Creation Of Totalitarian States Essay Research Paper

Creation Of Totalitarian States Essay, Research Paper

The two totalitarian states that can be most obviously compared in terms of

similarities and differences are China and Russia.? During the course of this essay I will attempt to compare and

contrast the individual contributory factors that led to the setting up of

these Communist states.? Perhaps the

most important similarity between the two revolutions is the ideology, Marxism,

on which they claimed to be based. ??????????? Karl Marx

was a German revolutionary who came up with a theory, Marxism, which was later

used as a basis for the Communist states. He advanced the idea that the

character of human society was determined by scientific laws that could be

studied, understood and then applied.?

His own perception of history was a continuous struggle between those

who possessed economic and political power and those who did not.? He referred to this continuous class

struggle as the dialectic.? Marx?s

assertion that the contemporary industrial era marked the end of the

dialectical class struggle was the grounds for revolution.? Marx talked of a victory of the proletariat

over the bourgeoisie, a victory of the workers over the exploiting, capitalist

class.? However, Russia?s social conditions were not those

described by Marx, considered necessary for the creation of a Communist state.

When we look at Russia in the context of social conditions before the revolution,

we see a rapidly industrialising power with the highest economic growth rate in

Europe. However, Russia was industrialising, and was not already

industrialised.? Socially, though, there

was a dramatic shift from an entirely agricultural society, towards a fully

industrialised, modern society.? This

shift was conducive to revolutionary forces as the influx of workers headed for

the city caused the cities to become overcrowded, working conditions were poor

and wages were low.? However, as

peasants this had been tolerated.? The

difference was that in the cities political unrest developed more rapidly, when

people were living in close proximity to one another, they realised that their

were others who felt as they did about the way they were treated, this led to

discontent among the workers who began to look towards revolutionary parties

such as the Social Revolutionaries (SR?s), the Bolsheviks and the

Mensheviks.? The result of this was that

these revolutionary parties rapidly gained and became stronger and more

influential.? The war also played a

vital role in the people?s discontentment. The grouping of soldiers together in

close proximity to one another, watching as their compatriots died in agony

before their eyes for no real benefit to them, led them to believe that the war

was pointless, and with Bolsheviks in particular encouraging desertions, and

with the promise of land at home, many of the peasant soldiers left the

trenches for the farm land.? In the case of Russia, the grouping of people in the

cities and in the trenches led to a revolutionary spirit and a political

consciousness that was difficult to suppress. Particularly in the years leading

up to 1917, the people of Russia began to see the Tsar less as their ?little

father? and more as the weak, suppressive dictator he really was. Mistakes such

as taking direct control of the army, thereby causing himself to be blamed for

any defeat led to a loss of faith in the ability of the Tsar to rule

Russia.? Perhaps for the first time, the

population of Russia became interested in the running of their own country, and

instead of leaving all government to the Tsar, began to look for alternative

forms of government.? This social change

was demonstrated in the massive increase of party memberships during this time. In China, however, the social change was not so

dramatic.? The GMD had overthrown the

Manchu dynasty in 1911 amid a clamour of public opinion in favour of

revolutionary political change.? The

result was that the Chinese Nationalist Party (the GMD) under Sun Yatsen came

to power.? In this way, the initial

overthrow of the monarchy could be directly compared with that of Russia, the

problem was that the regime was too conservative and reforms did not go far enough.

However, the communist revolution came about in very different circumstances to

that of Russia.? In contrast to Russia,

China was still a very agricultural, economically backward, socially unchanged

power in 1949 when the communists came to power.? The industrial revolution seen in Russia in the early 20th

century was not repeated in China, and indeed it was not until after the

communists came to power that anything like industrialisation took place.? However, there was much discontent among the

peasantry.? Exploited for centuries by

autocratic system of land ownership, they had become politically conscious and

looked to revolutionary parties such as the GMD for the answers.? However, under the GMD, little changed for the

ordinary peasant.? The autocratic land

ownership still existed.? It was this

that caused the communists to become so popular.? The removal of land from the traditional control of the

landowners whilst giving it to the peasantry built their power base in northern

China.? It was the support of the

peasantry that allowed the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to seize power in

1949, and although it had only involved limited social reform, the social

reform implemented was that which was needed at the time. The revolution in China was made possible not so

much by revolutionary change, but through the adaptation of Marxism-Leninism to

fit the Chinese model.? Marx believed

that the revolution must begin with the proletariat or the workers.? However, China was not sufficiently

industrialised to allow a workers uprising.?

The result was that Mao Zedong, the CCP leader from 1934, adapted the

Marxist beliefs to fit the Chinese needs.?

The result was Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, a form of peasant communism,

specifically designed for a Chinese revolution. Marxism was taken as a basis

for revolution, but China only took from Marxism the aspects that were best

suited to the Chinese situation, Marxism was adapted to fit a Chinese

situation, as China could not adapt to fit a Marxist ideal. This adaptation of

an ideology to be applied in China was vital to the communist success as it was

only their peasant support base that allowed them to seize power in 1949.? It was also significant that China did not

follow the Russian model of communism.?

The CCP had a strong leadership that refused to adhere to the Russian

model of communism where they felt the Russian model conflicted with the

interests of the revolution in China. Despite frustrating Comintern and Stalin,

Mao realised that without adaptation, the Chinese revolution could not have

possibly survived.? Perhaps Mao?s

greatest and most important realisation was that in order to create a

revolution dependent upon the peasants, the peasants must understand what the

revolution is about.? The result was the

simplification of communism into a form that could be easily understood by the

peasants. Similarly in Russia, the conditions for a strictly

Marxist revolution simply didn?t exist.?

The result was that Lenin adapted Marxism to fit the Russian model, in a

similar way to that in which Mao adapted Marxism to fit a Chinese model.? Lenin spoke of the Bolshevik revolution of

October 1917 being carried out by the Red Army on behalf of the workers.

Lenin?s view of the contemporary Russian working class was that its small size

and lack of political sophistication meant that it could not achieve revolution

unaided.? Lenin saw the enlightened

Bolshevik party as a guiding force, moving the proletariat towards its

revolutionary destiny.? The result was a

new sort of political party, disciplined, exclusive, tightly structured and

professional.? This in turn led to a new

sort of politician: self-confident, dismissive of other parties and ideologies,

and extremely loyal towards the supreme leader.? Trotsky expressed Lenin?s ideology as follows: ?The party in the last analysis is always right,

because the party is the only historical instrument given to the proletariat to

resolve its fundamental tasks.? Perhaps the most important factor, common to both

revolutions was the strong leadership provided by Lenin and Mao Zedong.? This leadership in both cases proved vital

to the success of the revolution and its eventual outcome but in very different

ways.? In the case of Lenin, he was a

brilliant ideologist and theoretician.?

His ideas, rhetoric and charisma gave the regime the charismatic

legitimacy that it needed to survive.?

He also brought determination, discipline and unity to the party

transforming it from a small party in cooperation with others in the Soviet,

into a powerful revolutionary party capable of seizing power.? However, Lenin was not a strategist, and the

plans for the seizure of power would not have existed had it not been for

Trotsky.? It was the combination of

Lenin and Trotsky that enabled the revolution to occur.? Lenin?s charisma and theory was put into

practise by Trotsky?s planning and organisation.? His organisation of the Red Army during the civil war

strengthened the Bolshevik grip on power, which without him may well have

loosened and slipped.? In Russia,

therefore, it was very much the combined influence of Lenin and Trotsky that

provided the required strong leadership, and allowed the revolution to take

place. Mao Zedong, on the other hand, was a more complete

revolutionary leader.? He provided the

charisma and enthusiasm to carry those around him along through a cult of

personality, and similarly to Stalin, became a God-like figure to those who

followed him.? However, he also

maintained an effective, well-disciplined party with the clear objective of

seizing power.? The Red Army was an

effective fighting unit, organised and disciplined. Certainly, there was no

comparison between the Red Army and Chiang Kaishek?s ill-disciplined

forces.? However, like Lenin, Mao was an

intelligent theoretician.? His

adaptation of Marxism-Leninism to fit a Chinese model showed insight and

political realism, the realisation that China could not fit into the model of

communism that had been used in Russia was vital to the survival of the

revolution.? Through his sense of

political realism, Mao also perceived what would appeal to an oppressed

population.? By virtue of his organising

ability and his awesome power to inspire those around him, Mao won the loyalty

of a large section of the population.?

His ability to adapt communism, simplifying Marxist principles into a

set of guidelines for the peasants to follow showed a realisation of China?s

real situation.? It is arguable that

without Mao, Communism would not have survived let alone triumphed in

1949.? One would expect that China would have had an easier

road to revolution with its neighbour Russia offering both monetary and

military aid.? In actual fact, the

reverse was true.? China turned

Communist against all the odds, not only did Russia offer no aid to the CCP,

but they openly opposed them by supplying the opposition forces of the

GMD.? The GMD also received aid from the

west, particularly from America.? These

armaments were stockpiled and used in the war against the Communists, instead

of being used in the war against Japan as had been originally intended.? The Communists, by contrast, received no

foreign aid, and their weapons were obtained either by stealing from the GMD or

through defeating the Japanese and taking weapons from Japanese bases in

China.? It was solely due to the disciplined,

effective fighting unit, the Red Army that the CCP eventually triumphed.? It was the superior conditions, the better

treatment of the soldiers, Mao?s excellent motivation of the troops and the

more rigorous discipline that allowed the CCP to eventually defeat the GMD. In

contrast, the GMD troops were ill disciplined, poorly motivated and badly

treated by those in authority over them. The credit for this incredible feat

must therefore be given to Mao and the leadership of the CCP. Similarly in Russia, the feat of revolution was

achieved among open hostility from the Western European powers, America and

Japan, who all sent troops into Russia to fight against the Communists. Again,

the victory was partially due to the ?Red?s? disciplined, motivated approach

towards the war, and partially due to the lack of organisation and discipline

among the ?White?s?.? The victory in

Russia can be attributed to Trotsky?s motivational and disciplinarian approach

to the war, in the same way that the victory in China can be attributed to Mao

for similar reasons.? Trotsky?s use of

the railway was particularly effective in transporting troops quickly and

effectively to where they were required.?

In both country?s, however, the revolution triumphed due to the absolute

belief and dedication among those fighting for it. However, having said that the revolution in Russia

had no impact upon the revolution in China would be inaccurate.? Although Stalin opposed the CCP in the civil

war, Comintern had previously given instructions to the CCP regarding how the

revolution should be conducted, and although Mao disregarded many of these

instructions, some were clearly adopted, as there seem to be too many

similarities between the two revolutions for China to have learnt nothing from

Russia.? For example, it is highly

likely that the disciplined approach adopted by the Red Army in China was

influenced in part by Trotsky?s Red Army in Russia and in the quick

introduction of the five-year plans, successful in Russia under Stalin.? Perhaps the most significant factor in both revolutions

was the ruthless consolidation of power.?

In both China and Russia, after the civil war, a ruthless policy of

purging was adopted.? In Russia, the

CHEKA, a more disciplined version of the Tsarist Okhrana, and led by Felix

Dzerzhinsky, a dedicated Bolshevik with no sense of compassion, was given the

task of destroying the real or potential opponents to the regime.? With Lenin?s full backing, the CHEKA

established a reign of terror across the greater part of Russia.? This effective form of repression succeeded

in consolidating Bolshevik power by removing all those who opposed the regime,

encouraging others to remain silent.?

Similarly in China, the policy of Land Reform often involved the violent

removal of the landlords, and shortly after the Communist victory of 1949, an

action was ordered against the counter-revolutionary threat (again possibly a

lesson learnt from Russia) that resulted in the categorisation of ?friends? and

?enemies? of the regime.? This resulted

in the ?removal? of all the elements in society considered to be

?counter-revolutionary?, 140 000 were arrested as GMD supporters and 28 332

executions took place between October 1950 and August 1951. These two revolutions are similar in many ways; the

opposition faced from the external and internal forces, the suppression of

counter-revolutionary forces during the consolidation of power, and perhaps

most obviously the presence of an inspirational, charismatic theoretician.

However, this is not to say that the revolutions did not differ, perhaps that

most apparent differentiation is the adaptation of Marxism to fit the different

situations in China and Russia at the time of the revolution.? The rapid industrialisation of the cities,

but still comparative backwardness when compared to a truly industrialised

state such as Germany led to Marxism being altered by Lenin who talked of a

revolution carried out on behalf of the workers.? However, this was further adapted by Mao who simply took the

principles of Marxism and converted it into a model applicable to the peasant

dominated Chinese society.? The support

base for the CCP and the Bolsheviks were also completely different, the CCP

relied heavily upon the support of the peasantry, whereas the Bolsheviks were more

dependent upon the workers for their primary support base.? There are certainly many more similarities

than differences between the Chinese and Russian revolution, but their seems to

be good reason for this as the Chinese took many ideas from the Russians in the

way they attempted the seizure of power from the GMD. Although many adaptations

had to be made for the revolution to be applicable to China, many of the

similarities stem from the attempt to emulate the success of the Russian

revolution.? However, this should not

detract from the very different, and perhaps more hostile conditions faced by

Mao Zedong in his attempt to turn China into a Communist state. Although in

some areas, he imitated the revolution in Russia, in many others, his ideology

was all his own, resulting in a more successful version of Chinese

Communism.? These two revolutions, in

many ways similar, but yet very different, should be considered two of the

greatest achievements of the 20th century, as in both cases, despite

brutal methods, a Communist state was brought about despite all the odds.


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