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Communism in the Third World

Communism in the Third World cover

A Blackburn University study

Author Yuri Medvedev
Language Flag of Lovia Small English
Publisher Blackburn University Press
Publication date 2012 in Flag of Lovia Small Lovia
Editions One (1st)
Genre Non-fiction > Third World, communism
Media type Print (paperback)
Pages 90 pp
Preceded by Colonization In Perspective
Followed by none

Communism in the Third World is a Lovian non-fiction pamphlet by Yuri Medvedev based upon a study of the Blackburn University Center for Third World Studies. It formulates an answer to several questions by studying two specific cases of the rise of communism in the twentieth century; Cuba and Chile. The book tries to understand why communism so widely spread in Third World countries, where the popularity of the movement lies and just how communist the governments or rebels really are. The final question that the researchers tried to answer is if communism does make a difference.

Content Edit

Communist Theory and Colonization Edit

Marx was a Eurocentrist thinker. He regarded the European capitalist societies as superior to the 'uncivilized' ones in the third world. Marx believed that every society followed an evolution from feudal to capitalist to socialist and thus he supported the ideas of globalization and colonization. In his theory, the capitalist states helped the colonies to move up the chain. The colonies had to wait till Lenin to get some support. Lenin, with his theory of self-determination, stated that colonialism only brought slavery and oppression. He tried to coördinate the anti-imperialist revolution with the socialist. There was however a pragmatic aim behind the developed theory: he reasoned that the more unrest there was in the colonies, the weaker the West would become. The communist parties in those western countries never fully supported colonial independence, for this very same reason.

It seems that communism as a theory and system is an exclusive western product, something the Third World countries couldn't use, but a creative interpretation of Marxist theory allowed the message of liberation to be translated into local traditions and nationalism. The concepts of vanguardism and unity could be used by the revolutionaries to justify their monopoly on power. The economic dimension of decolonization, e.g. the nationalizing of foreign companies, also contributed to the popularity of Marxism in Third World countries. Whether the motives to embrace the communist system were political or economic in nature, they can often be viewed more as an instrument than a true belief in a better system.

Socialism after the revolution: Cuba Edit

The principles of socialism have long been popular in Cuba. Under Spanish rule, the ideas of economic independence and a social revolt were popularized by José Martí. It was only much later, when Antonio Guiteras became minister in 1933, that such ideas were put into practice. Guiteras tried to nationalize foreign companies and to reform the agrarian sector. However, the government was a part of was overtrown in 1935 by General Batista who obtained the support of the US.

It was not until 1953 that socialism would return to Cuba when Fidel Castro had appeared before court. In his defense he spoke about the participation of farmers in the profit and the nationalization of unrightfully gained property. When Castro and his companions succeeded in seizing power in 1956, they installed a democratic regime. However, due to measures such as agrarian reform and nationalization of foreign companies which were unpopular with the US, Cuba became the victim of bombardments and a trade embargo. The Castro regime radicalized its position against so called 'Yankee imperialism' and in 1961 Castro declared he was a Marxist-Leninist. Cuba 'became' communist and was recognized as such by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

Cuba supported rebels in Latin America and Africa and followed the theoretical aspirations of Ernesto Che Guevara. He thought that a socialist society emerged from the acts of socialist people, being socialist was in his eyes a moral positioning and not the result of objective circumstances. Che's ideas were very popular with the New Left movement and made him an icon to the youth of that decade. Cuba became a socialist 'utopia', but la fiesta socialista proved not to be the perfect mix of red and rum.

The parliamentary way: Chile Edit

An almost unique attempt of communists to gain power was made a few decades ago in Chile by the Unidad Popular of Salvador Allende. The Unidad Popular was a coalition between communists, socialists and leftist Catholics. They won the presidential elections in 1970 but because they didn't get a fifty percent majority, congress had to decide weather to make Allende president or not. Congress consisted of a majority of Christian democrats, but the Unidad Popular was able to bargain their way to the presidency. Allende was given the function as long as no popular movements - such as unions - were mobilized against the establishment.

Allende soon found himself trapped between militants and more radical movements on one side and the opposition and foreign countries on the other. Nonetheless he maintained a strict parliamentary course, his vía no-armada. He continued to that he could keep power by legal means. Allende's political career ended in 1973 when General Pinochet staged a coup with support of the U.S., the World Bank and copper firms including Anaconda and Kennecott. The military launched a devastating campaign against all leftist forces and democracy came to an end.

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