Examples of Communism

Communism is a political structure that leans towards the far-left, as opposed to Capitalism which is its ideological opposite. Characterised traditionally as red, there was a fear that a sort of ‘red mist’ would descend upon people and turn them into communists. Whether this was taken literally was entirely down to the mind of the individual; however there is no doubt that the rise of communism terrified the capitalist countries of the west.

The communist ideology was a means to strip away a class-based society in favour of one where everyone is equal (however, some are more equal than others as history shows) and was heavily influenced by Karl Marx’s 1848 work The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital which called into question the relationship between labour and capitalism. Marx saw that the workers were being heavily exploited under a capitalist system, namely those who owned the means to production and the workers to whom were mere appendages to the machine, being paid considerably less for the products that they create whilst at the same time generating a considerable fortune for the classes that happened to be in charge.

Communism is therefore Marxism/socialism in practice as they are both political and philosophical thoughts whilst communism was the implementation of these principles in a real-life economic process.

The most notable example of communism is the Soviet Union, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR/CCCP). The Soviet Union began fully in 1922 under the leadership of one, Vladimir Lenin following the Russian Revolution of 1917 which saw the seizure of the means of industry. Through their efforts, the USSR became a major super-power which rivalled that of the United States.

Surviving until 1991, the USSR competed with the United States in a number of fields, namely the space race (which the Soviets won) and a race to the moon (won by the USA). These two opposing ideologies engaged in one of the most confusing and complex wars in human history which was titled The Cold War.

Holding the world to ransom, both super-powers controlled enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over and were only intensified by the two positioning these weapons within range of one another, such as Cuba, a fellow communist nation which underwent its own revolution in the 1950’s.

Cuba is particularly interesting, and in some way demonstrates how communism can work on a small scale in that the healthcare is state owned and state distributed freely to its people. This is something that the American’s have yet to do for fear that it is socialist, whereas the United Kingdom (which seems to embrace both capitalist and socialist ideals) and has the National Health Service (NHS) which is paid for by the taxpayers to be used when need be. Cuba also has a fantastic standard of education and literacy.

Interestingly when I went to Cuba five years ago, I visited Havana and saw the famous architecture of their building and noticed that a lot of the paintwork was faded and crumbled to which I asked a local woman why this was so. She informed me the inside the building, the people can do whatever they please in terms of decoration, but the outside of the buildings where owned by the state and so one would have to apply for work to be done instead of doing it themselves.

People often look at Cuba as being impoverished; however, everyone is paid exactly the same regardless of their profession, so a doctor is paid the same wage as say, a rubbish collector. After having conversations with those who worked at the hotel (the doorman was a trained electrical engineer), I found that they would prefer to work in hotels because they were more likely to receive a tip for their services.

Communism is obviously not exclusive to these nations, and other countries have adopted this political structure which has shown horrific abuses delivered to their people. They tend to be totalitarian dictatorships with one single party of government. Take North Korea, for example, and you will see in parade marches that there is a stripping away of individuality in the way that they move and the clothing that they wear. There is also a law of compulsory happiness in North Korea which means that people must demonstrate that they are happy despite their lack of freedoms which the western world takes for granted, such as a readily supply of food.

This uniformity was also demonstrated in Mao’s China which made citizens carry the red book of communism with them at all times. They also wore the exact same clothing and it is said that the Student Rebellion that took place in that country was a direct result of footage from the western world being seen which showed people wearing different clothing and the likes.

Communism is the name given to a socioeconomic system based on a principle of common ownership and an absence of class. Communist systems strive for full employment, with the intention that the majority of employees work for the state and state-run industry. In exchange, the state aims to provide all citizens with social and welfare provisions. Some communist thinkers also advocate the absence of religion because it creates a divide between people and may supersede the state. The heyday for modern communism occurred during the second half of the 20th century, as influential communist countries engaged in ideological struggles with the countries who believed in opposing capitalist ideas. Here are some examples of Communism:

Examples of Communism

USSR

The USSR was undoubtedly the most influential communist power during the 20th Century. Having become a Communist power in the early 20th Century under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, the union continued to grow in power as it encourage communist revolutions and takeovers in neighbouring countries. Within a few years of the end of World War II, the Soviets had developed a huge sphere of influence which included much of Central and Eastern Europe. For the duration of the Cold War, ‘hot wars’ raged across Africa, South East Asia and South America as the Americans and the Soviets secrets scrambled for power in these areas. As time has gone by, more and more information has emerged about the support (weapons and agents on the ground) which was secretly proffered around the globe by both superpowers. The power of the Soviet Union began to falter in the later 1980′s as Mikhael Gorbachev announced a new period of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (reform). Revolution and serious reforms occurred across Central and Eastern Europe, as these countries broke free from Soviet influence. Eventually the Soviet Union broke down into 15 independent states, many of which choose to embrace democratic values instead.

Cuba

Communist Cuba has been a thorn in the side of America for the past 60 years. Having overthrown American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1953 – 1959 Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro was in power for nearly 50 years, only relinquishing power to his brother Raul in 2008. Soon after the revolution, the Cuban government began to nationalise privately owned interests in the country. Labour unions and other mass movements which were previously banned were reintroduced to the country, and many people joined these movements. Relations between Cuba and the United States rapidly deteriorated, and diplomatic ties were officially cut in 1961. In response to Cuban nationalisation of some American-owned businesses, trade and travel embargos were later introduced by the American government, who hoped to force Castro’s hand and change Cuban policy. The USA government also sponsored a counter-revolution attempt, known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which ended in humiliation, as most agents were caught and sent back to America. It is reported that American CIA operatives have planned or attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro in hundreds of different ways, including blowing him up with an exploding cigar and covering the inside of his scuba suit with a dangerous toxin. At the present time, Cuba is undergoing serious economic reforms, and some citizens are now allowed to engage in private enterprise.

China

Communism in China was established in the late 1940’s, as revolutionary Mao Zedong took control at the end of the Chinese Civil War. Communisation in China was brutal, and it is estimated that about 45 million people lost their lives as part of the collectivization process known as the Great Leap Forward. This ideological branch of Communism became known as Maoism, and Mao’s distinct interpretation of the communist ideology helped to lead to a major split between China and the Soviet Union.

Worried about the stability of Communism in China, Mao initiated another movement, known as the Cultural Revolution. This movement sought to remove many cultural, traditional and capitalist elements from Chinese society. Many senior Communist officials were purged from the party and the period was marked by periodic arrests, torture, harassment and the seizure of property from anyone who was considered to be too “bourgeois”. This period also saw the growth of the cult of personality which was associated with Mao. Since his death in 1976, Mao’s image has become iconic and can now be found all over China and beyond. His body was embalmed after his death and is now on show to the public in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Square is also known as the site of an infamous state-led massacre in 1989, when the Chinese government sent a series of tanks to disperse student protestors who had been occupying the square. Troops fired on the people who were gathered in the square, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more. This massacre helped to highlight some of the dissatisfaction that Chinese citizens felt with the actions of their government. Since 1989, China has attempted to introduce several economic and social reforms to increase their trade power.

Vietnam

Communist revolutionary Ho Chí Minh was integral in leading the independence movement in north of Vietnam, as the Vietnamese struggled for independence from colonial France. The country was briefly separated into two, during the late 1950s, as North Vietnam became communist whilst the south developed into a right-wing dictatorship. Amid serious political instability in South Vietnam, forces from the North eventually pushed south to attempt to reunite the country. Although American troops joined southern Vietnamese forces, the northern Viet Cong army’s guerrilla tactics helped to win the war for the Communists. In the immediate aftermath of the Vietnamese Civil War, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese citizens were sent to re-education camps and mass collectivisation of private property began.

Vietnam is now considered to be a reformed-Communist country, because the government have been introducing economic and social reforms for the past few decades. The reform-minded government of 1986 began the long transition from a planned economy to a “socialist-orientated market economy”. The growth rate in Vietnam has been noted as being within the highest in the world, and Vietnam was allowed to join the World Trade organisation in 2007.

Below is a list of countries and the dates that they adopted communism and the dates that it fell.

Afghanistan – Communistic from 1978 to 1992, was the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Albania – A Warsaw Pact nation, Albania was communistic from 1944 to 1992 and was the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania
Angola – Communistic from 1975 to 1991, was the People’s Republic of Angola
Benin – Communistic from 1975 to 1990, was the People’s Republic of Benin
Bulgaria – A Warsaw Pact nation, Bulgaria was communistic from 1946 to 1990 and was the People’s Republic of Bulgaria
Cambodia – Communistic from 1975 to 1989
Congo – Communistic from 1970 to 1991 and was the People’s Republic of the Congo
Czechoslovakia – A Warsaw Pact nation, Czechoslovakia was communistic from 1948 to 1989 and was the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
East Germany – Communistic from 1949 to 1990 and was the German Democratic Republic
Ethiopia – Communistic from 1987 to 1991 and was the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Hungary – A Warsaw Pact nation, Hungary was communistic from 1947 to 1989 and was the People’s Republic of Hungary and Hungarian People’s Republic
Mongolia – Communistic from 1924 to 1992 and was the Mongolian People’s Republic
Mozambique – Communistic from 1975 to 1990 and was the People’s Republic of Mozambique
North Vietnam – Communistic from 1954 to 1976 when it became unified with South Vietnam
Poland – A Warsaw Pact nation, Poland was communistic from 1945 to 1989 and was the People’s Republic of Poland
Romania – A Warsaw Pact nation, Romania was communistic from 1947 to 1989 and was the Socialist Republic of Romania
Somalia – Communistic from 1969 to 1991 and was the Somali Democratic Republic
South Yemen – Communistic from 1967 to 1990 and was the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen
Soviet Union – Communistic from 1922 to 1991 and was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Yugoslavia – Communistic from 1945 to 1992 and was the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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