Communism is considered to be one of the most longeval political and economic ideologies in the history of humanity.

From a historical point of view, communism isn’t a doctrine belonging to modern society. In fact, Karl Marx described the concept of primitive communism when he discussed hunter-gatherer societies. The idea of a society founded on social egalitarianism can be traced back to Ancient Greece and later to the Christian Church, which further reinforced the concept of shared property.

Modern communism, as we’ve come to know it, was born in 19th century Russia, when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels further refined the meaning of the word and wrote the ideological body of communism in a pamphlet entitled The Communist Manifesto.

The story, which would shape modern history, began in 1917 when Lenin and the Bolshevik Party rose to power after seizing the window of opportunity created by the October Revolution.

From that moment, Russia ceased to be a monarchy and became a country that mirrored the ideology of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Although communism is not limited to Europe, the grasp and the struggle for dominance felt stronger than ever on this continent, as the Soviet bloc strived to gain the upper-hand in the fight against Democracy.

In 1991, the Soviet Union disbanded, and the country constituted itself as a semi-presidential republic, where the president is considered the head of state. Currently, the Russian Federation is a democratic state represented by multiple parties.

Why did communism fail in the first place?

Here are the ten plausible reasons that led to the disbandment of the Soviet Union and, subsequently, to the downfall of the communist doctrine in Europe.

1.  Creativity was not a priority in the communist society

Brodski Lenin

By default, a communist country, such as the Soviet Union, valued utilitarianism above everything else. This meant that every action performed within the state had to have a palpable ending. Artistical endeavors such as poetry, sculpture, and painting, were not considered a good means of making a living.

Moreover, even the artistical drive was measured and controlled by a censorship committee, whose job was to determine if the work of an artist can actually serve the country or not. The arts usually entail a free way of thinking, something that did not go well with the Party.

The only creations published after passing the censorship committee were those that hailed the accomplishments of the Communist Party or those that encouraged others to believe in ideological utopias such as the class struggle or the supremacy of communism over capitalism.

Artists and thinkers alike who did not conform to the Party’s view were often persecuted and even faced charges of high treason.

2.  Collectivization

Collectivization

Collectivization is another way of saying that private farming was not allowed. The force collectivization law was a doctrine enforced through Soviet Russia between 1928 and 1940, which coincided with Stalin’s rise to power.

With the industry taking off, the country needed food to support the ever-increasing mass of factory workers. At the beginning of 1930, more than 90 percent of the farms were conscripted in the collectivization program, which meant that all the items produced on a farm will be equally distributed among the population.

In other words, collectivization was another way of denying the right to private property, a doctrine which was adopted in the hope of optimizing the food production industry.

Naturally, the doctrine has been refuted by many farm owners who criticized the party views. Unfortunately, Stalin and the communist regime eliminated all those who opposed forced collectivization.

Similar actions were taken by other communist leaders, who wanted to demonstrate the Party was the bearer of truth.

3. Lack of Rights

Hand People

In communism, individualism makes room for the collective. Ideals like freedom of speech were considered dangerous to the Communist party. The forced collectivization act and the lack of artistic freedom are just two examples of how communism chose to circumvent some of the fundamental human rights.

Of course, all civil rights were negated in the hope of establishing a society that functioned like a Swiss clock, without any deviation and to create a man that worked without questioning his role or place.

4. Adaptation was overrated

One of the main reasons why communist ideology ceased to exist is because it was not able to adapt to outside conditions. Certain forms of communism, like the one practiced in China, managed to survive this long because it was able to react to outside stimuli such as the global economy and social changes.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union faced the idea of dissolution from the moment it decided to close its eyes to what happens beyond its borders.

5. Lack of innovation

communism doctrine

Innovation is one of the most important aspects that offers cohesion to society. Without change, society will fall prey to archaic practices. As a closed society, the Soviet Union focused more on production than actual innovation, an action that led to its early demise.

6. Poor economic calculation

The economy dictates that the price of a product is formed when the offer meets demand. Also, there are other financial mechanisms used to determine prices and to regulate competitiveness on the global market.

On the other hand, the communist doctrine thought that the only way of distributing wealth was to form a so-called command economy, an organism that would determine how the resources should be spent.

Naturally, this type of economy will substantially increase the disparity between those who were in charge and the layman.

There are countless aspects which pointed out that this flawed system impeded the Soviet Union to manage its resources.

7. Mass Murder

Mass Murder

From the rise of the Khmer Rouge group in Cambodia to Stalin’s rise to power, the history of communism is riddled with tales of atrocities committed against those who did not embrace the communist doctrine.

Famine, mass executions, overwork, are tools of the trade which shaped the communism blood-thirsty demeanor.

8. Utopianism

In the end, the society envisioned by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and others is just a utopia, making communism the grandest and most dramatic social experiment ever performed by humankind. From the lack of rights to obsessive control, communism was like a time bomb ready to explode at any moment.

9. Incentives

The communist society founded on equality states that regarding remuneration, a factory worker earns as much as a neurosurgeon. Furthermore, people performing tougher jobs life working in the ER or handling a nuclear reactor did not receive incentives for their work, because that would anger the ordinary worker.

Without incentives, people performing tougher jobs will not be motivated enough to work better or to innovate.

10. Grounded on Tyranny

Communism Tyranny

Like any despotical regime, communism was founded on tyranny, which entails the use of terror and fear as tools to control the crowd. History has proven on many occasions that every society based on oppression has rebelled against the regime.

What is your opinion on this? Why did communism fail, according to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Images via WikiMedia.org

Valerie Soleil, B.A., LL.B.

Copyright © 2012-2020 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Avatar
    ss

    Communism is fail? And what about UE?

    1. Avatar
      jackd201

      UE isn’t communist, dumbass

  2. Avatar
    PatC

    How come North Korea hasn’t failed yet?

    1. Avatar
      jackd201

      Is guess you missed #10. You must be a recent college graduate

      1. Avatar
        Mike Devlin

        Clearly you were having a bad day here. You didn’t seem to grasp what either person was saying on your replies, and you immediately resorted to insults after your own misunderstandings.

        Please don’t put down strangers without understanding their points. It doesn’t make you look any smarter. In fact, it makes you look very ignorant and self-conscious.

    2. Avatar
      ElDAVId

      North Korea is a Dictatorship dipshit

    3. Avatar
      Dan

      North Korea could be described as being in a perpetual state of failure. Many of its citizens starving to death (one of their many weaknesses militarily is malnourishment) they are technologically behind most of the world, even other third-world countries, (ironically not as much militarily) and citizens are under constant threat of labor camps and firing squads for apposing for even disappointing government leaders, who by the way are very well off comparatively (not the Marxist ideal, but a Marxist inevitably).

  3. Avatar
    Divine Spirit

    Perhaps first and foremost was the lack of compassion. Humans need the fundamentals of compassion to coexist.
    peace

    1. Avatar
      Dan

      This probably my favorite comment simply because it is so extremely true and will always be true. The only thing needed for Communism to not work is 1 person that lacks compassion. Which is true for all people, everyone is capable of being compassionless. Everyone has a point when they are willing to put either themselves or their family above another or another’s.

      1. Avatar
        steve

        Couldn’t the same be said about unregulated capitalism? Whatever the idealistic political philosophy, greed will find a way.

        1. Avatar
          Samantha

          “Couldn’t the same be said about unregulated capitalism? Whatever the idealistic political philosophy, greed will find a way.”

          In capitalism, greed is not failure. See # 6. Communism believes only a command thingy (read: centralized government) can manage people’s needs. That is, capitalism is usually only an economic system, while communism typically becomes a political governing system. Because of this, as rich as you get, this is success not failure on your part. Your success, because you do not run a country, typically does not cause failure for everyone else. With communism, it does.

  4. Avatar
    Unhappy capitalist

    Basically Communism was the only sustainable economic system. What is main and most significant property of capitalism(or call it democracy of money)? It eats faster than grows. After eating everyone else (India, Africa cheap workers are becoming expensive for such system) it will eat itself.
    Learn about history and about world economy before judging communism (independent – every block of states could be on its own) and capitalism (heavily draining whole world.) Sometimes “slower evolving” system is better than “burning rocket”.

  5. Avatar
    David Winsland

    Red Communism failed because it did not apply the basic principle of Marx’s theory – that of rule by the people. Modern communism in all its forms has been run by despots, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot et all. This is far from the social democracy idealised by Marx.

  6. Avatar
    Leo

    Hi,

    interesting article! I thought you might be interested in the ubuntu movement from South Africa spreading all over Europe, America and Australia at the moment. Not really comparable with communism, but… Take a look yourself, would be happy to read an article with your oppinion on that topic soon 😉

    Cheers,
    Leo

  7. Avatar
    Noah Bøjsen

    Sorry to tell you, but communism hasn’t failed, and far from it.

    The zapatistas still exist, they value creativity, they made collectivism work, and they are fighting for human rights. Though they haven’t won their country yet, and poverty is an issue in their region, their cause and movement are improving.

    And take a look at the Syrian civil war. Communism exist in the Free Syrian Army, and Rojava (northern Kurdistan) is heavily influenced by the workers party of Kurdistan, a libertarian-communist organisation.

    All over the world movements like this are active, and they big areas. Few of them are Stalinist and Maoists, but those branches are not considered true communism by most on the left-wing. True communism is what the movements above stand for, what the Spanish fought for in their civil war, it is what make Picasso and Orwell subscribe to that line of thinking.

    On a site dedicating to education, I believe an article like this, is, unfortunately, quite misleading and maybe even harmful.

    With that being said, have a nice day 🙂

    Cheers

    1. Avatar
      Megan

      I’m doing a report for school on why communism failed in the Soviet Union. Though you have valid points in your response, you missed some minor part of history. If you compare communism now to what it was when it first started, it is very different. This article tells us about what communism was like in the past not how communism is now. If you look at the history books, the Soviet Union eventually crashed so bad to where the people had to rebuild their country. Russia is still a communist country and there are more communist countries, but none of the countries are as bad as the Soviet Union was.

      1. Avatar
        Gina

        Um, Russia is NOT a Communist country at all, last time I checked. They can and do own private property and are paid wages which they in turn exchange for the services and products that they choose to buy. Russia purports to be a free-market, capitalist state. Whether or not it’s successful in being truly free is another matter.

  8. Avatar
    Aidan Colgan

    In theory communism should have worked. Human nature and greed destroyed it . Who polices the police ? Who awards the award ? Who makes the judgement ? If the leaders believed themselves to be no more important or worthy of greater remuneration, regard, or deserving of greater status, then what was their motivation other than purity of intention ? Good versus evil , ying and yang. Utopean dream. Humans overpowering fellow humans.

    1. Avatar
      Samantha

      But this is exactly why it will always fail.

      Human nature is three things:
      1. Someone always wants to control others (no longer rule by the people)
      2. People generally want to keep their property and their privacy.
      3. Generally, working harder only to get taxed on it to make it equal to lower classes is not gonna make people go along with you. People like to have the fruits of their labors.

      These three doom communism before it even starts. The only way communism can work is a small-scale system of sharing based less on obligation and more on choice (deciding to lend your neighbors tools, for instance). It would also necessarily need to also include private property. And then it wouldn’t be called communism. It would be called a town.

  9. Avatar
    Ramakant Tiwari

    Communism went to the extreme point of violating all basic human instincts, so it failed. Any ideology / law that is contrary to human nature can never succeed.
    I never regarded Communism an ideology. It was a massive reaction / outburst to excessive oppression of Russians by their ruling elite. And that is a very natural eventuality. Communism was never anything more than that.

  10. Avatar
    Andy G

    Always funny to see the pro communist posters claiming “Communism didn’t fail” or “that wasn’t really communism” when hundreds of millions of people were killed by it.

    Communism fails because every communist country fails, just like Socialist ones (Venezuela).

    Where are the safeguards that prevented those deaths?

    We have Communism and Socialism (Nazism), both Left wing ideologies, that end in collapse and bloody murder.

    Communists and Socialists hate each other, but get along as long as Capitalism is still prevalent.

    Remember, you only get free speech with Capitalism, under the other two you get threatened, beaten and/or killed (see Antifa wearing masks and attacking people they disagree with).

    1. Avatar
      Hasani J

      “Because every communist country fails” Isn’t a real answer to the social or economic policies in question.
      Socialism isn’t Nazism, Free speech isn’t guaranteed or universal to only capitalism, and Antifa (From what I can tell) remains more anarchist than anything. Please, try again.

    2. Avatar
      Gina

      The only people I see killing others who disagree with them are Richard Spencer acolytes, and they are red-blooded capitalists through and through. Have any Antifa rammed their trucks into innocent women lately?

  11. Avatar
    Luis Mash

    Communism in deed collapsed because by human nature and without any safeguards, leaders failed to avoid greed, human rights violations, and to put in place democratic institutions. Utopian collectivism, command economy etc were not formed on socio-economic lines. In other words communism as a business model failed to generate the social profits and so peopl simply withdrew from it letting it collapse

  12. Avatar
    Robert

    Article is very biased against Communism, full of prejudices. Reads like propaganda.

    1. Avatar
      Mitch

      Isn’t the article titled why communism fails? 10 year olds could have worked out that the article will point out communisms flaws

  13. Avatar
    Zack

    AFAIK, and I’ve spent dozens of hours in the nooks and crannies of Wikipedia political science, spent years in political activism, studied psychology and PoliSci in university, and had many, many debates with very clever people: there is no version of Marxist communism that fully respects human individuality. Some hybrid versions of socialism and left-libertarianism, sure, but in order for Marxist communism to work the State must have absolute power over citizens, which is authoritarianism. Even if the State allows for some democracy, the degree of authority needed by the State to guarantee compliance is so large that citizens will always be tempted to rebel or abandon the system.

    Miniature versions of social egalitarianism and exchange economics, like the tribe social model and the economics of the merchant, are very old and work very well. We run in to problems when, through mass society, power can be concentrated beyond the threshold that human minds evolved to deal with. Used well, that power is a strong force for prosperity; used poorly, and tyranny is the outcome. I’d even argue that tyranny and prosperity are direct antonyms in this context. All atrocities in history and modern times that were committed by large groups against another were caused by the misuse of power by a leader – and thus tyranny.

    The only successful political structures of the future are those that adequately check the maximum amount of power that can be accrued by any one person or group. The main virtue of Constitutionalism and self-limiting government, as well as capitalism, are that effective mechanisms for power limiting are in place; unfortunately, those mechanisms have become too weak over time. And tyranny has resulted, though it is characteristically more subtle than the more obvious State-driven tyrannies in history.

    Either way, many people are fed up with the current system, because it no longer safeguards the regular person from tyranny. Marxist communism is alluring, because it makes a claim about the origin of tyranny (your employer taking some of your productivity as profit) and gives a solution (take control of the means of production and take the profit back). This is exactly the psychological appeal of a cult: “your life is horrible because of X, well I can help you defeat X, just drink this koolaid and listen”. The missing piece (pointed out by other commenters here) is “who makes the judgement?”, which is a point overlooked fully by Marx, and is the reason that communism in the Marxist tradition is always doomed to failure. Sure, some elements of communism are ripe for application to more complex and freedom-centered forms of social organization, but the main takeaway here is *nearly by definition, Marxist communism always tends towards authoritarianism* and there is no escaping it.

    Further, because communist systems have so often resulted in extreme State-sponsored murderous tyranny, the notion warrants no more serious thought – just like arguments in favor of using nuclear weapons in human conflict.

    Marx, like Freud, is a renowned half-thinker: both gave us a great volume of ideas that seem wonderful without further examination. It turned out that the best of their ideas were nothing more than great thought experiments, to exercise the brain to precisely refute seemingly sound ideas.

  14. Avatar
    Karl Marx

    Communism will never fail hail Soviet Russia

    1. Avatar
      Megan

      You say, “Communism will never fail…” That is where you are wrong. If you look into Russia’s history you would find that Russia used to be the Soviet Union which was communist. The Soviet Union failed so bad that the country basically needed to be rebuilt. Communism failed in the Soviet Union. Sorry to burst your bubble, but communism has already failed once, who says that it wont happen again?

  15. Avatar
    Steven

    The unfortunate thing in all policies and political institutions is that human nature is geared toward the want and need of power and control over their fellow humans. History puts that plain enough for all of us to understand.

  16. Avatar
    Ramesh

    A workman and a neurosurgeon getting same salary?These kind of examples are still seen in daily life.The unskilled moron getting a fat salary.Then ask the factory worker to become a neurosurgeon or an astronaut or a nuclear engineer and get their salary.It would be a lot better to tell the workman to stay at home and give him the salary.Their ideology has been very violent towards their critics.Stalin,Khmer Rouge are just as bad as Hitler but only Hitler is considered to be the bad man in this world.China treats its labor force like slaves and pays them paltry salary and thats why their goods are so cheap and substandard and full of toxic chemicals that can damage your brain.But the Bolshevik revolution as such must have been an appropriate response against the Czars and other Feudal kings who were just as bad as Stalin or Khmer Rouge.

  17. Avatar
    Ramesh

    But Glasnost and Perestroika must have changed the old communist ideology which Gorbachev introduced.Is it true?Today’s corporate communists are no better than capitalists.Only their flag is red now but for all other practical purpose they want to be like capitalist and live like them.
    Nowadays you can see farmers who are multi millionaires.

  18. Avatar
    allan

    communism is good thing, it is just human are sin, we dont deserve it.

    1. Avatar
      Ivan

      this is complete negation of nature… if communism is good and functional, it would respect natural laws. it doesnt, what is extremely stupid.

  19. Avatar
    Luis Mash

    Is it not possible to redefine or modify communism to make it perform better than capitalism. I think THE CURRENT COMMUNIST STATES SHOULD TEACH ADVANCED COMMUNISM that marries all the benefits of socialism and the best of capitalism

    1. Avatar
      Samantha

      That’s called… a town. Or a family. In a family, you are expected to do favors for your siblings to get along, but it would be widely regarded as dysfunctional if you did nothing but share everything you earned. Likewise, in a town, you pay state and local expenses as well as socializing with other people, but also earn a living.

  20. Avatar
    Joseph Vella

    The whole question is a logical fallacy. You can’t point to a limited number of diverse occurences of a complex system and say that the whole group and every future one is simply a success or a failure.

    On top of that, as a world, we haven’t made a communism that actually looks like communism.

    There are plenty of capitalist countries that are dismal in economic, environmental and human rights.

    There is also no capitalist country that is self sufficeintly successful without costs paid externally. The US “successes” particularly economic and environmental ones are off the backs of other peoples and countries around the world. The US’s economic and environmental outlook would be dramatically different if it weren’t able to exploit labor from China, India, or resources from the middle east. All at grave and ugly costs to the providing lands and people. Our success locally is at the very least, at the expense of lifestyles that can’t be considered “successful” globally.

    Also capitalism by nature of ever increasing consumption in a world with finite resources will not continue indefinitely. We are looking at catastrophic environmental and economic problems in the very near future. The US is already experiencing shrinking middle class, increasing poor, waning infrastructure and diminishing lifespans. All attributable to the ever increasing inequitable wealth distribution. As the wealth conglomerates to ever increasing billionaires and rich corporations it is not making it back to the society that generates it. Capitalism in its current form is failing by many marks.

    If you want to give the question why did communism fail any credence; the overwhelming reason that shouldn’t be ignored is the direct and fervent efforts of the west particularly the US to thwart every attempt of people who work against capitalism. What would happen if instead of the US arming aggressive coups and economic sanctions against every notable socialist or communist assembly they just stood back and let it happened? What would happen if the US not only just stood back but actually participated in helping communist assemblies?

    1. Avatar
      Benny

      “It would work if it had help” is a terrible argument. One of the tenants of Marxism is a supposed moral superiority over and blatant disregard for capitalism and capitalist help. It shows weakness to the system and you cannot have that. Ideologies must be swallowed thoroughly to be effective. There is no room for practicality in Marxism.

      1. Avatar
        Joseph Vella

        I didn’t say it needed help. It needs to not be intentionally thwarted at every turn. For the record, I’m not in favor of communism or socialism as we’ve seen with USSR, China or DPRK. When people object to those examples I agree. I adamantly oppose authoritarianism. Whether from the left or the right. However everything people who fear communism attribute to them is alive and well with today’s capitalism. Capitalism is quite non democratic. The US is anything but a democracy. It’s a full blown oligarchy that is intent on delivering profit to those in control at the expense of the masses, the environment and other nations. All the poverty and darkness of capitalism is mostly kept offshore but it is responsible for disgusting cruelty and poverty around the world. To say capitalism is successful is only possible when you point to a limited target and ignore a whole lot of war, poverty and environmental destruction. Just because it’s not in your back yard doesn’t mean it isn’t there. When you take scale and time into account, for only having 5% of the world’s population the US is one of the most violent and destructive nations that has ever existed.

  21. Avatar
    Ivan

    about to fail soon

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