Socialism is Alive and Well, and Deserves to be Defended


“The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil… I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.” — Albert Einstein, “Why Socialism?”, 1949

It’s not a secret that the concept of “socialism” has grown in popularity in the United States over the past decade, with massive growth occurring specifically during the popularization of Bernie Sanders during his Democratic campaign for the US presidency. In 2022, US support for socialism was at 36%, with 60% disapproval; US support for capitalism was at 57% with 39% disapproval; all of this was down from 2019.[1] However, while this statistic seems quite divided without any particular criteria as to why, by looking closer we can see the deciding factor: age. In 2019, 70% of millennials said they are likely to vote for a socialist, and 36% of millennials claimed that they supported communism.[2] Clearly, there is strong evidence for a desire for socialism, and even communism, in the United States, with much of the divide around age, implying different economic conditions, or environments for education, for each age group; for example, generations after the WWII economic boom have had much harder times owning property, and real wages have stayed stagnant. This being said, despite the fact that the Soviet-era Cold War has been over for more than three decades, large sections of the US population still hold a fear towards leftism. 

However, taking an international perspective on socialism, things look even more encouraging for the ideology. In capitalist Russia, 63% of the population is surveyed as feeling that it is a “great misfortune that the Soviet Union no longer exists.”[3]  In 2011, Pew Research Center found that the mass majority of Russians, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians felt that the switch to capitalism was negative for their standard of living and that it only benefitted politicians and capitalists — not ordinary people.[4]  It’s important to note that in the largest former Soviet Republic, the Russian Federation, the Historical Index of Human Development increased from 0.12 in 1913 to 0.52 in 1990 (more than 4-fold), and has only been able to reach a score of 0.57 in 2015 (1 being the most development, 0 being the least)![5]  Over 25 years, Russia’s HIHD only improved by 0.05 points. Not to mention that it took until 2003 for the former USSR economy to return to its prior heights; that’s 12 years of economic depression for a population of nearly 300 million. Georgia to this day has yet to recover to its per capita economic output during the USSR, Kyrgyzstan has yet to recover, Tajikistan has not recovered, Moldova has not recovered; Ukraine had a brief moment of recovery in 2007 then collapsed again, and Armenia only recovered in 2014. This is roughly 30 years of these nations being below their USSR economic output: aka, 30 years of economic depression! These countries comprise 73,398,000 people, or about 1/4th of the modern population of the former Soviet Union.[6]  Russia and Lithuania compromise 146,900,000 people, or roughly ½ of the modern population of the former Soviet Union. In short, an estimated 75% of the post-USSR population lives in a nation where the majority of people have been negatively economically affected by the end of communism, or in nations where objectively the economy is below Soviet levels. Not only this, but the rapid increase in death rates and suicide rates due to the collapse of communism — which have not recovered to their USSR levels for the majority of the post-Soviet population — have led to massive excess deaths. Despite being out in the open for anyone to discover with minimal research, these statistics are ignored/never mentioned. Another unmentioned statistic comes from the Harvard Gazette: as of July 9th, 2020, more than 95% of China supports the Chinese Communist Party. The Harvard Gazette claims that “although state censorship and propaganda are widespread in China, these findings highlight that citizen perceptions of governmental performance respond most to real, measurable changes in individuals’ material well-being.”[7] This is hardly surprising due to the amazing economic growth the nation has seen since the switch to communism in 1949, growing from a real GDP per capita of $799 in 1950 to $13,102 in 2018,[8] doing so while simultaneously lifting 800,000,000 people out of extreme poverty in the fastest time in history.[9] Currently roughly 0% of China is living in extreme poverty, which is something that even developed nations like the United States can’t claim about themselves. We can see the support for socialism in Latin America also begin to grow, with the continued election of the Movement for Socialism Party in Bolivia, the large share of congressional seats held by Brazil’s Workers’ Party, Communist Party, and other left-wing organizations; the ruling socialist party coalitions of Honduras and Argentina; the continued control of Cuba by the Cuban Communist Party which still receives higher approval ratings than the government of the United States;[10] the large share of leftist party seats in Chile’s congress, along with their leftist president; the Marxist president of Peru and strong socialist support in congress; the leftist president of Columbia; socialism in Nicaragua; and the support of socialism in Venezuela at least until the fraudulent election of Maduro in 2019. In fact, 1,875,314,219 people worldwide currently live in a nation with a socialist, or communist ruling party, which is equivalent to roughly 23.44% of the world’s population. The nations I’m referring to are: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, (arguably Belarus), Chile, China, Cuba, Honduras, Laos, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, North Korea, Peru, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Syria. I cite this simply to point out how undead socialism is as an ideology today.

Before I continue, I want to be clear that the purpose of this essay is to defend socialism as an economic system, while maintaining that government organizations should be uncorrupt, unlike the corrupt governments existing in many socialist countries, especially during the Stalinist and Maoist periods. The methods of achieving a socialist economy are also not the concern of this article. The human rights violations during the Stalinist period of the USSR, and the Maoist period of the PRC are unacceptable and stem from a long corrupt and undemocratic history (pre-socialist China was run by warlords and a one-party state; the Russian Empire by a dictator) along with terrible material and economic conditions. When I defend countries like the USSR I am not defending their foreign policy, for example, the undemocratic expansion of the USSR should be condemned, as should be the continued control over areas that were part of the Russian Empire that were uninterested in being controlled by the USSR, such as Ukraine. This is also not a defense of China’s continued control of Tibet, or Xinjiang, nor their foreign policy. This is all irrelevant to the question of these countries’ economic successes. I cite public surveys on government satisfaction not to defend any government human rights violations, but because the government’s main role in a socialist society is economic in nature. For those who do not separate socialist government human rights violations and a socialist economy, I will also try to point out the equally if not worse human rights violations of similar non-socialist countries. 

I also want to properly define what I mean by “socialism”. The term is complicated, and now many use it to refer to social democratic or Keynesian policies, but in this essay, I plan on using it in its specifically Marxist sense. To do this, I will summarize the position of the acclaimed Chinese economist Chong Enfu from his book China’s Economic Dialectic on the matter: The primary stage of socialism is defined as an economy composed largely by state-owned enterprises, with private ownership filling in the rest of the economy. Income will be largely distributed based on how much you work along with your skill (according to the Labor Theory of Value), with the other remaining amount of income being distributed according to how much capital you own (stocks, business income, rent, etc.) This market-oriented economy will be organized by national plans. The intermediate stage of socialism is defined as an economy with a much larger state sector, and significantly less market regulation. Income continues to come from how much you work, along with your skill, rather than income from property ownership. The advanced stage of socialism (aka. communism) is defined as an economy with low resource scarcity, high rates of automation, and a completely planned economy. Income will be distributed based on needs (except for the newer, more scarce consumer goods which will be distributed based on work). In contrast, the modern-day capitalist system is defined as an economy with private ownership and market regulation making up most of the economy, with income largely distributed by capital gains, with a somewhat interventionist state. Just to have an empirical base for this definition of socialism, Enfu considers China to currently be in the primary stage of socialism.

Often we look at socialist nations and see poverty, then quickly equate this with socialism, as if socialism was responsible for said poverty. In fact, socialism is often formed in nations that were already poor and is used to make their population richer, as well as their economy. To truly analyze a socialist nation, we must find its capitalist material equivalent. For example, in 1949, China and India had roughly the same real GDP per capita (China being $200 poorer than India). They also had roughly the same population, and if we ignore large unwealthy, and scarcely populated regions of China like Tibet, they had roughly the same land mass. This is reinforced by economist Chong Enfu, saying, “in the late 1940s, India had almost the same GDP per capita as China, better natural and geographic conditions, and more than twice the cultivated land per capita. But compared with China both during the Mao Zedong years and in the era of reform and opening up, India was weaker in terms of prosperity and strength and lagged behind by fifteen to twenty years.”[11]  In 2018, China had a real GDP per capita of $13,102 while India had one of $6,806. In 1950, India had a Historical Index of Human Development of 0.11, and China had one of 0.12 (1 being the highest development). In 2015, India had a HIHD of 0.38 (an increase of more than 3-fold) and China had one of 0.54 (an increase of more than 4-fold).[12] India, according to UNICEF and the UN, today is more starved than North Korea, with 1,100,000 children starving to death there annually, ranked as the 14th most starved nation out of all nations surveyed worldwide (121 nations in total); in China, the number of children starving to death annually is near zero, and it’s tied for the most fed nation worldwide.[13] To really show the difference, China had a Global Hunger Index score of 2.50 and India had one of 27.50; for reference, North Korea’s score is 25.20 (the larger the number, the more hunger)![14]  Noam Chomsky, a world-renowned political analyst and linguist, argued that if we, “apply the methodology of the Black Book [to India] the democratic capitalist ‘experiment’ has caused more deaths than in the entire history of … Communism everywhere since 1917: over 100 million deaths by 1979, and tens of millions more since in India alone” (for reference the Big Black Book of communism claims that 100 million people were killed by communism since 1917).[15] This is an amazing juxtaposition that reveals exactly what anti-socialists mean when they describe “freedom”, somehow leaving starvation and dire poverty within the “free” category. By 1978, China’s death rate was 6 per 1000 people annually; in India, it was 14 per 1000 people annually – for context, the difference between India’s death rate in 1978 and China’s death rate is between 4,005,000 deaths or 9,345,000 deaths, meaning that India had 5,340,000 excess deaths compared to China in 1978 alone. In 2020, India’s death rate was 7 per 1000 annually… still higher than China’s death rate 42 years ago. India’s death rate decreased by about 0.3 per 1000 annually from 1960 to 2020, while China’s death rate was far below anything India has ever been at since the early 60s.[16]  Except for 1960, during the great Chinese famine when China had a death rate 13.6% higher than India, China has had a death rate lower than or equal to India, with massive disparities of over 5 per 1000 differences during 1961-1987. We can also look at the real increase in life expectancy in both nations. In 1949,  the People’s Republic of China was established, the life expectancy in China was 36 years. By 1980, the life expectancy was 68 years![17] That’s an increase of 32 years over the course of 31 years, meaning socialist policies in China accounted for an annual life expectancy increase of roughly 1 year every year (for reference, the US had a life expectancy increase of roughly 0.1 years every year during the same period)! In a nation just shy of a population of one billion people in 1980, think about their newfound ability to live twice as long as they would have under capitalism just 30 years ago! If we just look at the 1978 population alone, socialism single-handedly allowed for 30.6 billion extra years of life to be lived. In 1950, India’s life expectancy was 34 years, and by 1980 it was 53 years, maintaining an increase of 19 years over a 30-year time frame, meaning a life expectancy increase of 0.6 years per year. This is also an astonishing accomplishment, largely forming from the newfound independence of India, something China already had. Regardless, the life expectancy growth in India was 41% lower than that in China. If we agree that India and China are generally material equivalents, then we can say China’s economic system provided 15 extra years of life expectancy for each of its citizens while utilizing socialism rather than capitalism just by 1978 alone. Today, the life expectancy in India is 70 years while in China it’s 77 years, with China’s life expectancy now officially equal to that of the United States. Incomes in these two nations are totally opposite to each other. In 1987, the median real daily income in China was $1.65 a day or $602.25 a year; in India, it was $1.89 a day or $689.85 a year; worldwide the median daily income was $2.69 or $981.85 yearly. By 2019, things looked very different: the median daily income in China was $10.46 or $3,817.9 yearly (6.3 times the previous national income); in India, it was $3.44 a day or $1,255.6 yearly (1.82 times the previous national income); and worldwide it was $6.92 a day or $2,525.8 yearly (2.6 times the previous worldwide income).[18]  In 2019, in India, 6.23% of the populous lived above $10 a day; in China, that number was 52.67%![19] This is once again an astounding difference. We can also look at the difference in poverty rates, which should already be obvious based on the prior information. In 2019, 25% of China’s population was living below $6.85 a day, while 84% of India’s population was doing so.[20] To not totally be focused on economics alone, we can even turn our attention to the two nation’s different Corruption Perception Index scores: China received a 45/100 (100 being completely uncorrupt) and India received a 40/100; China was ranked 66th least corrupt out of 180 rankings given, while India was ranked 85th least corrupt. Corruption was defined as using a public position for private gains, measured through many different metrics.[21] It is interesting how a centralized meritocratic socialist state without direct national or even regional elections (only local) could be less corrupt and more accountable to its people than a country like India run by capitalists with “free” and open elections. While a more subjective index, we can look to the Misery Index designed by right-wing columnist Steve Hanke and Harvard economist Robert Barro which positions China as one of the happiest countries in the world with a ranking of 152/156 countries measured (1/156 being the most miserable), while India received a ranking of 39/156 making it one of the world’s most miserable nations![22] We can see this more empirically just by observing the fact that India’s suicide rates are 50% higher than China’s. China and India also have very similar levels of press freedom. In 2022, China had a Reporters Without Borders press freedom index of 175/180, and India had one of 150/180 (for reference, India’s score is the same as the Russian Federation’s was in 2021).[23]

Another so-called “material equivalent” that might be surprising is the Soviet Union and Latin America. The landmass of the Soviet Union and Latin America are almost identical; their populations in 1920 were also almost mirror images; and the Soviet Union’s real GDP per capita in 1920 (one year before the end of the Russian Civil War) was $917 while the real GDP per capita of Latin America was $2,331, actually putting Latin America at an advantage but close enough to call a general basis for comparison. By 1990, the Soviet Union’s real GDP per capita was $10,989 while Latin America’s was $8,132; the Soviet Union performed a relative growth of 1,098% from 1920-1990, while Latin America performed a relative growth of 249% during the same period.[24]  Think of the conditions forced on the Latin American people during this time: dire poverty, unlivable wages, low life expectancy, poor infrastructure, and near-constant authoritarianism. Only one of these things was forced onto the majority of Soviet people in general, at least after the industrialization accomplished in the Stalin era. For those who think that this doesn’t excuse or otherwise make up for the authoritarianism of the Soviet regime, I recommend considering the 27 (or more depending on how you count) authoritarian leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean during this period. This is not to say that these corrupt and authoritarian governments are in themselves okay, but rather that these conditions arise under capitalism just as much as they do under socialism, making it clear that authoritarianism is hardly indicative of socialism or capitalism but rather whatever material conditions said nations are facing. In fact, many of Latin America’s authoritarian regimes arose from legitimate democracies through coups or US intervention; the problem was again not the structure of government, but instead the material conditions of both Latin America and the Soviet Union.

Another material equivalent of the Soviet Union is Sub-Saharan Africa, which held a population of 140 million in 1900, a little smaller than the population of the USSR at the time. Africa as a whole is slightly larger than the USSR, but Sub-Saharan Africa is closer to the USSR’s population. The real GDP per capita of the USSR in 1920 was $917, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it was $950. By 1990, the USSR had a real GDP per capita of $10,989 and Sub-Saharan Africa had a real GDP per capita of $1,801. The relative growth of the USSR from 1920-90 was 1,098%, while the relative growth of Sub-Saharan Africa during the same period was 90%.[25] We can still see the negative effects of this reality today, with 400,000 Africans starving to death each year, and 278 million Africans starving in total.[26] In Russia today, a nation built largely on the back of Soviet industrialization, the daily median income is $15.60, while in Sub-Saharan Africa it’s $2.38; in Latin America, it is $11.46 (and that’s without the nearly two-decade depression in Russia after the transition to capitalism).[27]  Because of the Soviet Union’s success, we often think of Soviet nations as outside the Third World and First World binary. They aren’t perceived as rich,  but also not as poor. In fact, this is ahistorical. In 1920, a year before the first economic policy of the Soviet Union was put into effect during the heated Russian Civil War, the USSR was the poorest out of the ten most populous nations in the world (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, USSR, and the United States); these were the material conditions that the USSR built itself upon. By 1985, the Soviet Union was the second richest nation per capita out of the ten most populous, behind only the United States

Often with more research into the context of each commonly cited event encircling socialism such as famines, authoritarianism, or poverty, the reasoning becomes less to do with socialism than to do with the material history of whatever country adopts such policies. Let’s look at perhaps the most famous example: The Great Chinese Famine of 1958-1961. This is arguably the largest famine in history, killing up to 53.5 million people over the course of 3 years. The famine was caused by several factors: natural disasters, massive population increases,  moving massive amounts of agricultural laborers towards industrial production, poor food rationing, and the campaign to kill all sparrows so they don’t eat any grain (despite sparrows eating Locusts, causing the largest locust infestation in Chinese history). Of course, we can learn major lessons from this, lessons that China did learn: to slow industrialization, and eventually after Deng Xiaoping came to power to decentralize, and somewhat privatize agriculture into rural collectives. It should be noted, after the Great Chinese Famine, there were no longer famines in China. This general information of the Great Famine by itself might be discouraging to any socialist reading, and often it is. However, if we look at the history of famines and agriculture in China we can reveal something closer to the truth: China had been having a minimum of one famine a year for 2000 years;[28] and in the century before 1949, China’s many famines resulted in a total of up to 125 million deaths.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38] With the realization of how common mass deaths from failure in the agriculture sector in capitalist China was, it seems harder to blame this later famine simply on socialism; should we not also note the massively unstable agricultural and industrial development from hundreds of years of capitalism and feudalism for such an event? The same can be said about the USSR, there was a massive famine in the nation before its transformation to socialism which helped boost support for the Bolsheviks.

The same is true about authoritarianism. With the exception of Czechoslovakia, there has not been a communist nation that was formed that did not previously have an undemocratic government. How then can we accuse communism of destroying democracy? When did it exist previously? The lack of democracy can be just as much attributed to the prior capitalist regimes in these nations as it can to the communist regimes that proceeded them, therefore not making it an issue of socialism. Based on the metric of “egalitarian democracy”, defined as a combination of “information on voting rights, the freedom, and fairness of elections, freedoms of association and expression, as well as the extent to which the protection of rights, access to power, and distribution of resources is equal. It ranges from 0 to 1 (most democratic),” many socialist nations actually improved their country’s level of democracy. In 1948, the year before the Chinese Revolution, China’s score was a 0.08, and in 2021 it was 0.09, though by 1977 it was 0.15 before the reopening of private markets under Deng Xiaoping. In 1958, the year before Castro successfully took control of Cuba, Cuba’s score was 0.1, in 2021 it was 0.24. In 1916, the year before the Russian Revolution began, Russia’s score was 0.05 and by 1985 the score was 0.23; in 2021 Russia’s score was 0.2. In 1954, one year before the Laotian revolution, Laos’ score was 0.07 and in 2021 it was 0.13. In 1978, the year before the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista party formed a one-party state in Nicaragua, Nicaragua’s score was 0.03, but by 1989 the score was 0.25.[39]

We can, and should, question why socialism has functioned so well as an economic system in China, and in the Soviet Union. What is the process that sets it across from capitalism? The answer, in my view, is state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The problem of undeveloped countries is that their economy is functioning outside of their control; they are often put into geoeconomic positions where they must sell their produce for much lower than it’s sold abroad despite having a near monopoly on it. For example, the Ivory Coast has a near monopoly on the international chocolate trade yet the industry is privatized and workers are paid $1 for every 3 tons of chocolate they produce, despite 1 kg of that same chocolate being sold for $84 abroad. Similar things can be said about the oil giant Equatorial Guinea, which discovered massive oil reserves in the 90s boosting its real GDP per capita from $2,474 in 1990 to $47,562 in 2008, despite 76.8% of the population being in poverty as of 2006.

Clearly, the governments of the Ivory Coast and of Equatorial Guinea could be using these enormous chocolate trade profits to reinvest in other areas of their economy, their infrastructure, their social services, and in the case of the Ivory Coast maybe diversify their economy past a real GDP per capita of $3,700. Instead, their profits stay within the private chocolate sector, much of which is owned by foreign multinational corporations or puppet firms. The logic of profit is never addressed by the capitalist economy. Each individual firm attempts to assume as much profit as possible, and the amount of profit they can assume is reduced by competition over the 1) the general price of labor and 2) the general price of the product produced. This mildly resolves the problem of profit in the realm of small producers, but not within large corporations. Here is a quote from Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, on exactly that, “The exclusive privileges of corporations, statutes of apprenticeship, and all those laws which restrain in particular employments, the competition to a smaller number than might otherwise go to them, have the same tendency, though in a less degree. They are sort of enlarged monopolies, and may frequently, for ages together, and in whole classes of employments, keep up the market price of particular commodities above the natural price, and maintain both the wages of the labor and the profit of the stock employed about them somewhat above their natural rate. Such enhancements of the market price may last as long as the regulations of policy which give occasion to them.”[40] Of course, Smith saw this less as a natural law of capital accumulation but rather as the symptom of poor mercantile policy decisions. Today, the United States is one of the most free-market nations in the world, and yet 75% of our GDP is produced by 500 corporations! Adam Smith would be rolling in his grave. This is largely due to concentrated corporations’ ability to secure better quality products at lower rates of profit with higher absolute profit, etc. However, this again is just offsetting the question of profit. Why should a highly developed industry retain high profits while undeveloped but important projects like infrastructure and industrialization develop slowly with low-profit margins? This is why the Soviet Union was able to industrialize in 12 years, despite high rates of profit existing during the Russian Empire. With a cohesive economic plan of development, nations develop much quicker than when using capitalist anarchic production. Hopefully, we aren’t unfamiliar with the absolute waste of profits by US corporations, given that they spent almost 50% of their non-tax haven profits in 2021 buying back their own stocks to artificially raise the price and demand of their stock![41]

To wrap up, a final defense of socialist economic theory will be necessary. These 2 points make up the reasoning as to why capitalism will not survive as an economic system:

  1. Capitalism gains profit through the reduction of the workers’ wages in relation to the total cost of whatever good and or service is produced. For example, you pay your workers, and yourself, $100 a day in total, for the production of a good. You produce this good through industry and infrastructure that costs $1,000 but lasts 1000 days before it necessitates replacement, therefore it costs $1 in upkeep daily. The raw material consumed is equivalent to $10 daily. Therefore, the “value” of the good is $111, yet it is sold for $130. That implies a “surplus-value” of $19, money for reinvestment in industry. However, this reinvestment will be reinvestment eventually in infrastructure, in land, machinery, etc., which can be described as fixed capital. As the percent of labor existing in the composition of capital shrinks, the rate of profit shrinks. This is empirically true, as we can see the profit rate of the major capitalist economies drastically shrinking over time.[42] With the reduction of profitability, smaller enterprises (the backbone of competition) begin to no longer be able to compete with larger enterprises that can maintain much lower profit rates with high absolute profit reinvestment. This will result in an even higher concentration of capital; as I mentioned before, in the US today, 75% of our GDP is produced by 500 corporations; 50% is produced by 100 corporations. Without competition, the very reason for defending capitalism disappears: prices are no longer set according to their “lowest ability”, and consumers will quickly be subject to drastically high prices; just look at the insane profit rates of companies with monopolies on their products, for example: Apple has a profit rate over 50%! This type of monopoly capital forms the basis of fascism, with larger centralized privately owned enterprises controlling society, with the state’s constant protection. While centralized capital is quite important in most of the industries it’s been centralized into, the mechanics of capitalism will have profit being acquired arbitrarily, especially in monopolized yet necessary goods: in this instance, the consumer has no choice but to purchase at the inflated price. This not only breaks the “democratic” consumer basis of markets, but it is a major hindrance to total economic output, by stifling both the demand of the consumer and the demand of the small producer.
  2. My second point is automation. The way in which workers, or otherwise consumers, make money is through selling their labor on the labor market, and the demand for labor in said market comes from the demand for production in the consumer market; they are completely tied to each other. As the organic composition of capital increases, a lesser amount of labor produces the same amount of a good due to machinery. This could result in three realities: 1) given less labor will be needed, employment will be concentrated in less workers implying more unemployment and thus less demand, resulting in lower labor necessity, pushing an eventual downward spiral of economic collapse; 2) there will be more employment with shorter hours and thus less pay, resulting in high underemployment which also causes a shrinking in demand, shrinking the economy, etc.; and 3) capitalism will continue to create new industries at a constant rate, with more employment, and an ever-increasing amount of things to consume, which allows for demand to keep up with automation, assuming that this job creation continues at a rate identical to job loss. It’s very unlikely that new industries that pop up within a future environment of strong technological capabilities will be creating nearly as many jobs as prior new industries, which leads me to doubt the belief that employment will continue to be stable (this becomes more of a reality when we know global warming is putting a very ominous cap on our exponentially growing production). This suggests we could imagine an economy where labor is not sold, but instead where all production is generally separated into two categories: industry and consumption. This isn’t even a socialist view, John M. Keynes (the economist who created the economic field of Keynesianism that was adopted by most advanced capitalist economies post-WW2 but abolished for neoliberalism around the 80s to 90s, which is known to have “saved capitalism”) positions all capitalist production as investment or consumption; profit or labor payment. This reality is accomplished by the centralization of major industries in public hands, rather than in private hands whose main focus is to extract as much surplus from workers, and thus consumers, as possible. The issue is not the existence of profit, it’s how much labor is used for industry investment, how much is used for consumable goods, and who is controlling this process. 

In conclusion, socialism is still alive and well in a quarter of the world, and despite the common conception that socialism creates poverty, the two largest socialist states reveal to us that this is the opposite of the truth. In the final analysis, socialism solves the contradiction of political economy, improves living conditions, and strengthens the economy. Therefore, it deserves a second chance from the West.

Side note: While it’s irrelevant to the validity of my argument, I do want to acknowledge that I have had many family members live through the USSR, many of whom were deported from Lithuania to Siberia. Some of my family members (my side of the family left Lithuania in 1913 from the abject poverty they experienced as peasants) have tried to keep in contact with these Siberian and Lithuanian family members, but I have not been able to personally communicate with them. This family history is one reason why this topic is important to me, and in some ways, this article is for them.



1: “Declines in support of socialism and capitalism in the US.” Pew Research,

2: “More than a Third of Millenials Approve of Communism.”MarketWatch,

3: “Opinions on Communism in Europe.” Pew Research Center,

4: “Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in the Former Soviet Union.” Pew Research Center,

5: “Historical Human Development Index.” Our World in Data,

6:  “GDP per Capita.” Our World in Data,

7: “Surveying China.” Harvard Gazette,

8:  “GDP per Capita.” Our World in Data,

9: “Lifting 800 million out of poverty.” World Bank,

10: “Cubans More Satisfied with their Government than the United States.” The New Republic,

11: Enfu, Cheng. “China’s Economic Dialectic.” New York, International Publishers, 2021.

12: “Historical Human Development Index.” Our World in Data,

13: “Global Hunger Index.” Global Hunger Index,


15: Chomsky, Noam. “Counting the Bodies”. Spectrezine. 

16: “Death rate, China and India.” World Bank Open Data,

17: “China’s Mortality Under Mao.” National Library of Medicine,

18: “Daily Median Income.” Our World in Data,

19: “Distribution of population between different poverty thresholds.” Our World in Data,

20: “Percent of Population Living Below $6.85 (PPP).” World Bank Open Data,

21: “Corruption Perception Index 2021.” Corruption Perception Index,

22: “Misery Index.” National Review, 

23: “Press Freedom.” Reporters Without Borders,

24: “GDP per Capita.” Our World in Data,

25: Ibid.

26: “The situation in Africa is serious.” World Economic Forum,

27: “Daily Median Income.” Our World in Data,

28: Mallory, Walter H.; Vinacke, Harold M.; King-Hall, Stephen (May 1927). “China: Land of Famine”. Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. 6 (3): 185–187. doi:10.2307/3014847. ISSN 1473-799X. JSTOR 3014847.

29: 民国时期社会调查丛编. p. 73.

30: “Hong Xiuquan: The rebel who thought he was Jesus’s brother”. BBC News. 17 October 2012.

31: “Ch’ing China: The Taiping Rebellion”.

32: Cormac Ó Gráda (March 16, 2009). Famine: A Short History. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691122373.

33: Cohen, Paul A. (1997). History in Three Keys The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. pp. 95, 323.

34: Li, Lillian M. (August 1982). “Introduction: Food, Famine, and the Chinese State”. The Journal of Asian Studies. 41 (4): 687–707. doi:10.2307/2055445. ISSN 0021-9118. JSTOR 2055445. S2CID 162468862.

35: Li, Lillian M. (2007). Fighting Famine in North China: State, Market, and Environmental Decline, 1690s–1990s (PDF). Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 303–307. 19: Kelly, Luke. “Sichuan famine, 1936-37”. Disaster History. 

36: Garnaut, Anthony (November 2013). “A Quantitative Description of the Henan Famine of 1942”. Modern Asian Studies. Cambridge University Press. 47 (6): 2034, 2044. doi:10.1017/S0026749X13000103. ISSN 1469-8099. S2CID 146274415.

37: Kte’pi, Bill (2011). Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief. SAGE Publications. pp. 69, 70. ISBN 978-1-4129-7101-0. Also as Kte’pi, Bill (2011). Chinese Famine (1907). SAGE reference. doi:10.4135/9781412994064. ISBN 9781412971010. 

38: Cormac O’Grada, Eating People is Wrong, And Other Essays on Famine, Its Past, and Its Future (Princeton, 2015), 138.

39: “Democracy.” Our World in Data, 

40: Smith, Adam. “The Wealth of Nations.”

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42: Roberts, Micheal. The Long Depression. Haymarket Books, July 19th, 2016.