Unit 5: Crisis and Change
Lesson C: The Revolution and Civil War in Russia
Activity 8: Marxist Philosophy and the Global Economy
Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848 in response to both the Industrial Revolution and to the impact of this major change in labor and industry on the working people.
When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in 1921, many Russians opposed their ideas. The provisional government formed after the collapse of the Russian government gave economic and political power to soviets, or groups of representatives from different regions of Russia. Although some Marxists supported government ownership of private property and businesses, many opposed the extreme ideas of Karl Marx.
To satisfy the demands of the Russian people, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP), a program designed to strengthen the Russian economy. One of the key elements of the NEP was a limited market economy, in which private ownership of business was encouraged. While many Bolsheviks opposed the NEP as a return to capitalism, Lenin saw it as the only way to improve the lives of Russians in the early 1920s.
The creation of the world's first communist state posed a challenge to the international capitalist system. That challenge persisted until the late 1900s and fueled many international conflicts over economic systems.
Directions: Examine the political cartoon "Pyramid of Capitalism" to learn more about the ideas of Karl Marx and the Marxist or communist movement. Consider how these ideas affected Lenin's rise to power and his rule of Russia following the country's civil war.