As you know, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, conditions for factory workers were horrible. A few people were very rich, but the average worker was very poor and had no control over his life. Communism was an idea that was supposed to change that.
In a perfect Communist World, the workers themselves would control everything. The rich people could no longer take advantage of the poor. Everybody would be equal. It would be a “workers’ paradise.” One communist slogan summed it up perfectly – “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Everyone would give what he could, and everyone would have what he needed. Of course, if you or your country are very poor, this sounds great – no more unemployment, no more poverty, no more unfair treatment of workers. If you or your country are doing well, however, you might not want everything you own taken away from you and given to the poor.
Communist leaders understood that the rich would not want to give up their riches, so in the beginning there would have to be a dictatorship with absolute power. Everyone would have to obey completely in order to force this new system on the unwilling. Eventually, this would give way to a perfect and just society.
The dictatorship part of communism, which was supposed to be only the first step, never actually went away. The Soviet Union and the communist nations remained dictatorships for as long as they remained communist.
Russia’s Communist Revolution of 1917 made the Soviet Union the first communist nation, but the goal was to bring communism to the whole world, so that workers everywhere could be free from oppression. People joined the Communist Party in many countries, and many people were afraid that communist spies were secretly infiltrating our government.
The first leader of the Soviet Union was Vladamir Ilyich Lenin, and Josef Stalin took over when Lenin died in 1923. Stalin ruled with an iron fist in this “police state”, and was every bit as brutal toward his enemies as Hitler had been. Anyone thought to be against the government or a threat to Stalin would be arrested and sent to Gulags (like concentration camps, without the gas chambers) in Siberia, one of the coldest, most remote places on earth.