Communism: A Very Short Introduction
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
If now in decline since the tumultuous events of 1989, communism was without doubt the great political movement of the twentieth century--at its peak, more than a third of the world's population lived under communist rule--and it is still a powerful force in many areas of the world, most notably in the People's Republic of China. What is communism? Where did the idea come from and what attracted people to it? Is there a future for communism? This Very Short Introduction considers these questions and more in the search to explore and understand this controversial political force. Explaining the theory behind its ideology, and examining the history and mindset behind its political, economic and social structures, Leslie Holmes considers the evolution of communism from Marx's time, to its practice in the Bolshevik Revolution, to its collapse in 1989-91. Holmes highlights the inner dynamics, crises, and demise of communism as a global system, and introduces the major players in the communist world, including Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
countryside. Deng was a ﬁrm believer in the need to unlock the entrepreneurial skills of the masses if China was to progress, and so encouraged a form of private initiative among the largest section of the population, the peasantry. For Deng, it was unimportant that others might criticize him for being too capitalist-oriented, as long as the lot of ordinary Chinese improved; as he expressed it in one of his most famous statements, ‘It does not matter whether the cat is black or white; as long as
of the nomenklatura system – will be considered below, since it was sufﬁciently important to deserve consideration in its own right. For now, the focus turns to the political heart of any Communist system, the Politburo. Politburos were small bodies – usually between 10 and 25 members, depending on the country and period, and whether or not one includes only full (voting) members or also candidate (non-voting) members. Typically, they would meet once a week, or sometimes once a fortnight, and
consistent. However, a comparison of the Gini coefﬁcients of a number of Communist states in the late 1980s indicates that the gap between rich and poor was narrower than in most Western states. Gini coefﬁcients are often presented on a 0 to 100 (percentage) scale, and are then called the Gini index: the higher the percentage, the wider the income gap, and hence the greater the inequality. In 1986, Czechoslovakia had a Gini index of 19.7% – making it the most egalitarian of the East European
Soviets had learnt their lesson from the early 1960s. Nevertheless, new tensions soon emerged. Following the 1973 oil crisis, the USSR proposed that the price of primary resources within Comecon should be related to world market prices, but with a time-lag. As a country rich in natural resources, including oil, this arrangement – which was adopted in 1975 – suited the Soviet Union. But some of its resource-poor East European neighbours resented having the new system essentially imposed on them,
that was in time to act as a central planning agency. This was Gosplan (State Planning Ofﬁce). While this body did little in Lenin’s time, its establishment meant that there already existed both a commitment to planning and an agency to direct this by the time Stalin had consolidated power in the late 1920s. 20 The start of the post-NEP era is disputed, but is commonly taken as 1928, since it was in October of that year that the Soviet Union adopted its ﬁrst ﬁve-year economic plan. Initially,