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When And Why Did Communism Emerge?
Communism is a concept or system of society in which the major resources and means of production are owned by
the community rather than by individuals. This concept has been around since Plato’s Republic, but it reemerged in
mid-19th century due to many causes. Some are more obvious than others, and in this paper I would like to discuss,
in length, when and why did communism emerge.
Some minor aspects of communism were seen in ancient Oriental societies. For example, there was an Oriental
commune which contained elements of "communal landed property," or the idea that all land belonged to the
community instead of the people. But that didn’t get far at all, until the mid- 19th century, when the Communist
Manifesto was published.
The communist manifesto was the fuse that was lit, which in turn ignited all the explosives — the workers. The
manifesto was written in 1848, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and it basically criticized the bourgeoisie, by
giving lots of examples on how it is not fit to rule the country, and described all the advantages of communism. It
was divided into four main parts or chapters:
1. bourgeoisie and proletarians, the chapter in which Marx outlines his theory of history and predicts an end to
exploitation. He identifies class struggle as the primary dynamic in history. Driven by the logic of capitalism to seek
ever greater profit, the bourgeoisie- one class, constantly revolutionizes the means of economic production, and
therefore the other class suffers. The more advancements in production the greater the hostility on the worker’s side,
since he gets the same wage, but the owner gets much more.
2. proletarians and communists, the chapter where Marx explains that the communists are the allies of proletarians.
Him and Engels mention that if ownership of businesses would be equal, the class barrier would gradually be
3. Socialist and communist literature was the third chapter. It described and ridiculed different types of "wanna-be"
socialist and communist like governments throughout Europe.
4. Position of the communists in relation to the various existing opposition parties is the last chapter, which talks
about countries which could be beneficial for communism’s growth. At the end of this chapter, one of the most
famous communist quotes are written: WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
Many important ideas and beliefs were laid down in that small book. It was written with very strong opinions, and
was pretty much- propaganda. The book was written almost poetically, and was very persuasive.
"…The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production
and consumption in every country…all old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being
Phrases such as this one were very common throughout the book. It was printed, and re-printed in many languages
and in many countries. In Marx’s other works he discusses the ultimate state of communism where there is no
currency, and a person would work as much as he/she can, and then come into a store and take anything that he/she
needs. This person will not take too much because he/she has morals and cares about the needs of others. These
ideas didn’t have much immediate effect, but over the years they greatly influenced communist regimes in Russia
and China, and they even influenced the British Welfare State.
The reason for Engels’ and Marx’s book was to spread the word about communism, a rather utopian idea, yet
somehow doable. A lot of what was written in the book was very true. Every sentence had meaning, and people saw
it when they read it. Lenin was influenced by the manifesto, took its ideas, and developed the socialist, and
communist aspects farther than ever. He brought communism to a new level in Russia. But the way there wasn’t
The reasons for communism’s success could be explained, if we look at the people’s positions at that time. First, to
backtrack a little… Russia was under a monarchy for many centuries, and peasants were very poorly treated all
throughout that time. They were treated unfairly by the czar, just because there was no constitution, and the czar
made the rules. They coped with it, until one day, they finally had it. They decided to revolt in 1825, against
Nicholas I. The purpose for these revolts (one in 1905, one in 1825) was to establish a constitutional monarchy. That
didn’t work, so the people got even angrier. Plus, the lousy organization of the army for World War I, angered the
common people and, in 1917, the common people of Russia were driven over the top, and another revolution
happened. There were actually two of them, one in March, and one in November. The first one of the two was
successful, and a provisional government was installed. The second, replaced it with a commu!
nist government, lead by Lenin.
Now that the government was established by Lenin as communist/socialist Russia, making it work was very hard.
Lenin’s initial policy was: The proletariat…should not think of improving its position at the moment, but should
think of becoming the ruling class" He was right, there was no time for improving the proletariat’s position, because
after winning the November revolution, Russia was pretty chaotic. But Lenin, after working hard for years, and with
the help of his comrades, put Russia on a somewhat "positive" track. Yet still, Russia was at standstill, if not
regressing. The reasons for that are: 1. There were no funds in the government; 2. There was little contact with the
rural life, so the party was mostly an urban government. 3. And most importantly, there was lack of experience on
the party’s side, as well as on the peoples’.
There were other problems as well. There wasn’t enough trained personnel to fill all the jobs in the government
office and as the high positions in the red army, so people left over from the czarist government had to fill in. The
majority of them, however, were corrupt, and that made controlling the office very hard. Then, as Lenin was about
to die, he realized that the government started out in a very big hole, and the hole got bigger with time, and now, to
get out of the hole, they needed to choose wisely from a restricted number of programs, and none of the programs
were going to be easy routes to socialism.
What happened in China was very different from Russia. Mao Tse-Tung was a hard-core Marxist and communist all
his life. Over the years, he developed his own ideas from the ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin, again, taking it one step
further. In 1927, he went to the hills and founded a revolutionary base area. Until 1949 he stayed there, training
guerrilla forces and accumulating experience and knowledge, as well as developing new economic policies which
would help the ‘new’ Chinese government be on its way to communism. Over the years, he studied the peasants’
miseries and demands, and thought of ways to make the country run more efficiently. The Bolsheviks were sent to
teach and help Mao, but they really didn’t know what they were doing themselves, since Russia was disorganized at
the time. However, there were some things that Mao learned from Russia. He learned a lot abut the economy
quickly, things such as the 5-year plans, investments, and other economic operations. So, in that!
sense, China was lucky.
Unlike Russia, Mao spent many years spreading the ‘seed’ of socialism through China. He went to all the rural
places and spread his ideas quickly, and in 20 years, he was sure he could win power over the nation. Peasants all
over China were struggling with their landlords and moneylenders. Lenin once said, "The more backward a country
which, owing to the zigzags of history has proved to be the one to start the socialist revolution, the more difficult it
is for that country to pass from the old capitalist relations to socialist relations. New incredibly difficult tasks,
organizational tasks, are added to the tasks of destruction." But when it came to china, Lenin was wrong since Mao
had great support from the peasants. Mao was so confident that he thought he could move up to collectivization and
other socialist programs. But then there was a period of retardation during the anti-Japanese wars and the civil wars.
But again, Mao helped China out a lot with those issues, and the!
communists were eagerly welcomed as a new government. Overall, Mao was very successful in what he did, mostly
because he learned from Russia’s mistakes, and because he carefully planned everything out. One of the things he
understood that probably made him so great was that "If the workers and peasants become dissatisfied with their
living conditions, will it not affect the expansion of our Red Army and the mobilization of the masses for the
revolutionary war?" But even the best still make mistake
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