National Archives of Canada (PA-124370, photo by E. Mackintosh).

Communist Rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, 2 December 1934.

The Communist Party enjoyed brief popularity in Canada during the Great Depression. Here, Canadian communists gather in support of their leader, Tim Buck. Buck had been imprisoned under Section 98 of the Criminal Code for his communist activities.

As with fascist movements, communist movements multiplied following the First World War. They gained strength in reaction to fascism and as a result of the devastation of economic depression and the failure to achieve lasting economic and political stability. Yet they shared with fascist movements a taste for charismatic, nationalistic leaders and for blaming scapegoats (capitalists and fascists in their case) for continuing national and international problems.

In the short term, Russia was not joined by other communist regimes. The Soviet Union in many ways rejected basic tenets of Marx's communist ideology, which had stressed the equality and fraternity of mankind. However, Stalin's repressive regime did contribute to active and sometimes strong communist movements in Germany, before the rise of Hitler, and in Spain, where Franco finally crushed the movement in the Spanish Civil War.

The Communist Party of the United States and the Communist Party of Canada both operated under direct orders from Russia. They achieved their greatest influence as a result of the Great Depression. The international communist movement was also inspired by the successful Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia.

 

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