A communist country also referred to as a Marxist-Leninist state, is a country that is governed and administered by a single party based on Marxist-Leninist philosophy. The aim of a communist state is to achieve communism or a sense of common ownership of the means of production and do away with social classes. Some of the communist states have a functioning political participation process involving a number of non-party organizations such as trade unions and workers representatives. The phrase “communist state” is mainly used by the western countries to refer to the countries that practice communism. However, these countries do not describe themselves as communists not do they consider themselves as have achieved communism. They call themselves Socialist or Workers’ States.
Brief Overview of the Communist States
During the Soviet Union era, communist nations could be found in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. However, these communist countries are quickly turning into multi-party state and adopting different philosophies. Some of the multi-party states with governing communist parties include Brazil, Nepal, India, and Russia. Today, there are only five communist states, some of which are struggling to hold on to communism. This article focuses on the five communist countries that are still adherent to Marxism-Leninism.
5. Laos (since 1975)
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic became a communist country in 1975 after a revolution that was supported by the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Before then, the country was a monarchy. In 1975, Pathet Lao, a communist movement in Laos, with the help of the People’s Army of Soviet Union and the Vietnam toppled the Royalist Lao Government, with King Savang Vatthana stepping down on December 2, 1975. The Pathet Lao government under the leadership of Kaysone Phomvihane changed the country’s name to Lao People’s Democratic Republic and allowed the Vietnamese government to have its armed forces in the country and propose advisers to help in managing the country. Laos’ ruling party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, emerged from the Communist Party of Vietnam and has governed the country since 1975. The party has three policy-making organs; Central Committee, Secretariat, and Politburo, which is the highest organ. LPRP applies the principles of democratic centralism in its operations. In the past, the party was operated semi-secretly but it is now becoming more open as new leaders take control.The party is run by high ranked military officials.
4. Cuba (since 1959)
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 is one of the bloodiest events in history and a political turning point for Cuba. During the revolution, thousands of citizen were executed for political crimes, with Fidel Castro taking over the government. By 1961, Cuba was a fully communist state with close ties to the Soviet Union. Today, Cuba is the only communist state outside of Asia. Following the revolution, the United States imposed a ban on trade with Cuba. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba turned to China, Venezuela, and Bolivia as new trade partners and sources of subsidies. The ruling party in Cuba is the Communist Party of Cuba. The party ascribes to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy and its role is described in the Cuban Constitution as the “leading force of the society and of the state. The original Communist Party of Cuba was formed in the 1920s. It was renamed to Popular Socialist Party in 1944. In 1961, the Integrated Revolutionary Organization. The current CPC was founded on October 3, 1965, with Fidel Castro as the First Secretary of the Central Committee.
3. Vietnam (since 1954)
Vietnam’s status as a communist country is linked to its association with the Soviet Union. After the Indochina War, Vietnam was partitioned into two; North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam, which was allied to the Soviet Union, became communist while South Vietnam, which supported the United States, remained democratic. After two decades of war, the two parts came together and Vietnam became a unified communist country in 1976. It remained a truly communist state until 1986 when it started reaching out for international support leading to several political reforms. The founding and ruling party in Vietnam is the Communist Party of Vietnam. CPV has been the only legal party in the country since 1988 and its supremacy is guaranteed by the constitution. The party has maintained a unitary government and has control over the media, state, and military. The Vietnamese and the country’s press refer to CPV a “Dang ta” meaning “Our Party.” The current General Secretary of the Central Committee is Nguyen Phu Trong.
2. China (since 1949)
The People’s Republic of China has one of the strongest economies in the world. Surprisingly, it is one of the communist superpowers. China was proclaimed a communist country in 1949 under the leadership of Mao Zedong and his Little Red Book. Mao’s goal was to eliminate capitalism in his country as part of the Cultural Revolution. China is often referred to as “Red China” because of the influence the communist party has over the country. The founding and ruling communist party in China is the Communist Party of China or the Chinese Communist Party. It is the single ruling party in the country. CPC was founded in 1921 and grew very quickly that in 1949 it drove the nationalist Kuomintang out of China and established the People’s Republic of China. The party is based on democratic centralism. The National Congress which is convened every 5th year is the party’s highest organ. Other organs include the Standing Committee, Central Committee, and Politburo. There are other political parties in China which make up the United Front.
1. North Korea (since 1948)
North Korea became a communist country in 1948 following South Korea’s declaration of independence. North Korea declared its sovereignty almost immediately and Kim II Sung was installed as the country’s new leader. Interestingly, the government of North Korea does not consider the country as a communist, instead, the ruling family is promoting a brand of communism anchored on the concept of “Juche” or self-reliance. Juche was introduced in the 1950s and promotes the ideas of the leadership of Kim and became a state policy in the 1970s. North Korea’s constitution was reviewed in 2009 and all the mentions of Marxist-Leninist ideas were removed. The word communism was also removed. The ruling party in North Korea is the Workers Party of Korea. The party was founded in 1949 following the merger between the Workers Party of South Korea and the Workers Party of North Korea.