Soviet Union and Communism: A Travesty of Inequality

Communism is a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production. The term ‘totalitarian’ and the phrase ‘ controls state-owned means of production’ are essential components of the definition of communism, indicating that the regime controls the majority of all goods, including essentials. On the other hand, we have a free market, which is an economic system predicated on supply and demand with little or no government control. Nations like China and the Soviet Union are perfect case studies to depict how the lack of such a market leads to the lack of an opposition that keeps the authority of the ruling power in check. The lack of political liberation originates from the regime-regulated market.

When the leadership has full control of the market, it makes the people dependent on the leader for essentials, therefore countering everything that equality stands forth and instilling a sense of superiority of the ruler in the minds of the people.

In communism, a free market doesn’t exist as everything is rationed or allotted by the premier, who directly controls essentials, their rationing, and how much everyone gets leading to a lack of strong opposition in communism. The reason being that if one opposes the premier, their source of essentials can be cut off or restricted. A communist state’s premier has superiority and authority over their state while aiming to bring equality, which is not only an ironical and a mendacious promise, but also a demonstration of how manipulative communism is as an ideology.

“Communism ... is seductive. It promises us that people will contribute according to their ability and receive according to their needs. Everybody is equal. Everybody has a right to decent housing, decent food, and affordable medical care. History should have taught us that when we hear people talk about this stuff - watch out!"; This quotation by American economist Walter E Williams expounds on how communism is a radical yet virtuous theory rooted in idealism and not in practicality.

This radical political system gives birth to power imbalances larger than that of a capitalist economy. The elimination of a free market triggered a domino effect leading to the transformation of the Soviet Union from a Utopian society to a Dysfunctional Dystopia. A free market is consequential, not just economically, but socially and politically.

Nobel laureate, Milton Friedman, rightly said, “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”The ultimate failure of communism was that the workers didn’t get the better life they were promised, instead, they suffered under an incipient tyrant who was no different from his predecessor. The Soviet leadership, taking on the role of the overthrown monarchy as they lived better than the proletariat.

Communism was introduced as an alternative to capitalism with the aim of ending the growing social divide and the economic disparity between the affluent classes and the proletariat. Resolving Capitalism's inability to prevent the creamy layer from gaining affluence and wealth while workers spent their lives of extreme penury filled with immense suffering was the unique selling proposition of communism.

Communism was intended to level the playing field between the serfs and the premier, however, in a bid to so, unwarranted power was handed over to the premier. Leaders such as Stalin were corrupted by their mostly unrestricted power, largely due to the regime regulated market, enabling them to seize more power without any opposition. One of communism’s misgivings is that like many dictatorial systems it was operationalized by the educated elite. The so-called proletariat dictatorship of the Bolsheviks was essentially an inequitable, classist dictatorship dictating the lives of the proletariat by weaponizing the economy as a means of oppression, much like the men who represented the capitalist society. There is one distinction between communism and the capitalist elite classes, which is that despite both the approaches lacking in honesty and systematic equality, one is more oppressive whereas the other enables individualistic freedom.

From the aforementioned statement, one can infer that while both principles are flawed, communism can be deemed to be more harmful than capitalism as it lacks political opposition, a principal flaw, enabling a more authoritarian, dictatorial leadership.

Communism is an ideology that seeps into the brains and dreams of the larger segment of the population, the working class, with false promises of equality, a virtue much desired by them. A specialist on Russian policies and politics, Dr. Vera Michilin Shapiro has on numerous occasions highlighted the problems caused by the lack of checks and balances in the Soviet Union’s political ideology. In a 2008 article, she wrote about how the Soviet Union’s single-party political system and lack of checks enabled the Soviet Regime to terrorize people and violate rights ” In the same article, she also talks about Dekulakization, which was a policy allowing the government to confiscate private property. Dekulakization played a major role in creating state dependency as the state-owned everything and thus also was a travesty of equality. Many such factors together, led to the conversion of a thriving economic Elysian field into a dystopian society.

A testament to this fact is history. In the middle of the twentieth century, at the peak of the cold war, the U.S.S.R led the world in terms of the Space Race, Weapon Development, and even in Sports. Just forty years later the Soviet Union collapsed. History has proven time and again, that regimes using suppression or oppression are due to fail. It is a matter of time. In the case of the Soviet Union, communism was initially beneficial, but turned out rather negatively for the country in the future.

To conclude, in the words of economist Milton Friedman, "Historical evidence speaks with a single voice on the relation between political freedom and a free market. I know of no example in time or place of a society that has been marked by a large measure of political freedom that has not also used something comparable to a free market to organize the bulk of economic activity... The recent remarkable phenomenon of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe raises in acute form the issues that we have been discussing.”