Pathways Taken by Various Countries after Communism

Pathways Taken by Various Countries after Communism

Pathways Taken by Various Countries after Communism


After communism in the PRC, the USSR and countries like North Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary that were under the influence of the Soviet Union, there has been great divergence over time. These countries have followed different paths with some succeeding while others fail. China has succeeded to become one of the world’s superpowers while Russia has failed severally in their attempts to rise. Similarly, the Czech Republic has made considerable steps towards what might be termed as the right path. The countries have followed these paths as a result of different internal and external factors that include leadership, personal and social freedom, political chaos and economic upheavals. Communist regimes ranging from the USSR, the PRC, Albania, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and the rest of the Western Europe have gone through the violent side-effects of Stalinism or Maoism. However, this came to an end after a long time of having the two philosophies as their guide. They have taken divergent paths with every country following its own ideologies. However, in some, minute elements of Maoism or Stalinism are still evident. There being different external and internal factors that have influenced the different countries into following the paths they have followed; this work aims at discussing the observations therein.

Communism in the USSR, the PRC and Eastern Europe

Communism was a revisionist trend that was commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s within and about the many political parties in the Eastern Europe regions. The proposers of the trend claimed that they were developing a practice and theory that would enhance social transformations that were most relevant to the region. This would be become evident in the Cold War in the U.S.S.R.

Many countries that subscribe to the lifestyle of communism were guided by such ideologies as Stalinism and Maoism. Stalinism is the political movement that was advocated for by Stalin who had total control over Russia at that time which was marked by the loss of freedom by the people. As such, the government of Russian controlled what the people read, listened to or saw; the state had absolute control over the media. In this respect, those who attempted to read or listen to materials other than the ones prescribed by the government were severely punished (Gaddis, 117).

There have been millions of leaders in the word from the past who have been there but only a few of them made considerable changes in their countries or communities. As effective leadership can be defined, these leaders have tried repair the damages in their countries’ systems and ideologies and implement new ones that prove to be more convenient. Examples of such leaders are Mao Zedong of the PRC and Stalin of the USSR. Such leaders were able to gain followership and support from the society.

The People’s Republic of China

The PRC’s communism’s divergent path has been unique in the sense that it brought considerable great and positive changes in the country. The country has been able to progress into one of the world’s superpower whose political and economic decisions tends to affect those of other countries all over the world. China has been able to handle communism, that was started and influenced by Mao Zedong, in a way that has brought academic, political and economic excellence.

Maoism was a political theory based on the Chinese political leader-Mao Zedong. This ideology was developed in the 1950s and was broadly employed as the framework of the military and political protocols in PRC through the Communist Party of China. Additionally, the ideology guided the many revolutionary movements around the world. Different from the Stalinism’s ideologies, Maoism never encroached on the rights of the people but rather upheld them especially among the peasants who it proposed should be the most vital revolutionary social class in China (Spence, 126).

Mao Zedong, has over the years been considered as one effective leader who was able to bring the PRC out of their struggles by effecting measures that were able to improve the economic status of the Chinese citizens through which he was elevated their social status. He was able to repair their political influence in the world. Mao advanced the living conditions, education and women’s rights in the PRC in an aim to have the country change its course. Mao stressed that the education they were offering to the Chinese people had to ensure that they were able to develop morally, intellectually and socially.

According to Zedong (Spence, 126), PRC and the USSR were being socio-political. This was kind of a tactical philosophy they used to affect the Maoist t Stalinist theories. Mao has been considered as one of the pioneers of communism in the two regions. In the year 1949, Mao, who was a strong communist, won power in the PRC. The Chinese Communist party then allied with Nationalists who were later converted into communists before the long civil war began. During this war, the communists received little help from the USSR. This forced them to retreat into the interior, the party was built on peasant support after the long March in 1934-35 (Spence, 88). When the Second Sino- Japanese war took place, the communist party was able to resist the influence of the Japanese better and more effectively than the ruling party. They ended up having control over a wider area than the latter. This gave it power and influence which enabled it to defeat Kuomintang and take the leadership of the country.

The communist party, during that time gave lip service to Stalinism. The Marxism doctrines its exhibited had already been blended with those of Mao. Mao saw people as having been engaged in a struggle that was against nature. (Spence, 45) According to him, the society was driven by powers of contradictions and between groupings, class, antagonistic and non-antagonistic powers. (Spence, 46). The contradictions could only be solved by revolution.

However, as it came to prove to people, it was necessary to consider the non-antagonistic contradictions after the revolution since there are those that existed within the party and even among the people. Mao considered this as his greatest and most formidable task when he took power. He blamed parties for allowing people to deal and struggle with the two concepts.

Under Mao, the PRC started major shifts in policy and this began with the elites. Mao believed that a revolution had waged continually against vestiges against bureaucratic habits and of the old culture. The shift in policy was carried down through all the parts of the society starting with the elites.

The PRC from the past has been under the influence of Stalinism or Maoism and the theory tends to be the guiding theory even today. It is claimed that this is so because Mao and Stalin were considered to be legends. The PRC has now been a nation that has for some time been seeking self-definition. This has repudiated Stalinism.

These ideologies were followed by different countries which would mean that these countries took different pathways towards socialism. Some of the main features of these different pathways include polycentrism. This was the principle of organizing an administrative region based on diverse financial, political as well as social centers. This feature was a symbolism of the of the working principle guiding the communism trends in different countries which came in the wake of the de-stalinization of the former Soviet Union. This could be seen with Deng Xiaoping who remains to be a political icon and lives beyond his death. He was a member of the Mao Zedong’s revolt which would lead to the fall of the Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. Additionally, the feature was also evident in the leadership of Mao Zedong as seen when he employed his iron fist ideologies to unify the countries brought to their knees by war, weak leadership as well as colonialism (Dillion, 213).

The second feature was national specificity which was evident in such countries as Albania which had an indigenous communism of long duration. This was made possible by the superpower status as well as post-Stalin ideologies of Marxism and nationality.

The third feature was the introduction of the socialist market reforms that were introduced by Ding Xiaoping which would later bring drastic changes to the Maoism ideology as a whole. As such, he separated the ideology from Mao and suggestively said that the role of the ideology was limited in determining the policies under which China was being ran. Consequently, the constitution would later be amended to promote these socialist ideas above those of Mao. Although this was viewed by many as the end of Maoism in China, the country currently prohibits any discussion to this effect.

The fourth feature was De-Stalinization which entailed series of political reforms in the Soviet Union after the untimely demise of the historical leader of the union, one Joseph Stalin in 1953 which would open the window for the ascension of Nikita Khrushchev to his position. These reforms consisted of removing the key institutions that had been put up by Stalin as well as the changing of their structures in some cases. De-Stalinization led to the breakdown of the cult of personality that was associated with the undermining of the freedom of the people.

Lastly is the economic, political as well as social upheavals especially in China. In this case, it is seen that Deng proposed that the country should struck off the leftist dogmatism and teach the people on the principle of seeking the truth from facts and not some ideologies suggested by Mao. In the USSR, the education system was changed so that anybody reserved a right to do almost anything so long as their actions would not be a pain to other people.

The PRC has been able to sustain communism due to a number of factors. There has been political resilience which has resulted to repression has been able to reduce the freedoms and the rights and cause political dissent in an aim to bring social stability. Repression has, however, declined sharply since 1978.  in 1976, at the end of the Cultural Revolution, there many political prisoners than there were after the Tiananmen Square protests.  This has been one of the major reasons that have been taken in to mean that communism’s resilience has solely been the result of massive repression.

Another factor that has seen China thrive has been the ability of communism to manage the elites. The elites who account for close to six percent of the total population in the country are rewarded for their loyalty through different aspects of economic, political and social life. Through this, the larger population has had no much of an option than to follow the theory of mass repression. The present-day communist party has been rumored to increase in maturity due to the fact that close attention to popular attitudes has been considered. The Great Firewall that monitors the activities that take place over the internet, secret opinion polls and monitoring anti-regime rumors have been essential in ensuring the success of China.

Another major factor that has seen China rise is the popular legitimacy of its laws, slogans and regulations to be social compact with society. This has been founded on economic grounds where masses and the elites are encouraged to increase their monetary portfolio making it performance-based. The ability of communism to deliver economic prosperity to the people has been a major milestone.

External factors that have enabled China to prosper in communism is their strategic position in doing business and their close proximity to Japan which at one point was their major threat. The Chinese government, through fostering anti-Japanese sentiments, has been able to gain mass support and prosperity in an aim to make the country more stable and secure.


The Communism in USSR under Stalin

When Stalin was the ruler of the modern-day Russia, he initiated what came to be known as a “personality cult” (Brooks, 98). The Russians were only allowed to learn only what the state wanted them to learn and read or listen to what the state allowed. Those who went against what was set by the state were severely punished in labor camps. Stalin mostly wore white suit in public to stand out and have people consider him as a homely man who was seemingly the father of all Russians.  Under his reign, he had many churches shut down since he considered religion as masses of opium and could not stand any person who challenged him. For a short term, people and especially women enjoyed some freedom under Stalin. Divorce was made harder and the number of homeless children in the Russian capital was greatly reduced since it getting children out of wedlock was highly discouraged (Brooks, 128). Stalin was definitely trying to create the essence of a communist society where the family unit was important. the living standards tended to rise during the initial periods of his reign. Healthcare was as well expanded but housing remained to be a great problem in the country.

USSR after the fall of Communism in 1989

Any closer look into the history of the Soviet Union after the abandonment of the Stalinism would show that taking a different path was counterproductive to the success of union on a global scale. This was caused by some factors both internal and external. The failure of the decision to play away from the ideologies of Stalinism is still felt today (Dillion, 236).

The first factor that made the Soviet Union take a different path was the leadership of Joseph Stalin whose dictatorial consequences would outlive him for many years after his death. As a result of his leadership, it is seen that the lives of millions of citizens were put on the line. He broke the people of the Soviet Union, brought the economy of the union down to its knees and transformed the soviet culture to a grotesque dependency on the state by the people whose effects still reverberate across all the corners of the former Soviet Union as well as Russia. In addition, the killing of massive populations that he perpetrated convinced people otherwise where it was clear that he turned the whole world into a terror zone through the could way. It is also believed that he supported other dictators which lead to the increase of his oppression on people. These actions led to the failure of the union as a whole (Gaddis, 132).

The second factor in the USSR was the fight for power between the successors of Joseph Stalin. Moments after Stalin died Georgi Malenkov took over as the first secretary and premier of the Communist Party. This was a direct overlooking of Nikita Khrushchev who was eying the same position having been loyal to Stalin al through his regime. Nikita was so loyal to Stalin (who took over from Lenin) that he did not let go of his prospects to clinch the position (Brooks, 296). He would later fabricate a spectrum of ploys aimed at ousting Malenkov. Banking on the fact that the incumbent secretary was a mediocre, Nikita would later organize a fallout between the incumbent and the Soviet politicians. In the wake of these turn of events, Malenkov relinquished his position which would later lead to shared political responsibilities which defined the political, social and economic pathways taken by the Soviet Union. This ignited political tensions which annihilated the cooperation between the leaders of the communist party which impeded any positive development of the union as a whole (Gaddis, 133).

The third factor was the De-Stalinization program that was initiated by the new leader of the Communist Party Nikita Khrushchev that condemned the crimes that were committed by his predecessors. In this regard, it was the aim of any leader after Stalin to restore the political economic and social environment in the Soviet Union as advocated for by Lenin. Even then, this engendered tremendous shock across the world among the communists across the world who were sycophantic to Stalin. Consequently, there was a widespread uprising in Poland and Hungary which decimated any efforts towards the overall success of the union as it is (Gaddis, 137).


Eastern Europe

Communism having collapsed in the 1980s, the Soviet rule over countries in the Eastern Europe ended. Looking at a country like the Czech Republic and Poland, the end of Soviet rule resulted to national and ethnic grievances that led to brutal confrontations over political supremacies and borders. Being free from the soviet rule, the Czech Republic, Poland and other satellite countries started forming their own political parties that were a mish-mash of personal freedoms and social organization and hybrid capitalism.

The new freedoms being the main factor that caused the different countries to take divergent paths affected Poland and the Czech Republic as well. Since the countries had a history of social democracies, they enjoyed the spur of speech, political and press freedom. They formed many new political parties and interest groups in an attempt to destroy the ideologies associated with the former Soviet rule.

Another factor is openings to the West. The countries sought to establish new connections with the Western countries at all costs, a move that was highly welcomed by the United States of America. The links and connections included fashion, free trade and military alliances.

Ethnic divisions were another factor that played a role in the diverse paths taken by the two countries after destruction of the Berlin wall and the end of communism (Von Laue, 48). The rivalry was fueled up by the harshness and the criticism fueled by the communist rule during the cold war era. The rivalry that was supposed to keep the countries at bay during the soviet rule continued to surface even after it was over. Czechoslovakia, split into two different countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along ethnic lines (Von Laue, 102). Lesser squabbles showed a threat of erupting along the German-Poland border. Several religious and ethnic groupings also showed up in an attempt to redress grievances by the older generation.

The Czech Republic is among the countries that were seen to cope well, democratically and economically, after the soviet rule. The country has enjoyed high ratings in scores by the Freedom House based on its civil rights and political liberties. The living standards of the citizens have gone up considerably. However, according to (Von Laue, 126), many citizens in the Czech Republic tends to think that there has been a deterioration of their living standards. Factors that make them believe so is the fact that there are high rates of nepotism, corruption and fake democracy. But on the overall, Poland and the Czech Republic are countries that have done considerably well after the end communism.


After the fall of Communism in many countries twenty years ago, there has been an urge to

foster democratic political institutions and well-functioning market economies. The transitions have however been very diverse with the Eastern European countries embracing democracy while China has moved forward to strengthen its Communist Party. Russia, on the other hand has evolved as countries with very strong autocratic tendencies. Many countries having abandoned the central planning, economic institutions have shown great diversity that has reflected the diversity in political transitions as well. This work has outlined the main features of the pathways following Maoism/Stalinism. It has as well explained the factors, both external and internal, that explain the divergence of the pathways.

Therefore, when communism fell in many countries in the world, majorly those that followed the Leninist/Maoist ideologies, many people thought that this would be a new dawn. With countries like Poland and the Czech Republic having shaky economies then, they had a lot to do. Countries like China and Russia were considerably better off than other countries under communism. However, while some countries followed the right path after suffering the devastating period of Stalinist or Maoist ideologies, some seems not to have chosen a more effective one. Countries like China still lives under the communist rule but are way ahead of others in economic, political and social excellence. Other countries that are ran by communist systems are Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, Cyprus and Nepal. China being the largest of them all in terms of population has 1.3 billion inhabitants. In Eastern Europe, modern communism seems to be more centrist than their leftist ancestors. The question people are left to contemplate on is whether the communism was in one way or another overrated during the Cold War. And again, are today’s communist economies sufficiently sustainable.

Works Cited.

Brooks, Jeffrey. Comrade Stalin! Soviet public culture from revolution to Cold War. Princeton University Press, 2000. 86-303

Dillion, Michael. Deng Xiaoping: The Man Who Made Modern China. A modern History. IB Taurus & Co. Ltd, New York, 2009. 1-296

Gaddis, Lewis J. The Cold War. A New History. The Penguin Press, New York, 2005. 1-228.

Spence, Jonathan D. Mao Zedong: A Life. Penguin. New York, 2006. 1-178

Von Laue, Theodore H. “The World Revolution of Westernization.”  20.2 (1987): 1-106.