The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was a vast territory that was dominated by Russia. Much of its history, economy, culture and politics had been as a direct result of its geographic location. Most of the soviet territory lay in the northern latitudes that are characterized by cold weather. This largely defined the agricultural practices of the soviets as the growing seasons were short while the winters were long and brutal. Even the Ukraine that was considered as the breadbasket of the empire was constantly prone to harsh weather. These conditions not only influenced the agricultural activities of the Soviet Union but also contributed to the resilience that is associated with the natives.
The soviet territory was mostly flat. This meant that there were no natural barriers that shielded it from invasion and expansion. It was always open to invasion by other civilizations like it was by the Mongols. The Mongolian invasion was replicated in the 16th century by Poland which lies to the west of the soviet territory, opposite that of Mongolia. The only direction that the vast territory could not be attacked was from the north. This vulnerability led to insecurity that persisted for much of its history. On the contrary, the vast nature of the territory coupled with the harsh weather sometimes worked to the advantage of the soviets as in the case of French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte, who concurred much of the soviet union but was eventually defeated as he could not reach Moscow due to the harsh conditions of the Siberian cold desert. When the territory was not under invasion, it rapidly expanded a fact that is evidenced by the annexation of territories to its west including Hungary, Romania, the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. These territories not only influenced by soviet culture but also influenced it.
Marxism is a philosophy that deals with social development. Karl Marx believed that economics were the driving force of history and that political and social institutions were just structures built on economics. In order to avoid counterrevolution, Marx advocated for a dictatorship of the proletariat or the working class. Lenin twisted Marxist principles by creating a dictatorship over the proletariat. He created a vanguard in the communist party that was to be the stimulant for revolution. This dictatorship muzzled any factionalism in the party where decisions made at the highest party levels were not subject to discussion at the subordinate levels. Any perceived sense of dissent was suppressed and those found culpable were either expelled or demoted within the party ranks.
Stalin continued the communist agenda. Just like Karl Marx he believed that the economy of the Soviet Union was the key to its success. He famously remarked that the Soviet Union was over fifty years behind its western counterparts. In order to recover this lag, he created a plan that transferred most of the resources from the traditionally agrarian state into heavy industry. However, he recognized that in order to achieve this, he had to forcefully take away land from the rich farmers known as kulaks and put it under the control of the state while using peasants as laborers (Magstadt 167). In this way, he was rid of opposition from the rich farmers who had the most to lose as well as gained control of the peasants. Entire classes of citizens were wiped out under Stalinism. He modernized an otherwise backward state in little time under distorted Marxist principles.
Magstadt, Thomas. Nations and Government: Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective. Boston: Cengage learning, 2011
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