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Commie Land

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Painting the town Red.

"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

Countries, sometimes fictitious, ruled by communist regimes. As a rule of thumb, these tend to be what happens to Ruritania when a 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 you 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. There's no free speech, either. On the up side, there's always someone caring for you, and frequent public festivities. You can also expect secret weapons facilities (especially in the biological field of WMD). And it's the place where the Defector from Commie Land comes from.

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 bringing 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 hotbed of spy activity (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 infiltrate (with varying accuracy, considering that some of these non-major Eastern Bloc countries, such as Czechoslovakia and Hungary, had a relatively less oppressive government and high living standards). Those in the mood for making a war film will use Vietnam, a tropical Commie Land where guerillas wait in the Hungry Jungle, eager to ambush American soldiers.

As of now, China and North Korea are probably the go-to examples for this trope, although China's economy has reformed greatly since the end of the Cold War.note  See Red China for more details.

After the Cold War, Commie Land usually returns to its Ruritanian heritage (Countrystani in the case of Central Asia), essentially mixing the worst aspects of the old and the new and becoming a place of rampant crime and predatory capitalism (see media portrayals of The New Russia).

The nicer, more-lighthearted versions will instead be populated by Chummy Commies and may have a Post-Scarcity Economy, where capitalism, instead of being violently overthrown, has become obsolete.

A subtrope of The Dictatorship. Compare and contrast Privately Owned Society (the ideological opposite), Alternate-History Nazi Victory (the Axis counterpart), Eagleland, Ruritania and Banana Republic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet has this under Kugel's command: a nation where free enterprise is abolished, along with even money, putting it on par with Red Khmer Cambodia. Everyone is assigned work by the leadership, whose plan is everything. Happiness is defined as working for the common good, which is defined by the leadership. This is also what the Galactic Alliance of Mankind has become.
  • The Republic of East Gorteau from Hunter × Hunter is an expy of North Korea, even down to its leader, Ming Jol-ik, a No Historical Figures Were Harmed version of Kim Jong-il.
  • Monster is set in post-Cold War Germany and the Czech Republic and has many Dirty Communists and the tykebombs they created.

    Comic Books 

  • Bulgaria as depicted in Bruce Campbell's Man with the Screaming Brain.
  • Some 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).
  • The Costa-Gavras 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.
  • Guyana: Crime of the Century: While Guyana by itself isn't portrayed as an evil country in the movie, the socialist alignment of its government is referenced with a negative connotation by the son of one of the reporters assigned to travel there with O'Brien (Ron Harvey), during the specific moment when Ron's daughter is describing the country's geography (this is justified in-universe due to the movie taking place in 1977-78, back when the political climate in the US was very tense in Real Life due to the ongoing events involving the country and other socialist nations like Cuba and the Soviet Union).
  • 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.
  • Top Secret!: Parodied by combining the communists with the Nazis. The East German "national anthem" even includes lyrics about trying to escape not being a bright idea if you value your life.
  • The Firemen's Ball: A Commie Land movie made, remarkably, inside Commie Land—namely, Czechoslovakia 1967—portraying the authorities as bumbling incompetents and society in general as hopelessly corrupt. Made during the period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia that peaked with the Prague Spring of 1968 and was ended decisively by the arrival of Soviet tanks that year. Thereafter banned in Czechoslovakia until the Velvet Revolution and the fall of Communism in 1989.
    • Similarly to The Firemen's Ball, Man of Iron is a movie about Commie Land made inside Commie Land during a thaw, this one being made in Poland in 1981 after the government recognized the Solidarity union. The film depicts the battle of the workers of Solidarity for human rights and reforms, as well as the State Sec that oppose them at every turn. Also similar to The Firemen's Ball, this film was banned in its country after a repressive crackdown, only to be seen again after 1989.
  • Virtual Combat: The bad guy briefly mentions a foreign state known as the "People's Republic of England".
  • East/West: A grim portrait of life in the Soviet Union after World War II, as seen through the eyes of a Frenchwoman who had accompanied her Russian husband back home, only to suffer under Stalinist terror.
  • Sátántangó is a Hungarian movie made in 1994, five years after the fall of Communism, but it was adapted from a 1985 Hungarian novel that was very subversive for that time and place. The film depicts a bunch of sad, desperate people living in a failed collective farm. Some people are alcoholics, there are a few thieves, and everyone else seems to exist in a state of torpor. The buildings are cracked and crumbling. The streets are nothing but mud, except when they're strewn with garbage. It rains constantly. Like Ida, this film is also shot in black and white to make things look more depressing.
  • Mr. Jones (2019): Much of the film is set in the Soviet Union during 1933. Moscow is shown as drab, oppressive and with people constantly under surveillance. Ukraine is far worse, as there's mass death by famine which the government is trying to keep a secret.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: The grim, faded Zubrowka seen in the 1960s is heavily implied to be part of the Warsaw Pact. Mr. Moustafa notes that the once sumptuous steam baths in the Grand Budapest could not have been maintained because they were "too decadent for current tastes", and the Author later notes that Mr. Moustafa handed over his great fortune to the local commissar to stop the hotel falling into government hands as "common property".
  • A Year of the Quiet Sun: The setting is western Poland, a dismal place less than a year after the end of World War II. The people are living in crumbling, damaged German apartment buildings (the area had been transferred from Germany to Poland after the end of the war). They are lining up for food. State Sec communist thugs are everywhere, sometimes oppressing the people and sometimes just stealing from them, as with the goons who barge into Emilia's apartment, steal her money, and nearly rape her. The film is in color, but everything is gray and sad.

  • Two of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's (who used to live in the Soviet labor 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 labor camps.
  • Just about every Ayn Rand book features some manner of socialist dystopia, which is probably due to her being from an actual Commie Land (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?
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, the Dawn Empire was essentially a fantasy version of this. During his reign, Dayless enacted a number of USSR-style policies, which included, among other things, confiscating all private property and food available, so as to make everyone in his empire "equal". He also relentlessly persecuted and killed anyone who could threaten his rule within the Empire.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
  • A frequent setting in Mission: Impossible.
  • JAG: Harm goes twice to China and twice to Cuba on the show.
  • The Americans includes sequences set in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. While the citizens are no more or less sympathetic than Americans, the nation itself is portrayed as poorer and more politically corrupt than America, which is essentially Truth in Television.
  • America has become this trope in Amerika, run down by years of collectivization and Soviet asset-stripping, dominated by Secret Police and State Sec.
  • Burning Bush takes place in Communist-era Czechoslovakia (specifically, in 1969, shortly after the end of the liberalization period known as the Prague Spring and in the early stages of the so-called Normalization).

    Multiple Media 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius: The Transgression: Tsoska, an Eldritch Location created from disproven thought and symbolizes Dystopias as a whole, is quite literally made of this trope, thanks to the influence of Western perceptions of the Soviet Union; while there's a lot of fascism, a bit of Nazism and general despotism influencing it, the most vivid dystopia in most minds is a Soviet-style nation, and thus that's what it most resembles. A brief mention is made of its capitalist counterpart, Voltt City.
  • 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 characterized by a violent paranoid hatred of all things Communist (at least, according to its rather warped understanding of communism)note , the society of Alpha Complex is itself heavily organised around ideals and structures very similar to those of Communism (although pointing this out to the Friend Computer is liable to get you executed on the spot).

    Video Games 
  • The Democratic Republic of Sahrani in ARMA: Armed Assault. Chernarus in ARMA II is a former Commie Land, with one of the factions in the game wanting to restore the past regime.
  • Black the Fall: The game has you play as some unnamed machinist living in an unnamed Communist country. After deciding to abandon their post, the machinist begins a long journey across the country.
  • Cold War centers around an American trapped in one of these.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rare possibly benign example in Sid Meier's 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.
  • Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg depicts an alternate interwar period after a Central Powers victory in 1921. Devastated by the war and losing much of their overseas empires, France and later Britain fell to socialist revolutions fueled by working-class anger against the establishment and bitterness towards the victorious German Empire. However, they are not communists, since the failure of the Russian Communist Revolution (which results in Russia still being a constitutional republic at the start of the game) combining with the massively weakened British and French governments mean that the primary radical-left ideology in the universe is Syndicalism (which was heavily suppressed in real life by all governments) instead of Marxism-Leninism. The closest equivalents to IRL authoritarian Communism, such as the Bolshevik remnants, or the Jacobins in the Commune of France, are lumped under the "Totalist" ideology. By the game's start date of 1936, the Internationale consists of Britain, France, Italy and Bengal - depending on events it can be expanded to include Spain, Russia, the United States and Australasia.
  • Equestria at War depicts various forms of communism, with two specifically named being Stalliongrad communism which is fairly standard, and Equalism, which advocates the abolishment of individualism completely in the name of equality. In practice, they come in all varieties (with some countries able to choose between several different types of communism), from fairly utopian to straight out fascism, from well run to dangerously incompetent. Stalliongrad under Vasiliy will join Big Good Celestia against the Changelings and attempt to advance the cause of communism in other countries through democratic means, where as Blackhollow under Reeve Blyeddin will lose most of its population and cripple its science base.
  • Stellaris's MegaCorp DLC lets you make your own Communist government IN SPACE! by choosing the Shared Burdens civic. However, since you can only take said civic if you have the Fanatic Egalitarian ethos (which only allows Democratic governments) and if you don't have the Xenophobe ethos, this means that a civilization with the Shared Burdens civic is closer to a Marxist Communist society or Anarcho-Commie Land.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Scundia becomes a commie land in the Godslayer era after the Proninist Party has conquered it.
  • This article on Cracked (about ridiculous G.I.Joe action figures) parodies this trope by mentioning that villain Darklon originates from "the kingdom of Darklonia, a nebulous Eastern Bloc nation sharing its borders with Borovia and Madeupbullshitistan".
  • Ultra Fast Pony. In the episode "How to Control Freaks", Spike makes an aside comment about Equestria, the setting of the series, being a communist dictatorship. He also implies that the protagonist, Twilight, is trying to replace it with a fascist dictatorship.
  • In The Falcon Cannot Hear, one of the major factions in the Second American Civil War is the American Soviet Republic, a Stalinist state controlling everything from Chicago to New York City, and is backed by the USSR. Their East Coast forces, more Trotskyist in nature, get along better with the democratic Provisional Government than with the ASR's leadership, and eventually break away.

    Western Animation 
  • Pottsylvania in Rocky and Bullwinkle.
  • Thembria as seen in TaleSpin.
  • The plot of the Animaniacs (2020) segment "Anima-nyet" is essentially the Warners discover an unauthorized version of their show in Russia, which is depicted as such. It shows Soviet parodies of staple scenes from the original series, such as a (technically incorrect) parody of Wakko's America using Russian territories.

    Real Life 
  • During the Cold War, the Soviet Union, its satellite states (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Romania and Poland) and many of its political allies (e.g. Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Cambodia, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Mongolia, Mozambique, 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 passed away) to create a massive market economy and numbers of Boom Towns 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 why Christopher Hitchens called it the most true-to-the-book Oceania to ever exist in the whole universe...