Brave New World: Communism on Trial

Chapter 27

The Postwar Soviet Union

  • After WWII the Soviet Union was one of the world’s major superpowers.

  • The Soviet Empire included Eastern Europe, much of the Balkans, and territory from Japan inn East Asia (see map on pg. 792).

From Stalin to Khrushchev

  • 20 million citizens lost their lives.

  • Kiev, Kharkov, and Leningrad suffered a lot of physical damage

  • Agricultural production and steel output dropped.

  • Soviet people worked longer hours, ate less, and were ill-housed and poorly clothed

Stalinism in Action

  • After the war the Soviet Union removed goods and materials from occupied Germany

  • Soviet Laborers were expected to produce goods for export for little in return.

  • Loss of men in the war meant that the workload fell onto Soviet women.

  • New power plants, canals, and factories were built.

  • Industrial enterprises and oil fields were established in Siberia and Soviet Central Asia.

  • Consumer goods remained scarce

  • Development of thermonuclear weapons, MIG fighter planes, and the first space satellite (Sputnik) raised the Soviet Unions rep. as a world power.

  • Heavy industry grew at 3 times than that of personal consumption.

  • Stalin’s several thousand secret police officers ensured that he would remain in power.

  • Stalin exercised sole authority and “got rid of” his competitors

  • After Stalin died in 1953, Georgy Malenkov took over.

  • Malenkov wanted to ease Cold War tensions and improve relations with Western powers.

  • Malenkov advocated a new course and a decline in Stalinist methods of rule.

  • Malenkov also hoped to reduce defense expenditures and increase the standard of living

  • Malenkov’s ideas were not liked by the army, Communist Party, the managerial elite, or the KGB so he was removed from office and replaced with Nikita Khrushchev

The Rise and Fall of Khrushchev

  • Khrushchev showed political dexterity and resumed the efforts to lessen Western tensions and improve the standard of living.

  • He tried to release the grip that the central bureaucracy had over the economy and in so doing he abolished several government ministries

  • He increased profit incentives and opened a lot of land in Soviet Kazakhstan to be farmed

  • Many people became angry when he tried to split the Communist Party because they viewed it as central force in the Soviet system.

  • He picked up the name “Cornman” after trying to persuade the Russians to eat more corn.

  • Khrushchev was best known for his policy of de-Stalinization.

  • Khrushchev was Stalin’s prodigy but Khrushchev did not like Stalin (see “Khrushchev Denounces Stalin” on pg. 794).

  • Khrushchev released thousands of prisoners from concentration camps.

  • Khrushchev was voted out of office in 1964 by the Soviet Politburo and was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.

The Brezhnev Years (1964-1982)

  • Pressure on government came from inside sources ( KGB,military, etc.).

  • Brezhnev managed to stay in power for so long by avoiding changes that would provoke instability.

  • Brezhnev and his prime minister, Alexei Kosygin, attempted to “de-Khrushchevive” the government by reuniting the Communist Party, and returning some responsibilities back to the central ministries.

  • Reforms were launched in the industrial sector to give more responsibilities to factory managers

  • The reforms were heavily resisted and only a few factories adopted them.

A Controlled Society

  • A large amount of people in Russian society still viewed Stalin as a hero and called him the “Great Leader.”

  • The regime adopted a restrictive policy toward protestors in Soviet society.

  • Opposers were arrested, harassed, or forced to leave the country

  • Return of anti-Semitic policies and attitudes

  • State controlled the media; the Chernobyl disaster were publicised as Western propaganda

  • Conformity was in every aspect of Soviet society

A Stagnant Economy

  • Soviet leaders failed to revitalize the economy

  • The primary problem of Soviet economy wa the absence of incentives

  • Factory managers were assigned quotas by the Gosplan- “state plan” drawn up by the central planning commission

  • Soviet citizens often resorted to buying things on the black market because they were not available in stores.

  • Inadequate technology was also a problem in overcoming economic growth.

An Aging Leadership

  • Many leaders saw the need for reform, but were scared to act

  • Brezhnev was succeeded by Yuri Andropov

  • Andropov was only in office for a couple months and was replaced by Konstantin Chernenko

Cultural Expression in the Soviet Bloc

  • Under Stalin, Soviet culture was a wasteland

  • In 1946 decrees were passed that made all forms of literary and scientific expression dependent on the state

  • Marx, Lenin, and Stalin were all portrayed as Communist heroes

  • Spectator sports became popular

Social Changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

  • Most countries went from peasant societies to to modern, industrialized economies

  • Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries never established the high standard of living that the West had but they improved


  • Education was crucial for preparing for new jobs in the Communist system and this led to higher enrollments in secondary schools and universities

  • Before WWII most students studied law, but after WWII most students studied agriculture and engineering in technology

The New Elite

  • A new privileged class emerged: Communists

  • Ideals of equality did not include women (see “It’s So Difficult to be a Woman Here” on pg. 799)

  • Women made up half of the workforce and were still expected to fulfill traditional home roles
Nikita Khrushchev - Takes Control of USSR

The Disintegration of the Soviet Empire

  • In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was selected as the new Soviet leader

  • Gorbachev combined framework with school and received the Order of the Red Banner for his agricultural efforts

  • Gorbachev realized the need for improvement when he visited Canada and saw how hard the farmers worked for their initiative

  • See the chronology chart on page 803 for a timeline of the Soviet Bloc and Its Demise

The Gorbachev Era

  • The cornerstone of Gorbachev’s program was the perestroika

  • Gorbachev also pursued partial liberalization

  • The most important instrument of the perestroika was the glasnost

  • Newspapers like the Pravada started to become more open and have information about negative things that were happening in the Soviet Union

  • Western style music ( rock and jazz) were now allowed

  • 1987: two-candidate elections were introduced

  • Gorbachev struck out Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution, thereby legalizing the formation of other political parties, not just Communist ones

  • Gorbachev became the Soviet Union’s first president in March 1990

The Beginning of the End

  • Ethnic groups took advantage of the new openess and started rioting against what they thought was ethically wrong (Let art students paint on walls turns into some religious “crusade”)

  • Nationalist movements emerged

  • 1989, the Communist Party of Lithuania declared itself independent of the Communist Party of Soviet Union

Evaporation of an Empire

  • Boris Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian Republic in 1991

  • Soviet Republics opted for complete independence (see map on page 802)

  • December 1991, leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus announced that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist

  • Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and handed all of his responsibilities over to Yeltsin

Eastern Europe:From Satellites to Sovereign Nations

  • Lech Walesa led a Solidarity movement in Poland during the early 1980’s

  • Walesa was elected president of Poland in 1990

  • 1989, opposing political parties were permitted to form in Hungary

  • In 1977 a group of rebels formed the group called Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia to protest against violations of human rights

  • 1989,East Germany had many protests against the regime; destruction of Berlin Wall

  • Dissolve of the Soviet Union and its satellite system brought an end to the Cold War

Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?

  • Americans argue that ambitious defense policies forced Moscow into an arms race it could not afford

  • Most people say that the Soviet Union collapsed because of internal issues; Gorbachev reforms came too late

  • Minority nationalities were becoming more restless

The East is Red: China Under Communism

  • Communists wanted to unify China
  • Mao Zedong believed unification required violence (opp. Gandhi)
  • Fall of 1949=peace in China
  • Mao Zedong=Communist Party chairman
  • New Democracy= "moderate program of political and economic recovery"
to see a chronology of the Soviet Bloc and its demise, refer to page 803

New Democracy

  • after Lenin's New Economic Policy in Soviet Russia in the 1920's
  • ultimately a success
  • capitalist profit spurred productivity
  • land distribution for peasants (more than 1/2 of pop)
  • peasant support=2/3 got land= :)
  • population increased by 2%
  • land lords=mad bc lost land
  • quit focusing on agricultural development
  • land crimes and death were result--more info on 804 in yellow box

The Transition to Socialism

  • needed to start agricultural development
  • 1953=first five year plan
  • 1955=all private farmland=collectivized
  • Great Leap Forward--communes responsible for economic tasks at local level
  • Mao mixed communism and socialism to convince changes were good
  • Communes STUNK
Communes DID NOT work bc:
  • bad weather/peasant resistance
  • eliminated work incentives
  • broke up traditional aspects of family
  • food production went down=15 mil died of starvation

  • blame on Mao= "Buddha on a shelf"

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

  • Mao relentless=youth into revolutionary units=Red Guards
  • Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution=1966-1976
  • Mao Zedong vs. Liu Shaoqi (died of torture)
  • Any other ideas=gone under Mao (Confucian)
  • Mao supporters in power=big economic and education reforms=NO incentives
  • Mao believed in benefit of constant revolution and turmoil

From Mao to Deng

  • Mao died September 1976 at 83
  • Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) got power from radicals
  • Mao's homies sentenced to death
  • FOUR MODERNIZATIONS--industry, agriculture, technology, and national defense
  • "Serve the people" out, "create wealth for the people" in
  • Deng allowed tech advances in China
  • improved relations
  • agri and indust output skyrocketed
  • people still not completely happy--Maoist and Marxist ideas

Incident at Tiananmen Square

  • economy was better
  • overheated economy in 1980s led to corruption and inflation
  • "Science and Democracy"
  • Demonstrations made govt mad=CCP sent tanks and troops see demonstrations on page 809 in brown box
  • "counterrevolutionary events"=Deng counted on fear of unrest again

Back to Confucius?

  • nurtured urban support to cut inflation
  • consumer goods now available in middle class
  • Corruption, lagging farm income, and high taxes come under Jiang Zemin
  • went back to Marxism-Leninism w/ no luck
  • turned to Confucianism
  • good balance of traditional and modern
  • increasingly active in region
  • afraid China will "flex" like imperial era (invasion Vietnam--punishment for the occupation of neighboring Cambodia)
  • pumping up patriotism
  • Hu Jintao--tolerated exchange of ideas
  • against the internet
  • 2005, 27%, cellphones

Communists, Nationalists, and China's Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37

"Serve the People": Chinese Society Under Communism

  • Communist Party came to power in 1949

  • Policies differed from Soviet Model in one respect: Bolsheviks relied on force and the Chinese Communist Party used reforms to gain support= “mass line” policy

  • Mao adopted policies such as the Great Leap Forward and alienated the population

  • Ideological purity was valued over expertise in advancement

Economies in Command

  • Deng Xiaoping wanted to restore credibility and hoped rapid economic growth would satisfy and prevent demands for political freedom

  • post-Mao leaders placed economic performance over ideological purity

  • reduced bureaucratic controls over state industries and allowed local managers to have more say over prices, salaries, and quality control to increase the industrial sector

  • extra bonuses for extra effort to encourage productivity

  • tolerance of small private sector

  • encouraged unemployed (see illustration on page 800)

  • open to foreign investment and technology

  • special economic zones established to increase foreign building of factories

  • tourist industry encouraged

  • students sent abroad to study

  • educational reform: abandoned old system from Cultural Revolution and had new system based on Western models

  • adopted western model: higher education based on success in merit exams and courses on science and math were high priority

Agricultural Reform

  • No economic reform worked unless it included the country because China was still unable to feed its one billion people

  • Rural Responsibility System- collectives leased lands to to peasant families who paid the collective a quota as rent

  • sideline industries would would soak up excess labours in villages; raising fish or shrimp, making consumer goods, assembling living room furniture and appliances for sale

  • Positive Effects: increase in grain production and double of farm income during the 1980s

  • negative Effects: income at village level was unequal when enterprising farmers known as ten-thousand-dollar households earned more profits, devotion of less land to rice and grain crops and reducing China’s staples, and threatened to undermine the government’s population control program

  • China tried to limit families to one child: did not work for farmers because they needed to children to work and take care of things

Evaluating the Four Modernizations

  • improvement in standards of living

  • problems: inflationary pressures, greed, envy, increased corruption, and rising expectations

  • young people resented restrictions

  • disillusionment ran high especially with alienation and cynicism= protest demonstrations in 1989

  • Entered into the World Trade Organization in 2001

  • Today has the second-largest economy in the world and is the largest exporter of goods

  • fall of 2008 did not derail the Chinese juggernaut

  • large affluent middle class and burgeoning domestic market for consumer goods

  • more than 80% own a color television set, refrigerator, and washing machine

  • ⅓ own their homes and air conditioner

  • possible private automobile and in 2012 more vehicles were sold in China than in the U.S.

  • issues: unemployment, poor working conditions, low salaries, outbreaks, and labour unrest, inflation and competition, labour shortage, discontent in countryside, taxes, local corruption, land seizures, lack of fertile land, soil erosion, water issues, air pollution 10 times the level in the U.S., 700,000 new vehicles and pollution

Social Problems

  • idea of building a new citizen free from the prejudices, ignorance, and superstition of the “feudal” era and the capitalist desire for self-gratification

Women and the Family

  • women given the right to vote and become active in politics

  • new marriage law guaranteed women equality with men and permitted women the ability to divorce = nearly one million divorces

  • ration payments to individual not family

  • children encouraged to speak out to government about parents

  • Mao wanted the weak to speak up to break the tradition of dependency

Lifestyle Changes

  • shift from revolutionary utopianism to pragmatic approach to nation building = improved living conditions and a qualified return to family traditions

  • new names for children such as Surplus Grain and Bring a Younger Brother

  • clothing changed from the traditional “mao suit” to fashion from the west such as sweats, jeans, and sneakers

  • increase in cosmetic surgery (see page 815 for comparative essay)

  • tolerance of organized religion = return to traditional Buddhism

  • increase in Christianity

  • return of arranged marriages, nepotism, and female mistreatment (see box on page 816)

  • materialism

  • crimes including prostitution and sexual abuse = government provides free legal service to women in rural areas

  • retirement benefits for sick and elderly disappeared = potential time bomb

Culture in China

China’s Changing Culture

  • culture would serve the interests of socialism

Culture in a Revolutionary Era

  • socialist realism was the only accepted form of literature, art, and music

  • traditional expressionism was forbidden

  • Ding Ling- sublimated her writing talent to the revolutionary cause

  • comments on government raised eyebrows but she was soon thrown in reform and injured with poor health

  • Ding Ling eventually died and her fate mirrored the fate of the Chinese who could not satisfy the regime

Art and Music

  • After Mao’s death, artistic views changed back and traditional views were allowed

  • blend of western and eastern styles gave rise to Cubism and abstract painting

  • late 1980s shocked people with nude paintings and offended the Chinese

  • government authority was challenged

  • classical music


  • limits were most apparent in literature

  • “literature of the wounded”

  • Bai Hua wrote Bitter Love

  • officials believed China should only adopt the “positive” aspects of the West

  • Wang Shuo banned because his writings were considered “moral decay”

  • writings became close to criticism of the CCP

  • now literature is based upon the youth and their aspirations

Confucius and Marx: The Tenacity of Tradition

  • communism exhibits similarities with traditional Confucianism

  • interests of the community valued over the desires of the individual

  • higher standards of living; less threats from outside powers

  • China embarked on a future where the past does not form the map
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You are the leader of Communist Russia. The communist party controlls almost everything. You have increased the production of industry goods by long hours and little incentive. Because of this, consumer goods are scarce, and people's spirits are low. Come up with a solution for this problem.

(followed by class discussion)

Chapter 27 Essay Prompt

Analyze the continuity and change over time in politics during the time period of 1945-2005 between the Soviet Union and Communist China