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Is Communism Relevant Today? - Facts & Infographic

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What is Communism?

Communism is a socio-political ideology that believes in common ownership of property. It envisions a classless society. Communism advocates prioritization of community interests by formulating an economic plan that directs and regulates the economic production and distribution.

Karl Marx is one of the best known proponents of communism, so much so that Marxism is the most popular form of communist ideology in the world. Marx did not formulate the basic social ideals. He derived his ideology largely from French utopian socialists. German philosophers G.W.F. Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach had constructed the philosophical foundation for Marx to build up his system. He derived his economic theories from popular economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need." This statement by Karl Marx effectively sums up the basic tenets of communism. All members of society are expected to participate in the production process and will have equal access to all common resources and consumer goods. Society would slowly become classless and there would be no oppression between the classes.

The Marxist-Leninist form of socialism advocates the achievement of a truly classless communist world by staging a violent overthrow of capitalism and the capital class. The Communist Party shall guide a disciplined "dictatorship of the proletariat" and establish a society guided by the political and economic ideals of communism.

The Marxist-Leninist form of communism inspired a worldwide revolutionary movement, which was triggered by the October Revolution of Russia in 1917. While a greater part of Eastern Europe and Western Asia was taken over by communism, the western world largely rejected the ideology as a socio-political system. The growing intolerance of Communism towards democratic thought and democratic rights has made it unpopular with the democratic world while countries such as China, Laos, Cuba, and Vietnam still continue to embrace communism.


A Brief History Of Communism

1848 - The Communist Manifesto was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

1912 - Lenin establishes the Bolsheviks as a separate political party

1917 - Bolshevik Revolution headed by Vladimir Lenin takes off

1917 - 1921 - Russia establishes Communism through a bloody civil war

1924 - Joseph Stalin takes over USSR leadership

1932-1933 - Over six million die in the Soviet famine of Ukraine

1936 - The Great Terror reign of Stalin leads to thousands of executions

1939 - Stalin befriends Nazi Germany, attacks Finland and Poland

1940 - USSR invades Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia

1941 - Germany, USSR pitted against each other in WWII

1943 - Mao Zedong becomes official leader of the Chinese Communist Party

1945 – USSR takes control of East Germany

1946 – Winston Churchill declares the Iron Curtain

1947 – USA initiates active attempt to contain the communist threat

1948 – Czechoslovakia and North Korea come under communist sway

1949 –China, East Germany, and Hungary come under communist rule

1953 – North Korea dominates South Korea, wins Korean War

1954 – North Vietnam comes under communist sway

1956 – Hungarian revolution against Soviet Union breaks out

1959 – Fidel Castro sets up communist regime in Cuba

1961 – Cold War escalates as USSR builds Berlin Wall and seals East Germany

1964 – USA intervenes in the Vietnam War

1968 – USSR invades Prague

1977 – Mozambique, Angola turn communist

1979 – Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

1980 – Polish trade unions defy communism

1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev takes up Soviet leadership

1989 – Communism takes a hit with the fall of Berlin Wall

1989 – Tiananmen Square massacre ignites anti-communist sentiments world over

1991 – USSR dissolves; erstwhile Soviet states opt out of communism


What Do Americans Think About Communism?

"Communism as an ideological force largely died with the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, but even with many of its horrors increasingly forgotten, U.S. voters overwhelmingly reject the ideology that contended for world dominance for much of the 20th Century." - Rasmussen Reports (March 2011)

According to a Rasmussen report published in March 2011, only about 11% Americans said that communism is better than the US system of politics and economics. While about 11% agreed to the moral superiority of communism, a further 13% were unsure. A further 10% thought that the "communist system of economics and politics" is better for middle-class while 10% were unable to choose between the existing system and communism. The stern image of economic austerity in communist countries has, however, led only 4% to rate the communist economic system above the free markets of the U.S. Among the respondents, about 12% disagreed with the statement that ‘communism is a failed ideology’. In April 2009, according to a Rasmussen poll, only about 53% Americans agreed that capitalism is better than socialism.

According to a comparative study, also conducted in 2011, the US Congress had the support and approval of only about 9% Americans (New York Times-CBS poll, October 2011), while Socialist leader Hugo Chavez had 9% approval (Gallup poll, 2007) and communist leader Fidel Castro enjoyed about 5% support (Gallup poll, 2008) among the Americans. According to a report by Dan Margolis for People's World in 2011, "Socialism, a term that carries far less baggage than "communism," is even more accepted by Americans."


Communist Countries Around The World

As of Apr 2015, the following nations are ruled by parties that declare an official allegiance to the communist ideology. While, in practice, a number of differences may exist and free markets are increasingly being adopted, the ideals of classical communism are still their guiding principles. These are among the few single-party states.

Country: Cuba

Communist since: 1961

Major Party: Communist Party of Cuba

Current Leader: Raul Castro (President of Cuba)


Country: Laos

Communist since: 1975

Major Party: Laos Peoples’ Revolutionary Party

Current Leader: Choummaly Sayasone (President of Laos)


Country: People's Republic of China

Communist since: 1949

Major Party: Communist Party of China

Current Leader: Xi Jinping (President of China)


Country: Vietnam

Communist since: 1976

Major Party: Communist Party of Vietnam

Current Leader: Truong Tan Sang (President of Vietnam)


A number of international media sources and other agencies also consider North Korea a communist country.

Country: North Korea

Communist since: 1948

Major Party: Worker's Party of Korea

Current Leader: Pak Pong-ju (Premier of North Korea)

Juche replaced Marxism-Leninism in 1972 as the official state ideology of Korea.


The following are multi-party states ruled by communist parties that have been democratically elected:

Country: Cyprus

In Power Since: 2008

Major Ruling Party: Progressive Party of Working People

Current Leader: Nicos Anastasiades (President of Cyprus)


The following countries have communist parties as part of the ruling coalitions:

Belarus – Communist Party of Belarus

Bolivia – Communist Party of Bolivia

Brazil – Communist Party of Brazil

South Africa – South African Communist Party

Sri Lanka – Communist Party of Sri Lanka

Syria – Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash), Syrian Communist Party (Faisal)

Uruguay – Communist Party of Uruguay

Ukraine – Communist Party of Ukraine


Former Communist Countries Around The World:







Republic of Macedonia








Germany (East)








Bosnia and Herzegovina















Czech Republic



Democratic Republic of Congo




Some of these were part of the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).



Stars Of The Communist Galaxy

Vladimir Lenin – One of the most popular political theorists of the late 19th century. He was the leader of the Russian SFSR from 1917 before serving as the Premier of the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1924.


Joseph Stalin - He emerged from the Russian Revolution to take over the Soviet Union for almost three decades from the mid-1920s. As the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Stalin created a highly centralized economy in the Soviet Union.


Mao Zedong - The founding father of the People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao is among the best-known Chinese revolutionaries. He led China from its establishment in 1949 to 1976.


Zhou Enlai – He served under Mao as the first Premier of the People's Republic of China. Zhou Enlai was one of the protagonists in the history of the Communist Party of China.


Ho Chi Minh - He was a famous Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader. He led the country as its prime minister between 1945 and 1955 and as the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) between 1945 and 1969.


Nikita Khruschev - He was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between 1953 and 1964. He became best known for de-Stalinizing the Soviet Union with progressive reforms but was removed from power due to his ideas.


Kim Il-Sung - He was the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) from 1948 to 1994 and the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea.


Che Guevara - An Argentine Marxist revolutionary, Che was an instrumental figure in the Cuban Revolution. He represents the popular face of Marxism worldwide.


Josip Broz Tito - The Yugoslav revolutionary was the Prime Minister (1943–63) and President (1953–80) of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). A highly decorated leader, Tito established his own brand of benevolent socialism.


Nicolae Ceausescu - He was the leader of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989 and headed the state between 1967 and 1989.


Kim Jong-Il - He was the son of Kim Il-sung and the Supreme Leader of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea between 1994 and 2011.


Fidel Castro - The Cuban communist revolutionary served as the country's Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and President from 1976 to 2008. He led Cuba to become a single-party socialist state.


Mikhail Gorbachev - The enigmatic Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991 and the President of the Soviet Union till its dissolution in 1991.


Leon Trotsky - The Marxist revolutionary helped ignite the Russian Revolution of 1917 and founded the Red Army


New Face Of Communism

For much of the mid-20th century, the Soviet Union was the face of the unstoppable spread of communism in Asia and East Europe. Gorbachev's relaxed policies towards central regulation and popular inclination towards more democratic values led countries such as Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania to abandon Communism.

By the first decade of the 21st century, People's Republic of China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea were the only nations of the world to retain communism as an ideology close to the original visions of Marx, Friedrich Engels, and other political philosophers. In most other nations, the communist party works within the framework of a larger democratic structure such as a multi-party system.

In countries such as Cyprus, though the communist party still rules at the center, democratic polls are conducted.. In India, the fear that Communism may be losing ground in states such as West Bengal turned out to be a real one when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) lost the state elections in West Bengal in 2011 after ruling for almost 35 years.

Countries that follow traditional communism also have started to adopt free economic policies, opening up the markets to trade reforms and growth in keeping with the rest of the world.


Will Communism Last In China?

According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), China will surpass the United States as the world's largest economy by 2016. The phenomenal growth of the economy is credited in great measure to the economic and financial policies adopted by the Communist Party of China. Given the strict socio-political control exercised by the Communist party, the censorship of press, restrictions on artisitic freedom, and the oppressive lack of democratic freedoms make the wrold resent China’s communism.

In his book, 'The Coming Collapse of China', author Gordon G. Chang predicted the collapse of the Communist government. China's communism may last for many decades, but the popularity of the ideal itself is increasingly losing steam.


May Day

May Day is often considered as a holiday in communist countries as May 1 was the date chosen by the communists and socialists to commemorate the bombing at a peaceful rally in support of striking workers on May 4, 1886 in Chicago.

















Is Communism Relevant Today.

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