Analysing the fates of the last communist states around the globe it is possible to conclude they are relatively unique.
North Korea has, as it’s current and ongoing aggressive language indicates, the most extreme form of a communist system in existence, arguably its last true vestige. The rhetoric regarding nuclear threats and its nuclear ambitions is perhaps the most clear reflection of the regimes Stalinist nature.
The geo-political situation if China completely withdrew its military, economic and political support of North Korea may potentially be not so absolute however and become more unpredictable, and indeed dangerous, than the current crisis. As some analysts believe the aggressive rhetoric of North Korea is a consequence of their own fear that capitalism will destroy the regime. Could such a significant loss of support lead to a more desperate and irrational move as we have witnessed during the current crisis however? The historical context perhaps suggests the possibility of a peaceful end to its form of communism as that of the Soviet Union is very minimal. North Korean propaganda has very effectively indoctrinated its population to strict obedience to its ‘great leader’. In its own propaganda term’s the failed Bay of Pigs invasion that faced communist Cuba in 1961 is no equivalent to the psychological effect of the bombing of North Korea during The Korean War by the United States.
The regime’s reliance on China is demonstrated by its vital supply of energy, supplies – military and food – and currency. Yet an alternative outcome may be that similar to that which affected Cuba as, the survival of the regime is paramount. At the end of the cold war the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union severed a core element of support for Cuba and forced the beginning of a move towards democracy. During the following decade Castro allowed limited deregulation and privatisation due to this new global situation. Though support from Venezuela to a degree re-strengthened Cuba’s communist principles Castro’s brother and current leader Raul has since his acquisition of power confronted its unproductive economy and increasing inability to pay for it’s over arching state system by extending these previous elements of privatisation. This involves, for example, the lending of unused land to private farming and co-operatives. As such the journey from the Cuban Missile Crisis to this point does demonstrate the progress that can be made as a result of political will.
Perhaps the most important lesson is that the policy approach by the USA throughout the cold war to isolate Cuba was ineffective. Essentially It was only when they lost his powerful communist ally in the Soviet Union did Castro begin to realize he could not stick so absolutely to a Marxist-Leninist philosophy.
Therefore as the case of Cuba indicates, will a truly democratic China be crucial for an effective and lasting solution to the ongoing crisis in the Korean peninsula?
As China has transformed from its Mao inspired communist system to a more capitalist system – the prime indication for which is its economic and industrial growth it is however failed to in parallel adopt democratic principles of western capitalist nations. Crucially there remains key human rights abuses and no form of true democratic elections. Corruption is also a major problem and has caused continued social unrest in rural areas due its consequences on the country’s environment. Predictably the response by security forces is typically harsh. As John Kerry attempts to influence the chinese to exert more pressure on North Korea he to an extent ignores China’s own communist remnants. Crucially these are remnants that limit China’s ability to drastically affect the policies of North Korea.