Karl Marx taught of a state which 'withered away' until 'communism' had been achieved: that is a stateless, communal society of prosperity and perpetual peace. To begin with at least, the Soviet Union was founded upon a promise of a glorious future...

...and not simply that the present was better than it would be if there hadn't been a revolution.

I assume that by the time of Gorbachev the 'state withering away' version of the future was being questioned by many. The state was very big and wasn't getting smaller. Did Soviet leaders attempt to explain why this had not yet happened?

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    Who is "they" ?
    – Drux
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:38
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    The question is very unclear: Who are "they"? What do you mean by "said"? Are you asking if there was ever a document issued by CPSU along these lines, then you should make it clear. (The answer then is "no.") Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 14:54
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    Could you revise this to ask whether the Soviet State ever addressed why the state had not withered as predicted? Did official organs ever address why Marx's predictions varied from reality?
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 18:12
  • Well I did... Reopen it if you want
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 22:11
  • Now the title question is different from the one in the body. If memory serves me well, the answer to the revised question lies in the concepts of "real socialism" and "advanced socialism" which can be traced to Brezhnev's times. Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 23:48

5 Answers 5


In 1986 Gorbachev's speech on XXVII congress of the CPSU he still clearly assumes the Communism as the goal. May be not immediate, but the goal.

The XXVIII congress in 1990 was already in the middle of USSR collapse. And the stenographic materials show that the notion of communism became somewhat debatable.

Google translation of both sources should be quite intelligible.

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    and even in 1990 they still believed in the communist line, they just also knew that to keep the country together they had to give the people something for a while to keep them from tearing the country apart. Had they had strong leaders like Stalin in 1990 things would have ended quite different, with a blood bath and resulting massacre of all dissidents. But the weaker leadership in 1990 couldn't get themselves to kill a hundred thousand of their subjects to restore order and the country collapsed under its own weight.
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 4:04

In the last 20 or so years of USSR Communism was the mandatory official propaganda that not many people believed in, but many people had to publicly affirm the belief, and nobody could openly express a doubt in, lest be subjected to severe repressions, up to commitment to a mental institution.

The affirmation of the belief in Communism was the mandatory mantra aimed at affirming loyalty to all-powerful regime.

This method of demanding loyalty via proclaiming validity of obvious falsehood is not unique to USSR. To some extent this is present in affirmation mantras of some religions.


In Viktor Suvarov's book, The Liberators, he frames a story where he and other officer cadets are discussing Communism while cleaning out a high ranking Party man's cesspool. He frames it by saying at each party convention they promise that "True Communism is 20 years away"...every year, always 20 years ahead.

His final line in that story is that in the following year's party convention they promised...nothing at all.

This chapter was framed about events in the mid 1960s.

So they did decide to forget about the promises of future equality, if not saying that the present was great.


At some point they had to come to the realization that most likely there would not be a future for the USSR. All the slaughter, and all the sacrifices were predicated on the assumed fact that a glorious future, the End, would justify the hideous Means.

I would refer you to Alexander Solzhenitsyn —collected Works.

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    This needs some expansion and supporting references.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 14:47
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    The answer is as unclear as the question itself. Who are "they"? If you mean that there was an official document issues by CPSU along these lines, then absolutely not. What different individuals believed in private, depends on the individuals, on time, etc. Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 14:51
  • The USSR never officially stop believing in communism.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 16:41

No. By the late USSR Communism simply became synonymous with "good life". According to the classics, Communism should come with improved means of production that would bring plenty of goods.

There were some theories during the Perestroika, like the theory of convergence, that the Capitalist countries also will come to Communism their own way by improving means of production, so that the Capitalist and Socialist countries would "converge". Some pro-Capitalist people even argued that the Capitalist countries such as in Western Europe and the Nordics are "closer to the Communism" than Socialist ones because they went their own way. So, in short, "Communism" meant "good life and plenty of anything".

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