From Communism to Capitalism


  • The Romanov dynasty builds upon the old Muscovite empire, extending its rule to the Black Sea and Pacific Ocean. Weak and ineffectual, Nicholas II presides over the monarchy’s final 23 years


  • The Decembrist officers’ revolt of 1825 marks the first stirring of democratic passions.
  • After Alexander II frees the serfs in 1861, a revolutionary movement led by the gentry gathers strength, leading to the tsar’s assassination in 1881


  • Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War shakes confidence in the monarchy, which relinquishes some authority over a series of strikes and protest in 1905.
  • The first democratic parliament, or Duma, meets in 1906


  • Supported by parties of right and left, the February Revolution topples the monarchy.
  • Lenin returns from exile to lead the leftist Bolsheviks in their struggle for control of the revolution and seizes power in a coup on October 25


  • A treaty with Germany releases the Bolsheviks from an unwanted role in World War I; in the process, they lose control over Ukraine, the Baltics and other tsarist lands
  • They move their capital from Petrograd to Moscow and rename themselves Communist


  • Lenin dissolves the popularly elected Constituent Assembly on January 6, 1918, killing in one stroke the democratic movement begun in 1906
  • Nicholas II and his family are murdered in July 1918 as a three-year civil war begins between Red and White Armies – the latter a loose coalition of anticommunist factions. Lenin uses charisma and inflammatory propaganda to rally support for the Bolsheviks and highly centralized war economy known as War Communism


  • A falling economy prompts Lenin’s New Economic Policy – an admitted retreat from socialism that continues beyond his death in 1924


  • Lenin’s aspiring successors, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, debate the future of communism
  • Stalin with the policy of socialism in one country, triumphs over his rival, the global revolutionary
  • In 1927 Trotsky is expelled from the party, later to be exiled and murdered. With his Five-Year Plan of 1928, Stalin takes iron-fisted control of the economy


  • With the Five-Year Plan, Stalin begins a total transformation of Soviet society by regimenting every aspect of public life
  • Heavy industry is emphasized, along with massive public works projects
  • But the peasants, Russia’s largest class, remain an obstacle to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • To transform them from traditional farmers into rural workers, collective and state farms are instituted; the peasants however, resisted fiercely


  • Reign of terror begin in 1929 as Stalin invades the countryside to crush the resistance – better-off farmers who he cilifies as “kulaks” or rich peasants
  • Confiscated crops lead to famine and millions starve
  • In show trials from 1936 to 1938, Stalin purges the Communist Party of half its members – some 1.2 million people
  • Millions more are slain or exiled


  • Hitler reneges on his non-aggression pact with Stalin and launches his blitzkrieg against Russia in 1941
  • The Red Army crippled by purges, suffers huge defeats
  • With Allied aid, Soviets turn the tide and drive the Germans all the way to Berlin by 1945
  • Victory’s cost: 20 million Soviet lives
  • It’s reward: huge German reparations, in money and appropriated industrial plants and hegemony over eastern Europe


  • Dashing hopes of postwar harmony, Stalin pursues a hard line until his death in 1953
  • The new Cold War chills dramatically on August 29, 1949, when the Soviets explode their first nuclear device
  • With Mao Zedong’s victory over China’s Nationalists the same year, the USSR gains a formidable communist ally


  • With Nikita Khrushchev comes a humanizing de-Stalinization at home but not abroad, as Soviets brutally crush the Hungarian revolt in 1956
  • Flush with success at re-building their economy, Soviets launch the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957, sending tremors of technological angst through the United States


  • A Sino-Soviet rift in 1960 is followed by the raising of the Berlin Wall – another technological coup, as Soviets put the first man in space
  • The 1962 Cuban missile crisis gives superpowers a close brush with mutual annihilation


  • Despite Khrushchev’s earlier boast of Soviet economic superiority (We will bury you!), huge crop shortages force him to buy wheat from abroad


  • Khrushchev is ousted and replaced by hard-liner Leonid Brezhnev
  • Suppression of Czechoslovakia’s brief reform movement in 1968 marks the end of the “big thaw” and start of the Brezhnev Doctrine
  • By 1970 dissidents are speaking up at home


  • A visit by President Richard Nixon and treaties stemming from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks launch a period of detente
  • The Helsinki Accords of 1975 cap this thaw


  • Detente falters as President Jimmy Carter challenges Brezhnev on human rights
  • Economic stagnation steps in
  • Production by both farms and factories slackens, while soaring oil revenues cover losses and the bureaucracy swells
  • In agriculture three million apparatchiks reign – more than all U.S. farmers


  • The Soviets invade Afghanistan following a massive arms buildup, and the Cold War intensifies
  • Devoting a third of their GNP to defence, Soviets achieve parity with the West in nuclear missiles and clear dominance in conventional weapons
  • At home the crackdown on dissidents turn ugly: Soviet jails, mental hospitals and forced labor camps fill with political prisoners, earning the USSR international censure


  • Brezhnev dies and is replaced by former KGB head Yuri Andropov
  • Relations with the United States reach a new low over U.S. deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe


  • Andropov dies after 15 months in power
  • For new part chief, the leadership by passes his protege, Mikhail Gorbachev, for Konstantin Chermenko


  • Chermenko dies, and 54-year-old Gorbachev ascends to power
  • His meeting with President Ronald Reagan in Geneva is the first in a series of summits


  • The Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion delivers disaster to the environment and extra hardship to the Soviet economy


  • Two words – glasnost and perestroika – symbolize Gorbachev’s radical agenda: openness and economic restructuring
  • A gas pipeline to Western Europe becomes fully operational, as low oil prices pinch revenues


  • After completing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Gorbachev visits China in May 1989
  • This first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years touches off an ill-fated student protest
  • The Berlin Wall falls in November


  • The Soviet constitution is amended in February, ending the Communist Party monopoly of power
  • As Gorbachev seeks party reform, radical reformer Boris Yeltsin breaks rank in July, opening floodgates of defection


  • A coup attempt on August 19 by communist hard-liners is thwarted as Russians rally behind their new president, Boris Yeltsin
  • In December, by act of the Congress of People’s Deputies, the Soviet Union is dissolved
  • Discredited, Soviet Communism expires after 75 years

Communism Yesterday

Communism Today



5 Responses to “From Communism to Capitalism”
  1. lizii says:

    Sad, isn’t it. Stupid money hungry and corrupt people that are unable to live in an idea world. If only Moore’s utopia could be real.

    Nice time line, lol.

  2. Hi,

    Maybe rather from “Proto-socialism” (1917-1921) through “Degenerated Workers’ state” (1921-1991) to Capitalism (later). Never truly socialist (means of the production shared (and therefore democratically controlled) by the whole society) and definitely not Communist (stateless classless moneyless + socialist). And if you want to call China “Communist” at your map (I ask why? If one call himself/herself frog is he/she one? China runs only partly controlled free market, there IS unemployment as far as I am informed (on the other side even the “Degenerated Workers’ states” like the Socialist Czechoslovakia (CSSR) had no unemployment and homelessness (the state provided work and home for everyone, to work was not only right but also duty)) and China funds the US military and economics by large loans (not only imperialism in Tibet but also helping imperialists in the exploitation and killings in Iraq and Afganistan!)) and the means of the production are not in the democratic control of the whole society just in the control of self-claimed vanguard which surely didn’t act in the favour of the working class (but western politics doesn’t act too, important to note)) then why not Belarus too (Belarus is surprisingly grey on your map)? And If Moldavia is “Communist” (yes a political party with name “Communist” repeately won there democratic elections and had one-colour government… but that party was doing privatisation… so it’s clearly anti-socialist group) then why not Venezuela or Cyprus? Hugo Chavez is more pro-Communist than Voronin in my opinion… Also, sad that you didn’t mention “Worker-counciles rule” in 1917-1921 (an attempt to direct democracy as Lenin theoretized in the “Soviet democracy concept”) which was recalled due to massive counter-revolution and external aggression (USSR invaded by invasion armies of 24 states). Excuse my English, please.

    I would call for the original idea of Socialism/Communism in a partly Marxist partly Anarchist way of implementation. It is the only way that people should live in humane society without (world) wars, exploitation of the third world and exploitation of the working class world-wide and humilation of large social groups (i.e. ethnical minorities, women, GLTB, …)… Also the Communist stage of the society is surely the end-point where the evolution of human society have to go. We should try to make the world ideal. If the mankind have reason to exist it should be this reason (here it means religion a bit but I do not see it wrong, Marx’s critics was against priests blinding workers with after-life stories “if they will behave nice” (in order what will rulling class together with theocracy demand) not against every single piece of spirituality, in my opinion). The largest mistake in organisation was a centralisation of the political power (which allowed Stalin to do what he did (Stalin the fake-communist and traitor!))… power to worker-counciles rather then vanguards… and the largest mistake in the ideology was the lack of spirituality.

    Also now, Nepal should be marked red on your map. They have there parliamentary democracy + Communist parties in power. It should be a very interesting social experiment. Although I consider indirect democracy (i.e. parliamentarist kind) as imperfect, to see two or more Communist parties to share the political power like in Nepal is nice to me.

    Thank you for your time-line although as an ideological-purist and Communist (the true and anti-authoritian, of course :-)) I cannot agree with the terminology used here. (but please note that even “Communist” regimes themselves never refered about themselves as “Communist” only as “Socialist” and furthermore “Real Socialist” (admitting that they are not able to achieve the “Socialism by the definition”) so the only reason why to call them so is the name of vanguard political state-parties rulling there (and even here a lot of them didn’t have “Communist” in the name, just “Socialist” like SED in East Germany or “Workers” in DPRK))

    @lizii: Hello, anti-capitalist utopia was real (Paris Commune, Hussites, Anarchist Catalonia) is real (on a small scale i.e. Kibbutzes in Israel) and will be real also on the global scale (like Marx, Luxemburg, Trotsky and other great Internationalist thinkers wanted), the only question is if it will take rather decades, ceturies or millennia to achieve. We need to agitate people to this idea and to create it. Power to the People! Nice to meet someone who cares about the world too.

    AnarchoTrotskist (I am on the YouTube if you want to discuss)

    • jamesesz says:

      Thanks for your comment! There are alot of new info that I managed to absorb. I do agree with you that the term communist and capitalist might be used rather too loosely and in some sense rather wrongly. Thanks again for your feedback!

      ~James Ee

  3. Andy Cox says:

    With regard to your maps ‘Communism yesterday’ and ‘communism today’, you must surely be having a laugh, jamesesz .Have you never heard of State Capitalism? Check my website for more on this and related matters. If commodity production, wages, profits, buying and selling, property and other features of capitalism exist within a given society, then call it what you will , it IS a capitalist society. As the man said, ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. Except that the smell in this case is more akin to sulphur.

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