IB History Review Guide/The Rise and Rule of single-party States

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The Rise and Rule of Single-party States[edit | edit source]

  • The 20th century produced many single-party states. The origins, ideology, form of government, organization, nature, and impact of these should be studied in this topic. Questions will be set on major themes. Some of these will require knowledge of two regions.

Major Themes

  • Origins of single-party states
  • conditions which produce single-party state
  • emergence of leader: aims, ideology, support
  • Establishment of single-party states
  • methods: force, legal
  • form of government, ideology (left and right wing)
  • totalitarianism, treatment of opposition
  • Rule of Single Party states
  • political, economic, and social policies
  • role of education, the arts, the media, and propaganda
  • status of women, treatment of minorities, and religious groups
  • Regional and Global impact
  • foreign policy as a means of maintaining the regime
  • impact of regime outside the state
  • as a factor in the Cold War
  • Examples of material for Detailed Study
  • China: Mao Zedong
  • Cuba: Fidel Castro
  • Germany: Adolf Hitler
  • Italy: Benito Mussolini
  • Russia: Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin

The Emergence of single party states in Europe after 1917[edit | edit source]

Lenin rose to power in Russia because of four main factors:

  • Witte's reforms attempting to industrialize Russia disrupted society.
  • Both the tsarist regime and the provisional government were unstable.
  • WWI had a crippling effect on Russia.
  • The Whites sided with the provisional government and ex-tsarists.

Emergence of Mussolini and Hitler

  • Post war governments faced many difficulties- very unstable.
  • Fear of Communism
  • Shame of WWI

China- Mao Zedong[edit | edit source]

The Establishment of Single Party Rule

Land Reform (June 1950)

- land of landlords taken away by peasants
- millions of landlords died
- peasants were given a stake in the revolution
- however, at this stage, ownership of land still remained private

The First five Year Plan (1953-57)

- aimed to imitate Soviet model of socialism
- huge new industrial centres, employing 35 000 workers, were built
- boost of urbanisation - urban population increased from 57 million to 100 million between 1949-1957
- Industrial output increased significantly - rose by 70%  - targets were exceeded by 20% and important infrastructure improvements, such as a construction of railroads and bridges, were made
- by 1956, China saw nationalisation of all private in industries and bisinesses - however, by 1957, 20$ of heavy industry and 60% of light industry had still been under private ownership

The Hundred Flowers Campaign (1957)

- can be seen as a form of rectification - a safety-valve, designed to let off steam so that grievances did not accumulate to exploding point
- can also be seen as a trap set by Mao to lure and flush out critics

The Great Leap Forward (1958)

- Mao abandoned Soviet model - placed more emphasis on agriculture and light industry
- set up 26 000 communes in 1958 - responsible for agricultural enterprises, industry, education and defence
- intended to break down distinction between peasnat and worker; town and countryside
- backyard furnaces built - however produced poor quality - making it unsusable
- agriculture in the countryside was disastrous - poor harvest due to the useof Lysenko's agricultural ideas led to catastrophic famine and millions of starvations
- CCP officials failed to deal with the challenges
- terminated in 1961 - China was in a state of crisies, suffering famine and starvation

The Cultural Revolution (1966-76)

- Mao wanted to re-assert power over the CCP
- cult of Mao reached its peak
- Red Guard units were set up to purge imposters and rigthists
- millions of men and women denounced and tortured to death
- Education systems were abandoned and Chinese culture became sterile
- hysterical masses went out of control and factionalised 
- Red Guards were sent off to the rural - leading to further deaths

Italy - Benito Mussolini[edit | edit source]

Mussolini was born into a socialist house. He remained a socialist until he returned from WW1 with a new perspective. He then started the fascist party. He and his fascist black shirt marched on Rome and claimed to have forced the government to allow Mussolini to be prime minister. Yet, the truth is the president of Italy liked Mussolini and gave him the position of minister without conflict. From this point, Mussolini gained support until he became the leader of Italy in 1920.

Italian Economic situation:

  • Inflation, the lire devalued to 1/5 of its original values.
  • Italy still had massive war loans. The Italian debt was 6x the prewar level.
  • Demobilization, returning soldiers
  • Italian tourist trade and exports virtually came to a standstill. There was large scale unemployment.

Political conditions/weaknesses

  • Between 1914 and 1928- Italy had thirty different prime ministers.
  • No majority could stay in power.
  • Orlando lost support and resigned in 1990.
  • There was a general atmosphere of frustration and discontent amongst the Italian people due to the broken promises; the victory in the Great War was regarded as incomplete because Italy did not receive control of regions it wanted - e.g. Fiume. The government was weak and failing.
  • Universal suffrage introduced in 1918.
  • Italian proportional system meant that political parties had to form coalitions in order to achieve anything in parliament.
  • The Fascist's opponents were divided, the socialist and the communists did not work together. The Prime minister, Giolitti could not govern the country with the socialists opposing him in Parliament. He organized the 1921 elections, attempting to bring the Fascists in parliament, in hopes that they would back his liberal party.
  • 1919 Elections: Fascists won 339 seats, while the socialists held 12. The socialists could still block the government's policy in parliament.

Social conditions

  • Italian patriots felt the Italian government had betrayed them in 1919.
  • Occupation of Fiume. In September 1919, a volunteer force led by the poet Gabrielle D'Annunzio took over Fiume. They were not driven out until January 1921.
  • Soviets began establishing Soviets in 1920. Workers took over 600 factories.
  • Peasants began simply taking land.
  • Increasing strikes (worker-employer relations were strained), e.g. in the Po valley, and social unrest; the Liberals maintained a stance of neutrality, leaving workers and employers to work out problems themselves whereas the Fascists broke up strikes. The Fascists were thus able to appear as the only group willing and able to do something about Italy's social problems.

Mussolini’s background

  • Mussolini was the son of a blacksmith, and actively involved in Politics.
  • Had lots of distant family from Germany making him culturally diverse.
  • Fought in the war, but was hurt in an army training exercise.

Threat of Socialism

  • The Socialist party was gaining widespread support. Party membership grew from 50,000 before war to 200,000 in 1919. With increased membership came more strikes.
  • A wave of strikes shook Italian cities throughout 1919-1922. Rising prices with rising unemployment explain the increase in membership of the Italian socialist and communist parties.
  • 361 strikes in May of 1919.
  • 1920: Half a million workers on strike.
  • The general strike of the summer of 1922. Mussolini organized his fighting units and started to terrorize his opponents through physical force. The socialist party called for a general strike in July of 1922, but this was in Mussolini's favor. He was able to propose an ultimatum- either the Italian government stop the strikes, or he would.

Cult of Personality

  • Mussolini drew a wide assortment of support from different sections of Italian society. He was seen as a defender of private property and the social order. He organized the Fascio di Combattimento into an anti-socialist police force. However, Mussolini drew on a violent cult who gave their support to him more during his time in power than in his rise to.

March on Rome

  • By Autumn 1922, the fascists felt strong enough to bid for power. 50,000 fascists took to the countryside and marched on Rome. These were poorly organized and easily stopped. However, the King refused to give the Prime Minister special powers to stop the march. He instead telegrammed Mussolini asking him to become the new Italian prime minister.
  • The army leader thought 10 or 12 arrests would be enough to stop the March on Rome.
  • Trainloads of fascist supporters were stopped at checkpoints. Some 40,000 of them were stopped by 2,000 policemen.
  • Only 5,000 men reached the assembly which was guarded by 28,000 troops.
  • King Trubauld III never asked the military commander of Venus what the situation was, nor did him the powers required to further disrupt the March.

Germany- Adolf Hitler[edit | edit source]

Rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany (1919-1933/34)

  • 1921 Hitler was the Nazi party leader
  • Due to people being afraid and due to the bad state of Germany people joined the Nazi party.
  • Totalitarian states want to test their power and start war. “War is ultimate test”
  • Master race, sub-human, Aryan race
  • After Weimar Republic was over, Hitler breaks all laws and does what he wants, he ignores the Treaty of Versailles and no one hinders him.
  • 1921: Nazi party sets up SA
  • 1923: Tried to seize power in Munich (capital of Bavaria), Beer hall putsch, walked through street, stopped by police and shot at, Hitler wounded and later arrested and sent to prison.
  • 1923: Nazi party choses Judge and the judge allows Hitler to speak freely/propaganda of the Treaty of Versailles and that they are the true traitors
  • 1923: Sentenced to 5 years but comes out after 9 months
  • 1923/4: Writes Mein Kampf in prison, he has his own secretary
  • 1924: Comes out of prison
  • 1925: re-establishes Nazi party
  • 1929: Slowly Nazi party gains power again after Weimar Republic was over, problems came back, people seek powerful leader
  • 1933: Hitler Chancellor

Characteristics of Fascism

  • totalitarian
  • aggressively nationalistic
  • nation is more important than the individual
  • stressed emotion over reason
  • violent

National Socialist Deutschland Arbeit Part NSDAP (NAZI for short)

  • against major monopolies, big business, big banks
  • loves small business, small landowners
  • destroy everything that exploits the German worker
  • allows capitalism: not free, but not totally controlled
  • Anti-Marxist since Hitler was focused on race

Adolf's Rise

  • he couldn't believe the Germans lost World War I, blamed the communists and Jews
  • amazing talent of public speaking
  • Lebensraum-living space for the Germans
  • he used emotion, not reason/logic
  • eliminated crushing unemployment by expanding military
  • Hitler Youth- he was idolized by the young


  • Joseph Goebbels- chief propagandist, "Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda"
  • German broadcasting by means of the "Peoples' receiver" and the "German mini-receiver" (cheapest set in the world) which allowed for propaganda
  • 1934-no German news agency was independent
  • anti-Semitism: hatred of Jews taught in schools, systematic persecution of the Jews, their civil rights were stripped away, Jews were used as scapegoats for Germany's problems
  • Hitler targeted the youth, they were the future of Germany
  • 1933- bonfires of literature
  • Heinrich Himmler controlled German Police- head of the feared Gestapo (secret police)
  • "Night of the Long Knives" (1934)- elimination of political opposition

Russia- Josef Stalin[edit | edit source]

Goverenment and Opposition: Government and Opposition: Rises to power with the death of Lenin in 1924 by using his position as General Secretary and his good connections with people. He eliminated his adversaries, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, etc. He turned against the NEP by 1928. Post-WW2 purge. Frequent purges of dissenters, and other nationalist groups, as well as those loyal to the party, perceived as a threat to command structure. When quotas weren't met or there were other problems, the government used scapegoats to blame. Common scapegoats were: landlords, kulaks, journalists, capitalists, Mensheviks, priests, and drunkards. Stalin had a huge Cult of Personality: he did nothing wrong (scapegoats), credited with things he did not do, instilled fear into people, intense propaganda and education, Socialist Realism.
Foreign Policies: Unlike Lenin and Trotsky, who believed in global communism and attempted to finance communist revolutions in Europe in the early 20s, Stalin adopted a policy of 'Socialism in One Country.' Following later allegiance with Western allies, against Nazi Germany, joins the war against Japan, gaining control of Northern China. Used this to support pro-Soviet regimes in China and North Korea, and later Vietnam.
Domestic Policies: 1928- 1932 First Five Year plan (lots of industrial improvements and collectivization); was a blueprint for a command economy: it was a list of targets for industries, power supplies, and transport. [1] There was a policy of eliminating the kulaks ("wealthy" peasants who did not want to collectivize) as a class. It is quite probable that in the end all the persons described as kulaks were in fact deported.[2] 5 Year Plans initiated strict central control of industry and agriculture through collectivization. 25,000 loyal communists were sent out to "educate" the peasants about collectivization. Enlarged prison system of Gulags, work camps. Legal system controlled through the appointment of judges. Show trials. The secret police once called the Cheka but enlarged into the OGPU, headed by Genrikh Yagoda. The OGPU's task: root out and destroy the opposition and terrorize ordinary people into silence and passive obedience.[3] Agricultural policies resulted in systemic shortages, including famine-genocide in Ukraine 1932-3. Great Purification 1937-8.

Cuba- Fidel Castro[edit | edit source]

Fidel Castro began his rise to power with his attempt to overthrow the then-dictator of Cuba, General Fulgencio Batista. He began with the attack on the Moncada Barracks on 26 July 1953. The attack failed and most of the rebels involved were captured, tortured, killed, and/or imprisoned. Fidel Castro was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Raul Castro to 13, but due to calls from members of the Catholic Church and other notable international figures, and possibly because Batista himself knew the Castros as boys, they served only two years and were then exiled to Mexico. There, the Castros joined with Cienfuegos and Che Guevara, among others, to form the crew of the Granma, the yacht that would sail for Cuba in December 1956. This was the official beginning of the M-26-7, named for the date of the failed Mancada Barracks attack. The crew landed but the initial crew of over 100 was quickly diminished to between 10 and 20, because the Granma's landing date and location were off, throwing their meeting with the llano (urban guerrilla) section of the rebellion. The remaining warriors retreated into the Sierra Maestra, which became their headquarters. After several battles with the Cuban army, numbered 30-40,000, Castro's forces, at their peak numbering 800, were able to take the country. Batista fled in the early hours of January 1, 1959, fulfilling Castro's promise that they would take the country by 1959. From there, Castro went to set up his revolutionary government, incorporating the sierra (mountain guerrilla) forces from the revolution as top of the government, and eventually naming himself what can loosely be translated to "big boy of the revolution," where he would remain until February 2008.

One of the most significant aspects of Castro's rule was his relation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Castro formed close relations with the USSR, adopting a more hardline Marxist-Leninist ideology, in response to actions by the United States to limit or eliminate trade with Cuba. Contrary to the claims of many US leaders, the Cuban Trade Embargo only forced Cuba closer to the USSR and communism, due to the nation's desperate need for a trade partner. The US does not still support this embargo, with the OAS, EU, and other countries and international organizations having denounced it.

Other events worth researching to fully understand Castro's rule include the revolutionary exploits of Che Guevara in Bolivia, Africa, etc. Guevara was sent to spread what Castro wished to be an eternal, worldwide revolution throughout Latin America and the Third World. Many of these attempts were unsuccessful and the Bolivian attempt led to Guevara's death. Also significant are the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the hardline policies of President Kennedy and, to a lesser extent, Khruschev, nearly led to nuclear war.

Political Policies: -1961- revolutionary organizations against Batista are unified (ORI, later becoming PURSC)

Economic Policies: -Agrarian Reform (gained him peasant support) -nationalized foreign companies -Voluntarism and moral incentives -Revolutionary Offensive- expropriation of all privately owned property -1970-Year of 10 Million Zafra (failure) -1986-Rectification Campaign-bans farmers markets and self-employment (communist ideals)

Social Policies:

  1. Tony Howarth: Stalin and the Modernization of Russia
  2. historian Alec Nove
  3. Tony Howarth: Stalin and the Modernization of Russia