As an economic system, communism can not survive because there is no competition, unlike in capitalism. Nearly every communist economy is struggling in various areas. Because competition is based on the idea of private ownership, communism cannot be practiced within capitalist societies, where private ownership and private property are the basis of economic interaction (Revel). The major defeat of the Polish Communist Party occurred when a partially free election was held. The rise of the Polish labor union Solidarity led to the popularity of its leader, Lech Walesa, who eventually ascended to the presidency and was called upon to combine both the communist and anti-communist governments into one. This new government introduced economic reforms to replace Poland's failing command economy with the one characterized by free markets and open competition.
Then in 1989 the reunion of West and East Germany took place. The pressures of a totalitarian system and lack of economic freedom led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eventual joining of West Germany and East Germany, which had been partitioned by the Allies and Soviets after World War II. Clearly, the economic well-being of the capitalist West placed pressures on the Communist east that its government could not survive. A human hemorrhage of refugees in 1989 opened up the weaknesses of the communist regime to the world, and its people saw the disparity in their living standards with the West. By 1990, there was only one Germany, though this new combined Germany was weakened by the integration of its economically challenged twin. Within a decade, Germany would regain its place as the economic engine of a united Europe, made stronger my the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conversion of its eastern bloc satellites to capitalist democracy.
As part of the wave of democratization of the former Soviet satellites, the Czechoslovak regime crumbled which soon led to a freely elected, non-communist government during November 1989. In December of the same year the Romanians successfully overthrew their repressive dictatorship (Croan). Likewise, Bulgaria took its first hesitant steps toward democracy with a change in their top leadership. The story of the fall of Yugoslavia's Communist Party is a dark chapter in the modern history of Europe with its genocidal ethnic cleansing and separatism. Each of the Yugoslav republics experienced a certain level of violent change as it broke from the grip of Tito's style of Stalinist communism, which essentially held the ethnically diverse state together. As a result, the rise and fall of Serbia and its dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, brought about military intervention by NATO and the West. Milosevic eventually died in prison in 2006.
Gradually, nations are becoming less communist oriented and are making their way to capitalism. China leads the world in economic growth, not because of its adherence to Maoism. On the contrary. the reforms of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s led to increased free market activity in China and an opening of trade with the West. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre told the world that political democratization was not part of Deng's economic reforms. But in spite of heightened government control of political expression, China continues to lead the world as a consumer state and in productivity, with its annual gross domestic product averaging a record 11%. Russia has made democratic reforms, and it has also allowed for greater capitalist practices within its economy. As a major supplier of the world's oil, its role in the economic development of the capitalist west is critical, and it has benefited from the rise on global oil prices. Cuba has made little headway in moving towards capitalism even as the aging Fidel Castro has relinquished power to his brother Raoul. The North Korean regime is widely seen as the last Stalinist nation in the world. As Marx believed that capitalism would fall under the weight of its own corruption, it will only be a matter of time before new generations take hold of power in these last communist holdouts, leading to the placement of Marxist-Stalinist Communism on the ash heap of history.
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