Perhaps you remember the hullabaloo a while back over the Initial Public Offering of the Alibaba Group in America. It was a joyous occasion, with many a news anchor prattling on about record numbers and almost certainly more than a few lines of cocaine snorted off of Wall Street glass tables. But there was also a tinge of sadness in the investment bonanza. An old rival of these United States passed away that day, one whom we stood toe to toe with several times over the past few decades. But those days are gone, and now there’s nothing left of the specter of Communism but, well, another less menacing specter.
You see, the Alibaba Group’s record breaking IPO really solidified the fact that, yes, it is possible to purchase a stake in a Chinese company and collect dividends by doing nothing more than simply holding ownership of the means of production of that company. This is literally the definition of capitalism. You can literally go to the literal Wikipedia page on capitalism and it will literally describe that as capitalism. Suffice to say, China, one of our former ideological rivals, is by no means Communist nation. It is still led by the Communist party but that almost seems like a sarcastic designation at this point.
So what countries are left? Though often lumped in with other communist nations, North Korea’s government eschews Marxist and Leninist philosophy in favor of Juche, the brainchild of Kim Il-Sung, a socialist style of government which replaces a classless society with a country full of devout acolytes clinging to a supreme leader’s every word. I don’t mean that to be simply descriptive of what occurred in the country; such a society was the goal of Kim Il-Sung, and by golly he accomplished it.
Vietnam suffers from the same irony as China; the Communist Party is in charge of the nation, yes, but they’re communists in name only. The only other two countries with a Communist party in charge are Laos and Cuba. Laos is by no metric doing well as a nation. A third of their citizens live below the international poverty line (which makes our poverty line seem like living in a never-ending cake walk) and the government may or may not be committing ethnic cleansing against the Hmong people. But at least they aren’t hypocrites when it comes to economic systems.
Cuba is doing pretty well for itself, especially if one is in the mood to compare it directly to Laos. The citizens enjoy a longer life expectancy than us Americans in addition to an exceedingly high graduation rate. And even though citizens recently became allowed to buy and sell private property, most of the means of production are still controlled by the state. So yes, there is at least one formidable communist nation still alive in the world. Unfortunately for us, it’s the also the one that makes the best cigars.