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A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term communist state is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to one-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist communist parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society.Additionally, a number of countries that are multi-party capitalist states make references to socialism in their constitutions, in most cases alluding to the building of a socialist society, naming socialism, claiming to be a socialist state, or including the term socialist republic or people's republic in their country's full name, although this does not necessarily reflect the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems. Currently, these countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, North Korea, Portugal, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
The idea of a socialist state stems from the broader notion of state socialism, the political perspective that the working class needs to use state power and government policy to establish a socialised economic system. This may either mean a system where the means of production, distribution and exchange are nationalised or under state ownership; or simply a system in which social values, or workers' interests, have economic priority.However, the concept of a socialist state is mainly advocated by Marxist–Leninists and most socialist states have been established by political parties adhering to Marxism–Leninism or some national variation thereof such as Maoism or Titoism. A state, whether socialist or not, is opposed the most by anarchists, who reject the idea that the state can be used to establish a socialist society due to its hierarchical and arguably coercive nature, considering a socialist state or state socialism as an oxymoron. The concept of a socialist state is also considered unnecessary or counterproductive and rejected by some classical, libertarian and orthodox Marxists, libertarian socialists and other socialist political thinkers who view the modern state as a byproduct of capitalism which would have no function in a socialist system.
A socialist state is to be distinguished from a multi-party liberal democracy governed by a self-described socialist party, where the state is not constitutionally bound to the construction of socialism. In such cases, the political system and machinery of government is not specifically structured to pursue the development of socialism. Socialist states in the Marxist–Leninist sense are sovereign states under the control of a vanguard party which is organizing the country's economic, political and social development toward the realization of socialism. Economically, this involves the development of a state capitalist economy with state-directed capital accumulation with the long-term goal of building up the country's productive forces while simultaneously promoting worldwide socialist revolution.
The first socialist state was the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, established in 1917.In 1922, it merged with the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic into a single federal union called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The Soviet Union proclaimed itself a socialist state and proclaimed its commitment to building a socialist economy in its 1936 constitution and a subsequent 1977 constitution. It was governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a single-party state ostensibly with a democratic centralism organization, with Marxism–Leninism remaining its official guiding ideology until the Soviet Union's dissolution on 26 December 1991. The political systems of these Marxist–Leninist socialist states revolve around the central role of the party which holds ultimate authority. Internally, the communist party practices a form of democracy called democratic centralism. During the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1961, Nikita Khrushchev announced the completion of socialist construction and declared the optimistic goal of achieving communism in twenty years. The Eastern Bloc was a political and economic bloc of Soviet-aligned socialist states in Eastern and Central Europe which adhered to Marxism–Leninism, Soviet-style governance and command economy.
The People's Republic of China was founded on 1 October 1949 and proclaims itself to be a socialist state in its 1982 constitution. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) used to be a Marxist–Leninist state. In 1972, the country adopted a new constitution which changed the official state ideology to Juche which is held to be a distinct Korean re-interpretation of the former ideology.Similarly, direct references to communism in the Lao People's Democratic Republic are not included in its founding documents, although it gives direct power to the governing ruling party, the Marxist–Leninist Lao People's Revolutionary Party. The preamble to the constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam states that Vietnam only entered a transition stage between capitalism and socialism after the country was re-unified under the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1976.
The 1992 constitution of the Republic of Cuba states that the role of the Communist Party of Cuba is to "guide the common effort toward the goals and construction of socialism (and the progress toward a communist society)".
A number of countries make reference to socialism in their constitutions that are not single-party states embracing Marxism–Leninism and planned economies. In most cases, these are constitutional references to the building of a socialist society and political principles that have little to no bearing on the structure and guidance of these country's machinery of government and economic system. The preamble to the 1976 Constitution of Portugal states that the Portuguese state has as one of its goals opening "the way to socialist society".Algeria, the Congo, India and Sri Lanka have directly used the term socialist in their official constitution and name. Croatia, Hungary and Poland directly denounce "Communism" in their founding documents in reference to their past regimes.
In these cases, the intended meaning of socialism can vary widely and sometimes the constitutional references to socialism are left over from a previous period in the country's history. In the case of many Middle Eastern states, the term socialism was often used in reference to an Arab socialist/nationalist philosophy adopted by specific regimes such as that of Gamal Abdel Nasser and that of the various Ba'ath parties. Examples of countries directly using the term socialist in their names include the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam while a number of countries make references to socialism in their constitutions, but not in their names. These include Indiaand Portugal. In addition, countries like Belarus, Colombia, France, Russia and Spain use the varied term social state, leaving a more ambiguous meaning. In the constitutions of Croatia, Hungary and Poland, direct condemnation is made to the respective past socialist regimes. The autonomous region of Rojava which operates under the principles of democratic confederalism has been described as a socialist state.
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During the post-war consensus, nationalization of large industries was relatively widespread and it was not uncommon for commentators to describe some European countries as democratic socialist states seeking to move their countries toward a socialist economy. In 1956, leading British Labour Party politician and author Anthony Crosland claimed that capitalism had been abolished in Britain, although others such as Welshman Aneurin Bevan, Minister of Health in the first post-war Labour government and the architect of the National Health Service, disputed the claim that Britain was a socialist state.For Crosland and others who supported his views, Britain was a socialist state. According to Bevan, Britain had a socialist National Health Service which stood in opposition to the hedonism of Britain's capitalist society, arguing:
The National Health service and the Welfare State have come to be used as interchangeable terms, and in the mouths of some people as terms of reproach. Why this is so it is not difficult to understand, if you view everything from the angle of a strictly individualistic competitive society. A free health service is pure Socialism and as such it is opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society.
When the British Labour Party or the French Socialist Party were in power during the post-war period, some political commentators claimed that France and the United Kingdom were socialist states and the same is now applied to the Nordic countries and the Nordic model, although as in the rest of Europe the laws of capitalism still operated fully and private enterprise dominated the economy. In the 1980s, the government of President François Mitterrand aimed to expand dirigisme and attempted to nationalize all French banks, but this attempt faced opposition of the European Economic Community because it demanded a free-market capitalist economy among its members. Nevertheless, public ownership in France and the United Kingdom during the height of nationalization in the 1960s and 1970s never accounted for more than 15–20% of capital formation, further dropping to 8% in the 1980s and below 5% in the 1990s after the rise of neoliberalism.
The socialist policies practized by parties such as the Singaporean People's Action Party (PAP) during its first few decades in power were of a pragmatic kind as characterized by its rejection of nationalization. Despite this, the PAP still claimed to be a socialist party, pointing out its regulation of the private sector, state intervention in the economy and social policies as evidence of this.The Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew also stated that he has been influenced by the democratic socialist British Labour Party.
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Because most existing socialist states operated along Marxist–Leninist principles of governance, the term Marxist–Leninist state or Marxist–Leninist regime is also used by scholars, particularly when focusing on the political systems of these countries.A people's republic is a type of socialist state with a republican constitution. Although the term initially became associated with populist movements in the 19th century such as the German Völkisch movement and the Narodniks in Russia, it is now associated to communist states. A number of the short-lived communist states which formed during World War I and its aftermath called themselves people's republics. Many of these sprang up in the territory of the former Russian Empire following the October Revolution. Additional people's republics emerged following the Allied victory in World War II, mainly within the Eastern Bloc. In Asia, China became a people's republic following the Chinese Communist Revolution and North Korea also became a people's republic. During the 1960s, Romania and Yugoslavia ceased to use the term people's republic in their official name, replacing it with the term socialist republic as a mark of their ongoing political development. Czechoslovakia also added the term socialist republic into its name during this period. It had become a people's republic in 1948, but the country had not used that term in its official name. Albania used both terms in its official name from 1976 to 1991.
The term socialist state is widely used by Marxist–Leninist parties, theorists and governments to mean a state under the control of a vanguard party that is organizing the economic, social and political affairs of said state toward the construction of socialism. States run by communist parties that adhere to Marxism–Leninism, or some national variation thereof, refer to themselves as socialist states or workers and pesants' states. They involve the direction of economic development toward the building up of the productive forces to underpin the establishment of a socialist economy and usually include that at least the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and under state ownership.This may or may not include the existence of a socialist economy, depending on the specific terminology adopted and level of development in specific countries. For example, the Leninist definition of a socialist state is a state representing the interests of the working class which presides over a state capitalist economy structured upon state-directed accumulation of capital, with the goal of building up the country's productive forces and promoting worldwide socialist revolution, with the realization of a socialist economy as the long-term goal.
In the Western world, particularly in mass media, journalism and politics, these states and countries are often called communist states (although they do not use this term to refer to themselves), despite the fact that these countries never claimed to have achieved communism in their countries—rather, they claim to be building and working toward the establishment of socialism and the development towards communism thereafter in their countries.Terms used by communist states include national-democratic, people's democratic, socialist-oriented and workers and peasants' state.
Karl Marx and subsequent thinkers in the Marxist tradition conceive of the state as representing the interests of the ruling class, partially out of material necessity for the smooth operation of the modes of production it presides over. Marxists trace the formation of the contemporary form of the sovereign state to the emergence of capitalism as a dominant mode of production, with its organizational precepts and functions designed specifically to manage and regulate the affairs of a capitalist economy. Because this involves governance and laws passed in the interest of the bourgeoisie as a whole and because government officials either come from the bourgeoisie or are dependent upon their interests, Marx characterized the capitalist state as a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Extrapolating from this, Marx described a post-revolutionary government on the part of the working class or proletariat as a dictatorship of the proletariat because the economic interests of the proletariat would have to guide state affairs and policy during a transitional state. Alluding further to the establishment of a socialist and communist economy where social ownership displaces private ownership, and thus class distinctions on the basis of private property ownership are eliminated, the modern state would have no function and would gradually "wither away" or be transformed into a new form of governance.
Influenced by the pre-Marxist utopian socialist philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon, Friedrich Engels theorized the nature of the state would change during the transition to socialism. Both Saint-Simon and Engels described a transformation of the state from an entity primarily concerned with political rule over people (via coercion and law creation) to a scientific "administration of things" that would be concerned with directing processes of production in a socialist society, essentially ceasing to be a state.
Although Marx never referred to a socialist state, he argued that the working class would have to take control of the state apparatus and machinery of government in order to transition out of capitalism and to socialism. The dictatorship of the proletariat would represent this transitional state and would involve working class interests dominating government policy in the same manner that capitalist class interests dominate government policy under capitalism (the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie). Engels argued that as socialism developed, the state would change in form and function. Under socialism, it is not a "government of people, but the administration of things", thereby ceasing to be a state by the traditional definition.
One of the most influential modern visions of a transitional state representing proletarian interests was based on the Paris Commune in which the workers and working poor took control of the city of Paris in 1871 in reaction to the Franco-Prussian War. Marx described the Paris Commune as the prototype for a revolutionary government of the future, "the form at last discovered" for the emancipation of the proletariat.Engels noted that "all officials, high or low, were paid only the wages received by other workers. [...] In this way an effective barrier to place-hunting and careerism was set up". Commenting on the nature of the state, Engels continued: "From the outset the Commune was compelled to recognize that the working class, once come to power, could not manage with the old state machine". In order not to be overthrown once having conquered power, Engels argues that the working class "must, on the one hand, do away with all the old repressive machinery previously used against it itself, and, on the other, safeguard itself against its own deputies and officials, by declaring them all, without exception, subject to recall at any moment". Engels argued such a state would be a temporary affair and suggested a new generation brought up in "new and free social conditions" will be able to "throw the entire lumber of the state on the scrap-heap".
Socialists that embraced reformism, exemplified by Eduard Bernstein, took the view that both socialism and a socialist state will gradually evolve out of political reforms won in the organized socialist political parties and unions. These views are considered a revision of Marxist thought. Bernstein stated: "The socialist movement is everything to me while what people commonly call the goal of Socialism is nothing".Following Marx, revolutionary socialists instead take the view that the working class grows stronger through its battle for reforms (such as in Marx's time the ten-hours bill). In 1848, Marx and Engels wrote:
Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. [...] [I]t ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours' bill in England was carried.
According to the orthodox Marxist conception, these battles eventually reach a point where a revolutionary movement arises. A revolutionary movement is required in the view of Marxists to sweep away the capitalist state and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which must be abolished and replaced with a dictatorship of the proletariat in order to begin constructing a socialist society. In this view, only through revolution can a socialist state be established as written in The Communist Manifesto :
In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.
Whereas Marx, Engels and classical Marxist thinkers had little to say about the organization of the state in a socialist society, presuming the modern state to be specific to the capitalist mode of production, Vladimir Lenin pioneered the idea of a revolutionary state based on his theory of the revolutionary vanguard party and organizational principles of democratic centralism. Adapted to the conditions of semi-feudal Russia, Lenin's concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat involved a revolutionary vanguard party acting as representatives of the proletariat and its interests. According to Lenin's April Theses, the goal of the revolution and vanguard party is not the introduction of socialism (it could only be established on a worldwide scale), but to bring production and the state under the control of the soviets of workers' deputies. Following the October Revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and sought to control and direct the social and economic affairs of the state and broader Russian society in order to safeguard against counterrevolutionary insurrection, foreign invasion and to promote socialist consciousness among the Russian population while simultaneously promoting economic development.
These ideas were adopted by Lenin in 1917 just prior to the October Revolution in Russia and published in The State and Revolution . With the failure of the worldwide revolution, or at least European revolution, envisaged by Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the Russian Civil War and finally Lenin's death, war measures that were deemed to be temporary such as forced requisition of food and the lack of democratic control became permanent and a tool to boost Joseph Stalin's power, leading to the emergence of Marxism–Leninism and Stalinism as well as the notion that socialism can be created and exist in a single state.
Lenin argued that as socialism is replaced by communism, the state would "wither away"as strong centralized control progressively reduces as local communities gain more empowerment. As he put succinctly, "[s]o long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there will be freedom, there will be no state". In this way, Lenin was thereby proposing a classically dynamic view of progressive social structure which during his own short period of governance emerged as a defensive and preliminary bureaucratic centralist stage. He regarded this structural paradox as the necessary preparation for and antithesis of the desired workers' state which he forecast would follow.
Following Stalin's consolidation of power in the Soviet Union and static centralization of political power, Trotsky condemned the Soviet government's policies for lacking widespread democratic participation on the part of the population and for suppressing workers' democratic participation in the management of the economy. Because these authoritarian political measures were inconsistent with the organizational precepts of socialism, Trotsky characterized the Soviet Union as a deformed workers' state that would not be able to effectively transition to socialism. Ostensibly socialist states where democracy is lacking, yet the economy is largely in the hands of the state, are termed by orthodox Trotskyist theories as degenerated or deformed workers' states and not socialist states.
Many democratic and libertarian socialists, including anarchists, mutualists and syndicalists, criticize the concept of socialist state instead of abolishing the bourgeois state apparatus outright. They use the term state socialism in contrast with their own form of socialism which involves either collective ownership (in the form of worker cooperatives) or common ownership of the means of production without centralized state planning. Those libertarian socialists believe there is no need for a state in a socialist system because there would be no class to suppress and no need for an institution based on coercion and therefore regard the state being a remnant of capitalism.Most also hold that statism is itself antithetical to true socialism, the goal of which is the eyes of libertarian socialists such as William Morris, who wrote as follows in a Commonweal article: "State Socialism? — I don't agree with it; in fact I think the two words contradict one another, and that it is the business of Socialism to destroy the State and put Free Society in its place".
Classical and orthodox Marxists also view state socialism as an oxymoron, arguing that while an association for managing production and economic affairs would exist in socialism, it would no longer be a state in the Marxist definition which is based on domination by one class. Preceding the Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia, many socialist groups—including reformists, orthodox Marxist currents such as council communism and the Mensheviks as well as anarchists and other libertarian socialists—criticized the idea of using the state to conduct planning and nationalization of the means of production as a way to establish socialism.Lenin himself acknowledged his policies as state capitalism.
Critical of the economy and government of socialist states, left communists such as the Italian Amadeo Bordiga said that their socialism was a form of political opportunism which preserved rather than destroyed capitalism because of the claim that the exchange of commodities would occur under socialism; the use of popular front organisations by the Communist International;and that a political vanguard organized by organic centralism was more effective than a vanguard organized by democratic centralism. The American Marxist Raya Dunayevskaya also dismissed it as a type of state capitalism because state ownership of the means of production is a form of state capitalism; the dictatorship of the proletariat is a form of democracy and single-party rule is undemocratic; and Marxism–Leninism is neither Marxism nor Leninism, but rather a composite ideology which socialist leaders like Joseph Stalin used to expediently determine what is communism and what is not communism among the Eastern Bloc countries.
Although most Marxist–Leninists distinguish between socialism and communism, Bordiga, who did consider himself a Leninist and has been described as being "more Leninist than Lenin",did not distinguish between the two in the same way Marxist–Leninists do. Both Lenin and Bordiga did not see socialism as a separate mode of production from communism, but rather just as how communism looks as it emerges out of capitalism before it has "developed on its own foundations".
This is coherent with Marx and Engels, who used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably.Like Lenin, Bordiga used socialism to mean what Marx called the lower-phase communism. For Bordiga, both stages of socialist or communist society—with stages referring to historical materialism—were characterized by the gradual absence of money, the market and so on, the difference between them being that earlier in the first stage a system of rationing would be used to allocate goods to people while in communism this could be abandoned in favour of full free access. This view distinguished Bordiga from Marxist–Leninists, who tended and still tend to telescope the first two stages and so have money and the other exchange categories surviving into socialism, but Bordiga would have none of this. For him, no society in which money, buying and selling and the rest survived could be regarded as either socialist or communist—these exchange categories would die out before the socialist rather than the communist stage was reached. Stalin made the claim that the Soviet Union had reached the lower stage of communism and argued that the law of value still operated within a socialist economy.
Marx himself did not use the term socialism to refer to this development and instead called it a communist society that has not yet reached its higher-stage.The term socialism to mean the lower-state of communism was popularized during the Russian Revolution by Lenin. This view is consistent with and helped to inform early concepts of socialism in which the law of value no longer directs economic activity, namely that monetary relations in the form of exchange-value, profit, interest and wage labour would not operate and apply to Marxist socialism. Unlike Stalin, who first claimed to have achieved socialism with the Soviet Constitution of 1936 and then confirmed it in the Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR , Lenin did not call the Soviet Union a socialist state, nor did he claim that it had achieved socialism. He adopted state capitalist policies, defending them from left-wing criticism, but arguing that they were necessary for the future development of socialism and not socialist in themselves. On seeing the Soviet Union's growing coercive power, Lenin was quoted as saying that Russia had reverted to "a bourgeois tsarist machine [...] barely varnished with socialism".
A variety of non-state, libertarian communist and socialist positions reject the concept of a socialist state altogether, believing that the modern state is a byproduct of capitalism and cannot be used for the establishment of a socialist system. They reason that a socialist state is antithetical to socialism and that socialism will emerge spontaneously from the grassroots level in an evolutionary manner, developing its own unique political and economic institutions for a highly organized stateless society. Libertarian communists, including anarchists, councillists, leftists and Marxists, also reject the concept of a socialist state for being antithetical to socialism, but they believe that socialism and communism can only be established through revolution and dissolving the existence of the state. Within the socialist movement, there is criticism towards the use of the term socialist states in relation to countries such as China and previously of Soviet Union and Eastern and Central European states before what some term the "collapse of Stalinism" in 1989.
Anti-authoritarian communists and socialists such as anarchists, other democratic and libertarian socialists as well as revolutionary syndicalists and left communistsclaim that the so-called socialist states actually presided over state capitalist economies and cannot be called socialist. Those socialists who oppose any system of state control whatsoever believe in a more decentralized approach which puts the means of production directly into the hands of the workers rather than indirectly through state bureaucracies—which they claim represent a new elite or class. This leads them to consider state socialism a form of state capitalism (an economy based on centralized management, capital accumulation and wage labor, but with the state owning the means of production) which Engels stated would be the final form of capitalism rather than socialism.
Some Trotskyists following on from Tony Cliff deny that it even is socialism, calling it instead state capitalism.Other Trotskyists agree that these states could not be described as socialist, but deny that they were state capitalist. They support Leon Trotsky's analysis of pre-restoration Soviet Union as a workers' state that had degenerated into a bureaucratic dictatorship which rested on a largely nationalized industry run according to a production plan and claimed that the former Stalinist states of Central and Eastern Europe were deformed workers' states based on the same relations of production as the Soviet Union.
Leninism is the political theory for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, led by a revolutionary vanguard party, as the political prelude to the establishment of socialism. The function of the Leninist vanguard party is to provide the working classes with the political consciousness and revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in the Russian Empire (1721–1917). Leninist revolutionary leadership is based upon The Communist Manifesto (1848) identifying the communist party as "the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country; that section which pushes forward all others." As the vanguard party, the Bolsheviks viewed history through the theoretical framework of dialectical materialism, which sanctioned political commitment to the successful overthrow of capitalism, and then to instituting socialism; and, as the revolutionary national government, to realize the socio-economic transition by all means.
Marxism–Leninism is a political philosophy that seeks to establish a socialist state to develop further into socialism and eventually communism, a classless social system with common ownership of the means of production and with full social and economic equality of all members of society. Marxist–Leninists espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of orthodox Marxism and Leninism, but they generally support the idea of a vanguard party, a communist party-led state, state-dominance over the economy, internationalism and opposition to capitalism, fascism, imperialism and liberal democracy. As an ideology, it was developed by Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s based on his understanding and synthesis of both orthodox Marxism and Leninism. It was the official state ideology of the Soviet Union and the other ruling parties making up the Eastern Bloc as well as the political parties of the Communist International after Bolshevisation. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of Stalinist and Maoist political parties around the world and remains the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam.
State capitalism is an economic system in which the state undertakes commercial economic activity and where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises, or where there is otherwise a dominance of corporatized government agencies or of publicly listed corporations in which the state has controlling shares. Marxist literature defines state capitalism as a social system combining capitalism with ownership or control by a state—by this definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production. This designation applies regardless of the political aims of the state and some scholars argue that the modern People's Republic of China constitutes a form of state capitalism or that the Soviet Union failed in its goal to establish socialism, but rather established state capitalism.
A communist state, also known as Marxist–Leninist state, is a state that is administered and governed by a single communist party guided by Marxism–Leninism. Marxism–Leninism was the state ideology of the Soviet Union, of the Comintern after Bolshevization and of the communist states within the Comecon, the Eastern Bloc and the Warsaw Pact. Marxism–Leninism remains the ideology of several communist states around the world and the official ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism has developed into many different branches and schools of thought, with the result that there is now no single definitive Marxist theory.
Scientific communism was one of the three major elements of Marxism–Leninism as taught in the Soviet Union in all institutions of higher education and pursued in the corresponding research institutions and departments.
Bordigism is a variant of left communism espoused by Marxist Amadeo Bordiga, who was a founder of the Communist Party of Italy and a prominent figure in the International Communist Party. Bordigists in the Italian Socialist Party would be the first to refuse on principle any participation in parliamentary elections.
While Marxists propose replacing the bourgeois state with a proletarian semi-state through revolution, which would eventually wither away, anarchists warn that the state must be abolished along with capitalism. Nonetheless, the desired end results, a stateless, communal society, are the same.
Communism is a philosophical, social, political, economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state.
The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism, an ideology of a centralised command economy with a vanguardist one-party state to realise the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Soviet Union's ideological commitment to achieving communism included the development socialism in one country and peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries while engaging in anti-imperialism to defend the international proletariat, combat capitalism and promote the goals of communism. The state ideology of the Soviet Union—and thus Marxism–Leninism—derived and developed from the theories, policies and political praxis of Lenin and Stalin.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation, analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. Marxism uses a materialist methodology, now known as historical materialism, to analyze and critique the development of class society and especially of capitalism as well as the role of class struggles in systemic economic, social and political change.
State socialism is a political and economic ideology within socialism advocating state ownership of the means of production, either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism or as characteristic of socialism itself.
The theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a broad term for political theories and policies that are seen by their proponents as representing Marxism–Leninism adapted to Chinese circumstances and specific time periods. For instance, in this view Xi Jinping Thought is considered to represent Marxist–Leninist policies suited for China's present condition while Deng Xiaoping Theory was considered relevant for the period when it was formulated.
The socialist mode of production, also referred to as the lower-stage of communism or simply socialism as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably, is a specific historical phase of economic development and its corresponding set of social relations that emerge from capitalism in the schema of historical materialism within Marxist theory.
Revolutionary socialism is the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests. Revolutionary socialists believe such a state of affairs is a precondition for establishing socialism and orthodox Marxists believe that it is inevitable but not predetermined.
In Marxist philosophy, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the working class hold political power. Proletarian dictatorship is the intermediate stage between a capitalist economy and a communist economy, whereby the government nationalises ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership.
Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist due to its hopes of achieving peace with the United States.
Anti-Leninism is opposition to the political philosophy Leninism as advocated by Vladimir Lenin.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Marxism:
Contrary to Western usage, these countries describe themselves as 'Socialist' (not 'Communist'). The second stage (Marx's 'higher phase'), or 'Communism' is to be marked by an age of plenty, distribution according to needs (not work), the absence of money and the market mechanism, the disappearance of the last vestiges of capitalism and the ultimate 'whithering away' of the State.
Among Western journalists the term 'Communist' came to refer exclusively to regimes and movements associated with the Communist International and its offspring: regimes which insisted that they were not communist but socialist, and movements which were barely communist in any sense at all.
Ironically, the ideological father of communism, Karl Marx, claimed that communism entailed the withering away of the state. The dictatorship of the proletariat was to be a strictly temporary phenomenon. Well aware of this, the Soviet Communists never claimed to have achieved communism, always labeling their own system socialist rather than communist and viewing their system as in transition to communism.
The decisive distinction between socialist and communist, as in one sense these terms are now ordinarily used, came with the renaming, in 1918, of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) as the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). From that time on, a distinction of socialist from communist, often with supporting definitions such as social democrat or democratic socialist, became widely current, although it is significant that all communist parties, in line with earlier usage, continued to describe themselves as socialist and dedicated to socialism.
But there are still others (concepts and institutions) which by virtue of their nature cannot stand transplantation and always carry the flavor of a particular institutional framework. It is extremely dangerous, in fact it amounts to a distortion of historical description, to use them beyond the social world or culture whose denizens they are. Now ownership or property – also, so I believe, taxation – are such denizens of the world of commercial society, exactly as knights and fiefs are denizens of the feudal world. But so is the state (a denizen of commercial society).
Even in the statist 1960s–70s, SOEs in France and the UK did not account for more than 15–20% of capital formation; in the 1980s the developed-nation average was around 8%, and it dropped below 5% in the 1990s.
In 1816, he declares that politics is the science of production, and foretells the complete absorption of politics by economics. The knowledge that economic conditions are the basis of political institutions appears here only in embryo. Yet what is here already very plainly expressed is the idea of the future conversion of political rule over men into an administration of things and a direction of processes of production.
It should not be forgotten, however, that in the period of the Second International, some of the reformist currents of Marxism, as well as some of the extreme left-wing ones, not to speak of the anarchist groups, had already criticised the view that State ownership and central planning is the best road to socialism. But with the victory of Leninism in Russia, all dissent was silenced, and socialism became identified with 'democratic centralism', 'central planning', and State ownership of the means of production.
By 1888, the term 'socialism' was in general use among Marxists, who had dropped 'communism', now considered an old fashioned term meaning the same as 'socialism'. [...] At the turn of the century, Marxists called themselves socialists. [...] The definition of socialism and communism as successive stages was introduced into Marxist theory by Lenin in 1917 [...], the new distinction was helpful to Lenin in defending his party against the traditional Marxist criticism that Russia was too backward for a socialist revolution.
According to nineteenth-century socialist views, socialism would function without capitalist economic categories, such as money, prices, interest, profits and rent. Rather, it would function according to laws other than those described by current economic science. While some socialists recognized the need for money and prices (at least during the transition from capitalism to socialism), socialists more commonly believed that the socialist economy would soon administratively mobilize the economy in physical units without the use of prices or money.
A new phrase, state-capitalism, has been widely used in mC20, with precedents from eC20, to describe forms of state ownership in which the original conditions of the definition – centralized ownership of the means of production, leading to a system of wage-labour – have not really changed.