The spread of communism in the world began with Lenin’s control over Russia. The political ideology spread to China, Cuba, and a few Southeast Asian countries afterward. Read here to learn the timeline of the spread of communism.
Communism, a political and economic philosophy that advocates for a classless society in which everything is shared equally, has had several ups and downs since its founding a century ago.
What began in 1917 in Russia spread around the world, gaining hold in places as far-flung as China, Korea, Sudan, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
Only a small number of nations still have communist governments today. The significant occasions that shaped the history of Communism are listed below in a timeline.
Spread of Communism
Lenin’s October Revolution catalyzed the growth of communism, which later extended to Cuba under Fidel Castro and to China under Mao Zedong.
One side of the Cold War was based on this ideology, which underwent a symbolic collapse with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
February 1848: The Communist Manifesto is published by German economist and philosopher Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, advocating for a working-class uprising against capitalism.
“Workers of the world, unite!” was its catchphrase, and it soon gained popularity.
November 1917: The Bolsheviks, who adhere to Marxism, take control during Russia’s October Revolution and establish the first communist regime with Vladimir Lenin at the head.
Despite his pledges of “bread, land, and peace,” Lenin uses military action to seize power later that month after the leftist Socialist Revolutionaries beat the Bolsheviks in an election.
The Red Terror (the death of Czar officials), prisoner-of-war labor camps, and other police state practices are formed during this time.
January 1924: In the wake of Lenin’s stroke death at the age of 54, Joseph Stalin, who had been Lenin’s general secretary, gradually assumed formal control of the Soviet Union until he died in 1953 from a brain hemorrhage.
By using a state-run economy to industrialize the nation, he brought about famine. Opponents of his rule were sent to labor camps or exiled, and as part of the Great Purge, Stalin ordered the execution of one million individuals.
July 1921: The Communist Party of China takes birth inspired by the Russian Revolution.
1927: The party was under Mao Zedong’s control in 1927. Eventually, Mao led a revolution, and the communist party obtained control in 1947.
1949: Following a civil war, China’s Communist Party leader, Mao Zedong declares his creation of the People’s Republic of China, leading the United States to end diplomatic ties with the PRC for decades.
1920: The Communist Movement in India was established following the second Comintern Conference by M.N. Roy, Abani Mukherji, and others.
The Second Congress of the Communist International in Russia and Tashkent on October 17, 1920, established the emigrant Communist Movement in India.
1921-1924: There were three conspiracy trials against the communist movement: Peshawar Conspiracy Case, Meerut Conspiracy Case, and the Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case.
1925: M.N. Roy established the Communist Party of India (CPI) in December after the Indian Communist Conference was convened in Kanpur.
1934: The Communist Party of India was acknowledged by the communist international as the Indian branch.
May 1945: The U.S.S.R. declares victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. With Japan’s defeat, Korea becomes divided into the communist North (which the Soviets occupied) and the South (which had been occupied by the United States).
1946: Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill makes his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in Missouri, alerting Americans to the division between the Soviet Union and the Western allies.
March 1947: President Harry S. Truman addresses Congress in what would come to be known as the Truman Doctrine, calling for the containment of communism.
This led to the U.S. entry into wars in Vietnam and Korea to provide defense from communist takeovers. The doctrine became the basis for America’s Cold War policy.
1949: Creation of the People’s Republic of China, leading the United States to end diplomatic ties with the PRC for decades.
1950: The US troops led the United Nations forces into the Korean War after communist North Korea invaded South Korea with the intent of creating a unified communist state.
The Korean War erupted, putting Koreans against one another and drawing in the United States and its allies on one side, and the Communist Chinese on the other.
The war lasted until July 27, 1953, with North Korea, China, and the United Nations signing an armistice agreement.
1950: Mao split from traditional Marxism-Leninism and developed Maoism, the Chinese interpretation of communism.
Mao was upset with Soviet leader Khrushchev’s position of peaceful coexistence between the communists and capitalists.
1953: Soviets crush the Hungarian uprising against the communist regime of Moscow which led to the collapse of the government. Soviet military squashed the rebellion brutally while the world watched.
1959: Fidel Castro overthrew the corrupt Fulgencio Batista regime, and Cuba becomes a Communist state.
Castro and his revolutionaries came out of the mountains to overthrow the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista, who had strong links to American organized crime.
At first willing to deal with the United States, Castro turned to Moscow for support within a year, in the face of U.S. hostility. American leaders were shocked to see communism take a foothold in the Western hemisphere.
Spread of Communism in Southeast Asia
1975: The Vietnam War ended with the fall of the Saigon wall, and the capital of South Vietnam was seized by the communists.
This gave rise to the Domino theory as communism spread to three Southeast Asian countries following the communist takeover of Vietnam: South Vietnam (by the Viet Cong), Laos (by the Pathet Lao), and Cambodia (by the Khmer Rouge).
1940-1979: Communism is established by force or otherwise in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Poland, North Korea, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, China, Tibet, North Vietnam, Guinea, Cuba, Yemen, Sudan, Congo, Burma, Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, Laos, Kampuchea, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Vietnam, Somalia, Seychelles, Afghanistan, Grenada, Nicaragua and others.
1983: The US invaded Grenada at the orders of President Ronald Reagan to secure the safety of American nationals under the country’s communist regime.
1989: Protests in China for democracy are bludgeoned by the military sent by the Communist Chinese government. This marks the day of the massacre in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
End of the spread of Communism
1989: The Berlin Wall that separated communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin for nearly 30 years fell ending the communist era in Eastern Europe.
1989-90: The collapse of communist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Benin, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Yemen.
1991: With the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union is dissolved. New Russian President Boris Yeltsin bans the Communist Party.
Communism soon ends in Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Congo, Yugoslavia, and other nations, hence signalling the end to the spread of communism in the world.
China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam remain under communist rule.
North Korea remains nominally communist, although the North Korean government doesn’t call itself communist.
-Article by Swathi Satish