The Demise of Communism
“Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities: for there is no power but of God; and the
authorities that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1, all scriptures are from the Revised Version
Improved and Corrected)
At midnight on December 31, 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) officially ended, amidst fireworks over the Kremlin. Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost (openness) failed as a last-ditch alternative to save the government following revolution and rejection of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism of the USSR.
During the 70-year USSR reign of communism, an estimated 20 million citizens were killed for political reasons (more died from other reasons). When the USSR fell, a mass stockpile of nuclear weapons — 45,000 to 60,000 throughout the empire — were supposedly collected, deactivated, and dismantled.1
(1) See Allison, Graham. “What Happened to the Soviet Superpower’s Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit.” HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-038, August 2012).
Today, Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s determination to reassert Russian hegemony in the former Soviet sphere (Putin was a KGB intelligence officer from 1975 to 1991) is largely based on his view that the demise of the USSR was “a major geopolitical disaster.” Currently, he is determined to “rebuff what he sees as the threat of an encroachment eastward of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” analysts said. He is also eager to leave a legacy that repositions Russia as a superpower to be both respected and feared.
The Establishment of Communism
Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, who established Russia’s Communist government in 1917, envisioned a new world power that could overrun all of Europe and make its presence felt throughout the world. For a time during the middle of the 20th century, communism threatened to supersede democracy and capitalism as the dominant political and economic ideologies.
During World War II, the Red Army fought the Nazis across Eastern Europe. Josef Stalin, dictator of the USSR from 1939-1953, was determined that the USSR would control Eastern Europe, preventing Germany or any other state from using countries such as Hungary or Poland to stage an invasion.
Author Anne Applebaum, in Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944‑56, uses firsthand accounts to describe how the Kremlin established its hegemony over Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. The Warsaw Pact of 1955 bound all of the Eastern European states closely to the USSR.
When Stalin died and was replaced by Nikita Khrushchev, it seemed that the USSR might establish better relations with the West and also reform the USSR, resulting in less restrictive Soviet control over Eastern Europe. Although in 1956 Khrushchev gave various concessions to Poland, later in the year he proclaimed “We will bury you!” when speaking about democracy to a group of Western ambassadors gathered at the Polish embassy in Moscow.
Mutual Assured Destruction
1962 brought the United States face-to-face to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Known now as the Cuban Missile Crisis, leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba. Disaster was avoided when the U.S. agreed to Khrushchev’s offer to remove the missiles in exchange for a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba. (The U.S. secretly promised to remove missiles from Turkey as well).
Twenty years later, the final blow came to the USSR when Israeli pilots flying American F-15 and F-16 jets destroyed 81 Soviet-made Syrian MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Not a single Israeli plane was lost. Nine months later, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, which aimed at intercepting Soviet missiles in space. Stunned by those developments, the Soviets finally gave in to reforms. Today only five communist countries remain in the world: China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and Laos.
The Dream of World Empires
Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Communism is based on a materialistic and humanistic view of life and history. Under it, God is merely a figment of the imagination, religion is a product of fear and ignorance, and the church is an invention of the rulers to control the masses. Moreover, Communism, like humanism, thrives on the grand illusion that man, unaided by any divine power, can save himself and usher in a new society.”2
(2) “How Should a Christian View Communism?”)
The prophet Daniel assures us that there were to be only four dominant empires (Daniel’s vision mainly concerned Israel) from his own day until the time when Messiah would establish an everlasting kingdom which would displace all others. He interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream thus: “Thou, O king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom … thou art the head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; and another third kingdom of copper, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron … as iron that crusheth all these, shall it break in pieces and crush … it shall be a divided kingdom … the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly brittle … they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another … And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (Daniel 2:37-44).
History records those four universal empires to be Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Stanford historian Walter Scheidel, in Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity, writes that the fall of the Roman empire was followed by Imperial monopolies where rival political, military, economic, and religious constituencies began to fight, bargain and compromise to rebuild Europe, resulting in a fragmentation of the Empire. All attempts to restore a universal empire on European soil failed. Daniel’s interpretation of the toes of the image being brittle and mingling with the seed of men was an apt description of the descendants of the Empire.
Christ’s Kingdom to be Forever
Psalms describes the kingdom of Christ as the final empire that will control all the nations of the earth. “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River unto the ends of the earth. They … shall bow before him … all kings shall fall down before him; All nations shall serve him” (Psalm 72:8-11).
Micah also describes the kingdom. “The mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains … and peoples shall flow unto it. And many nations shall go and say … he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem … neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah. 4:1-3).
“I saw in the night-visions … there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13, 14). Let us pray, with our Savior, “Thy kingdom come!”