In Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey, I wrote about social democratic parties and governments of the world that combine a belief in the need for a socially owned economy with the idea of political democracy and civil liberties. 1 In this work I want to continue the story of socialism, focusing here on the histories and theories of communist parties and governments in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
By communism in this context I mean the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, whose ideas can be found in those of utopian socialists and early communist rebels stretching back for centuries, developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the nineteenth century, and then modified by the leaders of the Russian Revolution, notably Vladimir I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, and later by Joseph Stalin and others in the twentieth century. I have dealt extensively elsewhere with their biographies and ideas, and the development of communist movements in the Soviet Union and Europe. In this work I want to explore how their ideas were applied and adapted to fit conditions mainly in the Third World, although as a student of American radicalism, I also shall be presenting a history of the Communist Party, USA and other North American leftist parties and movements.
Many of these communist parties have remained quite small compared with social democratic, liberal, and conservative ones in their nations. Others became ruling parties, only to flame out or abandon Marxist-Leninist ideology with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. However, other communist governments—such as those in China, in North Korea, the nations of Southeast Asia, and Cuba—