The late 1980s and early 1990s were a pretty exciting time provided that you weren’t a commie pinko or Lenin statue. It all started when the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, leading to the reunification of Germany less than one calendar year later. Other countries behind the Iron Curtain, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania also did away with their communist rulers as did Yugoslavia and, of course, the Soviet Union. But those who assumed that communism was completely dead forget to tell a small handful of countries that continue to plough ahead with their hammers and sickles. Which countries are still communist? How did it happen? And most importantly, what would Uncle Lenin think of these if he were still alive today? Of course, do keep in mind that he’d be nearly 150 years old, confirming my suspicious that he’s secretly a vampire. Without further ado, let’s answer these questions.
How long have they been communist: The world’s second largest economy recently celebrated its 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. There were parades. There were tanks. There were lots of delicious steamed dumplings to go around.
How did it happen: In the aftermath of World War II, China that had been devastated by war with Japan plunged into civil war between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists – the government in power – and the Communist revolutionaries led by Mao Zedong. The war ended in 1949, with the Nationalists fleeing to Taiwan (where they remain today) and Chairman Mao declaring victory. Economic reforms in the 1990s lead to a sizable middle class (which is going to happen when you’ve got 1.4 billion citizens) and while there has been an economic slowdown of late, President Xi Jinping and the rest of the commie crew are firmly in control and aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future.
What would Uncle Lenin think: He’d frown upon all of the Starbucks and KFCs that have laid claim to most of Beijing, but otherwise he’d give Chinese communism a huge thumbs up and a wink for good measure.
The Democratic Republic of Korea is neither democratic nor a republic. But when you’re lead by Dear Marshall Kim Jong-Un, an autocrat who has convinced his people – and Donald Trump – that he’s every bit as majestic as unicorn, making shit up is the key to political survival.
How did it happen: In the aftermath of World War II (noticing a common theme, aren’t ya!), Korea was freed from the shackles of Imperial Japanese rule. The US and Soviet Union jointly administered Korea, with the Americans expecting that after holding democratic elections, Korea would be able to rule itself. Stalin, however, had different plans. He installed a puppet communist government lead by Kim Il-sung (the current leader guy’s grandpapa) in the north, while the US saw to it that Syngman Rhee, an American-educated politician who was hardly a saint himself, was elected president of the south. In any event, in 1950, Stalin gave Kim Il-sung the green light to invade the south and take control of the entire country, figuring the US could care less about Korea. Oh, was he ever wrong. After nearly three years of war – which included more than 320,000 American soldiers at its peak – the two rival Koreas called the whole thing off, created the longest demilitarized border in the world, and almost 70 years later are technically still in a state of war since no treaty has ever been signed.
What would Uncle Lenin think: He would thoughtfully scratch his goatee and conclude, “Hmm. Weird place.”
In the past few years, Vietnam has let bygones be bygones and is starting to open up to the world. Once one of the poorest countries with a per capita income of less than $100, today it’s grown to around $2,500 which doesn’t sound like much, but the country is hella cheap.
How did it happen: The situation was somewhat similar to what happened in Korea. Following World War II, Vietnam gained independence from its snooty French colonial rulers, leaving a power vacuum. The Communists, led by Hồ Chí Minh and backed by the USSR and China wanted to rule, while the Americans absolutely did not want the Communists, backed by the USSR and China, to rule. Thus began the Vietnam conflict that lasted for nearly 20 years, ending when those victorious Vietcong bastards marched into Saigon in 1975. They’ve remained commie ever since.
What would Uncle Lenin think: It’s hard to tell, but he certainly would have had the deepest respect for Hồ Chí Minh’s beard.
If you knew that the obscure Southeast Asian country of Laos was communist before you read this article, I’m impressed by what a huge dork you are. That’s not even meant to be an insult either.
How did it happen: Just like nearby Vietnam, Laos was a French colony and then *poof* it wasn’t. The country was ruled by a monarchy that the communists spent 30 years trying to overthrow, finally succeeding in 1975. Lately, Laos has had a pretty decent record in regards to freedom of speech, certainly compared to its other communist-led counterparts.
What would Uncle Lenin think: I doubt he could find Laos on a map, no matter how hard he tried.
Cuba’s communism has outlasted 10 US Presidential administrations and even the Soviet Union, even though the island is a mere 70 miles off the coast of Florida. Whether you adhere to Marxist principles or have a portrait of Ronald Reagan tattooed on your forehead, you certainly can’t argue that it takes a huge pair of hairy balls to remain as resilient as Cuba’s communist leaders have.
How did it happen: A couple of months after being sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba in 1959, Fidel Castro visited America in hopes of meeting up with President Eisenhower and perhaps charming the pants off him and getting some of that sweet US aid for Cuba. Eisenhower dumped Vice President Nixon on him instead. Not surprisingly, Casto instantly despised the guy. I suppose you could say the rest is history.
What would Uncle Lenin think: If a country were judged by the quality of its cigars, we would all hail the Cubans as our overlords.