From the climax of World War 2 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world was notably set into two camps, the Americans and the Soviets. There was arguably a 3rd pact, namely the non-aligned movement, although many members, such as India, Cuba and Egypt, were obviously aligned to one of the two main superpowers.
But, whilst we might know about all the countries east of the Iron Curtain and places such as North Korea, Libya, or Cuba, several states dabbled with communism that you might not be aware of.
If you’re confused about what a socialist or communist state is, then please click here.
Here are our five surprisingly socialist states.
5. The Seychelles
When you think of the Seychelles, pristine beaches, offshore banking and the global elite come to mind, but this was not the case during the 1970s. The Seychelles gained independence in 1976. In 1977 there was a coup by France Albert Rene, who turned the country into a one-party socialist state. Whilst officially being non-aligned, they did seek out ties with the Soviets and the Libyans. During this period, there were many coup attempts against the popular Rene, such as the 1981 Coup Attempt by South African mercenaries posing as a Rugby team. Rene remained in power following the ending of the one-party system, and his party has been in control ever since.
Guyana is a country in the north of South America that was formerly a British colony. It is heavily mixed on ethnic-lines, a vestige of the former British colonial era. The nation was given independence in 1955 and became a republic in 1970. The country became another proxy battlefield for the Cold War players when they feared Cheddi Jagan and his Peoples Progressive Party were Marxist, which they kind of were. In their years in power, they caught support from the Eastern Bloc as well as North Korea. Guyana even had its own mass games, which you can read about here.
Another country that people might be surprised to learn was dragged into the cold war arena. From the 1960s to the late ’80s, the Jamaican political scene was dominated by two parties, the Peoples National Party and the Jamaican Labour Party. Ironically in this context, the PNP was the left-wing party, whilst the JLP was the right-wing one. The PNP won the 1972 and 1976 elections on a democratic socialist platform, but this did not stop the CIA and the Soviets from supplying each side with weapons before each election. To this day, leadership bounces back between both parties, with elections being dangerous affairs.
Grenada might be more well known as the US invaded them, but the story is still fascinating. Following independence from the UK in 1974, the country was seemingly minding its own business when Maurice Bishop and his New Jewel Movement launched a popular bloodless coup. A socialist government was proclaimed, but one which would respect foreign investments and push tourism. In 1983 Maurice Bishop was overthrown and executed in another coup, which was largely unpopular. The US saw this as an opportunity to invade, and the socialist experiment was over. Why did America invade Granada? Well, they were hardly a military threat, but they were an ideological one. If socialism succeeded in “tiny Grenada,” what would stop other countries from trying it?
India is often touted as the world’s biggest democracy, and whilst it is now firmly governed by the right-wing BJP, for a long time, the country was not only very socialist but firmly in the Soviet camp (although again as part of the Non-Aligned Movement).
Fun fact the BJP is the most significant political party in the world, having more members than even the CCP. You can read about the world’s biggest parties here.
During its period of semi-socialism, the country acted almost as an autarky, with minimal investment from overseas and not only received support and military hardware from the United States but had an economy dominated by the state sector. It was led throughout this period by the Congress Party. India also became a nuclear power during this time since the 1990’s India began to liberalize its economy and is now one of the fastest-growing powerhouses in the world.