Chinese plainclothes paramilitary police officers patrol above the huge portrait of late communist leader Mao Zedong displayed at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing.

TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Images

The Spread of Communism

Communism wasn't contained inside the Soviet Union. As Marx's tenets had instructed, it had be to spread worldwide to achieve utopia. Some countries had adopted communism to help realize that goal, including:

It's interesting to note that the communist governments in all of these countries (except North Vietnam) collapsed right around the same time as the Soviet Union, which was a huge support to the smaller countries.

If Stalin had his way, communism would have become much more widespread, especially in the West. In the 1930s, he enacted a plan to overtake this region with furious industrial development. His hope was that Russia would become such a military powerhouse that it would stand up to the other powerful nations, especially the United States. His efforts fell short, and as we've learned, the Soviet Union slowly fell apart due to these economic disadvantages.

However, communism does have a presence in the United States today. The Communist Party USA supports political candidates in local elections. In fact, the group has even supported a presidential candidate as recently as 1984. The group advocates the end of the working class's exploitation and oppression. Ultimately, the party hopes to implement a socialist society where all people will benefit from the wealth present in the United States.

Communism also rose to power in the following nations, where it is still alive today:

Home to more than 20 percent of the world's population (1.3 billion people), China is one of the world's most prominent communist governments. Mao Zedong, China's dictator, launched and raised the communist government in China, employing many of Stalin's tactics.

In addition to the death camps Mao instituted to combat Chinese counter-revolutionaries, he also developed a plan called the Great Leap Forward, which forced collectivization of agriculture. Peasants were ushered into communes when Mao seized their property. They were forced into slave labor, and personal ties they had to their families and former lives were severed. Mao also forced mass industrialization, which, coupled with the extremes of forced agricultural collectivization, killed somewhere around 16.5 million to 40 million Chinese from 1957 to 1961. He also ordered the executions of Communist Party members during his tenure [source: University of Chicago Chronicle].

Today, China's government encourages capitalist ventures, which has resulted in a greatly improved economy. China boasts a huge manufacturing industry, churning out toys, furniture, electronics and other products. Despite these gains, the government remains extremely dictatorial in nature, exerting authority over censorship and other basic civil liberties. In fact, China is under pressure to improve human rights conditions before Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. When China won the bid, the government promised to reform human rights violations. However, the country continues to execute more prisoners than any other country. Human rights activists are regularly harassed, prisoners are detained without a trial and censorship abounds [source: Amnesty International].

To learn more about communism and communist nations, past and present, follow the links on the next page.