In 1974 a Marxist-Leninist military junta called the Derg seized power in Ethiopia, disposing Dictator Haile Selassie. A one-party communist state was established named the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The new regime suffered several coups and uprisings, while battling a major drought and a refugee crisis. A brief war with Somalia was won with the aid of the USSR and its allies. The resulting Red Terror was a government retribution campaign of forced deportations, torture, and starvation which claimed nearly half a million lives. In the 1980’s a series of famines which claimed another one million lives led to uprisings against the communist regime. When anti-communist revolutions swept Eastern Europe and communism began to collapse, aid from the USSR ceased. The regime was toppled in 1991, and in 2006 its leader Mengistu Haile Mariam was convicted of in Ethiopian courts of genocide.
Prior to World War II Albania was invaded and occupied by fascist Italy. When the Axis Powers were defeated, the anti-fascism movement inside Albania had taken on a socialist banner and would fight to establish The People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. After breaking with Yugoslavia in 1948, Albania became dependent on the Soviet Union for aid. The Soviet super-state subsidized economically failing nations like Albania by extracting from other territories. Like most Soviet states, Albania suffered poverty and hardship under socialist rule. Little Albania then became a political pawn in a game between the Chinese and the Soviets, resulting in a distanced relationship with the Soviet Union as Albania became part of China’s sphere of influence. Albania’s socialist government collapsed in 1990, leading to an untenable situation of social strife and desperate conditions. Massive emigration followed, as the strife led to armed conflict in 1997. Despite a rocky road and scandal that marred their first attempt at a democratic government, Albania established another democratic government in 1998 and have slowly been making their way out of the dark ages that socialism left them in.
In 1969 the assassination of Somali President Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke set up a military coup. The new government under Major General Mohamed Siad Barre aligned itself with the Soviet Union. In 1976 the regime created the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party under guidance from the USSR. Soon after they backed a group of Ethiopian revolutionaries, which led to war with Ethiopia. The war was over quickly, Somalia was defeated, and much of its army was destroyed. Having backed a rebellion against an Soviet ally in Ethiopia, Barre was isolated. Struggling with poverty, Barre signed a deal with the International Monetary Fund for aid in the 1980’s which required the privatization of some industries and the end of government monopolies on others. However, as the Cold War drew to an end, the importance of Somalia was diminished to major world players. Barre became increasingly more despotic as the nation grew more isolated. In 1991 civil war broke out leading to Barre’s exile. Under Soviet rule, Somalia became one of the poorest places on the planet, with malnutrition and starvation plaguing the country. To this day it has been unable to recover.
If there is one modern state which best exemplifies the damaging effects of socialism, it’s Venezuela. Modeling after Latin American revolutionary icon Simon Bolivar’s brand of Marxist-Leninism, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez fashioned what is now known as Chavismo, a socialist ideology combined with traditional Latin American Machismo, namely strong, paternal, masculine leadership. Corruption plagued the Chavez regime, as he used intimidation and violence to silence his opponents, held dubious elections, and made alliances with rogue nations like Iran and Cuba. Despite being the largest exporter of oil in the world, Venezuela faces unfathomable poverty. Chavez was obsessed with the failed communist experiment that is Cuba, subsidizing the impoverished island with oil revenues. Chavez oversaw a nationalized oil operation worth untold billions of dollars while the people of Venezuela starved from food shortages. It was common to have millions of dollars unaccounted for, fueling corruption charges. Chavez and the communists of Venezuela maintained they were for the people, most specifically the poor. However, their economic controls have caused misery, famine, disease, and death. Though Chavez died in March of 2013, his successor Nicholas Maduro continued the Chavismo legacy of suffering and despair. Revolutionary movements are growing in resistance, as the government fails to provide its people with basic needs such as food and toilet paper. Recently, the government began finger printing shoppers as a way to combat the black market sale of food. Until the communist are overthrown, they will continue to spend billions from oil revenues to prop up the Venezuelan and Cuban militaries while people starve in the streets.
The Khmer Rouge is infamous for carrying out one of the most vicious genocides of modern history. They did so in the pursuit of a socialist utopia. The bombing of Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War effort by the United States helped contribute to the destabilization of the Cambodian government, which would eventually fall to the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot. Seeking to establish an agrarian socialist society of working class Cambodians, the new regime quickly set upon purging the population. Those with money, foreigners, and those with too much education like doctors and teachers were executed in Pot’s killing fields. The Khmer Rouge had declared it to be Year Zero, society needed to start over, in the fields, and all knowledge of the outside world needed to be purged as well. Even people wearing glasses were killed, as they were seen as intellectuals. Nearly one third of their population was culled in the Cambodian genocide, around 300,000 individuals.
It is strange to consider that prior to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan the country was budding with Western fashion, nice cars, vacationing Europeans, and commerce. Secularism ruled as boys and girls interacted freely and went to Western style universities to pursue higher knowledge. That all changed when the Soviet Union invaded, causing a 10 year war Afghanistan would never recover from. The war radicalized Muslim leaders inside the nation, who were then armed and trained by the US to counter the Soviet occupation. When the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the radical Sunni Muslim fighters were seen as heroes. The country has never been the same, embracing radical Islam over Western culture, which ultimately led to war with the US following the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Clerics, tribal leaders, and drug lords now run roughshod over Afghanistan. Many blame the US for the troubles now plaguing the nation, however, it was the Soviet war machine that came to Afghanistan for its resources which caused the radicalization that has retrogressed the society to the place we see it today.
read more: 10 Places Destroyed By Communism