Socialism is a political and economic ideology employed by certain governments around the world. Often seen as the opposite of capitalism, socialism prescribes the belief of equal wealth distribution and government control of the economy. The dominance of socialism in global politics peaked in the mid-20th century, during the height of the Cold War. Socialist countries are classified into two categories: countries which belief in Marxism-Leninism ideologies and those which do not. Currently, there exist only four countries around the globe that are recognized as Marxist-Leninist socialist. These countries are China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam.
Countries That Are Considered Socialist
The People’s Republic of China is the oldest existing socialist country in the world, with socialism being practiced since 1949. The Communist Party of China, the country’s ruling and largest party, is driven by socialist ideals. The party was founded in 1921 and is among the oldest in Asia. The party’s ideology can be defined as a blend between Chinese communism and Marxism-Leninism. The leader of the Communist Party of China is also the socialist nation’s head of state. China still shares strong relations with other socialist countries and communist parties in former socialist countries.
Laos is another socialist country in Asia. The Laos People’s Revolutionary Party sanctions socialism in the country. Founded in 1955, the Laos People’s Revolutionary Party is the country’s ruling and largest party, holding 128 of the total 132 seats in parliament as of 2016. The party is a descendant from the older Communist Party of Vietnam, which inspired the growth of socialist political movements in Asia in the early 20th century. The party inherited many of the Communist Party’s socialist policies including the Marxism-Leninism ideology.
Cuba is the only country in the western hemisphere that practices socialist ideologies. The country embraced socialism in July 1966 and was spearheaded by the country’s longest-ruling leader, Fidel Castro. The Communist Party of Cuba, the country’s ruling party, is responsible for advancing socialist policies in Cuba. The party was established in October 1965, six years after the deposing of Fulgencio Batista, as a merger of the Popular Socialist Party, Revolutionary Directory, and the 26th of July Movement, with Fidel Castro as its Central Committee’s First Secretary. The country practices a strict version of the Marxism-Leninism socialism. Cuba has a history of participating in revolutionary movements in other nations, including Angola, which later became a socialist country.
Former Socialist Countries
Angola is one of the few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa considered to be socialist. The country's constitution is explicit in its definition of the government structure, stating that Angola is a socialist state. However, the government is yet to implement these provisions of the constitution that would make Angola a socialist state in practice. Nonetheless, the country seems to be gradually embracing democratic systems of governance and even has characteristics which define capitalism. Some scholars, however, believe that socialism in the country ended in August 1992. Benin is another country whose constitution defines it as a socialist but has embraced a different political ideology. Other examples include Poland, Hungary, Mozambique, and Albania.