The Communists

 Alloy plaque of Joseph Stalin. A 'cult of personality' was created around Stalin which allowed him to rule Soviet Russia with an iron grip.

Karl Marx first formulated the concept of a shared utopia in which those who provided the labour not only shared in the profits (which arguably they did indirectly by virtue of being paid for the service they provided), but shared in the ownership of the company for which they worked. The irony of this situation should not be lost as, when Marx set this out in his three-volume thesis, Das Kapital, this had been formulated jointly with Frederick Engels, the owner of a mill in Manchester.The purity of the proposed formula, however, failed to include one major aspect; namely, that of human nature.

The struggle of the oppressed masses by a rich élite is not a new one. Medieval society was based entirely upon this concept and it took the arrival of the Black Death for the ensuing lack of available of labour to make the first breakthrough in the rights and conditions of the working man.

Finial from the top of a flag pole. Like the Nazi's imagery was an important part of reinforcing the role of the party over the state. This example was introduced in 1942 with the design remaining in use right until the end of Communism in Russia.

The Communist Party was formed on principles based on those first set out in Das Kapital and as such, its members were referred to as Marxists. The general assumption was that the rise of the workers and the throwing off of the shackles of oppression would most likely occur in a society where there was a skilled and educated workforce; after all, ignorance is bliss. Thus, the prime candidates for the required revolution were most likely to be in the industrialised western European economies, rather than some agriculturally-based economy comprising of a largely illiterate population more concerned about the day-to-day issue of survival. Once this revolution came, it was expected by those who supported it that it would be the unleashing of a tsunami that would roll over the developed world and see country after country fall.

Russia was exactly the type of economy which would be least likely to initiate these events; however, it was there where the Marxist ideals were enacted to the full. The details of the actual events are extremely complex and there are far better places on the internet to explore this chronology, so this will deal with the basic facts. The Tsars had ruled Russia with an iron grip and over the centuries had developed their place at the top of an extremely unbalanced pyramid of enormous wealth and opulence, while the vast majority of their subjects were living a subsistence lifestyle. The Communists' basic promise during the horrors of WW1 were for peace, land and bread. This was, to say the least, hardly unreasonable, under the circumstances. The leader of this Russian movement was Lenin.

The revolution which removed the established order in Russia came in October of 1917; this is the one to which the Soviet regime looked back and marked as the pivotal event. The October 1917 revolution, was however, not the first or indeed the last in the chain of events which would go on to form the emerging Russian state. The Civil War of 1919-1921 witnessed this maelstrom being joined by a number of countries, which had vested interests in the eventual outcome; as we all know, the Marxist-Leninist new world order would ultimately be that which triumphed.

Stalin proceeding over a parade in Red Square.

When Lenin died in 1924, a little-known member of the People's Soviet used his influence, ambition and basic murderous guile to effect an internal coup and install himself in the seat of power. This was Stalin. Stalin was a Georgian and as such, harboured an extreme hatred of Russia. This emotion would go on to manifest itself as maximum brutality. One of the first things Stalin did was to execute most of his entire officer corps; this would have some dire consequences during WW2, when the army was led by politically-motivated, rather than militarily-trained and experienced officers. Like Hitler, he created a cult of personality, quite disconnected from the reality of the individual and the régime as a whole. The extension of the concept of the former Imperial secret police made Russia a deadly place to live, as even the apparently most-innocent of comments made in the presence of individuals you would otherwise trust, could result in your 're-education' in the Siberian gulags at best, or your execution at worst. Today it is often debated whether Hitler or Stalin was responsible for having killed the most Russians.

For the Communist anthem, click here.

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