The “socialism” fallacy on USSR and the Maoist China

State socialism? State capitalism? No!

Michael Shraibman

I do not agree with the theory about USSR and Maoist China had state capitalism. Capitalism is still linked to commodity-money relations. On the contrary, in the Soviet Union and China in that time, the state made the decision about what, how and for whom to produce and to set a price on goods. Another view, advocated by such researchers as Karl Wittfogel and Rudolph Baro, stated USSR and Maoist China (Syria in the time of dictator Hafez al-Assad, Egypt the time of Nasser) had “the Asiatic mode of production” – the ancient system, described by Marx in which the state owned the property and managed the production (As in Ancient China at the era of the Yin-Shang or Sumerian Third dynasty of Ur). In a sense, state socialism was in retrograde motion: It threw civilization on 2,5 thousand years ago.

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The word “socialism” means public ownership and the absence of exploitation. But in the Soviet Union and Maoist China* property did not belong to the society. It belong the state bureaucratic apparatus. This bureaucratic apparatus of the state owned factories and land, managing the process of labor; so It appropriated the product of labour, in other words, the state apparatus was the owner, top-manager and exploiter. In this sense, USSR and Maoist China had not socialism. There was a Kingdom of fierce exploitation of the working class.
Real Socialism can only be based on self-government and Federation of labor collectives, as in Bakunin and Kropotkin works and practice.

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Elements of real (Self-management) socialism (that is genuine libertarian socialism, in contrast to the Soviet Union and China) exists today. And it does not exist in primitive forms, but it exists in the most developed forms. Worker cooperatives are more productive than normal companies (https://www.thenation.com/…/worker-cooperatives-are-more-p…/) However, consistent implementation of libertarian socialism is impossible without communitarian uprisings and replacing the state with a Confederation of Autonomous municipalities as in Mexico and Syria.


* Modern China is the usual capitalist country where 70-80% are employed in the private sector. In China today there is no state of “socialism” or real socialism. However, the modern Chinese state has funded different research and infrastructure projects, as in the US and in the EU.

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