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Updated on April 1, 2011

A brief article on communism by Anthony Ratkov.

Many people have heard about communism, but few people in in the U.S.A. know what it actually is. American public schools generally don't teach their students anything about communism, so very few Americans know anything about it. Communism is a political system that was started in the 19th century. A German named Karl Marx wrote about communism, and he proposed that people should start communist governments, but few people took Marx seriously. It was not until the year 1917 that the first communist government was started. A Russian named Vladimir Lenin had heard about the ideas of Karl Marx. He was impressed with the ideas of Marx, and so Lenin became a communist revolutionary. He led a group of Russian soldiers in an attack on the Russian government, and in 1917 he took over the Russian government. In 1917 Russia became the world's first communist country.

A communist government follows strict rules that govern politics, economics, and culture. These rules are referred to as ideology. Communist ideology is the philosophy of communism. According to communist ideology, private ownership of property is wrong, and ownership of property must be shared by all the people, with the communist government acting as their agent. The communists believed that the non-communist system (which they call the capitalist system) was unfair. Communists believed that capitalism was unfair because the rich had an unfair advantage over the poor. Since the rich and poor occupied different social classes, the communist tried to eliminate this inequality, and they tried to create classless society, a society where social class had been totally abolished. In a communist country, private ownership was outlawed. Every farm and every factory was owned by the communist government. Every house and every apartment building was owned by the communist government. If you lived in Russia, you could live in a house,but you weren't allowed to own the house. The communist government owned the house, and you had to pay rent to the communist government. If you worked in a factory, they communists owned the factory you worked in, and you got your paycheck from the communists. All the stores were owned by the communists, and the prices in the stores were controlled by the communists. The communists owned every enterprise, including stores, restaurants, tourist resorts, etc.

Advertising was abolished by the communists. Instead of the advertising billboards that are common in western nations, Russians saw propaganda billboards. According to communist ideology, advertising was the source of 'artificial desires'. Religion was outlawed, since the communists believed that religious organizations would challenge the authority of the communist government. All churches and temples were closed, and the communists made sure that printing factories did not print bibles or other religious books. Although most churches in Russia were closed, some of them were re-opened as museums. Since the communists had total control over the culture, movies and television shows were censored by the communists. Movie stars were not referred to as movie stars, the official name for them was 'people's artists'. An actor in a movie was a people's artist,not a movie star.  Since the communists owned all the recording studios, all music recorded in Russia had to be approved by the communists. For years, rock and roll music was forbidden. It was only a few years ago that the communists started to allow rock and roll music.

Companies, in the strict sense, did not exist in a communist country, they were replaced with so-called 'collectives'. The idea of one company competing against another company for profits was anathema to the communists. Instead of an ongoing process of economic competition, the economy was organized by state planners. Economic output had to conform to economic plans that were re-drawn every five years. These 'five-years plans' had quotas for workers in manufacturing, mining and agriculture. Although life under communism was considered harsh, the communist system was popular among workers in many countries. Russia became a communist coutnry in 1917, China became communist in 1949 and Cuba became communist in 1959. In recent years, some of the strict elements of communist idelolgy have been reformed. For example, rock and roll music is now allowed in Russia, and the ban on religion has been lifted in most communist countries. A Russian orthodox church was even opened in Cuba, recently.    


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