Communism was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the antithesis to capitalism, which relies on democracy and capital-production for forming a society. Communism is a political and economic ideology which positions itself as opposed to liberal democracy and capitalism, advocating instead a classless system where the means of production are owned collectively and private property is either absent or greatly restricted. Despite its diverse usage today socialism, within the historical communist movement, is synonymous with communism.
Instead of being an inherently synonymous with communist goals, socialism now meant the Communist Party controlling the state, controlling the economy in turn, thereby eliminating class differences and beginning to lead the society into the period of economic development which would produce the prosperity necessary for eventual achievement of communism. The Communists actually believed the communists were capable of using state power in transforming society from capitalism into communism. The problem with their states was not their failure to bring about a social-change process, but rather that they achieved one.
It is not likely to have been a crucial element of communist state failure. Another possible explanation of communist government failure is that poor leadership was a problem. A second cause for the failures of communism is inherent systemic inefficiencies, such as centralised planning. Communism failed due to multiple reasons, including a lack of incentive to make profits by citizens, failures in central planning, and the effect that the power was captured by so few individuals, who then used it and rigged the system.
Communism may have succeeded in building an industrial society, but failed in turning workers into consumers. If capitalism has now one symbol, in Stalins nuclear bomb, that conveys the villainous character of Communism, it continues to depend on the low quality of Russian consumer goods to sustain its message of failure. Communism, or socialism, was unable to succeed, wrote one Austrian economist in 1920, because Communism had abolished the free market, so officials had no market prices to guide their planned output. Three years after the Russian revolution, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises claimed communism would fail, and explained why.
In his foundational essay and in his subsequent works, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and their followers argued for (and predicted as historically inevitable) a worldwide proletarian revolution, bringing about an era of socialism, and later Communism. The Battle of Kursk, the development of the atom bomb, and Sputnik were success stories, all three products of a communist system.
Communism had been dominant since the Russian Revolution in 1917, not just in Russia, but in the satellite states that formed the Soviet Union, encompassing about 290 million people as of the beginning of 1991. Between the Russian Revolution and the Second World War, communist Soviet-style rule only extended to a single state, which was not subsequently integrated into the Soviet Union. Just one decade later, several major Communist governments across the globe were overthrown. The communist movement was also plagued by internal contradictions, due to the local resistance either to communism as such, or its Soviet incarnation.
Despite a common conception of communism that has developed in the heads of the majority as the result of the Party dictatorships of the communist countries, communist ideas never had much of an association with the powerful apparatuses of government. Certainly, communism was more than just Communists ruling over the state apparatus. Well, everywhere where you see communism (or the states that are claimed by socialists as trying to reach total communism, that is, the moment when the state itself is rendered obsolete), there is the same thing in terms of one-party systems, the violation of human rights, restrictions on civil liberties, and serious problems in the economy — which recent failures in Venezuela are reminding us.
The reality is that communist principles are actually feasible; the only problem is that they result in highly inefficient economies, so that while the people of the communist system are completely supportive of its ideals, they quickly begin behaving in ways that reveal their profound desire for freedom from capitalism. Once these basic deficiencies in communism are understood, it is possible to understand why Communism has consistently failed. To put this in a different light, the horrors of Communist regimes are not unlike those of traditional capitalist nations, since they are a consequence of the triumph of capitalism, but of Communist failure.
In The Harvest of Sorrow, Cortois states that in the post-1918 period, communist countries were alone in experiencing a such hunger, resulting in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of deaths. These deaths occurred mostly under Stalin and Mao, so these specific periods of Communist rule in the Soviet Union and China get significant attention in The Harvest of Sorrow, though other Communist regimes have also caused large numbers of deaths, most famously the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which is frequently recognized as having killed more of its citizens than any in history. The years of 1945 and decolonization after World War II have also led to communist successes in Asia, particularly in China (where the Maoist military was not effective prior to 1941) and in the northern parts of Korea and Vietnam (this is another point that Robert Service fails to conceptualize).
In time, the populations of the capitalist countries also perceived the superiority of communist systems, and they would naturally gravitate towards Communism. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union, Red China, and the satellites would demonstrate that communism could generate both an increased rate of consumption and high rates of economic growth. Chinas current rate of growth would have been hard for it to reach without the significant human and social capital that China developed under Communism.
Communism is the easiest system to sell to poor people, not because poor people are stupid or lazy or jealous that they get to participate in the banquets of the wealthy, but because Communist and socialist rhetoric sounds so sensible, just, and feasible.