What is the socialist mode of production?
We explain what the socialist mode of production is, its origin, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. In addition, socialist countries.
According to the interpretation of Marxism of the economic history of humanity, the mode of socialist production or simply socialism 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 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels postulated, socialism would be the stage after the capitalist model, which would ensue when humanity entered a post-mercantile stage. Its production is completely oriented to the use value and not to the exchange value .
However, neither of these two main theorists of historical materialism (or scientific Socialism , as they called it) left much in writing about how socialism could be organized. Therefore, the models that have been tried in real life respond strictly to later interpretations of neoclassical and Marxist economists.
The socialist mode of production has been tried numerous times throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century . Since its full functionality was not completely clear, in many cases it became a statist or popular capitalism.
In other cases, they were fierce genocidal dictatorships such as those lived in the Soviet Union under the command of Stalin, in Cambodia under the rule of the Khmer Rouge or in the revolutionary China of Mao Tse Tung.
The main feature 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 greed to generate wealth .
To make this possible, the need for a planned economy is generally imposed , that is, controlled by the State , which determines which sectors should produce more and 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. Thus the needs of each person are satisfied, without having to worry about the cyclical fluctuations of the market that afflict capitalism so much.
For this, in addition, private property becomes a hindrance, and the taking of the means of production by the working class into an obligation. According to Marx’s predictions, socialism would give way to “pure communism” , through 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 deserves only to receive a salary.
The socialism as a historical stage of human production was devised by Marx and Engels . He was baptized 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 intended.
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 the economic history of humanity.
The cooperation is a fundamental feature of socialism, as opposed to the individualism central to the capitalist mode of production. In other words, collective needs are privileged to individual desires, in search of social, economic and political equality, for which the abolition of private property is essential.
Thus was born the social, communal or socialist property, which belongs to the entire community that makes life in it 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 business property are abolished , since being a planned economy, the State must lead the means of production (peasant, industrial, scientific, etc.) towards common welfare and not towards profitability , betting on the cooperation instead of competition.
The socialist model has certain advantages over its competitor, the capitalist. To mention some:
- Greater social justice . The main objective of socialism is to combat economic and social inequalities among the population , so it aspires to a higher index of social justice through the more equitable distribution of wealth, given that the monopoly of everything would have the State, and not some private actor of individual interests.
- Planned and stable economy . Since the laws of the market do not play a greater role in the socialist economic dynamics, the fluctuations of unstable markets should not be feared, since all forms of productive activity are planned from the public.
- Empowerment of the State . If you compare the socialist State, the main (if not unique) productive actor of the country, with the diminished and defenseless State 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 priority and make quick decisions.
- There is no class struggle . Since there were neither rich nor poor, nor were 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 all equally.
The disadvantages of socialism, as an abstract system, are difficult to specify in the imagination. Not so, however, in historical attempts to put it into practice, which have generally ended catastrophically. From these experiences, we can point out the following as disadvantages of socialism:
- Bureaucratization and concentration of power . Given that the State is responsible for the conduct of society, its presence becomes omnipresent, and may also result in a form of overwhelming authoritarianism, without any counterweight. Thus, their organisms must grow and multiply, as their control intentions generate more and more paperwork and more bureaucratic structures that slow down the processes, since effectiveness becomes a secondary criterion.
- Loss of freedoms . Not only of economic type, as it is obvious, but also of civil, religious, moral , even individual type, 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 work hard if the rewards will be the same for everyone? By preventing economic competition, the desire for improvement and innovation is also hindered , slowing 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 by the State, lacking competitors and counterweights, owner of economic power, as well as public powers.
At present there are few countries that call themselves socialists :
- People’s Republic of China
- Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea
- Socialist Republic of Cuba
- Laos 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 “Socialism of the 21st Century”.
In the past, however, there were important socialist-oriented nations that no longer exist, such as the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia or the Democratic Republic of Cambodia, among others.
Other modes of production
Just as we talk about the socialist mode of production, there are:
- Asian production mode . Also called hydraulic despotism, since it consists in controlling the organization of society through a single resource needed by all: water . It was the case of Egypt and Babylon in Antiquity, or of the irrigation canals in the USSR and China. Thus, the loyal ones receive water to sow their fields, while the fields of the disloyal ones dry up.
- Mode of capitalist 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 workforce , but they are exploited in exchange for a salary with which to consume the goods and services they need.
- Slave production mode . Typical of classical societies of antiquity , such as the Greek or Roman, sustained their production of agricultural goods based on a slave class, subject to a particular legal and social status, sometimes inhuman, which reduced them to being owned by a master private or state. These slaves had no political participation, no property, nor received any reward for their work.