Currently, hundreds of thousands are protesting in Venezuela due to government corruption, a lack of necessary resources and the collapse of the economy. North Korea faces pressure as escalating tensions involving the presence of U.S. warships near its waters yielded threats of war. China’s government — while communist in structure and function — depends on the capitalistic consumption of its cheap goods, and allows the free market to influence and sustain its economy. Even Cuba has opened to the U.S., with the previous embargo being repealed and active trade restored between nations. These events in the eyes of the younger and older generations seem familiar, as they reflect on the recent history of other nations before them — most notably the Soviet Union. When new reforms or revolts in these nations come, they act as an unwavering evidence that communism is unstable, and deprives its people of the rights and sustenance they deserve. Wherever communism is — or has been — its collapse has yielded a new hope for those living in current or post-communist nations.
Communism originally started as a ideology to represent downtrodden workers; but over the past several decades, it morphed into the worker’s nightmare. The conditions in which the working class lived — not to mention the slim middle class that existed — were so abysmal that they became a representation of common communist life. Lack of resources, goods that expired or deteriorated quickly, government corruption and the condition of civil liberties in communist countries — what few existed — all became common experiences of those living in said countries.
The cultural and social conflict communism created in countries that were partially occupied or invaded by the Soviet Union were substantial as well. To this day, echoes of the Vietnam War still affects U.S. veterans, Foreign Service members and Vietnamese refugees. While Vietnam has become more open to capitalist societies and consumerism, the state is still controlled by the same party and some of the same people that were part of that conflict.
There are other examples of the lingering effects of communist interference as well. For instance, the separation of families between East and West Germany resulted in heartbreak for many, and those who tried to escape or defect were often captured or shot. Another instance is the cultural changes that have taken place in the Korean peninsula, such as the gradual change in regional dialect and accent in the Korean language between north and south of the DMZ.
However, it seems that these nations are having a change of heart. While revolution may not come violently or even as a sudden event, the ability for governments to accept the free market — even if gradually — by allowing restricted enterprise is daunting to those who support it. In many ways, it’s why nations like China and Vietnam have existed for so long with communist governments, as it allows for the quality of living and average income to increase, as well as makes these nations part of a larger global marketplace. As these countries expand their economies, it is hoped that there will be a further push to promote civil rights such as freedom of speech, press and protection from legal injustice.
Once an ideological foe of the U.S. and its allies, communist nations seem to be liberalizing their relations to its former enemies. The current events unfolding in the remaining communist nations prove that this ideology as a form of governance cannot sustain itself, and that the survival of any nation is dependent on the free market and other forms of democratic government.