Read/review the following resources for this activity:
Option 1: Examine the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1980s. Include the following in your discussion:
Option 2: Examine communism and socialism.
Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. At least one of your responses should be to a peer who chose an option different from yours. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.
Good afternoon Professor and class, I hope everyone is staying warm during these crazy times!
For this week’s discussion, I will talk about option 2.
Examine communism and socialism.
We hear so often today that socialism and communism are the same thing. Examine the similarities and differences between the two. Why do so many Americans seem to hate even the word “socialism”? We already employ some socialism in this country today (and for the past several decades). Examples include libraries, police departments, public education, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public parks, roads/highways, and so on. How do these services factor into arguments for or against socialism?
There are many similarities between socialism and communism. They both seek an equal society where there are no social class privileges. Socialism is a “social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources…individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another” (Dagger & Ball, 2020). Communism also has a foundation of equality, where wages are set by the government, and there are no taxations. “Under communism, most property and economic resources are owned and controlled by the state” (Duiker, 2015). The difference between socialism and communism is that socialism involves democracy, where there is “a mixture of public sector and intervention and private enterprise” (Pettinger). Communism, on the other hand, requires an authoritarian state that controls all industries and strips individuals of their basic human rights and liberties. Socialism still upholds individual liberties and rights. So many Americans seem to hate the word socialism because it is “a word that evokes a weakened work ethic, stifled innovation, and excessive reliance on the government” (Pew Research Center, 2020). Americans find that socialism is a threat to capitalism, which they rely so heavily on. Americans love their right to be innovative and be self-made. We do have public programs that aid in our success. We have programs made for the underprivileged and elderly, like Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid for instance is for those who are underprivileged and cannot afford private health insurance. We get taxed as a whole, to contribute to pay for services those people cannot afford on their own.
Examine communism and socialism
We hear so often today that socialism and communism are the same things. Examine the similarities and differences between the two.
Communism is a form of government that has an economic system. This system consists of sharing the wealth (Longley,2021). But instead, the government owns it. People must work for the government. Socialism is the base of communism it has ownership of the exchange of goods and production (Duiker,2015). Both of these systems require the government’s control. Both systems consider labor and capital to be the primary economic forces (Longley,2021). They both seek an equal society where there are no social class privileges.
Why do so many Americans seem to hate even the word “socialism”?
Most Americans hate the word socialism because they feel like that word controls the world. Socialism is a word that evokes a weakened work ethic innovation and excessive reliance on the government.
We already employ some socialism in this country today (and for the past several decades). Examples include libraries, police departments, public education, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public parks, roads/highways, and so on. How do these services factor into arguments for or against socialism?
Socialism comes down to what the people demand. We need things like police, departments, social security we just have to pay for it with our taxes. We as Americans have good programs, but we also have to work hard for them and pay for them nothing is free.
The Cold War occupied more than forty years of the twentieth century. No one foresaw its ultimate demise in those years before 1991, but when the new Soviet leadership led by Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, they soon realized that the communist government that had lasted for more than 70 years could not continue as it then existed. As Eastern European countries began to assert their own independence – and when the Soviet leadership let this happen – it was only a matter of time before the Soviet Union itself would collapse, leaving only Russia as the largest republic of the USSR. The push toward European unity could not be stopped.
The Cold War ended as George Kennan predicted, from its own inability to sustain itself. When Stalin died in 1953, a succession of the party’s Politburo vied for power until, in 1955, Nikita Khrushchev took control of the party. For the next decade, Soviet policy was governed by the collective party rule that Lenin had created, and the personality of this peasant-born leader. Under Khrushchev, Soviets enjoyed greater economic freedom and a shift away from heavy industry toward more consumer goods. But Khrushchev and his allies never doubted the fundamental truth of Marxist-Leninist philosophy that led them to deeply distrust the capitalist West. They broke with Stalin on one crucial issue – his use of terrorist methods to quell dissent. Khrushchev quickly “de-Stalinized” Russia, denouncing Stalin’s crimes and releasing prisoners from the infamous gulag of prison camps in Siberia. But this thaw in Moscow did not mean that the Soviet Union was willing to let its satellite nations go their own way. When Hungary tried to break free of Soviet control in 1956, Khrushchev sent in Soviet tanks and enforced Soviet rule. Khrushchev’s vision of communism was a vast welfare state, offering free housing, schooling, and healthcare. To him, it was the highest stage of Marx’s communist society. When he attempted to end corruption spreading through the party, the Politburo turned on him and sent him into early retirement in 1964. His successors were dogmatic in nature and returned the Soviet Union to a modified Stalinist system that remained in place for twenty years, until later reformers came to realize that it was too late to change the basic failings of the system.
In these heady years, the Soviet Union was bolstered by its prestige in other parts of the world, in particular, Latin America and Africa. In late 1959, Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, transformed this capitalist paradise into a communist state. In Africa, socialist-led regimes in Angola and Ethiopia gained power with the backing of Soviet aid. Maintaining a balance of power with the United States was as much a concern for the Soviets as the Americans. Germany remained the most visible symbol of the communist and non-communist worlds. A line divided the country into Western and Eastern halves; Berlin itself remained divided with West Berlin sitting dangerously within East German territory. When the East German government put up a wall through Berlin in 1961 to stop the flow of refugees going into West Berlin, the “Iron Curtain” had descended in a very physical way. A quarter century later, U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1980-1988) would stand in front of the wall and say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” (1987). It came down suddenly and abruptly in November 1989.
President Reagan believed that the Soviet system was totalitarian and repressive, but his immediate goal was to finalize a treaty with the Soviets to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons. In 1985, the Politburo elected Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary. It was clear to the new Soviet leader that the system erected by Stalin had to be reformed. He instituted a series of economic and democratic reforms grouped under the three terms.
Click on the following tab to learn more about each term:
The atmosphere of change affected the entire Stalinistic structure of repression throughout the Soviet Union and the Eastern European satellite states. Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev wanted war, and they wanted to end the arms race that threatened the world. The two men met on several occasions, first in Geneva and then in Reykjavik, Iceland, and ultimately signed agreements that, for the first time, reduced the number of missiles and warheads held by the two superpowers. However, Gorbachev’s internal reforms brought economic turmoil and food shortages. Without government support, factories closed and unemployment rose. Gorbachev’s policies also spread from Poland to Bulgaria, as these nations were allowed to go their own way. The Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – gained full independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In August of that year, two days before the signing of a treaty that would reduce the power of the Soviet government, a committee of communist hardliners detained Gorbachev in his summer home. They then sent tanks into the streets of Moscow to regain control. However, Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Republic of Russia, defied the hardliners and forced them to retreat. A few months later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
In the following speech given to the National Association of Evangelicals, Reagan discusses the hope of reducing – and eliminating – the world’s nuclear arsenals.
President Reagan’s Address to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983 (2:03)
In the following speech given at the Berlin Wall about two years before it was torn down, Reagan asks Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”
Great Speeches: President Reagan’s Address at the Brandenburg Gate: “Tear Down This Wall” (2:10)
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