Communism in the Soviet Union and Why It Failed

1561 Words Sep 27th, 1999 7 Pages
Communism in the Soviet Union and Why it Failed

Communism is defined as "a system of political and economic organization in which property is owned by the community and all citizens share in the enjoyment of the common wealth, more or less according to their need." In 1917 the rise of power in the Marxist-inspired Bolsheviks in Russia along with the consolidation of power by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the word communism came to mean a totalitarian system controlled by a single political party. This came to justify that the means of production is controlled and the wealth is distributed with the goal of producing a classless or possibly a stateless society. The ideological meaning of communism arose in 1848 with the
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Stalinism became the basic model for most of these new governments. After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev began a rapid rise and in 1956 repudiated Stalin's "tyrannical excesses" in his famous "Secret
Speech" at the 20th party congress. The next year he became the parties leader.
Krushchev ended the practice of "bloody purges" of the party membership, but his rule aroused dissatisfaction among the other party leaders. He was kicked out in 1964. Leonid Brezhnev succeeded him and was general secretary until his death in 1982, when he was succeeded by Yuri Andropov. Andropov died in 1984 and the position was passed to Konstantin Chernenko. After Chernenko's death in
1985 the leadership was passed on to Mikhail Gorbachev.

Both as an ideology and a practical system for the organization of a state, communism entered a period of crisis in the late 20th century. By the 1980's it had become quite clear that state-owned systems of economic production were unable to provide the same standards of living obtained in many countries with free market economies. The unequal concentrations of wealth in capitalist countries were matched by glaring concentrations of power in communist ones. It had become clear that the maintenance of a one party communist rule tended to limit personal freedoms in a way unknown in parliamentary democracies. The rise to power in the Soviet Union of leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the