Before the first world war, the people of Europe were in a positive mood. She thought things could only get better and believed they could handle all the problems. However, that was not the case. The war was the greatest humanitarian disaster in history. It has affected many people. Several states plunged deep into debt, and families had to live without a father.
In this era, people began to doubt democracy. Maybe it wasn't as good a idea as they first thought. So three different alternatives to democracy emerged during this period. These alternatives were all totalitarian. This means that the political system is permeated in all walks of life. It controls the daily life of the people all the way to the living room. Often a totalitarian regime is ruled by a dictator. A dictator holds the total power of a country.
Germany suffered greatly from the fines they had to pay after the first world war. The country was in crisis. The whole world felt they were to blame for the war, so they were looking for something to be proud of. This was the German nation. In Germany, National Socialism grew. This was a totalitarian ideology. This ideology was represented by the NSDAP. This was a German political party that quickly became the only party in Germany. Their leader was Adolf Hitler.
Another totalitarian ideology was fascism. This was very similar to National Socialism because it also gave attention to the nation. It was also anti-democratic. Fascism was very popular in Italy, but Germany also became more and more fascist. Fascism believes that a country must be led by one strong leader. In Italy this was Mussolini.
The third totalitarian ideology was communism. Communism originated from the philosophy of Karl Marx. Karl Marx had written about the unfair distribution of money. He saw that the workers were being exploited and the factory owners were getting richer. He also had a solution for this. Everyone had to get the same amount. The factories were no longer allowed to be in the hands of one person. If the factories were from all over the country, the money and the products could be distributed much more fairly. Then everyone could benefit from the proceeds.
Russia was completely bankrupt after the first world war. There was a group of Russians who thought Marx's solution was the best idea in history. They called themselves the Bolsheviks. Their leader's name was Vladimir Lenin. Not everyone agreed with Lenin's ideas. So there was a civil war in Russia. The Bolsheviks won these and introduced the communist system. The name communism refers to the word commune. This is a society in which everyone shares everything with each other.
All private companies in Russia were nationalized. This means that it became the property of the Russian state. No one had their own company. The state was the only one allowed to trade. All agricultural land was also nationalized. Food and other basic necessities were rationed. This meant that the state collected it and tried to distribute it fairly among all the inhabitants of the country. It was supposed to be that all people got the same amount of food stamps. With a food voucher like that, you couldn't get anything but food.
But unfortunately, the idea didn't work very well. Because there was Russia and dictatorship, people were drawn to it. Lenin's family, friends and successors had free access to all the means that ordinary people could not touch.