Communism: A Very Short Introduction

Communism: A Very Short Introduction

Leslie Holmes

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: 0199551545

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.

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Afghanistan, and urged the Vietnamese Communists to leave Cambodia (which they had invaded in 1979). Initially, Gorbachev’s approach made him very popular, both at home and abroad. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was symbolically highly significant, since it was seen by many in the Communist world as a sign that, at last, the Soviets really would allow countries to go their own way; the Sinatra Doctrine (named after the American crooner’s hit ‘My Way’) had replaced the Brezhnev Doctrine. When

workers or employees, and sometimes as the intelligentsia. This group occupied an intermediate position between classes and was called a ‘stratum’. The intelligentsia in Communist systems comprised a much broader group than what most Anglophone people understand by the term. While the stratum did include 93 Social policies and structures of communism insecurity under post-communism are sometimes nostalgic for the past. As with the other areas of social welfare considered here, however, there

From the Communists’ perspective, one advantage of this approach to classification is that it made the working class look bigger, thus justifying claims that societies were sufficiently developed in Marxist terms to be socialist. It is doubtful that Marx would have accepted such claims. These official descriptions of the class structure did not go unchallenged, however. Arguably the greatest critic was not a Western anti-Communist, but someone who had until 1954 been one of the most senior leaders

communism – and the future Religion and nationalism are often linked, and nationalists were another challenge to the Communists. This was clearly so in the USSR, where nationalists wanting independence – particularly in the Baltic States and Georgia – took advantage of glasnost’ to push their claims. Another example is Romania, where Hungarian protestors living mainly in Transylvania played a key role in triggering nation-wide protests against the Ceaus¸escu regime; their initial demonstrations

study of Soviet social policies, while B. Deacon’s Social Policy and Socialism (Pluto, 1982) provides a comparative analysis across Communist states. Valuable studies of Communists’ policies on nationalism include W. Connor, The National Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton University Press, 1984) and P. Zwick, National Communism (Westview, 1983), while two studies that focus more on nationalism itself are P. Sugar (ed.), Eastern European Nationalism in 141 Further reading

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