industrialized area. Lenin, leader of Russia, adopted Marx's ideas of communism.
Vladimir Lenin, known as the "Father of the Revolution," was the leader of the Bolshevik party in Russia. The Bolshevik party was a radical branch of Communism, as opposed to the moderate branch, the Mensheviks. Although the Bolsheviks were small in number, their ideas were far more radical than the Mensheviks.
Lenin admired Marx's ideas of communism and shaped his own ideas. Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, Nicolas II, the Czar or supreme ruler of Russia, was forced to abdicate his throne which had been in place for over 300 years. The government of Russia had fallen. While the people of Russia set up a provisional, or temporary, government, the Red Guards stormed the winter palace and took over the government. The Red Guards were the military of the Bolsheviks.
Lenin, their leader, then took over the government and restored order in Russia. Lenin believed revolution would end only with the guidance of a single party. The proletariates would not be capable of starting over.
Lenin installed his idea called the New Economic Policy, or NEP. This policy was a mix of socialist and communist ideas. It allowed peasants to grow their own food and sell their surplus for profit. He also renamed Russia as the Union of Soviet Socialist Russia, or the USSR. His symbol was a red fisted hand along with a red hammer and sickle.
Lenin's ideas were similar to Marx's in that they both believed that they both believed that revolution could occur in industrialized areas. They also both believed that the proletariates, or peasants, would begin the revolution. Lenin's ideas were also unlike because he thought revolution could begin in anyplace, including industrialized and rural areas. Lenin also believed that the bourgoise or the proletariates could bigin the revolution.
Mao Zedong was the leader of China. In 1921, he helped organize the Chinese Communist Party. Two years later in 1923, Lenin helped the party buy their way into power by giving equipment to China's nationalist government. Jaing Jieshi, China's leader, feared the communists will make the economy socialist. Nationalists, Jieshi's followers, stopped cooperating with the communists and openly fighted each other. China then became Nationalist Republic of China with Jieshi as its president. Because Russia did not recognize this transition, a civil war broke out. Taking advantage of China's civil unrest, Japan moved in and conquered most of China. The threat forced the communists and socialists to unite to defeat a common enemy. Zedong wanted to return China to its communist roots, so he targeted the youth of China to begin the Cultural Revolution.
The Cultural Revolution had adolescents degrading their elders and leaders to begin the idea of a revolution. These Chinese teens came together to form the Red Guards, whose goal was to take down the "four olds." The Four Olds included old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas. The Red Guards took down party leaders and replaced them with radicals. Although some communist officials wanted to end the revolution, Zedong disagreed and replaced them with radicals who supported him.
Zedong then began the Rustification movement, a movement that made China more like Russia in its communist ways. Individual Guards were sent to farms in China to learn from the peasants. At last in 1969 Zedong was satisfied with the Cultural Revolution and proclaimed it a success.
Zedong agreed somewhat with Lenin's idea of revolution and completely disagreed with Marx's ideas. Zedong believed alongside Lenin that the peasants would spark a revolution in the rural areas, but disagreed with Marx. Marx believed that the proletariats would begin fighting in an industrialized area.
Backlash: The Inter-war years
The Inter-War Years (1919-1939) began directly after World War One and led into the twenty years after.
The League of Nations, at the time, was composed of France, Great Britain, and Russia. The League had promised land to Italy in exchange for switching alliances. After the war was over, the land could not be given due to unforeseen circumstances. The leader of Italy returned with nothing to show for Italy's sacrifices in war, so the people instantly hated the government. Veterans were mocked and hated publicly.
During this time of chaos, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party. The Party was mostly made up of veterans and loathed communism. The Fascists rose in power and finally openly declared their loyalty to their king, King Victor Emmanuel, and made quite a large scene. The Communists were also very strong in their beliefs; people would often see the fascist "black shirts" fighting the communist "red shirts."
The King, fearing a civil war, declared Mussolini a high government official and therefore gave him power. Mussolini then used his own private army to attack anyone who opposed fascism, including socialists and communists. He rose to power and stayed there throughout the Inter-War Years, allying himself with Adolf Hitler, leader of Germany because he was also a Fascist.
Germany, because of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War One, was forced to abandon its monarchy in favor of a democracy. The name of this new democracy was the Weimer Republic. The Republic was weak and doomed to fail because it had not been used to a democracy, had many political parties, and because it was not wanted.
After World War One, Adolf Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers Party, NAZI for short. Hitler quickly rose to power in the group and changed its views. Hitler's view for the party was radical and violent. He wanted to overturn the Treaty of Versailles. The NAZI's had their own militia known as Storm Troopers, or Brown Shirts. Hitler leads an attack on Munich, attempting to seize control over it. Instead, Hitler was arrested. He was let out and appointed second in command after the then President Hindenburg when political leaders wanted to befriend the NAZI Party.
Looking for someone to blame for his arrest, he attacked the Socialists. He sends the government police, the SS, along with his secret army, the Gestapo, to attack communists and socialists. This results in Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, where Jewish businesses were destroyed. The Jews were targeted because they were socialist and communist.
A modern day communist country
Vietnam is a modern day communist country; it has only one party. North and South Vietnam became united once again after three difficult wars. South Vietnam had been anti-communist while North Vietnam had been communist. This is similar to what happened in Italy during Mussolini's time as a government official. When the Italian King had feared civil war between communists and fascists, he decided that the fascists won by placing Mussolini, the Fascist Party founder, in a powerful government position.