Commie Land

"For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic."
Karl Marx, Proponent of this trope.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
C. S. Lewis, Opponent of this trope.

Countries, sometimes fictitious, ruled by communist regimes. As a rule of thumb, these tend to be what happens to Ruritania when People's Republic of Tyranny is installed there.

These places are often pretty depressing, dominated by dilapidated concrete architecture, people wearing drab Commie clothing and probably even the weather cold and rainy (unless it's some place like Cuba, when this trope meets Banana Republic). Basic utilities are substandard, there are shortages of almost everything (but the news service is all too happy to inform that a local foundry has just cast its 500,000th ton of raw steel) and what little consumer goods are produced are absolute rubbish, especially the cars. However, a foreigner will be glad to find out his spare change is quite a sum in local currency. Locals, besides the clothing, tend to be The Eeyore or Apathetic Citizens, with possibly the only exception being Gallows Humour (often of Russian Reversal variety). Which means it's no wonder they tend to be very keen on alcohol. Talking Is a Free Action doesn't apply (in the literal sense) here. On the up side, there's always someone caring for you, and frequent public festivities. You can as well expect secret weapons facilities (especially in the biological field of WMD).

In Eastern Bloc portrayals during the Cold War, Commie Lands will undoubtedly be portrayed as flawless considering that media workers in the nation could easily get in trouble for creating anything that resembled dissent. Post Cold War, the ex Eastern Bloc countries will portray their former regimes as heartless dictatorships, or if Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell is in effect, regimes that had a good idea but squandered to bring it into fruition. (Good Bye, Lenin! is a great example of this kind of portrayal.)

Since the USSR was the one calling the shots for the most part, it tends to be the default Commie Land while East Germany also gets a lot of portrayal for being a spy hotzone (and in media tends to avoid the error that Communism=Russians). The other "middle" Eastern Bloc countries may come about when trying to depict a pretty poor and depressing place for the protagonist to infaltrate (With varying accuracy considering that some of these non major Eastern Bloc countries like Czechoslovakia and Hungary had a relatively high standard of living). Those in the mood for making a war film will use Vietnam, where Commie Land is ripe with militias waiting to ambush capitalist soldiers.

As of now, China is probably the go to example for this trope, although China's economy has reformed greatly since The Great Politics Mess-Up.

After The Great Politics Mess-Up, Commieland usually returns to its Ruritanian heritage, essentially mixing the worst aspects of the old and the new and becoming a place of rampant crime and predatory capitalism (see The New Russia).

Compare and contrast Eagleland, Ruritania and Banana Republic.


Examples:

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     Comic  

     Film  

  • Bulgaria as depicted in Bruce Campbell's Man With the Screaming Brain.
  • Many James Bond films, usually as Russia, but sometimes another country like East Germany, Czechoslovakia or China.
  • The Terminal has Viktor Navorski and his former homeland Krakhozia.
  • When the crew of Euro Trip gets to Bratislava, the way the city's shown seems to invoke this trope. That said, even in-story it isn't (it's post-Commieland at closest, guessing by the hotels and nightlife).
  • Costa-Gavras's film The Confession depicts 1950s Czechoslovakia this way. Its protagonist (Yves Montand) is a government official who is arrested for and falsely convicted of espionage and treason. Inspired by the 1952 Slánský trial; Montand's character is based on Artur London.
  • Played to the hilt in Ida, a 2014 film from Poland set in the Poland of 1961. The weather is rainy and dreary. People seem mostly depressed. The buildings are crumbling, with paint peeling everywhere. Communist propaganda plays on the radio. The film was shot in black and white, which adds to the downer mood.

     Literature  

  • Two of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's (who used to live in the Soviet work camps himself) books, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which is a historical fiction based on experience in the camps, and The Gulag Archipelago, which is a non-fiction history of the Soviet work camps.
  • Just about every Ayn Rand book features some manner of socialist dystopia, which is probably due to her being from an actual Commieland (Russia) and having had the misfortune of being wealthy when the revolution came.
  • Terry Goodkind's Faith of the Fallen, being inspired by Rand's work, involves the protagonist being forced to live in a collectivist dystopian city of The Empire.
  • Malcolm Bradbury's Rates of Exchange is a comic account of a professor's lecture tour in "Slaka". Among other things, the government is undergoing an internal shakeup which the professor never learns much about. All the signs in the local language are changed to a new spelling system (and then, a week later, changed back), certain people are suddenly promoted as heroes, and then a week later never mentioned again. Bradbury also wrote the country's tourist promotion brochure, Why Come to Slaka?

     Live Action TV  

  • The Klingons on the original Star Trek were supposed to be like this, but that didn't exactly pan out. The Romulans were later developed in TNG as being similar to commie land.
  • A frequent setting in Mission: Impossible.
  • JAG: Harm goes twice to China and twice to Cuba on the show.

     Multiple Media  

     Tabletop Games  

  • Genius: The Transgression: Tsoska is quite literally made of this trope.
  • Played very much for laughs in Paranoia's The People's Glorious Revolutionary Adventure. Normally, the players lived in the Computer-controlled Alpha Complex as (semi-)loyal Troubleshooters; in TPGRA, they lived in the Communist-controlled Alpha State as (semi-)loyal Smershoviks. Everything was, of course, RED clearance (though some things were more RED than others), and everyone had big bushy beards and were to be speakink in thick Russian accent. Depression is being mandatory! Tovarich Computer is your Tovarich!
    • Ironically, while Friend Computer is characterised by a violent paranoid hatred of all things Communist (at least, according to its rather warped understanding of communism), the society of Alpha Complex is itself heavily organised around ideals and structures very similar to those of Communism.

     Video games  

  • Cold War centers around an American trapped in one of these.
  • The Malden islands and the Republic of Nogova in Operation Flashpoint are former Commie Lands, which managed to split from the USSR in the 70s and 80s.
  • The Democratic Republic of Sahrani in ARMA : Armed Assault. Chernarus in ARMA II is a former Commieland, with one of the factions in the game wanting to restore the past regime.
  • Novistrana from Republic: The Revolution is a post-Soviet state currently ruled by a "democratically elected" President for Life, with all due consequences for its social order.
  • Arstotzka of Papers, Please, and possibly some of its neighbors.
  • The Crisis of the Confederation mod for Crusader Kings II has the People's State of Strugatsky, a periphery state founded on the belief that old Russia's downfall began with its abandonment of socialism. It's one of the members of the Orion League, an alliance of states fighting for independence against an increasingly corrupt Terran Confederation.
  • Rare possibly benign example in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, with the Free Drones. The Free Drones are headed by Foreman Domai, an Australian mining expert who was forced into being a drone in the Human Hive shortly after planetfall due to cryopod-induced brain damage, and subsequently led a successful rebellion after regaining his higher mental faculties. Domai wants to form a socialist nation-state where nobody is segregated by class and everyone works collectively for the greater good, and in turn, the state provides... or it at least tries to. They have a strong industrial bonus due to a population composed almost entirely of expert craftsmen and skilled workers, but they suffer a penalty to scientific research, which lends them towards Zerg Rush tactics with inferior units. They can't use Green economics either.
    • Speaking of, the Human Hive headed by Chairman Yang is an undeniably more malicious version, borrowing a lot from Marxist principles, Nietzsche, and Confucianism to produce a strongly collectivist society where all individuality is given up and citizens are subsumed into working and sacrificing themselves for the good of their society and species.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

     Real life  

  • During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its satellite states (e.g. Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo-Brazzaville, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Hungary, Mongolia, Mozambique, Romania, Poland, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, and South Yemen) were this. The degree of their "commieness" (read: repression and depression for capitalist audiences or adherence to Marxist theory for communist audiences) depends: Czechoslovakia was relatively liberal and developed; Romania and Albania were Orwellian-like. The USSR was very developed on the other hand, but not as politically liberal as other Eastern Bloc states.
    • Yugoslavia was an odd case; it was not a part of the Warsaw Pact nor had a close relationship with the Soviet Union (it was part of the Non-Aligned Movement), and the country was rather socially and politically liberal (it maintained healthy relations with capitalist countries and some greater freedoms for its people were granted within). However, the government was still controlled by the Communist Party (which it masked by rotating their leaders, unlike the Soviet Union) and most people still associated it as Communist anyway although it's interesting to note that much of the economy relied on co-ops and self-management, which Titoists claim was the closest implementation of Marx's vision in existence. Not helping is it being located in a sea of commies and it being majority Slavic (in the public's mind Slavs = Commies). Then there's the case of The Yugoslav Wars that erupted after it broke up...
  • Today, this trope can apply to China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and, Vietnam, though all except for North Korea (which ironically is the only one having dropped the Commie label in favor of Juche, which political theorists believe is more akin to fascism given its adherence to Korean racial supremacy) have adopted quasi-market economies, with varying degrees of success and implementation. China for example has been called state capitalist since it underwent reform after Mao to create a massive market economy with the Communist party in full control, while Cuban markets are dominated by the state with some worker controlled co-ops to form an unremarkable economy, but still managing to score very high on the Human Development Index. As for North Korea...well, there's a reason that Christopher Hitchens called it the most true-to-the-book Oceania to ever exist in the whole universe...


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Commieland