The history of the world has witnessed several phenomenal upsurges and revolutions based on economic, political, social, and scientific objectives. Many of these revolutions were weaved by the military strikes and bloodshed of civilians, while others focused on the enlightenment and intellectual uplifting of the masses. Revolutions like enlightenment and industrial revolutions were spread in almost a century whereas the French revolution and upheaval in France lasted a decade and the Russian revolution and rise of communism in Russia were expanded over a period of 5 years. However, the influence of these historically significant events of the world was not limited to a single point and time, it continually progressively influenced world history and some of the results were visible even after two centuries. In this essay, it will be argued that the industrial revolution with its ideological developments and Russian enlightenment with its major changes in the foreign policy and economy became the historic reason behind the Cold War, and finally, the Russian revolution with the rise of communism set stage of the Cold War ideological tension.
The industrial revolution has advanced several politico-economic theories in the world have highlighted class discrimination, the inhumane condition of the workers, and ultimately proposed the class struggle as a source of historic development. The four major economic theories put forward in this period were Capitalism, Anarchism, Socialism, and Communism. These theories differed in their perspective of an ideal society and also advocated different methods of attaining an ideal society. When we look at the cold war era, starting after World War II, the basic reason for the hostility of America and the USSR at each other was embedded in their pursuit of different ideologies.
According to capitalism, a theory originating in the Industrial revolution, the means of production must remain private property and the government must minimize its interference in the private sphere. Capitalism perceived the economy as a privately held entity where the wealth is distributed according to the resources and jobs. When we look at the United States which was the front-end proponent of Capitalism in the Cold War, its foreign policy was aligned to spread its capitalist manifesto in the third world country and establish a capitalist monopoly in the world by taking over communism. The agenda of that time was to minimize the trade barriers, emphasize free trade and a trade economy.
While the United States pursued its capitalist intentions, USSR wanted the exact opposite. By then, the USSR with its communist reign of Joseph Stalin was intensifying its efforts to institute what Karl Marx believed to be an ideal society. Russian Stalin government contacted the communist party leaders throughout the world and called meetings. One example of this is the Communist Information Bureau, the Cominform which was established to reinforce the Yugoslavian victory of Communist Josip Broz Tito. In these meetings, the Russian government under the rule of Stalin wanted the European governments aligned with USSR to impose the laws in their home countries that are levied by Stalin in Russia.
So, overall what was initiated in the industrial revolution of the 19th century as the economic theories, matured themselves as the two opposing powers in the bipolar world of the 20th century. China in the Cold War was also a communist economy, but it was an independent economy outside the Russian influence, but the United States remained suspicious of its involvement in the expansion of the Communist agenda. The struggle to rise between capitalism and communism was spread over a century and was ended with the fall of the USSR.
The industrial revolution set the preliminary stage of the Cold War, the next nail came from the age of enlightenment with special reference to the Russian enlightenment events such as the Decembrists movement. When Nicholas I declared its enthronement after Constantine, the more popular heir refused to become emperor, the military men revolted against Nicholas I. The Decembrists movement was inspired by the French revolution and civil war, however, it proved to be less successful. The Decembrists were dispersed after sustaining a large number of casualties when Nicholas I ordered Chivalry to open fire on them. This proved to be an important event towards the Russian Revolution and rise of Communism by the abdication of Nicholas II.
During this age of enlightenment, the debate that assumed Russia as a strategically important state in the world started to emerge. Russia wanted to gain access to hot waters due to its landlocked geographical position. This is the reason behind its acquisition of Poland and Crimea. Later on, the factors like Nationalism and the Communist version of Bolshevik have been established in Russia during the 1930s to the end of World War II. These are all the factor which gradually strengthened the Communist influence in Russia. Lenin’s policy in Russia after World War I was also based on the war communism.
From the origin of the idea in the 19th century, its strengthening 1930s and 1940s, the last nail in the coffin was hit by the Russian Revolution. The Russian revolution saw the empowerment of the communist party Bolshevik after the death of Tsar. The aristocratic reign of Nicholas II was overcome by Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party, and enforced a reign of communism which led to the Cold War strategy of Russia under Stalin a follower of Lenin. Thus, the Cold War which happened in the second half of the 20th century was showing its symptoms a century back.