Human development in certain communist countries seems to be challenged by the policies developed as a measure to secure the life expectancy of the nationals (Osborne, 2006). This is due to the fact that the communism still struggles to deliberate on the human rights and freedom policies and cannot maximize on essential policies. Different countries adopt numerous policies that facilitate human development. Soviet Union has trouble in ensuring a sustainable human development strategy. On the other hand, it is perceived that China adopts sound policies that support the already existing human development levels. This literature deems to analyze and compare certain factors within the context of human development in the communist era of both the USSR and China. Via comparisons in concepts such as civil liberties, economic development and social improvement policies during such an era we hope to gain more insight as to the levels of human development in both countries.
If one is to critically analyze the concept of civil liberty in both countries during the era of communism then one have to take a critical look of the birth of communism in each of the countries to fully understand certain underlying factors that contributed to various processes of within the context of rights and liberties of the people of both nations. Communism in China was born out of the historical uprising of the Chinese masses. The masses were predominantly peasants. Communist rule in the Soviet Union as opposed to the Chinese was not birthed by a revolution and was equally not supported by a majority of the country’s masses. The Chinese Communist Party came into power officially on the 1st of October, 1949 and in accordance the one party led China was established even though it was a significantly long process for a complete transition of regime from the Qing Dynasty to take complete effect, such was similar with the regime transition in the Soviet Union from the Tsarist Russia. The Japanese have been widely acclaimed to have been the catalyst for the Chinese pro communist revolution and the country’s adoption of the communist ideology. The pseudo governments supported by the communist party during the Second Sino-Japanese war were highly supported by the masses because not only did provide them with a voice, but it provided self-defense, agricultural aid and cooperation, education and acted as a pillar for guerillas. The Chinese peasants were thought the meaning and concept of government. The Communist party, endorsed by the mass movement ignited an aura or feeling of oneness, belonging and made the people feel like they had a stake in the government (Lancet, 2013). This feeling brought an exhilarating sense of self awareness and self-determination to the Chinese people. In light of this the Chinese masses reacted positively to the local governments and thus the Communist Party in China was guaranteed massive support from the peasants. Furthermore, the Chinese peasants had a relatively significant say and influence under the communist reign of Mao. The Communist ideology was one that was concisely widespread among the lower class of China and due to the fact that it was perceived as being not only the most viable system or form of governance for the Chinese masses but also the most appropriately productive for these peasants. While it can be said that the concept of communism begun via a bottom up revolution, the Soviet Union’s Communist Party attained power without aid or notion of the nation’s masses. The birth of communism in the Soviet Union was far less intriguing and less emotional than that of the Chinese. The Tsarist opposition consisted of largely the upper class educated citizens of the Soviet State. The masses or poor peasants in the case of the Soviet Union did not have any hand in bringing communism to the light. In fact, the Soviet Communism came into power, having been led by one individual, Vladimir Lenin. Thus the image of the Soviet Communist party was conceived by one man as opposed to the majority phenomena of the Chinese (Baner &Hody, 1994).
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Many believe that the processes involving the rise of communism in both countries played a major role in the shaping the framework of civil liberties and human development in general. While the Soviets did not adopt an efficient and effective structure for establishing national identity, the Chinese made use of their mindset and the Confucius ideology in creating a national identity every citizen could relate to. The Soviet Union’s conception of civil liberty placed emphasis on economic and social rights such as guaranteed employment, access to health care education at all levels etc. and believed that without these civil rights or political rights of the people were meaningless. They believed in the Marxist-Leninist ideology rather than the ideology of natural law (Weiler, 2002). Freedom of association and assembly was significantly limited, atheism was promoted, and citizens had no right to practice religion, emigration and travel were not permitted unless there was an explicit reason to travel as well as government permission and human rights activist in most situations were subjected to harassments, arrests and repression. Civil liberties in the Soviet Union were almost nonexistent. Genuine political and civil rights of the masses deemed an illusion and were strictly limited. The people’s right to freedom of religion was stripped as they were coerced to practice atheism. The communist party in the Soviet Union advocated an ideology or conception of civil liberty that was very much different from that of the Chinese as well as that of the West. While the Chinese were more sensitive about the rights of the masses, the Soviets emphasized the rights of society as a whole and disregarded any form of individualism.
Economic growth and Development:
In spite of the fact that the Soviet communist party in its era of communist rule could not foster a clear national identity, as well as not being able to get the consent of the majority in its activities, its reform policies were equally not welcoming. The Chinese on the other hand had reforms that were positively oriented and thus supported human development within an economic perspective and context. Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet reforms and Deng Xiaoping’s Chinese reforms were so different even when there were and still are misconceptions that both men were similar, Deng’s reforms were a success in China and Gorbachev’s a complete failure in the Soviet Union. Many still attribute Gorbachev’s reforms as the catalyst that lead to the collapse of the Soviet Communist rule. Deng advocated for globalization, and pursued economic reforms rather than political liberalization (Fazleen et al, 2012). Gorbachev did exactly the opposite. He closed the doors of the Soviet Union to globalization and pursued political liberalization. Thus, the general difference between the two countries in terms of economic development during the communist era lies in the fact that China placed its emphasis and focused on strong economic reforms and as such developed a strong economy, soon after political liberalization was achieved. This system was perceived as more viable, especially within a Communist government as it was thought of that if a viable economy was to be achieved then a country would have to open up to international activity. Only then would its political reforms be able to manifest the desired results.
The communist political reforms did not promote human development via economic growth, the people lost hope and did not trust the government because it did not provide for them what they needed. Economic growth was an illusion in the Soviet Communist era. In China it was a different story. The Communist party put less influence on controlling the people and more influence on economic boom thus the masses were pleased with the government. Moreover some of the Chinese communist reforms allowed for relatively significant economic freedom to the Chinese people. Let us remember that, China had already achieved a true mass movement with communism at its birth, while the Soviet Union had been created and largely based on the ideologies of one man. The pragmatic ideologies of Chinese communism can be seen in every sphere of the Chinese economy till date. The Soviet Union failed in internationalizing communism. The Soviet Union miscalculated the importance of economic growth and its impact on human development, it equally undermined the concept of national identity of the diverse people and ethnicities it had under its authority. Political reforms were placed before human and economic development. The results of such reform on the people was calamitous as it brought about major famine to the Soviet Union. Certain agricultural region collapsed. The cruel and ill-considered measures of the communist reforms set the notion of human development back. Till date Russia is yet to recover.
Communism in China brought the nations outrageous inflation under control thus significantly stabilizing the economy. An equitable distribution of food was also achieved during that period. Land reform programs were launched as well as policies which saw beefed up security from the police. Agriculture became collectivized and industries became nationalized (Yang & Hu, 2008). Communism in the Soviet Union only brought further deterioration to the already degraded economy of the Soviets. Reforms which were masked under ruthless and reckless programs of military industrialization. It should be noted that the Soviet programs did ensue a great military industry, but this was attained at the cost vast human deprivation and suffering as well as the reckless abuse of the environment.
Implanted Social Improvement:
Many believe that the Chinese communist era resulted in vast and significant improvements in the welfare and life of the Chinese people. In that era life expectancy, contrary to popular speculations more than doubled from 33 years to 65. Infant mortality rate saw a significant decline. As a matter of fact infant mortality rate in Shanghai during that era was lower in New York City. What the statics above reveal is that during Chinese communism, there was a profound decline in violence of daily life and improved implanted social policies. Another important factor was the rise in the extent of literacy which increased in a span of a generation form about fifteen percent in 1949 to about eighty percent in 1970 (Kane, 1987). The Communist social policies of the Soviets was a far cry from that of the Chinese. Many deemed it as terrible and almost incomprehensible. A series of events termed the “Purge” beginning with the efforts of the communist government to remove as well as destroy an oppositions of its authority. So vicious was were these policies that is applications on the people were arbitrary, unpredictable and indiscriminate to the point where it had induced a mass frenzy in the already frightened citizens of the Soviet Union. Any individual that was perceived as a friend to opposition of the communist rule was not only punished, but put his/her close acquaintances, relative or immediate family in harm’s way. The process was so bad that it turned friends against friends and family members and close relatives against each other.
Before the advent of communist rule in China, the country was dominated by foreign imperialist powers. The Chinese economy before communism was near rock bottom in world development scale. The country had very little industries and its agricultural sector was profoundly underdeveloped. China then was depicted as having the most ruinous inflation in world history. Corruption was on the high, the country was flooded with vast criminal and underworld of gangsters and secret societies. The country also had an estimated ninety million opium addicts. This was the level of decay in the social and moral framework of the Chinese nation before communism. For women, life was a living hell: Arranged marriages, and child brides were a widespread phenomenon and social practice. Women were susceptible to foot binding and other forms of social ills. Prostitution and the courtesan phenomenon were other social ills of the Chinese women were compelled to endure. The mentioned societal ills and extreme polarization of wealth that was existent in the Chinese society before the rise of communism were wiped out by the Chinese revolution of the masses, and via the creation of the proletarian state power and the establishment of a just economic and social order, a China that unleashed the power of the masses and served the best interest of the ordinary citizen. The birth of the peasant revolution significantly aided in the abolishment and removal of the feudal economic and social system of China. The land reform policies and repudiation of peasant debts initiated under the communist rule and era gave rise to the requisition and even redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to the poor peasants (Liou, 2012, William, 1998). Under the communist rule, marriage law of revolutionary China initiated laws that facilitated marriage by mutual consent, the right and liberty to divorce, and made the sale of children and infants illegal. It was in the communist era that China witnessed a new women’s movement which was larger and more endowed in vision than any witnessed in history. In this era, the subordinate division of labor between the male and female gender was eliminated (Broyelle, 1977). Soviet Communism on the hand does not share the same epic story of the Chinese. Many believe that because the concept of the Soviet’s rule in the communist era was based on one man’s ideology, there were lapses especially within the context of human and social development. The effect of Communist rule on the Soviet Union was disastrous. By nationalizing the countries productive assets and thus allocating the management into the hands of power hungry officials who neither had the motivation nor the apt to administer them efficiently and effectively (Frolic, 1971). The Russian people at that time saw themselves as not self-sufficient citizens but rather as wards or prisoners of the state who were solely dependent on the ruling government for every aspect of their welfare and well-being. Soviet communism, through mismanaging of national assets, wrong economic and social policies that saw the elements of rewarding equally the worker and the slacker had to eventually rely on deception, coercion and unwarranted force to implement their negative ideals into action. In their quest to impose total ideological conformity on its people, communist leaders of the Soviet Union exiled, imprisoned and even murdered individuals who stood in its way, such individuals were often the most insightful and enterprising minds of the nation. Stalin, a Soviet communist leader, who as soon as his power was consolidated in 1920, proceeded to inflict hardship on the peasants of the Soviet state. The Stolypin reforms before the era of Stalin which was supposed to lay great emphasis on the encouragement and support of the most thriving and competent segment of the farming population, that is the peasants was overturned by Stalin’s communist regime, in his sweeping campaign for collectivization which set out eliminate the Stolypin reforms rather ruthlessly through confiscation of whatever meager properties these peasants had left. Women’s rights were undermined, human rights gatherings or even its notions were seldom and if the government did get a wind of it, participating parties faced the full wrath of the law. Corruption and greed amongst communist leaders was paramount amongst other ills dished out to the Soviet society.
Overall Comparison of both Nations
Communism in the present or modern era is perceived as a vice in the fabric of practicing societies. Critics of communism often site the atrocities on human development perpetrated by men such as Lenin, Stalin etc. But in response, individuals who defend communism tend to offer the suggestion that such men who gave communism a bad name were merely individuals who misunderstood the concept of communism’s most noble ideology. Even though China’s communist era isn’t as horror free as most scholarly depict it to be, it was an ideology that was centered on the welfare and well-being of the peasant masses. In reality, the industrial economy under communism grew impressively. China formerly referred to as the “sick man of Asia” was transformed into an industrial powerhouse in the communist era, a rate of rapid social, political and economic development which is only comparable to the most significant of growth surges ever to be known in history. Furthermore, all this were achieved without dependence on exploitation and foreign assistance as well as in light of hostile international environments. The country’s agricultural sector saw a three percent growth on a yearly basis slightly exceeding growth in terms of population. Feeding China’s vast population as a problem had been solved by the mid 70’s. These accomplishments of the communist government came about via integrated economic planning, a notion of mass welfare and a systematic restructuring of collective agricultural reforms that promoted mobilization at the grass root level. The Communist era ensured a radical break to certain problems that consistently plagued China. Problems such as feudal oppressions, droughts and floods which resulted in nationwide starvation were battled through steady investments in rural infrastructure, equitable distribution of food ensuring that each citizen got their minimal requirements, policies that promoted positive human development. The communist government established free health care which was guided by the principles of cooperation and egalitarianism. There were serious problems and weaknesses in the ideologies of communism in the Soviet Union. Mao later pointed out that one of the major problems of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had was that it had abandoned the notion of the masses and mass initiative. It no longer believed in the concept of human development. Rather the Soviet society was ruled with an authoritarian hand and orders from above. Mao emphasized that the Soviet Union was no longer governed in nearly a democratic manner as it should have or could have been. A vast majority of revolutionaries and honest workers were wrongly or falsely accused or labelled as enemy agents and anti-progressive. Such individuals were imprisoned or killed. This was the level to which civil liberty and human development notion in the Soviet Union had been degraded to in the Communist era. Communism in the Soviet Union had some significant short comings in comparison to China whose communist government were more mass oriented.
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