I was watching a video what’s wrong with socialism (I’m not going to link to it as it would be too controversial and detract in any event from what I want to ask). They mainly talked about socialism in dysfunctional states like Venezuela. It got me thinking…what countries ARE ‘socialist’? I checked on Wiki, and this is the list of self-identified ‘socialist states’. And, sure, some of those are ones I associate with socialism…though, most are states I associate more with communism or communist states. So, I wanted to ask 'dopers, which states do YOU think of when you mention socialist or socialism off the top of your head?
The first thing I think is that most people who argue the issue are unable to differentiate between economic socialism and political/civic/social socialism.
Most countries called “socialist” are fairly moderate in their economics and heavy on the civic application. They’re still capitalist in almost every respect, but the economy tolerates high taxation to support the population in a socialist fashion.
However you want to define it is fine with me…just want to see which countries people think of when they think socialist or socialism.
The political spectrum in my mind is (from left to right)
Communist -> Socialist -> Capitalist -> Fascist
So “socialist” countries in my mind are Sweden/Norway/Denmark/Finland - possibly France. Countries with very strong government involvement in social welfare, and high taxes to pay for it, but not politically authoritarian. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of India, but that’s just because I don’t know enough about Indian politics - I’m happy to give them the label too if they want it
Former Communist countries that now have democratic (ish) governments are probably socialist too.
NK,China,Cuba, other left-wing authoritarian states - not socialist. Communist states who call themselves Socialist because it sounds better.
I’m aware that this definition is quite different from the way lots and lots of Americans would define Socialist. But I didn’t grow up with socialist being a bad word…
Most of them, to some extent. Yes, even us.
I don’t think of “socialist countries” and “non-socialist countries” as if they were two non-intersecting sets. I think of socialist as a sliding scale, from zero to 100 percent. The Scandinavian countries are pretty high on the scale, UK and Canada are medium-ish, and the US pretty low but sliding upwards.
Capitalism isn’t a political system.
Not snarking or sniping, but see my first post… if you can’t differentiate between political and economic axes, you’re pretty much writing gibberish.
All the socialist countries contain True Scotsmen. In other words, people always have to interject that X isn’t a “real” socialist country. And depending on how you define it, it can include many countries or exactly zero.
Most countries have aspects of socialism on a continuum, e.g. Medicare. Most of Scandinavia don’t claim to be socialist and are run by conservative governments, so I don’t count them.
I believe Maduro would characterize his failed country as a socialist state, so that’s good enough for me: self-report.
LOL. Harsh but fair.
To communists socialism was the transitional form to full communism, which would be very much like libertarianism sans capitalists.
To socialists communists were deceitful brutal unutterable bastards.
There is no greater joke than the popular rally, ‘No Enemies To The Left’,
Confusion between the two is inexplicable.
As an economic system, capitalism is everywhere. Even in the most revolutionary periods of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China they didn’t try to abolish all vestiges of capitalism. There was money, workers got paid, customers went to stores and bought groceries, people owned things. But you wouldn’t describe the regimes of Lenin or Mao as pro-capitalist.
So I think it’s fair to recognize there are capitalist political systems - ie political systems which see capitalist economics as a positive attribute of society rather than a necessary evil.
Oh, I thought you might say a public school system, or collective defense.
I agree. Depending on what standard you want to use, you can declare there are no capitalist counties or there are no socialist counties. As I noted above, all socialist countries contain some element of capitalism. And all capitalist countries contain some element of socialism.
You are coming from the false dichotomy of cold war era “capitalism vs communism” and in that narrow sense your comments are valid. But sensible dialogue has gone past that. To make any sense of today’s world, we have to differentiate between political, economic and social systems. Saying “capitalist vs socialist” is a meaningless Fox News bugaboo unless you are specifically talking about economic systems, not political ones.
I can’t think of any socialist economies among countries of economic weight. Largely capitalist economies with socialist politics and cultures, sure. But even across Scandinavia, those are separate axes.
I’m old-school on this: I would define capitalism as a way of producing commodities with wage labour. Socialism is a way of producing that does not entail the use of wage labour; everyone would be an owner of the factory or whatever and decisions about work would be made democratically. That society as a whole owns and decides is what puts the “social” in socialism. So apart from some shortlived experiments, there has not yet been a socialist country. IMHO.
So do you have your own personal term for the type of political system the rest of us are discussing? We’d love to include you in the conversation.
Socialism is an economic system defined by collective ownership of the means of production. The means of production are things like farms and factories that produce goods and services in the economy. “Collective ownership” could mean some sort of collective or cooperative system (in which the employees of the factory or farm own it, electing some of their number to coordinate everyone’s activities–to be “boss”–or in theory even hiring some outsider to serve in that role), or state ownership (in which an airplane factory is run by the Ministry of Aviation and a truck factory is run by the Ministry of Automotive Industry and a soybean or wheat farm is run by the Ministry of Agriculture and so on). There is often also a notion that the means of production will not be operated in order to generate a profit, but rather simply to provide the goods and services that are produced for the benefit of those that need them. In a communist society, according to the Communists, there would no longer be a state, or “classes” of people, but a completely egalitarian society; Communists tended to be kind of vague about what that would look like, but Karl Marx himself did once describe it:
(Quote taken from Marxists.org.)
Capitalism is an economic system defined by private ownership of the means of production, with the means of production operated in order to generate a profit for their owners.
Countries that actually have socialist economies would include, I guess, North Korea, Cuba, and maybe Vietnam and Laos (I’m not really sure about those last two anymore). China is still ruled by a Communist Party, a political organization ostensibly dedicated to creating a socialist society, and allegedly ultimately even a communist one, but in practice Chinese society is now highly capitalistic, albeit with a still-high level of ostensible state ownership of things like land. Note that having a Socialist Party or a Communist Party in political power is not the same thing as having an actual socialist economy.
A country with a capitalist economy can be politically democratic, or it can be a dictatorship, or an oligarchy. In theory, a country with a socialist economy could also be democratic, with the workers/citizens/owners (those terms being basically different words for the same group of people) voting on how society should be run (and also exercising other political rights like freedom of speech and assembly), with the people as a whole making decisions about both “political” issues (“Should we declare war on Eastasia?”) and also on economic ones (“How many pencils should we produce this year?”). You could even have a multi-party democratic socialist society, where, say, the Christian Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialist Party compete to win elections over the proper public policy and course of society in the context of a country which everyone basically agrees should have a socialist economy (just as the Democrats and Republicans compete to win elections over the proper public policy and course of society in the context of a country which everyone basically agrees should have a capitalist economy ). In a communist society, there would no longer be political parties, as there would no longer be a state to compete for control or direction of.
In practice, “democratic socialist” parties over the course of the 20th century wound up embracing the idea of “gradualism” in building a country with a socialist economy to such an extent that it became clear they were never, ever going to get there from here. In the 20th century, gradualist programs of democratic socialism did lead otherwise basically capitalist countries in places like Western Europe to sometimes nationalize particular industries; for example, in Britain the coal mining industry was nationalized, so there were socialist sectors of the economy, even though overall the economy was still much more capitalist than not. These industries were later mostly re-privatized. Also, in pretty much any actually existing modern economy government and industry–whether or not industry is privately owned and seeks to make a profit–will interact in all sorts of complicated ways, from minimum wage laws and environmental regulations to government attempts to promote and protect particular industries (growing food, or steel production, or building high-performance military aircraft) in order to serve the “national interest” (even though if left to its own devices the country’s capitalist for-profit military aviation industry might relocate all its factories to China).
These days names like “the Socialist Party” in France are basically vestigial. Such parties have no real plans or interest in making France into an actually socialist country (with the means of production collectively owned). The Labour Party in Britain was originally a socialist party, but nowadays seem perfectly content with a basically capitalist economy, but with a high degree of government programs to provide things like health care and education in a non-capitalist way, funded by taxes on the still fundamentally capitalist economy. In the U.S., this is called “liberalism” (a term with multiple meanings historically and to a substantial extent geographically) or “progressivism”; outside the U.S., these are often called “social democratic” policies. Similarly, in spite of his self-identification, I’ve seen no evidence that Bernie Sanders is a “real” socialist, in the sense of proposing some plan to have factories and farms and so forth nationalized or otherwise collectivized. Almost nothing that the Fox News crowd call “socialism” bears any real resemblance to an actual socialistic economy.
Rojava and the Mexican state of Chiapas under the EZLN are modern examples of socialism I’ve seen referenced in lefty circles, though neither are countries. That’s true of the few examples of socialism in history as well though, like Revolutionary Catalonia.
A lot of Americans confuse welfare with socialism (unless it goes to the corporate sector, then it’s fine), which is inevitable given all the anti-commie propaganda they experienced during the Cold War, and the right’s insistence that anything related to the government that isn’t the military, police, or courts is socialism. I don’t know if that’s a fashion in any other Western country. It can be funny to troll American conservatives by saying they’re socialists if they support public roads, schools, or fire fighters, but it’s not accurate, though an alarming number of liberals seem to believe it.
Declaring workers to be the same as the state is an interesting sleight of hand used by authoritarian lefties and anti-socialists.
Socialism, in my opinion, involves the public (state) ownership of property. Socialist countries are countries where there is little to no private ownership and poor to non-existent protection of private property rights.
This is not the same as kleptocracies where an elite or junta acquires most of the resources as individuals. There is some overlap though.
Examples of socialist or close countries would be Cuba, North Korea, and maybe China of a decade or two ago.
Americans seem to get “socialism” and “social spending” confused a lot, which is how Scandinavia gets viewed as socialist. In reality, I’d say Scandinavia is a fraction less socialist than the USA.
None of 'em. Some may be more progressive and social-democratic than others, but in no currently existing country has the working class seized both political and economic power in order to democratically control production in the interests of human need rather than to generate profit for a handful at the top.