Research Paper on Socialism in the Developing World

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Outline

I. Introduction

II. Why Did the Developing World Adopt Socialism?

A. Economic Development

B. Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Exploitation

C. The Compatibility Between Traditional Societies and Socialism

D. Soviet Influence

III. What Were the Barriers to the Socialist Transition in the Developing World?

IV. The Variants of Socialism in the Developing World

V. Case Studies for Six Socialist Developing Countries

1. Cuba

2. Iraq

3. China

4. Yugoslavia

5. Libya

6. North Korea

VI. Problems of the Variants of Socialism in the Developing World

VII. Future Directions

I. Introduction

This research paper reviews the literature on the adoption and development of socialism in developing countries. First, it presents the definition and basic features of socialism. Second, it reviews theories that attempt to explain why underdeveloped countries adopt socialism, discussing specific countries as examples. Third, it addresses the challenges faced by the third world in transitioning from socialism. Fourth, it reviews the variants of classical Marxism in the third world, with emphasis on the differences between socialism in developing countries and classical Marxism. Fifth, the research paper discusses the potential benefits and problems of revised socialism in the developing world.

II. Why Did the Developing World Adopt Socialism?

Socialism, according to Baradat (1997), is defined as a system that grants the ownership of production to the public and provides the public with a social welfare system while pursuing material abundance, equality, and sharing for its people. The third world refers to the countries that were “peripheral to the center of world capitalism and subordinated to [it] through colonialism or various forms of imperialist or ‘neo-colonial’ control and penetration, and where indigenous capitalism was weakly developed” (White, Murray, & White, 1983, p. 4).

Various scholars (Baradat, 1997; Desfosses & Levesque, 1975; Elliott, 1962; Fagen, Deere, & Coraggio, 1986; Kautsky, 1968; Kurzman, 1963; White et al., 1983) have investigated the reasons socialism was adopted by the developing world. Generally, the reasons can be divided into four categories. First, the nature of socialism emphasized immediate economic growth, which could help the third world develop within a relatively short period. Second, the nature of socialism was anti-imperialism and antiexploitation. This reflected the third world’s radical response to hostile threat and even military aggression from the global imperialists and its economic dependence on the developed world. The third reason is a political-cultural argument that claims that the traditional societies in the third world were more compatible with socialism. Fourth, the Soviet Union’s efforts to influence developing countries led to the development of socialism in such countries.

A. Economic Development

First, the adoption of socialism reflected the desire of the intellectuals in the third world to explore a model for improving economic development. According to Kautsky (1968), it was the modern elite (or intellectuals) in the third world, and not the general population, that was attracted to communist models. In contrast, traditional elites (including aristocratic rulers, big landowners, and the clergy) tended to regard communist models as a threat, and the masses (including peasantry, urban petite bourgeoisie, and a modern working class) were not broad-minded enough to understand the communist models. The modern elites, as a group, absorbed their values, not from their native traditional society, but from other industrially advanced societies. The adopted values mainly include an emphasis on enhancing the economy; increasing wealth; and improving social equality, education, and political participation. Further dispersion of these values started prevailing in developing countries via universities, armies, bureaucracies, and trade unions.

Second, although the goals set by the intellectuals in the third world were adopted from the Western world, according to Desfosses and Levesque (1975), the Western way of achieving these goals was slow compared with the communist model. The modern elite believed the socialist model was more applicable because it provided an economic growth plan that promoted much faster economic development.

Third, communist models promoted rapid industrialization under the lead of the intellectuals (Kautsky, 1968). Communist regimes share similarities with the regimes in other developing countries because in both cases, intellectuals led similar social sections, had similar opponents, and were pursuing similar values. Another reason the socialist model appealed to intellectuals in the third world is the potential opportunities it offered for the intellectuals to obtain power and prestige.

B. Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Exploitation

Another reason for the developing world to adopt socialism is the nature of socialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-exploitation. First, the third world countries faced the problem of economic dependence on developed countries (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975; Fagen et al., 1986). Most of the smaller markets of the third world relied on exports of cash crops and/or natural resources and were thus more vulnerable to changes in international markets. The people in the developing world had strong nationalistic desires for independence and self-determination and for economic and political development. Socialism satisfies the need of developing countries to reverse their lack of development and to strive for freedom.

Second, socialism served as a model for third world people and leaders to deal with their ambivalence toward industrialization (White et al., 1983). In these countries, socialism not only provided hope of gaining the benefits that were achieved by capitalism and industrialization, but it also eliminated the exploitation that was prevalent in the capitalist model. Moreover, socialism assured that the people’s representatives represented the people’s best interests.

C. The Compatibility Between Traditional Societies and Socialism

Another reason some developing countries adopted socialism was that these countries perceived socialism as being compatible with traditional societies (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). This compatibility mainly focused on the nonexistence of classes. According to classic Marxism, the essence of socialism is that the victory of the proletariat is caused by class struggle. Many intellectuals in the third world claimed that there were no issues of class in their countries after independence. Moreover, these intellectuals argued that a proletariat was not a necessity for realizing socialism. They also argued that in the developing world, the essential issue is to mobilize the general public for political activities instead of depending on class struggle led by the proletariat.

D. Soviet Influence

The adoption of socialism in the third world is due not only to the appeal of socialism itself but also to Soviet efforts to influence developing countries in order to win support against the Western world. Kurzman (1963) provided some evidence for this argument. First, Communists’ emphasis on the third world did not start until the end of World War II. After the war, the Communists’ influence in the underdeveloped countries ramped up. The major achievement by the Communists was the adoption of communism in China in 1948. Communism became established in North Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, South Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Indian state of Kerala. In the Middle East, communism was set up in Syria in 1955 and Iraq in 1959. In Africa, communism was adopted in Guinea, Ghana, the formerly Belgian-controlled Congo, and Kenya.

III. What Were the Barriers to the Socialist Transition in the Developing World?

According to Fagen et al. (1986), socialist transition movements pursue three major goals. The first goal is to produce and redistribute sufficient wealth to satisfy the people’s basic needs. The second goal is to provide equal opportunity to the people in pursuing improvement in income, justice, and culture. The third goal is to reestablish the relationship between the state and the whole society and thus mobilize the public for political participation.

For Fagen et al. (1986), there are three barriers to socialist transition in the third world: the characteristics of the international system, the particular difficulties faced by countries with small and peripheral economies, and the scarcity of suitable models for the third world’s transitions.

The first problem that influences the third world’s transition is the global system (Fagen et al., 1986). To begin with, the global system was dominated by capitalist states during the end of the 20th century. Capitalists wrote the rules of global games such as trade, finance, and investment. For the socialist countries, it was almost impossible to participate in these global games while isolating themselves from global prices, markets, technology, and tastes that were established by the capitalist countries. Although multipolarity (i.e., the presence of more than two roughly equal superpowers who dominate world politics) played a secondary role in providing the third world with opportunities such as political, military, and ideological leverage, multipolarity was not the fundamental arena of third world development. For example, with respect to issues such as trade, finance, technology, investment, and foreign aid, the world was more of a unipolar system than a multipolar one. Moreover, the world’s unipolar feature was reflected in the cultural domain. In the realm of consumption, demand by the countries in the world became increasingly homogeneous (e.g., demand for Coca-Cola and blue jeans), which reflected the sole dominance of advanced capitalism.

The second problem is the particular difficulties faced by countries with small and peripheral economies (Fagen et al., 1986). To begin with, the development of these small and peripheral economies was firmly constrained by the unipolar system. These economies had no capacity to set prices in trade, to invent technology, or to accumulate their own domestic savings. Therefore, they had to depend heavily on the developed countries. Moreover, the small and peripheral economies have been influenced deeply by the culture of developed countries. The third world’s traditional culture has been penetrated by Western culture and the Western lifestyle. The changing nature of culture made it difficult for the third world to bridge the gap between its own traditional culture and socialism.

The developing countries’ efforts to get access to the international core market and to strive for a better export environment have been offset by increasingly more strict business barriers in the developed world for the protection of their local economy. Due to low domestic savings, third world countries needed low-cost and loosely restricted loans. However, the advanced, industrialized countries preferred and bargained to lend to developing countries in order to maximize their own profits. In sum, the highly developed countries occupy much more advantageous positions in the global market than do small and peripheral countries.

Given the harsh international political and economic environment for smaller and peripheral economies, it was even more difficult for those smaller and peripheral economies that decided to transition to socialist regimes. These socialist-transition countries bore two heavy burdens. First, similar to nontransition countries, socialist transition states needed to struggle for survival and/or success in economic development and cultural preservation. Second, they needed to make fundamental transformations in their domestic political, economic, and social systems in order to pursue social justice. Moreover, the countries undergoing fundamental transformations in their socialist transition were faced with political, economic, and military pressures from the advanced, industrialized, capitalist countries, who regarded the socialist transition in smaller and peripheral economies as a threat to their established rules. The threat perceived by the capitalist countries was understandable because socialist transitions usually happened in groups and tended to ally with established socialist countries. More important, these socialist transitions challenged the founding logic of capitalism and thus threatened the dominant position of capitalism in the world. Besides the barriers set by the imperialists and their allies within the socialist countries, socialist transition movements faced potentially intrinsic problems (Fagen et al., 1986). First, although the old global system was under attack, it was an integrated and stable economic and political system, which was important for wealth accumulation. However, socialist transition movements interrupted that stability while being accompanied by class struggle, which was not beneficial for economic growth unless a strong dictator could keep the chaos in control.

The third barrier was a lack of practical socialist theory for the third world countries to refer to during their transitions (Fagen et al., 1986). Although Marxist theory analyzed the conditions that would assist socialist transitions, Marxism did not explicitly illustrate how to transition to socialism and what socialism was. Because different countries had different situations and experiences, it was difficult to apply the models promoted by Mao or Lenin to other developing countries.

IV. The Variants of Socialism in the Developing World

According to Baradat (1997), since Marx’s death, three major varieties of socialist movement developed. The first variant is the orthodox school, which defended Marx’s work against any significant revisions. The second variant is the revisionists and the Fabians, who attacked the major Marxist theories and preferred a smooth and peaceful approach to achieving the goals of socialism. This school has been adopted mostly by European countries and the United States. The third variant is Marxism–Leninism. Based on Marxism, the ideology proposed by Lenin explained the reasons for wrong predictions in Marxism. Moreover, Marxism–Leninism emphasized the guidance of an elite group because of the lack of class consciousness among the proletariat. The elite group would play a leading role in eliminating rebellion after the fall of the capitalist system. Because the proletariat would replace the bourgeois rulers and continue to grow, the proletariat would eventually become the sole economic class in the society, which would approach the ideal plan in classic Marxism.

The reasons third world leaders chose their respective variants of socialism in their adoption of elements of Marxism, Leninism, or Maoism has been analyzed by Desfosses and Levesque (1975) and Fagen et al. (1986) as follows. The first reason was the third world intellectuals’ nationalistic determination to avoid subjugating their country to absolute control of socialists after getting rid of the long-term absolute control by the imperialists (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). Second, the continuing failure of capitalism in smaller and peripheral economies was another reason socialist regimes were attractive to the third world (Fagen et al., 1986). The failure of capitalism to satisfy the material needs and provide social justice for people in the third world made socialism an attractive alternative. Moreover, increasingly people in the third world realized that the world was under the control of the advanced capitalist countries, which set global rules and reaped as many benefits as possible from the third world. In contrast, socialism promised to eliminate the old global rules and to bring social justice and rationality through policies such as public ownership and centralized economic planning. Third, leaders in the third world thought the socialist model would speed up their economic growth and allow their countries to eventually catch up with the industrialized capitalist countries (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). The goal of pursuing economic development in the third world had superseded the goal of realizing socialist ideology. Fourth, people in the third world desired to preserve their traditional culture and national characteristics and strove to minimize the interruptions and distortions of industrialization and modernization (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975).

Because of these reasons, intellectuals in third world countries were selective when adopting classical Marxism, Leninism, or Maoism. Therefore, no uniform socialist model was observed among all the developing countries but rather a variety of versions of socialism.

The major differences between socialism in the developing world and classic Marxism have been investigated from two major perspectives. White et al. (1983) focused on the differences between revolutionary socialism in the third world and the classic Marxism. Kautsky (1968) investigated the differences between the Soviet model and the goals of intellectuals in underdeveloped countries in the post–World War II period.

The differences between revolutionary socialism in the third world and classic Marxism have been summarized by White et al. (1983) as follows. First, revolutionary socialism succeeded in the underdeveloped countries but not in advanced capitalist countries as predicted by Marx. Second, socialism in the third world was not the heir of capitalism but rather was a historical alternative. Third, socialism in the third world was not unifying and consolidating the international working class among the well-developed industrial countries but rather was facilitating radical nationalism in underdeveloped countries. Fourth, revolutionary socialism was not established on the cultural and economic basis of highly developed capitalism but rather drove accelerated, delayed development under unfavorable conditions at home and abroad. Fifth, the power of revolutionary socialism did not depend on the proletariat but rather on existing classes and strata, mainly including the peasantry and the petite bourgeoisie.

More specifically, Kautsky (1968) and Baradat (1997) investigated the differences between the Soviet model and the models followed by the developing countries. First, within the classic model, the proletarian revolution of the communists’ Marxian symbolism did not appeal to the developing countries. In spite of some changes in communist symbols in the Soviet model after World War II, “revolution” and “proletarian revolution” were still regarded by the third world as important communist symbols. However, some policies in the third world were opposed to revolution and proletarian revolution.

Second, although at the beginning the classic model appealed to intellectuals in the third world, inflexible obedience to Marxian doctrine and related policies created in developing countries an image of communists as proletarian revolutionaries. Moreover, this image made them appear to be attempting to win proletarian supporters and searching for capitalist enemies in the Western world. This actually weakened the appeal of the Soviet model in the developing countries. However, because of its incompatibility with actual developments in the third world, Marxian doctrine and related policies started to decay in the third world while the appeal of the Soviet model increased.

Third, although the classic Soviet model appealed to the intellectuals who led anticolonial movements in developing countries, these intellectuals were very different from Soviet intellectuals. The intellectuals in the third world were a strong prorevolutionary group. Although they were committed to building a strong and new society, they were afraid of deep industrialization because of their fear of losing power. The successful industrialization in the Soviet Union led to the replacement of revolutionary intellectuals with managerial intellectuals.

V. Case Studies for Six Socialist Developing Countries

Six case studies further illustrate the reasons the third world adopted variants of socialism and the characteristics of these variants. The cases are Cuba, Iraq, China, Yugoslavia, Libya, and North Korea.

1. Cuba

Several scholars (Baradat, 1997; Bideleux, 1985; Desfosses & Levesque, 1975; White et al., 1983) have used Cuba as a case study to investigate its variant of socialism. Socialism was adopted by Cuba under Fidel Castro and his followers to build socialism with Cuban national characteristics. By taking into consideration Cuba’s relevant historical and international experience, Castro and his followers foresaw a break with the United States after a radical Cuban revolution. In spite of the close interdependence between Cuba and the United States, Castro and his followers regarded the intertwining of the United States and Cuba as a barrier to any substantial structural transformation of Cuban society. After the failed U.S. invasion of the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, Castro and his followers transformed, step by step, their domestic and international programs simultaneously, achieving a complete transition to socialism and a turning toward the Soviet Union.

Moreover, the political leaders perceived that some of the principles of Marxism–Leninism fit quite well with the values gained from their struggle against ousted Cuban president Fulgencio Batista. These values included activism, voluntarism, and elitism. Voluntarism in particular has been emphasized in socialist ideology with Cuban characteristics.

In addition, Cuba’s Communist Party played an important role in allying the country with the Soviet Union. The alliance with the Soviet Union equipped Cuba with important political strategies. In spite of this, the essence of Cuban socialism was not provided by the Soviet Union.

Before adopting socialism, Cuba was a country whose public was not only accustomed to extensive government intervention but also very active in political participation. The introduction of socialism brought about several changes. First, government expanded its intervention by controlling the ownership of all the means of production. Second, to a certain extent, the new government both encouraged more political participation and tried to keep the participation under the control of the government.

Cuba’s socialism had its own characteristics. First, the development of a revolutionary Communist Party of Cuba was late and slow. According to Baradat (1997), Castro did not become a Marxist–Leninist until he came into office. Communism as an ideology and Cuba’s Communist Party as an organization were used by Castro as an instrument to control the country. Therefore, the Communist Party itself in Cuba did not enjoy as much authority as that enjoyed in communist countries such as Soviet Union and China. In contrast, Cuban socialism was built on the personal charisma of Castro, which became a barrier to the future transfer of leadership through the Communist Party system. Second, the Cuban government encouraged the widespread use of economic collectivization, with emphasis on agricultural production, especially sugar production. Third, Cuba used moral and nonmaterial incentives to motivate the public employed in production. Nevertheless, these moral incentives were closely related to promises of health care and retirement benefits and priority in accessing political positions.

2. Iraq

Socialism began developing in Iraq in 1948 when Iraq had increased contacts with socialist countries. The deepening of socialism in Iraq was fueled by nationalism (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975).With increasingly negative feelings in the Arab world toward the West, more and more Iraqis regarded the West as exploitive and preferred socialism over capitalism in Iraq. In addition, some of the ideas and values of socialism were incorporated into Iraqi nationalist ideology, including nationalist issues with respect to Palestine, the Israeli issue, and the unity of the Arab world.

The leading party among the Arab nationalist parties in promoting socialism was the Baath party. The Baath’s notion of socialism evolved from utopian communism to a mix of Marxist scientific socialism and nationalism. The Baathist approach to establishing socialism in Iraq had its own characteristics and thus was called Arab socialism, which indicated that it was not derived from Marxism but rather from a contrasting ideology. First, instead of using the term revolution in their struggle to build socialism, Baathists used the term coup and regarded it as the only way to achieve the renaissance of nationalism and the establishment of socialism in Arab countries. Second, although the Iraqi constitution claimed ownership of all property belonging to the Iraqi people, equal distribution of all economic resources among the people, and the state’s control of the means of production, private property rights were not outlawed but were instead protected. All Iraqi citizens enjoyed the freedom to own real estate as long as the amount of property owned by a citizen did not exceed the amount used directly by the citizen and was not used in a way that exploited others. Third, under the leadership of the Baathists, social class differences were to be eliminated and a more fair and equal social order was to be established.

3. China

The socialist variant in China—Maoism—was admired by a large number of developing countries (Baradat, 1997). Maoism was an attempt to adjust classic Marxism– Leninism to Chinese traditional culture, agrarian economy, and guerrilla war (Baradat, 1997).According to White et al. (1983), Maoism reflected China’s break with Eastern European models of state socialism, which represented either hierarchical bureaucratism (e.g., the Soviet Union) or market socialism (e.g., Yugoslavia). In contrast, Maoism was built on the initial socialist values, including equality, participation, and collectivism. The Chinese model under the guidance of Maoism was promoted by development experts as a good example for other developing countries to follow. According to Baradat (1997), compared with classic Marxism–Leninism, Maoism has several unique characteristics.

The first distinguishing feature of Maoism is populism. Mao and his followers emphasized the detrimental role of peasants in the victory of the Chinese revolution. In contrast, classic Marxism identified the proletariat as the leading force of communist revolution. In order to reconcile Maoism with classic Marxism, Mao highlighted the virtues of the peasants, such as purity, simplicity, and flawlessness, as the fundamental strengths of the Chinese people. Moreover, during the Cultural Revolution, Mao forced urban sophisticates to work in rural farms for the purpose of “learning from the people” (Sobhe, 1982, p. 273).

Second, Maoism emphasized ideological purity over economic training. This characteristic of Maoism revised the economic determinism of classic Marxism. According to Mao, peasants can be proletarianized through both proletarian mentality education and economic experience. However, this transformation of the peasants did not require them to leave their land.

The third feature of Maoism is permanent revolution. In spite of the vague references to the definition of permanent revolution by Marx and Lenin, Mao, more radically, emphasized permanent revolution instead of sustaining a status quo. According to Mao, permanent revolution and constant violence were needed along the road to socialism because great progress was born from social disorder. In Maoist logic, socialism and capitalism can never coexist peacefully.

The fourth feature of Maoism is its rejection of elitism, specifically Lenin’s dependence on the Communist Party to lead the revolution. This principle arose from a concern that the fruits of the Chinese revolution might fall into the hands of bureaucracies instead of the people. Therefore, Mao emphasized that the people were the ones who should be trusted to attain the final goals of the revolution under the guidance of communist ideology because the people were red intrinsically. By thus mobilizing the people, China underwent several campaigns, such as the anti-landlord campaign (1949–1952), the first 5-Year Plan (1953– 1957), the Hundred Flowers Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), and the Great Cultural Revolution (1966–1976).

The fifth principle of Maoism is its tolerance of the bourgeoisie. The major reason for this tolerance was the poor economic situation in China during the early years of communist power in 1948 and 1949. Instead of sticking to the classic Marxist doctrine of socializing the economy, Mao learned the lesson from Lenin that immediate socialization of the economy is dangerous. Rather, the bourgeoisie could contribute to the stabilization of the Chinese economy. The real enemies were those who exploited the Chinese people, mainly landlords and imperialist capitalists. Within Maoism, anti-imperialism was closely incorporated into Chinese nationalism.

The last distinguishing feature of Maoism is guerrilla warfare. Classic Marxism and Leninism stressed the short duration of revolutions. In contrast to Marx’s anticipation of spontaneous revolution and Lenin’s conspiratorial revolution (his use of secret operations, among other tactics; Lee, 2003), Mao expected an extended period of revolutions in the developing world.

4. Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia’s variant of socialism—Titoism—was born of Yugoslav leader (Josip Broz) Tito’s resistance against the Soviet Union’s strong pressure to force Yugoslavia to conform (Baradat, 1997). In spite of his original firm support for Stalin, Tito eventually led Yugoslavia to break out of the Soviet bloc in 1948 and benefit from trade with both the Western and the Eastern bloc.

Although Tito split from the Soviet bloc, he continued to be committed to Marxism (Baradat, 1997). However, he made some revisions to classic Marxism–Leninism. In contrast to Lenin’s stress on violence and Marx’s and Lenin’s idea of permanent revolution, Tito’s version of communism de-emphasized the use of violence in socialist development. According to Tito, as soon as socialism developed to an advanced phase, violence was not needed. This made Tito much more moderate than the classic communists. Furthermore, Tito promoted coexistence and active cooperation with capitalist countries.

According to Tito, different countries have different interpretations of socialism (Baradat, 1997). Tito emphasized that the threats to socialism came not from imperialism but from socialist countries’ overly centralized domestic systems. In contrast to Marx, Tito realized that overcentralization tended to cause the growth of bureaucracy and the possible exploitation of the masses.

In order to resolve the problem of overcentralization, Tito decentralized Yugoslavia’s political and economic organization, a design called market socialism. First, he encouraged private ownership and control, as well as the decentralization of industry. According to Tito, although workers would directly control the factories in the most advanced stage of socialism, the nationalization of industries was an important first step in reaching that stage. In the future, advanced socialist societies should be based on social control rather than state control. Second, Tito decided to decentralize the dominant rule of the Communist Party. According to Marx, political institutions would eventually disappear in a classless society, leaving only an economic bureaucracy. Tito did not agree with Marx on this point but insisted that the Communist Party should always be the leader of the system in spite of the absence of the need for centralized economic control. Third, Tito also decentralized the governmental structure by dividing the country into six republics and two autonomous provinces, pushing the government toward federalism.

5. Libya

Socialist revolution in Libya was brought about by Mu‘ammar Muhammad al-Gadhafi and his followers in 1969 after overthrowing the king of Libya (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). According to Gadhafi, the socialist revolution in Libya was guided by two basic values: social justice and Islamic socialism. The adoption of socialism in Libya, as elsewhere, involved revisions to classic Marxism–Leninism. The major basis for Libya’s revisions was Gadhafi’s belief in the compatibility between socialism and the fundamental Islamic philosophy. He thus regarded socialism as an indigenous political ideology in Libya rather than one adopted from the outside world. Moreover, the approach to private property rights and widespread nationalization valued in classic Marxism–Leninism were perceived by Gadhafi as in accordance with Muslim tradition because Islamic law endorsed private property rights and nationalization without damage or injury. Despite these compatibilities between the Libyan socialist model and the classic communist model, Libya’s model also exhibited some important variations.

First, the development of socialism in Libya was based on two basic values, social justice and modernization. According to Desfosses and Levesque (1975), socialism in Libya was regarded more as a value system than as an economic system because the socialism pursued in Libya aimed to realize the true dignity of human beings through political participation and through ensuring an acceptable standard of living. Libyan socialism regarded socialism as the fruit of class cooperation, rather than class struggle as suggested by classic Marxism–Leninism.

Second, Libya’s history and economic situation contributed to Gadhafi’s special economic policies (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). Because of the country’s low level of economic development, domestic capitalists in Libya were not considered as an enemy to be eliminated. In addition, because of Libya’s experience of exploitation by foreign imperialist powers, Gadhafi differentiated between domestic and foreign capitalists. Foreign capitalists, because of their exploitative nature, were regarded as incompatible with Libya’s national interests and were nationalized by the government. Domestic capitalists, on the other hand, were not regarded as enemies of the people unless they were exploitative. Thus, under Libyan socialism, citizens were allowed to own capital privately and to invest their capital freely as long as they were not exploitative.

Third, Gadhafi realized that the small Libyan bureaucracy lacked the education, expertise, and manpower necessary to modernize the nation (Desfosses & Levesque, 1975). As a result, nationalization is not the whole answer to either imperialism or lack of development. Gadhafi envisioned a Libyan agricultural and industrial economy that would achieve the complete potential of Libya’s economy while ensuring the control of the people over the basic means of production. Libya’s petroleum wealth should be used to modernize the country and improve the life of all its citizens, not to enrich foreign capitalists or a few Libyans.

6. North Korea

North Korean socialism was brought about by Kim Il Sung, who was the leader of both the state and its Communist Party until his death in 1994 (Baradat, 1997). North Korea’s pattern of socialism was not the same as that of the Eastern European countries that followed the Soviet Union. The special characteristics of North Korean socialism were mainly reflected in the extreme ideological, political, and economic isolation of North Korea.

Because Marxism–Leninism was accused of not being able to solve all the problems in Korea, Kim Il Sung did not allow anyone except himself to read the classic works by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Moreover, Kim Il Sung prevented the public from accessing any outside information (Baradat, 1997). Through language reform beginning in 1945, North Koreans were cut off from their history because younger generations could not read texts written before 1945. Because they were not informed about North Korea’s liberation from the Japanese by the Soviet Union or the assistance provided by the Chinese army in the war against the United States in 1950, people in North Korea firmly believed the ideology that Kim Il Sung was the sole leader of world revolution.

Economically, North Korea carried out a harsh self-dependence policy, called juche, defined as “a line of economic construction for meeting by home production the needs for manufactured goods and farm produce necessary for making the country rich and strong and improving the people’s labour and one’s own national resources” (White et al., 1983, p. 129). Under this policy, North Korea isolated itself almost entirely from the world economy. In spite of its severe lack of two important resources, oil and coal, North Korea pushed the public to work overtime and developed technology transformations to structure its national economy so as to minimize its dependence on and vulnerability to the external world for the long term.

Third, North Korean socialism was built within a militarized society (Baradat, 1997). Since the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, North Koreans had maintained a permanent militarization against South Korean and U.S. armies. The armed forces in North Korean society were used as an instrument of socialization. Meanwhile, family and educational institutions were also used as important instruments of socialization. Therefore, the entire North Korean society became militarily oriented.

VI. Problems of the Variants of Socialism in the Developing World

The first problem in some variants of socialism lies in the combination of nationalism and socialism. According to White et al. (1983), although nationalism helped the third world catch up with the development of industrialized countries, intense nationalism sometimes turned into chauvinism (as in Pol Pot’s Cambodia) and exclusionism (as in North Korea). Moreover, White et al. (1983) found that the context of military threat and conflicts before and after revolution led to nationwide militarization both ideologically and institutionally and to an intense level of security consciousness. This problem accounted for the stagnation of “socialist internationalism” and the frequent conflicts among socialist countries.

Second, several scholars have found that it was problematic for some developing countries to establish socialism on the foundation of their traditions. Desfosses and Levesque (1975) suggest that the issue of combining peasants’ collective traditions and socialist agricultural collectivization not only contradicted some classic doctrines of Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism but also slowed agricultural development in third world countries. According to Desfosses and Levesque (1975), the similarity between the peasants’ communal tradition and socialist agricultural collectivization had been exaggerated by third world socialists. For example, in Africa, the communal tradition among peasants was mainly reflected in their cooperation in consumption but not in production. However, it was cooperation in production that was needed to make communal agriculture the foundation of development. Therefore, building socialism in Africa on the peasants’ communal tradition actually violated some basic principles of classic Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism. Moreover, even if socialists in Africa tried to change cooperation in consumption into cooperation in production, there was still no guarantee that the agricultural sector would provide sufficient surplus for the development of industry. Rather, radical changes in the system of production, such as changing the traditional systems of land ownership, kinship, and duties within a community, actually slowed down agricultural development.

Third, although the goals (such as equality, social justice, and the nationalization of industries) pursued by third world socialists helped third world countries accumulate social support, the disappointment among the public for any failure to reach those goals posed a grave threat to socialist regimes (Fagen et al., 1986). Moreover, because the theories of socialism emphasized its advancement in industrialization and higher efficiency, the public in third world socialist countries tended to overestimate the industrial capability of their countries and to de-emphasize the importance of the peasants.

Fourth, according to Kurzman (1963), among underdeveloped countries, communists share similar strategies: left strategy and right strategy. Under the left strategy, communists in each country would fight against noncommunists and accuse them of assisting imperialism. In contrast, the right strategy was usually applied when there was a common threat to both communists and noncommunists. The communists would ally with noncommunists to fight the common enemy, as the Soviet Union had done when it was threatened by Nazi Germany before the end of World War II. In most underdeveloped countries, communism was spreading by first using the right strategy to cooperate with noncommunists in defeating common enemies and then using the left strategy to eliminate the noncommunists within the country. This is the tactic of deception described in Kurzman (1963). Using this approach, communist propaganda tended to subordinate the Marxist doctrine to the fight against “Western imperialism.”

VII. Future Directions

According to Baradat (1997), the fall of Marxism– Leninism, Stalinism, Titoism, and Maoism does not mean that socialism itself will fall. Some scholars have claimed that there is recent evidence of the possible return of socialism in the former Soviet Union and in eastern Europe (Baradat, 1997). Baradat suggests, first, that after experiencing free education, universal medical care, and social protection, people from many socialist countries tend not to give them up, given that not many countries are able to deal with the uncertainties and insecurities of individualism. Second, because government can play an important role that cannot be filled by individuals, socialism has a future with its goal of a decent standard of living for every person, along with protection by the state from predation by economically stronger members of society.

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