Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Communism- the myth and reality

Ayn Rand’s “we the living” is yet another beautiful story about men and issues of freedom versus dictatorship. The protagonist Kira Argounova is born in Russia and the story revolves around Russia in nineties-twenties. It is about communism and their ideals that men must exist for the states, how a man is robbed of his dreams and aspirations made incapable to think and transformed into a degenerated being. Ayn Rand draws the point that not only the communist methods are loathsome even the ideals. The ideas, which harps, on men must live for the state, destroying the self, which distinguishes men from fellow men, sacrificing the few talented ones for the masses who are supposed to think collectively and chew on the thoughts put into their brains by state. Men are not equal in ability and hence they should not be treated in the same way. The plot is set during the rise of communism in Russia, the birth of U.S.S.R. Against the panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, the writer shows what the theory of socialism means in practice. Kira Argounova is a strong character who dreams of building bridges, towers and never succumbs until the end, struggling for her existence behind the red banners and slogans of communism. She is a fighter who fights until the end. The other character portrayed is Leo Kovalensky and Andrei Taganov. Leo is an egotist, an individualist, a man who lives for his values. His life under the rule of physical force become endurable for him and his beliefs are crushed. He retaliates by drowning his mind and thereby losing the ability to care any longer what is done to him. Andrei by contrast, is explicitly committed to opposite ideas; he accepts the principle of selflessness and collectivism as his moral idea and even spills blood for them but deep sub conscious he is at war with his actions. When he discovers that his whole life was a lie, he commits suicide. The rise and fall of Soviet communism is one of the most amazing stories in human history. The principal figure in the genesis of Russian communism was the radical socialist Vladimir Lenin. Like Marx, Lenin believed in the necessity of political revolution to achieve communism. He urged Russia’s Marxists to build a party of professional revolutionaries that would shape the consciousness of the masses and fight unflinchingly for the revolution. In time, the Communist Party emerged as the real power behind government under leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Mikhail Gorbachev. In theory, private enterprise did not exist under Soviet communism. However, in practice, it thrived, with the tacit approval of Party authorities.The government nationalized banks, insurance companies, railroads, and large factories, forbade most private commerce, and seized grain from the rural population, undermining peasant support for the regime. Under the rigors of War Communism, inflation soared, production plummeted, and millions of urban dwellers trekked to the countryside to feed themselves by working the land. Famine, disease, and deprivation became rampant, and much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. In total, an estimated 7 million to 8 million people died during the Russian Civil War, more than 5 million of whom were civilians. Thousands of intellectuals perished in the terror wave of the 1930s, and smaller numbers died in persecutions. The war promoted the centralization of Communist power and a preference for force over persuasion. The party had become increasingly coercive and authoritarian, and was now a bureaucratic apparatus beginning to be dominated by a ruling elite of senior officials. In addition, the economic situation in Russia was catastrophic. Under the notorious Josef Stalin, it created a society that was long on fear and repression and short on personal initiative and material goods. Under Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, it established a system that seemed not to care about its citizens at all. It is amazing to know about the harsh truths of the soviet life as it was actually lived and later leading to the collapse of the entire soviet structure.


anurag-bansal said...

Nice and strong portray of Soviet Union at that time.

Casti said...

I'm a not a champion of communism nor do I maintain that all men should be treated alike..It is a myth that all were treated alike in the erstwhile Soviet Union. Outstanding talents were identified and properly nurtured but then as you say they had to do contribute towards the state. In lieu of that they were granted honours, money and concessions...Professors and scientists who contributed to the state were duly rewarded. Also testimony to the fact that not all were treated alike was a bias towards the traditionally non russian speaking states. The best of meat and bread always remained in Petersberg and Kiev and Moscow....not in the far flunged states.

The Rational Fool said... apolitical Conversation with Kira Argounova