The differences between USSR and the West can be divided into two groups; one is from the political point of view, and the other can be the difference in economic system on both sides.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, under the rule of Lenin, the first socialist country was created, the USSR. The idea of socialism was developed through Marxist-Leninist theory, which is the building of the material base for communist under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under the theory of socialism in USSR, everyone in the country must think for the whole community, and all businesses are under the government’s control, and it is also a one-party state. The founding of socialism was the biggest threaten to the West back then. The central country of the West was the USA, a country under the ruling of capitalism, unlike the USSR, where the production and distribution are privately and corporately owned in the West countries.
There was also a difference in the political system between USSR and the West. In the USA, everyone has the right to speak, to vote, and also gives people a chance of select their own government, and that is called democracy. On the other hand, USSR is a communist state, which means there’s dictatorship, everything is owned by the government, there was no freedom, and since it is a one-party state, there was no need for other political parties.
In the end, differences between the ideology of the West and of the USSR can be separated into politics, economics and culture. The political policies each party had were in direct proportion to the degree of liberty and meritocracy in their respective economic systems and thus the two should be taken into consideration together. The major Western countries had all experienced revolution, constitutionalism and nationalism in slightly disparate forms, while the USSR remained a solid unlimited monarchy until the beginning of the 20th century. Politically, this meant the countries that had had longer periods of time to evolve into democracies were the spearheads of international economics. Communism acted as catalyst and steroids for a USSR that could not afford to slowly evolve into a democracy or wait for their people, ninety-percent of whom were uneducated peasants, to adapt and uphold a functional liberal society.
The Russian people, especially volatile after their revolution, needed a nationalistic government that would take care of economic arenas and be told what to do. And thus the USSR’s economic method of centralizing all the resources and allocating them according to a single-partied government that will not bicker time away just to get into office, is the most practical way to catch up to the developed West. Thus communism was Russia’s ineluctability. Capitalism, on the other hand, was inescapable for the West that possessed modern facilities, a more solidly developed middle class, and unlike Russia, a lack of xenophobia, opening the US and the European countries to compete and collaborate with each other.
A meritocracy can only be set loose when the nationals are skilled, educated and assertive enough to enter a free and competitive economy. Essentially, an economy running on merit is exactly what the capital West adopted. Therefore, politically and economically, the differences between the West and the USSR were not over-night choices, nor did the two parties intend on being hostile intentionally; in a mercantilist world where if one strengthens, another must suffer, conflict was inevitable.
The nations of the West and the USSR have had different ideologies long before the nominal Cold War. Culture, especially that of the USSR, is another aspect that must be taken into account when examining the rise of different ideologies of the two sides. Even before the hundreds of years under the rule of the Romanovs, Russia had been set apart from the rest of Europe due to its geographic location, Asian-influenced culture, Orthodox Christianity, primitive economy and government. Having been completely landlocked, save the Arctic and Pacific oceans that do not offer efficient routes into the West, it was impossible for the nation not to attempt to gain access to the European rivers and seas to seek economic improvement. Thus, unlike other countries that merely expanded out of want, Russia had to seek war out of desperate need.
In addition, the USSR had undergone four hundred years of domination by the Mogul empire, which made the Russian culture more Asian than European. By using the Cyrillic alphabet, the country was also separated from the rest of Europe in language roots, thus communication. Most importantly, its massive size and overwhelming majority of uneducated peasants prohibited the society to change for democracy while the West had been industrialized and ahead of a Russia still in transition from serfdom by hundreds of years. The history and general characteristics of the two parties made it impossible to reconcile ideologically. The West became spokesmen for individualism while USSR played on nationalism to garner the only factor in which the great nation can accomplish anything: unity.
Determinism from history shaped what social ideology each party would eventually opt for and the consequences in the possession of such ideals ensued, proverbial as the setting of the sun.
Courtney from Study Moose
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