The Soviet Tragedy, a History of Socialism in Russia

The Soviet socialist revolution fascinated everyone and came to change politics all over Europe. However, it turned out to be a beast with two backs: even though to many it represented the hope of Socialism and the salvation of the working class, to many other millions it brought the horrors of totalitarianism and persecution. Until the early 20th century (1905) Russia was ruled by a monarchy. In 1905 there was a Revolution to put an end to monarchy and an Interim Government took place, with a variety of Left-winged parties (the Czar was replaced by State).

Later, in October 1917, another revolution took place later, one that gave the power to Lenin and his Bolshevik party. Lenin wanted to build Communism with the ideas of Marxism-Leninism through Socialism: the State wanted to implant the idea of total equality between the soviet people and the dismissal of State’s power to lead the society. Behind the concept of Communism was the main idea that a country worked better all by itself: the human condition limited the overall production and led people to work as much as they could and consume only the essential for living.


In this model, a concept such as money is not present. This process had to happen naturally, and without the state’s interference, however, for this to happen it was necessary to alter people’s minds. Socialism is a condition of communism, but this is only a utopia so it’s impossible to achieve. The Bolshevik party wanted to achieve this at all costs, and this turned the whole system into a totalitarian regime which was, obviously, negative because all opponents to the system were killed or repressed.

The State had all power and was able to control the whole economy (in a positive, but also in a negative way). Even though the State had a plan and could forecast inflation by controlling the price level and the quantities available, planned economies were not as effective as market economies. USSR was going through an enormous modernization in all sectors at this time: hydro-electrical structures, roads, railways, education, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology and other sciences. Due to this process, self-efficient producers were turned into large corporations which were State-controlled.

After the Second World War, there were two superpowers in the world: the United States of America and the USSR. By that time, people were open-minded and wanted to explore new ways of organizing society. They found two ways: capitalism in USA and communism in the USSR. The world divided itself between these two thanks to their large power, the same power that induced the Cold War. The USSR was the first Socialist society. In the beginning, Totalitarianism was considered at a “high” level with Lenin and then with Stalin.

Later, the totalitarian system was turned into “classical” with Gorbachev and disappeared with the end of “Perestroika”, the end of USSR and Gorbachev’s regime. In the 1960’s the “modernization theory” replaced the totalitarian model: the soviet regime behind Stalinism was indeed a force for development – urbanization, industrialization and mass education. Some even said that Russia would someday “converge” with western societies, realize its democratic potential and bring the social sensitivity needed in the capitalist West. After the collapse, the time had come to re-evaluate the assumptions and problems of Sovietology.

Just when the word “totalitarianism” was beginning to be erased from the West, it became current in Eastern Europe. For them, “totalitarian” did not mean that regimes indeed exercises total control over the population,, but instead, that control was their basic aspiration; these regimes were not omnipotent, but rather “omnicompetent” in their structure. However, the result of the USSR’s attempt to build communism showed that it was all just a Utopia. This system was an experiment that tried to build the perfect society through violent power, so it turned out to be a total tragedy.

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