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Communism As The Dream Of Economic Equality Essay, Research Paper

Many people all over the world look for an outlet for which they can improve their quality of life. They strive to find the means of transforming their dreams into reality. Communism, to people everywhere, has offered the means for transforming the dream of economic equality into reality, throughout history. Communism, however, like various other political and economic movements in the history of man, has become a distant realization.

Communism is a political and economic movement brought out to the public in the mid-nineteenth century. The communist’s main demand is the abolition of private property, which in turn will put an end to any present class system. This is undoubtedly the shortest and most significant way to characterize the revolution (Engels). This revolution instills in every proletarian mind the feeling that they can be victorious. The working classes of the world are the ones who are being done wrong. In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels proudly proclaim that “proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win” (77). Often, a political party will have a further motive behind their struggle. Communists that “every class struggle was a political struggle” (Marx 46).

The proletariat is often considered the working class. This group of people was the main concern of all communist principles. The proletariat is the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own (like farming), are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live (Marx 34). The proletariat does not draw profit from any kind of capital. On occasion the average worker can have a small victory for themselves, but for the most part the real freedom comes when all the workers unite and take a stand against what they’re put through on a day to day basis. Their victory only comes from the union of the proletarians, which is helped by the improvement of communications created by the modern industry (Marx 46). There haven’t always been proletarians, though. They originated in the industrial revolution of England in the last half of the eighteenth century (Engels).

The first industrial revolution began in Britain around 1750. It was during this time that many people turned to industry rather than farming to make a living (Wilkinson 70). Friedrich Engels often compared the average proletariat to a slave except one aspect. “The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly” (Engels). The opposite class of the proletariat was the bourgeois. This was considered the modern capitalist class. According to Marx and Engels they were the “owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor” (34). The bourgeois, in other words, were the employers; the business men who sat around while their employees worked painstaking hours. Now the capitalists, who have always been the opposing party of the communists, was the political power. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels state political power as “merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another” (61). As the industrial revolution went on and became an international revolution, more factories were built and the two classes of people emerged; the huge army of working-class people (or proletarians), and their capitalist bosses (Wilkinson 70). The factory bosses were considered the capitalists because they supported the system in which the country’s wealth is owned by individuals. These bosses were money hungry and used the unknowing workers to support their addiction. They became rich but paid workers low wages for long, strenuous hours of labor in difficult conditions (Wilkinson 70). These poor working conditions were the reason Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels joined to form the working-class movement and eventually wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848.

There are many communist principles. Most principles were made for the abolition of private property, but some were created for a separate goal. One principle concerning the abolition of private property is the “centralization of money and credit in the hands of the state through a national band with state capital” (Engels). Another measure was the confiscation of all the property and possessions of immigrants and rebels, because of their inability to side with the majority of the people. One, very prominent principle was the abolishment of private property through various taxation’s. This principle stressed that inheritance through collateral lines had terribly adverse effects. Many communist principles were and still are there to support agriculture, since most communists thought the industrial revolution to be profitable only to the capitalists. Another general aim of communism is “free education for all children in public schools” and the abolition of children’s factory labor (Engels). Also, communists believed that “centralization of all means of communication and transportation in the hands of the state” was necessary (Engels).

Communism is a major aspect of world and American history. The early years of communism seemed promising and rational. Karl Marx was a German philosopher, radical economist, and revolutionary leader (Padover 228). He founded modern socialism and later his basic ideas become known as Marxism. He believed that Marxism “formed the foundation of socialist and communist movements throughout the world” (Padover 228). No one picked up on Marxists ideas until a long time after he brought them into public view. “By the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, socialist parties everywhere had by and large accepted a considerable measure of Marxism” (Padover 228). Although he was a brilliant man and fought for a rational and understandable cause, Marx spent most of his life in exile because some of his ideas were considered radical. Friedrich Engels was the cofounder with Karl Marx of modern socialism. According to Saul K. Padover “Engels had a brilliant mind and was quick, sharp, and unerring in his judgements” (580). Engels and Marx met in the 1840’s and decided to collaborate in their writings because they had the same opinion on almost everything (Padover 580). Both agreed heavily on one very important thing; they predicted that the workers would unite, along with a few capitalists, and fight for better wages. Then there would be a revolution that would replace the capitalist revolution with communism (Wilkinson 72).

Later, after the rise of communism, it was corrupted and turned against by many anticommunists and communists. “The first communist revolution happened in Russia in 1917, which then became the Soviet Union. Other eastern and central European countries also adopted a communist system of government” (Padover 72). After the revolution in 1917 in Russia many socialist parties quickly turned to communism. After a long time in political limbo communism was swept away in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when many political changes took place in formerly communist countries. Democratic elections and capitalist values overthrew many Marxists’ ideals. In 1990, Germany was reunified from their previous division of communist East Germany and democratic West Germany (Padover 72).

Contrary to popular believe, communism was not always an irrational-seeming corrupted movement. Communists have always believed that a political party must work for the good of the people as a whole. Communism promotes economic equality. In the beginning, a communist was one not known to be competitive, like the capitalist. Friedrich Engels believed we should “abolish competition and replace it with association.” As long as people are willing to produce more than is needed, a ruling class will always exist. This willingness will also produce a poor, oppressed class (Engels). Communism is the force behind the liberation of the working-class. Along with the good principle of promoting economic equality, the abolition of materialism was another honorable ideal of communism. Karl Marx believed that every existing society was materialistic and communism could resolve that. Materialism is concern only for physical things, like private property. Communists believe that the major consequence of the disappearance of private property will be the abolishment of all economic crisis (Engels).

Communism did, and still does have many radical and corrupt ideals and leaders. At many points in time the communists believed that their goals could only be achieved by forcefully overthrowing all existing conditions (Marx 77). Many people didn’t like that idea of having the heavy income taxes that would come along with the communist revolution. In 1903, the split of the Russian Social Democratic Party led to the definition of communists as those who seek change by a forceful revolution, and socialists as those who seek change by peaceful reform (Padover 72). In the early 20th century, Marxian communists knew that it could not build itself on the backward peasant economy, but they believed the Russian revolution would spark similar revolutions throughout Europe. Soon after the death of the Marxian communist leader, Lenin, died, Joseph Stalin began a reign of terror. Stalin was the ultimate corruptor of communism. He put an end to the Marxist-Leninist dream of world proletarian brotherhood (Goldston 110). In Russia, Stalin took communism to a high level of corruption. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer. He tortured the peasant for not willingly turning over all of their private property. According to Robert Goldston, when the peasants were told to give up all of their possessions they responded by burning everything they owned (116). “Starvation became an effective weapon against the peasants.” Eight to ten million peasants died as a result and the remaining ones went to collective farms (Goldston 117). In Stalin’s deranged mind, all who disagreed with him became traitors to be dealt with as dangerous enemies of the state. His “entire life and career may be viewed as the deepening obsession of a paranoid personality to retain control” (Goldston 119). It wasn’t until 1953 that Stalin’s regime of horror ended. He died of a massive brain hemorrhage on May 5 of that year.

The communist movement hit America in the early twentieth century. Initially, American communism operated legally and American communists could proclaim their goals at an open convention (Haynes 57). Some American communists claimed the party to be “the only place where I saw or experienced . . . compassion for the poor and persecuted” (Fast 242). Many Americans saw this communist revolution as a way to unite with people who suffered from the same economic depravity. Since the American communist movement consisted of mainly immigrants without U.S. citizenship, terrorist threats and bombings forced the movement to become underground in the early 1900’s. A little later in the 1920’s the movement was forced to resurface by the Communist International. Only little harassment was given. For the most part, they were still legally and openly operating (Haynes 58). Soon after resurfacing, however, the American communist party was thought to be involved in Soviet espionage through the Communist International. A short while after these allegations, an extensive relationship with Soviet intelligence began within the realms of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), especially by the senior members (Haynes 233). This began the worst time in the history of the CPUSA. “During WWII the CPUSA secret apparatus supplied personnel for Soviet operations in Europe” (Haynes). In the mid-1930’s, President Roosevelt ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to reenter the domestic security field and closely observe American communists for counterintelligence activities. Several secret apparatus operations where going on in the CPUSA. One in particular, led by J. Peters, engaged in the wholesale procurement of false American passports for use by American communists and Soviet intelligence for espionage purposes (Haynes 79). In the 1930’s the party supplied several recruits for Soviet intelligence abroad. Two landed in European jails and one, sent to Asia, paid with his life. Also, in the 1930 and 40’s, the CPUSA was involved in extensive spying on Stalin’s ideological enemies. The party also had considerable involvement with the murder of Stalin’s arch-rival, Leon Trotsky, who posed a threat to Soviet communism (Haynes 250). A little later they began to infiltrate into the closely guarded military scientific secret, the atomic bomb. “Theft of scientific and technical information constituted the earliest and perhaps the most widespread from of Soviet espionage in the U.S.” (Haynes 287). Julius Rosenburg is best known for his role in Soviet atomic espionage. Rosenburg had been an engineering student at the College of the City of New York and a member of the Young Communist League and later recruited many of his colleagues into Soviet espionage (Haynes 295). Now the American government simply referred to the CPUSA as murderous villains or “puppets on strings held by Moscow” (Haynes 242).

An anticommunist movement was quickly put into action. By the late 1940’s just about every important sector of American society had representatives within the anticommunist network ranks (Schrecker 45). Although all American communists were not involved in Soviet espionage, the government quickly defined communists as villains. For quite sometime “the FBI had been engaged in the exhaustive task of compiling a compendium of legally admissible evidence that would prove the unlawful status of the communist party” (Schrecker 42). In the 1940 and 50’s Joseph McCarthy led a “witch-hunt” for communists. McCarthyism produced widespread fear among all Americans. “By the end of 1950, Joe McCarthy was riding high, bolstered by the aura of political invincibility that the fears of his opponents served to enhance” (Schrecker 249). The fifties were considered by many people a time of silence instead of fear. People kept quiet in order not to get blacklisted. Thousands of people were blacklisted, both for refusing to name names and for being unwilling to sign the proliferating loyalty oaths (Fast 245). Joe McCarthy even made an attack on the presidency at one point. In 1953, he charged that the Eisenhower administration was soft on communism. Ultimately, McCarthy “got a lot of his facts wrong” and put many innocent people to shame (Schrecker 241).

In their Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels proclaimed “working men of all countries, unite!” (77). Communism’s original intentions on being a political party for the people as a whole were ultimately destroyed. Many corruptors came along the way, and as in every other political and economic doctrine, the dream has vanished.

Bibliography

Engels, Friedrich. “The Principles of Communism.” 3 May 2000

Fast, Howard. Being Red. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990.

Goldston, Robert. The Soviets. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.

Haynes, John Earl, and Harvey Klehr. Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America.

Hew Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. London: Verso, 1998.

Padover, Saul K. “Engels.” The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography. 1973 ed.

Padover, Saul K. “K. Marx.” The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography. 1973 ed.

Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are The Crimes: McCarthyism in America. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998.

Wilkinson, Phillip, and Jacqueline Dineen. People Who Changed The World. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1994.


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