Socialist Mode of Production – Concept, origin and characteristics

We explain what the socialist mode of production is, its origin, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. Also, the socialist countries.

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In the socialist mode of production, properties, like plantations, are collective.

What is the socialist mode of production?

According to the Marxist interpretation of the economic history of mankind, the socialist mode of production or simply socialism it is a form of social, political and economic organization. It is intermediate between capitalism and communism, the latter being the final stage of a utopian society without social classes and freed from relations of exploitation of man.

As postulated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, socialism would be the stage after the capitalist model, which would come when humanity entered a post-mercantile stage. Its production is oriented entirely to use value and not to exchange value.

However, neither of these two leading theorists of historical materialism (or Scientific Socialism, as they called it) left much in writing about how socialism could be organized. For this reason, the models that have been tried in real life strictly respond to later interpretations of neoclassical and Marxist economists.

The socialist mode of production has been tried numerous times throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.. As its full functionality was not completely clear, in many cases it became a popular or statist capitalism.

In other cases, they were fierce genocidal dictatorships such as those experienced in the Soviet Union under Stalin, in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge or in the revolutionary China of Mao Tse Tung.

Characteristics of socialism

The main characteristic of this model is that it privileges use over consumption and profitability. Thus, the production of a socialist society is channeled by the consumption needs of its population, and not by the eagerness to generate wealth.

For this to be possible, generally the need for a planned economy is imposed, that is, controlled by the State, which determines in which sectors it is convenient to produce more and in which less. Such planning can be interpreted as central, rigid and autocratic, or decentralized and democratic.

The typical accumulation of capitalism here becomes ineffective, and gives rise to a rational organization of production based on the needs and availability of materials. In this way, everyone’s needs are met, without having to worry about the cyclical fluctuations in the market that so afflict capitalism.

For this, in addition, private property becomes a hindrance, and the taking of the means of production by the working class an obligation. According to Marx’s predictions, socialism would give way to “pure communism”, by means of the implantation of a dictatorship of the proletariat.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is a society without social classes, composed entirely of workers, without dynamics of exploitation or extraction of surplus value. Market units are nationalized and socialized. The individual is not alienated from his own work, that is, he does not consider it something alien to his person and, therefore, from which he does not deserve to receive but a salary.

Origin of the socialist mode of production

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The socialist mode of production was devised by Marx and Engels.

Socialism as a historical stage of human production was devised by Marx and Engels. They baptized it as Scientific Socialism, to distinguish it from other theories regarding socialism (such as Utopian Communism) that did not apply the scientific method in their theories, as they tried.

In other words, they were not the first to talk about socialism, but they were the first to propose it. as the result of a critical analysis of economic history of humanity.

Socialist property

Cooperation is a fundamental feature of socialism, as opposed to central individualism in the capitalist mode of production. In other words, collective needs are privileged over individual desires, in search of social, economic and political equality, for which the abolition of private property is fundamental.

Thus was born social, communal or socialist property, which belongs to the whole community that it makes life or whose work is in its vicinity. This would be guaranteed by the State, through a regime of nationalizations and expropriations.

Both private property and corporate property are abolishedSince being a planned economy, the State must lead the means of production (peasant, industrial, scientific, etc.) towards the common welfare and not towards profitability, betting on cooperation instead of competition.

Advantages of socialism

The socialist model has certain advantages over its competitor, the capitalist. To mention a few:

  • Greater social justice. The main objective of socialism is to combat economic and social inequalities among the population, which is why it aspires to a higher index of social justice through a more equitable distribution of wealth, since the monopoly of everything would be held by the State, and not by some private actor of individual interests.
  • Planned and stable economy. Given that the laws of the market do not play a major role in socialist economic dynamics, the fluctuations typical of unstable markets should not be feared, since all forms of productive activity are planned from the public.
  • Empowerment of the State. If the socialist State, the main (if not the only) productive actor in the country, is compared with the State weakened and defenseless of certain forms of capitalism, it can be concluded that a virtue of socialism is its vigorous State, capable of intervening in the areas of life that are considered a priority and make quick decisions.
  • There is no class struggle. Since there are neither rich nor poor, nor are the means of production in private hands, the class struggle would not take place within a socialist society, so there would be no basis for economic discrimination. The minimum conditions required by citizens should be guaranteed for everyone equally.

Disadvantages of socialism

The disadvantages of socialism, as an abstract system, are difficult to pin down in the imagination. Not so, however, in the historical attempts to put it into practice, which have generally ended in a catastrophic way. Based on these experiences, we can point out the following as disadvantages of socialism:

  • Bureaucratization and concentration of power. Since the State is in charge of the management of society, its presence becomes omnipresent, which can also result in a form of overwhelming authoritarianism, without any counterweight. Thus, their agencies must grow and multiply, as their control intentions generate more and more paperwork and more bureaucratic structures that slow down processes, since effectiveness becomes a secondary criterion.
  • Loss of freedoms. Not only of an economic nature, as is obvious, but also of a civil, religious, moral, even individual nature, since the almighty State has the ideological control of society. This, in the long run, leads to injustice and the benefit of a state leadership above the rest of society.
  • Lack of incentives for production. Why strive at work if the rewards will be the same for everyone? By preventing economic competition, the desire for improvement and innovation is also hindered, slowing down the economy and often destroying the work culture, replacing it with political ideology.
  • State exploitation of the individual. The great paradox of socialist regimes is that, instead of being the worker exploited by private initiatives, it is generally so by the State, lacking competitors and counterweights, owner of economic power, as well as public powers.

Socialist countries

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Cuba is one of the countries that continues to be socialist.

Currently there are few countries that call themselves socialists:

  • People’s Republic of China
  • Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea
  • Socialist Republic of Cuba
  • Lao People’s Republic
  • Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Socialism as a prevailing political project also exists in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, although under one the name of “Socialism of the XXI Century”.

In the past, however, there were important socialist-oriented nations that no longer exist, such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia or the Democratic Republic of Cambodia, among others.

Other modes of production

As well as talking about the socialist mode of production, there are:

  • Asian mode of production. Also called hydraulic despotism, since it consists of controlling the organization of society through a single resource needed by all: water. It was the case of Egypt and Babylon in ancient times, or of irrigation canals in the USSR and China. Thus, the loyal receive water to sow their fields, while the fields of the disloyal dry up.
  • Capitalist mode of production. The model of the bourgeoisie, imposed after the fall of feudalism and the aristocracy, in which the owners of capital control the means of production. The working class offers them their labor power, but they are exploited in exchange for a salary with which to consume the goods and services they need.
  • Slave production mode. Typical of the classical societies of antiquity, such as the Greek or Roman, it supported its production of agricultural goods based on a slave class, subject to a particular legal and social status, sometimes inhuman, which reduced them to being the property of a master. private or state. These slaves had no political participation, no property, nor did they receive any reward for their labors.