One of the most often asked questions passed to Russians is if all of them are communists. There is a long story to that and the question can’t be answered only with a “yes” or “no”. Communism is a complex idea and it has left a very strong impression in the life of many Russians, especially them who were alive during the Soviet time. We’ll take a brief and comprehendible walk to see if communism has always been a part of Russian beliefs.
What is Communism?
In the early stages of the development of mankind, primitive communism on the basis of common property was the only form of human society. As a result of the property and social stratification of the primitive communal system and the emergence of a class society, communism has moved from a real practice to the category of a dream in a culture of a just society, the Golden Age and the like.
Communist views, at their inception, were based on the requirement of social equality on the basis of common property. One of the first formulations of communism in medieval Europe was the attempt to modernize Christian theology and politics in the form of a philosophy of poverty (not to be confused with poverty). In the XIII-XIV centuries, it was developed and tried to put into practice by representatives of the radical wing of the Franciscans. They equally opposed the mystical or monastic penance and the absolutization of private property. In poverty, they saw the conditions of righteousness in the world and the salvation of society. It was not so much about common property, but about a general rejection of property. At the same time, the ideology of communism was Christian-religious.
In the 1840s, the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie came to the fore in the most developed countries of Europe (Lyon uprisings in 1831 and 1834, the upsurge of the British Chartist movement in the mid-1830s and early 1850s, and the weavers’ uprising in Silesia in 1844).
During this period, German thinkers Karl Marx and F. Engels created the first international communist party, the Union of Communists, in the spring of 1847. It was renamed from the secret organization The Union of the Just, whom Marx met in London. They also composed the famous “Manifesto of the Communist Party” for the party, published on February 21, 1848.
The program itself contains 10 points:
- Expropriation of land ownership and circulation of land rents to cover government spending.
- High progressive tax.
- Cancellation of inheritance rights.
- Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels.
- Centralization of credit in the hands of the state through a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- The centralization of all transport in the hands of the state.
- An increase in the number of state factories, implements of production, arable land clearing and land improvement according to the general plan.
- The same compulsory labor for all, the establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combining agriculture with industry, helping to gradually eliminate the distinction between town and country.
- Public and free education of all children. Elimination of factory labor of children in its modern form. The combination of education with material production, etc.
Communism in Russia
The official name of economic practice in Russia during the Civil War on the territory of Soviet Russia in 1918-1921 was War Communism. Elements of war communism were introduced by most of the participating countries of World War I and II. The main goal was to provide the population of industrial cities and the Red Army with weapons, food and other necessary resources in a situation where all previously existing economic mechanisms and relations were destroyed by the war. The main measures of war communism were: the nationalization of banks and industry, the introduction of labor service, a food dictatorship based on the surplus apportionment and the introduction of a ration system, and a monopoly on foreign trade . The decision to end military communism was made on March 21, 1921, when it was introduced at the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks).
The Russian identity, by the will of historical destinies, combined with the non-viable Marxist dogma in its essence, revived Russian communism with its creative identity and demonstrated to the world an alternative way of the evolution of mankind, having accumulated both positive and negative experience of the process and the results of historical creativity.
From an ideological point of view, the Russian identity of the period of Russian communism has its source in classical Marxism, is processed by Lenin in relation to Russian conditions (Leninism), vulgarized by Stalin (Stalinism), weakens in the time of criticism of the personality cult of Stalin and entering a period of crisis, finally collapses, ending its existence as a state ideology in the destruction of the Soviet system of government. The ideology of communism played its role as the ideal of a fair way of life, the pursuit of social truth, and proposed a new historical meaning for the existence of the entire human community, including the Russian one. People lived in a communist future only mentally, but because this life was filled with faith in a communist future, all real life became a huge social impulse to work for this future.
Is communism still alive in Russia? The answer is yes. Unlike a few countries in the world, Russia still allows this ideology to grow and be chosen by its citizens. So communism is very much a belief in the country; it can become a personal option as a view of life just like a religion. However, since Russia is a very vast country, there are parts where communism is completely against the republics’ main ideology – especially where Islam takes the biggest portion of the regions’ belief.