Communism and the cold war
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Communism and the Cold War. Early Soviet Union under communism. Lenin comes to power by means of a disciplined hierarchical party, soon including what would become the KGB. First four years, civil war with Czar supporters, aided by U.S. 1921 Introduced the New Economic Policy 1924 Lenin dies.

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Early soviet union under communism l.jpg
Early Soviet Union under communism

  • Lenin comes to power by means of a disciplined hierarchical party, soon including what would become the KGB.

  • First four years, civil war with Czar supporters, aided by U.S.

  • 1921 Introduced the New Economic Policy

  • 1924 Lenin dies

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The General Secretary emerges

  • Lenin’s testament

  • By 1927 Stalin emerges as most powerful figure

  • 1929 rejects NEP, begins forced industrialization

  • in the countryside, collectivization

  • millions starve

  • 1930s, purges and show trials

  • 100,000s executed, maybe 5 million died in gulag

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Great Patriotic War

  • USSR was probably most responsible for Allied victory

  • also suffered the most--over 20 million died

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(Relative) thaw

  • 1953 Stalin dies

  • 1956 Krushchev gives “secret speech” denouncing Stalin and the cult of personality

  • reorients economy more towards consumer goods, housing

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Post war period

  • expanded soviet sphere--in defiance of Yalta Accord

  • --buffer or expansionism?

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US response

  • 1947 Truman announces that US will aid any country resisting “outside pressures”

  • lesson learned from appeasing Hitler

  • Marshall Plan

  • US provides 13 billion to western Europe (then Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) to rebuild

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Cold War intensifies

  • 1948 Berlin blockade and airlift

  • 1949 Soviets test the atomic bomb

  • China “goes communist”

  • America “goes McCarthyite”

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China--since 1949

  • 1958-60 “Great Leap Forward”

  • Mao orders collectivization, backyard foundaries

  • 20-30 million die through starvation

  • 1962 break with Soviet Union obvious

  • 1966-76 “Cultural Revolution”

  • universities close, Red Guards run amok, “counter-revolutionaries” killed

  • 1978 period of (economic) liberalization begins under Deng Xiaoping

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Proxy wars

  • “minor conflicts” around the world


  • Major troop deployments:

  • 1950-53 Korea

  • 1965-73 Vietnam

  • 1979-89 Afghanistan

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Close call for World War III

  • Cuban missile crisis 1962

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The big surprise

  • The end of European communism

  • 1970s and 80s religious and cultural dissent

  • failing economies

  • Reagan’s role?

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New blood at the Kremlin

  • 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary

  • initiates reforms--glasnost and perestroika

  • 1988 allows contested elections within the Communist Party

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Movement in Eastern Europe

  • 1980s rise of “Solidarity”--suppressed

  • 1988 illegal “Solidarity” shipworkers, with encouragement from the Pope, go on strike

  • 1989 Polish Communist party (and Gorbachev) allows Solidarity to compete in national elections

  • Solidarity victory

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East Germany

  • Very little reform--the Stasi

  • Gorbachev calls for change in East Germany

  • East German tourists go through Hungary to Austria--at first a few, then 10,000s

  • Berlin Wall is torn down

  • 1990 Germany reunified

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Back in USSR

  • 1991 hardliners in the military wage a coup against Gorbachev, coup fails

  • Communist Party is abolished in Russia

  • Soviet Union is dissolved by decree

  • CIS is formed

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Russia--backsliding under Putin since 2000?

  • nostalgia for “good old days”, and Chinese model

  • increasing control over media--especially TV

  • arrest of oligarchs on trumped up charges--Khodorkovsky

  • using Chechen war to make governorships appointed, not elected

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continuing revolutions

  • “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgistan


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Who is left among Communists?

  • 5 countries:

  • China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, Cuba

  • And several post Communist societies have changed little

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In China . . .

  • 1989--crackdown at Tiananmen Square

  • in 1990s, some signs of loosening up

  • local contested elections

  • more freedom to criticize local governments

  • 1000s of NGOs allowed to organize

  • on the other hand, since 1999 Falun Gong outlawed, etc.