The Fall of Communism in Russia/Soviet Union

Andrew Chambers

Communism in the USSR was doomed from the onset. Communism was condemned due to lack of support from other nations, condemned due to corruption within its leadership, condemned due to the moral weakness of humanity, making what is perfect on paper, ineffective in the real world. The end of this system was very violent. It left one of the two most powerful nations in the world fearful of what was to come.

Communism can either be called a concept or system of society. In a society that follows the communist beliefs groups own the major resources and means of production, rather than a certain individual. In theory, Communism is to provide equal work, and benefits to all in a specific society. Communism is derived from many ancient resources, including Plato?s Republic and early Christian communities. In 1917, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their Communist Manifesto finalized the philosophy of Communism. ("Communism," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia)

In the beginning, people in Russia thought of Communism as a utopian ideal. (Funk & Wagnall?s) The elimination of social classes, and guaranteed employment sounded outstanding to the people who lived in Russia. Communism did call for a role of socialist dictatorship to help control any form of protest. Through persuasive tactics this new government seized power and in 1917 Vladimir Ilich Lenin came to power. Under his control the Soviet Union underwent many radical changes that led to the development of NEP (New Economic Policy). This policy called for some private ownership of the means of production and business. Still the government controlled the majority of production. Throughout Lenin?s government there were many achievements. It ended a long civil war against the remnants of the old Czarist military system and established institutions in government. He later died in 1924, and was quickly succeeded.

In 1924 Joseph Stalin became head of the Soviet Communist Party. He soon became the most powerful man in Russia. He ran the Soviet Union with brut power, removing all that opposed him and the Communist beliefs. This time period was known as the "Great Purge." Stalin systemically executed anyone who stood in his path. Stalin had millions of people arrested and killed. The government once again changed in its economic status. All private ownership was ended. Industrialization commenced, and the strength of the Soviet?s Military significantly increased. The only downfall was agriculture production slowly diminished. This eventually led to food shortages. During this time period the Second World War broke out and drained most of what was left of the already impoverished state. However after the war, national unity was improved and the Soviet Union once again became a super power of the world. (" Stalin and World War II," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 99 Encyclopedia)

Stalin?s death in 1953 marked the end of the supreme power for the head of the Soviet party. Stalin?s successor, Nikita Khrushev, marked the beginning of the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union. Khrushev became the first Secretary of the Communists party ("Nikita Khrushev," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia). He believed Stalin?s actions were unnecessary and harmful to the process of moving the Socialist government to its goal of complete Communism. During his period of control the public was given some say in the government. A new policy of economy was brought in known as "New Course." It helped to balance the agriculture and increase food production so there were less food shortages.

Although Nikita Khrushev started a process of reform he was dismissed due to massive shortage of dairy products, and the fact that he failed to meet any of his initial objectives. After the dismissal of Khrushev, Leonid Brezhnev became the Soviet Communist Party Secretary General in October of 1964. Under his control central power was brought back into effect. Stalin?s disciplinary policies were restored. One of the causes of Brezhnev?s loss of power was in the way he controlled the land of Russia. During this time there was an inefficient use of land, which resulted in an economic slacking once again. The 1980?s saw a dramatic drop in the standards of the Soviet citizens. This led to strikes against the government, which greatly threatened the stability of the Soviet Union. The people were angered at the fact that the Communist Party had not lived up to what it had promised which was in return for their obedience. (B, Ulam,