ANALYSIS: The Great Communist Comeback

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Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Despite a bevy of failures, communist and socialist countries are trying to increase their impact on global politics. While their efforts have been met with frequent condemnation, the popularity of these ideologies seems to be on the rise in the U.S.

China, by far the most powerful communist regime on the planet, is attempting to spark a nationalist fervor throughout the country through repression and aggressive diplomacy after the country’s global perception. It appears to be working.

Elon Musk praised China’s “economic prosperity,” and Nike’s CEO said that it was a brand that was “for China.” Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger also praised the country, as well as their communist leaning. She said, “Communists did the right thing.”(RELATED: Here’s Why So Many Celebrities And Business Leaders Are Praising The CCP)

While citizens of some of these countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and South Africa are openly resisting repression, socialism has nonetheless inched up in favoritism over the last decade.

During the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) centennial anniversary celebration in July, Chinese President Xi Jinping sung the historical and contemporary praises of the CCP, and particularly focused on China’s ever-increasing prominence on the world stage. The CCP leader also discussed how the country planned to defend its national sovereignty as global public opinion of China has been damaged by the fact that COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan in late 2019.

Other criticisms of the CCP’s rule include the repression of religious and racial minorities — particularly the internment of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in the Xinjiang province. Furthermore, Western nations have broadly condemned the CCP for trying to suppress the rights of Hong Kongers in what is seen as a violation of the agreement struck between the British and CCP, which established Hong Kong as a special administrative region with a high degree of political autonomy.

“The Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us and anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Xi proclaimed at one point during his hour-long remarks. Xi further talked about the need for Chinese nationalism in the face of what is perceived as threats from the West. This revitalization of Chinese nationalism, XI emphasized, in part relies on the continued one-party domination of China and ultimate supremacy of the CCP, according to The Associated Press.

Experts claim that this new form of nationalism takes on different characteristics when applied to domestic or global politics. Domestically, this new Chinese nationalism involves acts of devotion towards the CCP, and promises to combat so-called “historical nihilism,” which are expressions that run counter to the CCP’s version of Chinese history, according to the South China Morning Post.

Abroad, China is poised to engage in what experts call “wolf warrior diplomacy,” which is a more aggressive outlook on foreign affairs, according to The Diplomat. This changing attitude from the CCP helps explain China’s Belt and Road initiative, which involves intervention in a number of developing world countries (particularly in Africa), as well as China’s more aggressive military posture towards Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

The ultimate goal of this resurgence of Chinese nationalism is the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” which combines patriotism for the CCP with regional socialist central planning to achieve the “China Dream,” the CCP states on one of its web pages.

However, China is not the only socialistic regime facing international scrutiny as it attempts to further consolidate its power.

In Cuba, protests have taken root against the communist regime that has been in power since the late 1950s.

In April, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Raul Castro confirmed he would be stepping down as the country’s leader, which put an end to the 61-year rule of the Castro dynasty over the island nation. Castro, 89, became President of Cuba in 2008, two years after his brother, the infamous Fidel Castro, had become ill. Castro served as the country’s president until 2018 when he was succeeded by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has since replaced Raul as the first secretary and was reportedly a favored choice.

While some assume the president is the most important political figure in the country, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba is even more powerful because the Cuban constitution codified that the Cuban government would remain under one-party communist rule.

The fallout from the Castros’ policies, intensified economic strife from the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the Cuban economy to shrink 11% in 2020, led to mass unrest. Cubans took to the streets in anti-government protests in which they expressed grievances for food and fuel insecurity, among other shortages, according to the Havana Times. Specifically, the Cuban socialized healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and led to shortages of supplies. “The situation in the hospitals is critical because we’re collapsing under the weight of patients, and almost without tools to work appropriately,” one doctor told the Miami Herald. (RELATED: Anti-Communist Freedom Protests Across The World Have One Symbol In Common: The American Flag)

During the anti-government protests, video footage showed Cubans waving the American flag and chanting  “libertad,” which is Spanish for “freedom,” according to The Washington Post. Others have been heard chanting “down with communism,” according to France 24. The Cuban government has dispatched special forces to arrest and detain dissidents, and Díaz-Canel summoned counter-protestors in favor of the regime and issued an “order to fight.”

In response to the unrest, Democrats echoed the authoritarian government talking points as they rallied to blame the U.S.’ policies, such as the embargo, as one of the fundamental causes.

Socialist and communist regimes’ political repressiveness, as well as mismanagement of their respective economies and COVID-19 crises, has led to discontent (sometimes intensely violent) in Nicaragua, Vietnam, and even South Africa, which is dominated by the socialist African National Congress.

Yet, despite once again communism and socialism demonstrating precisely why it failed in the late 20th century with the collapse of the USSR, the popularity of socialism and communism seems to be on the rise, particularly among young Americans.

In 2019, a YouGov survey found that 36% of millennials approved of communism, which marked an eight-point increase compared to 2018, MarketWatch reported. Furthermore, 70% of millennials said they would probably vote for a socialist candidate.

A study from Pew Research in 2020 also found that socialism had an overall approval rating of 42%, which was still far behind capitalism’s approval of 65%. But, socialism had a 65% approval among Democrats — ten points higher than Democrats’ approval of capitalism. Among those aged 18-29, capitalism had an approval edge of just two points over socialism — 52% to 50%, the study also found.

The popularity of socialism, particularly among young Americans, seems to follow a decades-long shift leftward in the Democratic party. This shift, in part, enabled Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to pose two legitimate, consecutive runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, as well as the rise of progressive members of the House, such as Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.