Political Science 2012

Understanding the "isms" of the 20th and 21st centuries.


Communist Manifesto

February 21, 1848 - February 22, 1848

Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto.


October, 1917 - 1991


Vladimir Lenin premier of USSR

1917 - 1924

Germany recognises USSR


Stalin premier of USSR

1924 - 1953

Dictator instigated purges, sent millions to labour camps
Born in Georgia, 1879
After Lenin's death Stalin promotes himself as political heir and outmanoeuvres rivals
Forced agricultural collectivisation, purges cost millions of lives
Dies in 1953; his body is placed alongside that of Lenin

First Five year Plan

1928 - 1933

Adoption of first Five-Year Plan, with the state setting goals and priorities for the whole economy, signifies the end of the New Economic Policy. Collectivisation of agriculture begins; numerous relatively prosperous peasants, or Kulaks, killed; millions of peasant households eliminated and their property confiscated.

DeKulakization begins officially

January 30, 1930

On 30 January 1930 the Politburo approved of the extermination of kulaks as a class. Three separate categories for the kulaks were designated: The first consisted of kulaks to be sent to the Gulags, the second was for kulaks to be relocated to distant parts of the USSR (such as the north Urals and Kazahkstan), and the third to other parts of their province.Other peasants were outraged by the idea that other people would use their tools/animals as common property; they often retaliated against the state by destroying their tools and killing the livestock. They would have to give their animals to the collectives, but the people could eat the meat; they could also conceal or sell both meat and hides. Many peasants chose to slaughter livestock rather than allow them to become common property. In the first two months of 1930, peasants killed millions of cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and goats. Through this and a severe winter, a quarter of the nation’s livestock died. It was a greater loss than during the Civil War, and herds did not reach previous levels until the 1950s.In response to the widespread slaughter, the Sovnarkom issued decrees to prosecute "the malicious slaughtering of livestock" (хищнический убой скота). Many peasants attempted to sabotage the collectives by attacking members and government officials.

Soviet Terror Famine

1932 - 1933

In Ukraine, collectivization policies caused the Terror Famine
of 1932–1933. Troops seized grain from areas where hunger
already threatened and closed off territories where resistance
arose.Estimates suggest that five to seven million people starved in
Ukraine (famine also struck elsewhere). The Soviet
government denied reports of the event. Later, Stalin is said to
have admitted that 10 million died.

Second 5 year plan

1933 - 1937

Because of the successes made by the first plan, Stalin did not hesitate with going ahead with the Second Five-Year Plan in 1932, although the official start-date for the plan was 1933. The Second Five-Year Plan gave heavy industry top priority, putting the Soviet Union not far behind the Germans as one of the major steel-producing countries of the world. Further improvements were made in communications, especially railways, which became faster and more reliable. As was the case with the other five-year plans, the second was not as successful, failing to reach the recommended production levels in such areas as the coal and oil industries. The second plan employed incentives as well as punishments and the targets were eased as a reward for the first plan being finished ahead of schedule in only four years. With the introduction of childcare, mothers were encouraged to work to aid in the plan's success.

The government's heavy handed running of the country continued and the agriculture revival was rather unsuccessful because almost all of the farmers had already been evicted, imprisoned or murdered as the political persecutions shifted into high gear, starting the era of The Great Purge. The Second Five-Year Plan was the start of the deterioration in the standard of living because the focus of "planners' preferences" replaced consumer preferences in the country's economy, with the move to focus on military goods and heavy industry, the economy suffered. This resulted in a much lower quality and quantity of available consumer goods.

USA recognises USSR


Purges Begin

1936 - 1938

Announcement of the discovery of a plot against Stalin's regime headed by Leon Trotsky ushers in a large-scale purge in which thousands of alleged dissidents in the armed forces, the Communist Party and the government were sentenced to death or long imprisonment.

The Great Purge

1937 - 1938

The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and murder in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1937 to 1938. It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of peasants, Red Army leadership, and the persecution of unaffiliated persons, characterized by widespread police surveillance, widespread suspicion of "saboteurs", imprisonment, and arbitrary executions. In Russian historiography the period of the most intense purge, 1937–1938, is called Yezhovshchina (Russian: ежовщина; literally, the Yezhov regime), after Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, NKVD.

Third 5 Year Plan

1938 - 1941

The Third Five-Year Plan ran for only 3 years, up to 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union during the Second World War. As war approached, more resources were put into developing armaments, tanks and weapons, as well as constructing additional military factories east of the Ural mountains.

The first two years of the Third Five-Year Plan proved to be even more of a disappointment in terms of proclaimed production goals. Even so, the value of these goals and of the coordination of an entire economy's development of central planning was seemingly impressive: a reported 12% to 13% rate of annual industrial growth[citation needed] attained in the Soviet Union during the 1930s has few parallels in the economic history of other countries. Since Russia's economy had always lagged behind the rest of Europe, these increases came from a very low baseline. Additionally, this high rate of reported growth was continued after World War II, as much devastation needed to be repaired, and continued into the early fifties, after which it gradually declined.

USSR & Nazis Sign Non-Agression Pact


August - Soviet Union and Nazi Germany conclude a non-aggression pact; Germany invades Poland, triggering World War II.

Fourth and Fifth 5 Year Plans

1945 - 1955

Stalin in 1945 promised that the USSR would be the leading industrial power by 1960.

Much of the USSR at this stage had been devastated by the war. Officially, 98,000 collective farms had been ransacked and ruined, with the loss of 137,000 tractors, 49,000 combine harvesters, 7 million horses, 17 million cattle, 20 million pigs, 27 million sheep; 25% of all capital equipment had been destroyed in 35,000 plants and factories; 6 million buildings, including 40,000 hospitals, in 70,666 villages and 4,710 towns (40% urban housing) were destroyed, leaving 25 million homeless; about 40% of railway tracks had been destroyed; officially 7.5 million servicemen died, plus 6 million civilians, but perhaps 20 million in all died. In 1945, mining and metallurgy were at 40% of the 1940 levels, electric power was down to 52%, pig-iron 26% and steel 45%; food production was 60% of the 1940 level. After Poland, the USSR had been the hardest hit by the war. Reconstruction was impeded by a chronic labour shortage due to the enormous number of Soviet casualties in the war. Moreover, 1946 was the driest year since 1891, and the harvest was poor.

The USA and USSR were unable to agree on the terms of a US loan to aid reconstruction, and this was a contributing factor in the rapid escalation of the Cold War. However, the USSR did gain reparations from Germany, and made Eastern European countries make payments in return for the Soviets having liberated them from the Nazis. In 1949, the Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Aid) was set up, linking the Eastern bloc countries economically. One-third of the Fourth Plan's capital expenditure was spent on Ukraine, which was important agriculturally and industrially, and which had been one of the areas most devastated by war.

By 1947, food rationing had ended, but agricultural production was barely above the 1940 level by 1952. However, industrial production in 1952 was nearly double the 1941 level.

Sixth 5 Year Plan

1956 - 1960

Another Plan to improve industry was carried out in 1956 by Nikita Khrushchev, following Stalin's death in 1953. Some of Khrushchev's policies included nationalization, the Virgin Lands Campaign, creation of a minimum wage alongside overall wage reform and the production of consumer goods which raised the living standards of the Soviet people in return.

Krushchev Denounces Stalin

25 February 1956

"On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" (Russian: «О культе личности и его последствиях») was a report by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made to the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. Khrushchev's speech was sharply critical of the reign of General Secretary and Premier Joseph Stalin, particularly with respect to the brutal purges of the Soviet military and Communist Party cadres which had particularly marked the last years of the 1930s. Khrushchev charged Stalin with having fostered a leadership personality cult despite ostensibly maintaining support for the ideals of communism.

The speech was a milestone in the Khrushchev Thaw. Superficially, the speech was an attempt to draw the Soviet Communist Party closer to Leninism. Khrushchev's ulterior motivation, however, was to legitimize and help consolidate his control of the Communist party and government, power obtained in a political struggle with Stalin loyalists Vyacheslav Molotov and Georgy Malenkov.

The Khrushchev report was known as the "Secret Speech" because it was delivered at an unpublicized closed session of Communist Party delegates, with guests and members of the press excluded. Although the text of the Khrushchev report leaked almost immediately, the official Russian text was published only in 1989 during the glasnost campaign of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In April 2007, the British newspaper The Guardian included the speech in their series on "Great Speeches of the 20th Century".[1

Hungarian Anti-Communist Revolution

October 23, 1956 - November 10, 1956

Following Krushchev's denunciation of Stalin the Hungarians started their anti-communist revolutinon

Khrushchev Premier of USSR

1958 - 1964

Seventh 5 year Plan

1959 - 1965

Unlike other planning periods, it was a 7-year plan (semiletka), approved by the 21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1959. It was the reconsideration of the 6th pyatiletka. This period was marked with a significant economic growth of the Soviet Union.

Eigth 5 Year Plan

1966 - 1970

The Eighth Plan led to the amount of grain exported being doubled.

Ninth 5 Year Plan

1971 - 1981

Some 14 million tonnes of grain were imported by the USSR. Détente and improving relations between the Soviet Union and the United States allowed for more trade.

Tenth 5 Year Plan

1976 - 1981

Leonid Brezhnev declared the slogan "Plan of Quality and Efficiency" for this period.

Eleventh 5 Year Plan

1981 - 1985

During the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the country imported some 42 million tons of grain annually, almost twice as much as during the Tenth Five-Year Plan and three times as much as during the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1971–75). The bulk of this grain was sold by the West; in 1985, for example, 94 percent of Soviet grain imports were from the nonsocialist world, with the United States selling 14.1 million tons. However, total Soviet export to the West was always almost as high as import, for example, in 1984 total export to the West was 21.3 billion rubles, while total import was 19.6 billion rubles.

Twelth 5 year Plan

1986 - 1990

The last, 12th plan started with the slogan of uskoreniye, the acceleration of economic development (quickly forgotten in favor of a more vague motto perestroika) ended among a profound economic crisis in virtually all areas of Soviet economy and drop in production.

The 1987 Law on State Enterprise and the follow-up decrees about khozraschyot and self-financing in various areas of the Soviet economy were aimed at the decentralization of the planned economy.

Thirteenth 5 Year plan


This plan, which would have run until 1995, only lasted about one year due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Maoist China