Is Communism gaining strength as a world ideology? Is it really destined to sweep new nations and old peoples before it with the force and inevitability that it still claims? Or has it unhinged itself from historical truth and modern reality, thus losing both relevance and momentum?
In my travels in the last few months in 40 or 50 countries on four continents, I have become convinced that Communism as an ideological force is ebbing. The mounting contradictions between Communist doctrine and the hard economic and political realities of today are beginning to be understood more widely. Even in the Soviet Union itself, changes in practice are being reflected in publicly avowed changes in dogma. The simple fact is that the world is refusing to act as Communist ideology said it should and would.
Before exploring the evidence of this and noting the results, let us define our terms. By Communist ideology I mean these three things:
First, Karl Marx's theory of history which assumes that certain "laws" impel a society to move through a series of economic stages to Communism. Communism is here presented as an economic system which in theory satisfies all of a society's needs without exploiting any of its members.
Second, Lenin's assumption that the pace of history can be accelerated by "political" means, principally by revolution.
Third, Lenin's belief in the Communist Party as the all-wise, all-powerful- indeed, the only-vehicle of this economic and political change.
Marx's thinking was powerful largely because it was based on shrewd observation of life around him; it was limited because he saw only those facts which time, place and inclination permitted him to see. What Marx saw were the grim realities of everyday life in the crudest years of the industrial revolution. He saw the London slum dwellers, crowded into hovels, working themselves to exhaustion under the insensitive impact of an ever-expanding economy. He saw their helplessness as individuals before the power of the men who owned the factories in which they
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