4 September, 2009
The short answer the question to the question is No. They did not disappear with the Soviet Union.
But we all know the U.S.S.R. went away when Yeltsin took down the Hammer and Sickle from atop the Kremlin... We all saw the wall come tumbling down... And Marxism-Leninism is discredited everywhere.
Yes the Communist State went away in Russia, although not in Cuba and North Korea. But the Bolshevik conspiratorial networks and cells never required the existence of a state of their own for their existence and operations. The reason they were able to undermine the Tsarist State in Russia and seize state power from the Kerensky government was because they existed. They existed, were well organized, had fairly efficient communications, and had a daring and charismatic leader all in place prior to the critical moment. If they did not need control of a state in order to seize a state in 1917, why would anyone think they just went away after losing control of their state in 1991. Plus this idea runs counter to historical experience. Those who have had power and then lose it do not give it up readily. They always want it back. Consider the example of how the Royalists were always conspiring to regain power after the French Revolution of 1789. They eventually did after Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna.
Of course, that leaves the matter that Marxism-Leninism has been discredited everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except in their own eyes. The fact is Leninism was never widely supported among the Russian people. In fact, it was discredited from the very start among most pre 1917 Russian Marxists. That is why Lenin made such a big point of calling his own party the Bolsheviki (majority) and the majority of opposing Russian Marxists lead by Plekhanov and Axelrod, the Mensheviki (minority). He wanted to give his party a false air of respectability. Marx himself left no room for critical examination of his "infallible theory" though the lens of experience. And Lenin always exhorted his followers to "iron discipline" from deviations in the party line and faith in the cause no matter what. One can here him now as he said to his followers after a loss to the Mensheviks at a Stockholm congress in 1906: "Don't Whine Comrades, we are bound to win for we are right." And later: "Don't be disheartened; these dark days will pass, the muddy wave will ebb away; a few years will pass and we shall be borne on the crest of the wave, and the proletarian revolution will be born again."
Lenin envisioned the Bolshevik party as a small core of hardened, experienced , well trained, professional revolutionaries. This hard inner core was to be surrounded by mass front organizations of do gooders and useful idiots. These front organizations were to be manipulated by the party to directly influence the masses without risking exposure of the party members. This inner core operated clandestinely and illegally in their target states including at first, Russia. Lenin insisted from the start that the efforts of his followers be conspiratorial and treasonous in nature. For this reason, security and secrecy for treason and conspiracy in a hostile environment, it was not easy to get into the party. One was observed and tested as one went through study circles and leadership in mass front organizations. Recruits were selected carefully. One had to apply to join the party and the application was reviewed and not always accepted. Once accepted into the party, revolution was expected to be one's life and profession. Marxists-Leninists were nothing if not committed. To expect such people to walk from the whole of their previous existence, in the face the 1991 upheaval is not realistic. To do this is to expect them to accept that their entire life and cherished beliefs have been meaningless, if not positively evil. People do not easily do that. One cannot compare them to the casual Democrat or Republican who does not follow politics closely, whose life is wrapped up in career and family, not party. Such a person might sometimes vote for a candidate of another party or even change parties without feeling his core existence challanged. Communists do not change their stripes because they cannot. They have too much to lose: their identity.