If ex-soviet bloc was not socialist societies, then what is the characteristic of a socialist society?

In his discussion over class societies: Marx explained that, the exploitation of dominated class by a dominant class constituted as general law of class societies of Asiatic mode of production, Slavery, Feudalism and Capitalism, and the specific mode of exploitation differentiated one economic formation from another.

In slavery system, the slave holder bought a slave permanently and bound to provide subsistence to the slave, at all circumstances. But, in capitalism the capitalist would employ worker/wage-slave until the time which wage-slave produce surplus value. once, the process of surplus value production was disrupted, the capitalist would callously cast wage-slave on to the heap of unemployment.

Thus, in line with Marx`s above mentioned discovery, never wage-slavery system was abolished at Ex-Soviet union bloc; and, as the result, in order to maintain their subsistence, workers/wage-slaves had to sell their physical/ (1)mental labour power. However, workers/wage-slaves were not selling, at Ex-soviet bloc, their physical/mental labour power to a private capitalist, rather had done so to the state, as the embodiment of capital ownership. There was, with regard to the process of production, a further difference between Ex-soviet bloc and other countries that possessed private ownership.

With the outbreak of recession at western capitalist countries workers/wage-slaves would be sacked. But, in the constitution of Ex-Soviet Union bloc the job of worker/wage-slave had been secured. The latter advantage, in comparison to the working condition of workers/wage-slaves at western capitalist countries, was amongst a host of reforms that had been implemented in the wake of the victory of October Revolution; and held dual properties . On the one hand, worker/wage-slave job was legally guaranteed , on the other , their alienation from the process of production had been left intact.

There, in western capitalist countries, wielding undisputed authority over the labour/wage-slave, management would solely run the process of production. There is the management who would decide what physical/mental commodity and under which conditions to be produced. However, at Ex-soviet Union bloc, it was the central planning/Gaspalan, Which, on the basis of total information which was received from the mangers of entire factories would decide what and how many commodities needed to be produced. Therefore, within this hierarchal structure, workers/wage-slaves had no decision making role.

Receiving quite high salaries, perk, share and remuneration, management at western capitalist countries would impose higher rate of productivity or placing extra degree of intensity of exploitation against workers/wage-slaves.

At Ex-Soviet Union, implementing the quota of production allocated by the Central Planning/Gaspalan to the management, the latter would received bonus. Different sectors of factories with related Departments at Gaspalan shared a mutual interests. For securing bonus, the management would present figures, even by hook and by crook, to the associated department that he had successfully achieved his production quota. In the same token, it was imperative to the respective department at the Gaspalan, that the factories under its supervision did not have production shortfall. Thus, both management and department delicately looked after each other. If, the production of goods was based quantitatively, management would deliberately producing heavier than normal commodities, thicker paper was produced . If, the criteria for production of commodity based qualitatively, management knowingly would produce more expensive commodities- using gold in clothes(2).  

With the outbreak of recession in market capitalist countries, capitalists set off sacking workers/wage-slaves, cutting wages, closing or streamlining factories, increasing intensity of exploitation, so on and so forth, to overcoming crisis. At Ex-Soviet Union bloc, if a worker was accused of being indolent and tardy, however, management practically could not sack him, because both his constitutional right to work and union intervention backed him up. Therefore, in comparison to the market economy, imposing of higher rate of productivity or ratcheting up the intensity of exploitation management hands was tied behind his back. At Ex-Soviet Union the aspects of being repeatedly absent from work, unpunctuality and widespread alcoholism and the resultant harmful effect on the production process manifestly had been revealing worker/wage-slave alienation from production process.

The picture of a painter, product of an artisan and created soft-ware of an individual programmer belong to them. They would relish from what they produced. By contrast, the product of worker/wage-slave deserting him and appropriated by the capitalist. In Grundrisse, Marx explains: the dead labour or capital, the congelation of surplus value produced by the living worker/wage-slave, appears as a bloodsucking demon in front of the worker/wage-slave and sucking her/his blood.

In brief, apart from progresses in the field of military industries, due to the rivalry with west militarism, manufacturing products of Ex-Soviet Union lacked competitive edge with market economy products. Eventually, thanks to the worsening of the economic crisis at Ex-Soviet Union, it arrived on a crossroad of economic and social restructuring, as Gorbachev coined the process of Glasnost, and Perestroika. The latter meant, either Ex-Soviet Union had to go beyond capitalism, and aiming to build a society based on “ from each according to her/his ability and for each according to her/his needs ˮ ; or going back and embracing free market economy. Ex-Soviet Union picked up the second alternative.

Soviets/worker councils

According to the above discussion, except to Yugoslavia, there never existed such Workers council/ Soviets to administering the process of production at Ex-Soviet bloc. As to the Yugoslavia, here to workers council suffered from a radical defect. Because, Yugoslavia`s workers council were not organised on the basis of solidarity between factories, rather in competition with other factories. In other words, still free market economy ruled Yugoslavia`s factory councils; as the result it was doomed to fail.

Socialism/Communism/ Society of co-operative producers of social needs

All the above three terminologies are interchangeable and denoting to the same meaning. Depending on the particular circumstances, Marx and Engels used Socialism/Communism as a stateless society. Further, they had earlier discovered that, the emergence of the state as the result of the dissolution of primitive communes and accompanied division of society into antagonistic classes. Manifesto of Communism described the role of state as an ultimate tool at the hand of ruling class for the mental and physical oppression of the dominated classes; the reality we do witness today. The usage of communist state of Ex-Soviet Union, communist State of North Korea, Communist State of Cuba, etc, by social engineers of world capitalism is nothing but a cynical distortion of Communism. We envision at Socialism/Communism a society void of state, where social individuals in solidarity and co-operation will run the social process of production and distribution for the benefit of the whole society.

The construction of Communist/Socialist/society from each according her/his ability and for each according to her/his needs

Studying the development of the process of industrial revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Marx saw that the progress ,and innovation, of technology was an inseparable part of capitalist mode of production. He, also envisioned that the extent of progress of productive forces will arrive at a point where the full development of individual and society will be realised. That, in German Ideology, Marx wrote: in communist society, I will engage in one activity in the morning; and, if I wished going to fishing in the afternoon. The latter was not a sweet dream, rather, it has now been realised in more than a few countries. There are now economists in the USA, who argue that three hours a day and five days a week suffice to provide a life style pertinent to the expectation of 21th century.

Accordingly, from two pre-requisite conditions which are needed to establishing Socialism, the economic aspect is already in place in a fair number of countries. Then, the overthrowing of capitalism and embarking upon restructuring society on the fashion of Communism depended on the second pre-condition, i.e. conscious class organisation of the working classes. Hence, having had the both pre-requisites, following the overthrowing capitalist state and overcoming its probable resistance, marching towards communism will begin in earnest, and the timeline for arriving at Communism dependent on particular objective conditions .

Marx in the “ critique of the programme of Gotha ˮ describes that, with capturing political power by the working class, now the condition we possess does not feature a communist society which have been developed on its own foundations. Rather, by contrast, it is a society just emerging from the womb of capitalism, as such as to every aspects, i.e. economic, judicial, moral, and cultural, it bearing the whole marks of the old society. Hence, Marx calling the society at the point of emerging from the womb of capitalism as the first stage: “from each according to her/his ability and for each according to her/his work ˮ - here still bourgeois right rules, this is not socialism/Communism(3). For Marx, building a “ society from each according to her/his ability and for each according to her/ his needs ˮ required both highly developed productive forces and immensely advanced cultural evolution of working classes; to the extent that, full blooming of individual based on abounding development of society.

What happened at Ex-Soviet Union, was just one-sided five years economic development which planned and executed from above along with total exclusion of working class from decision making operated as ultimate goal, and, in consequence, the aspect of the blooming of workers, in parallel with the economic development was woefully neglected.

Triangle of Socialism

production for the need of society

(4)Social ownership of means of production                                         organisation of social production by workers

With reference to the above triangle, the process of building Socialism is depending to the simultaneous praxis of three components of the above triangle. This means that, in the lack of producing for the needs of social individuals, social ownership of production is meaningless. Also, without social ownership of means of production, the organisation of social production by workers is impossible. Finally, in the absence of solidarity in the organisation of social production by workers, production for the needs of society is   inaccessible                                                                                                                                                                            

Murad Azimi  


(1)- Mental labour. In discussing productive and unproductive labour at Grundrisse, Marx argues that, if a singer sings for her/his pleasure would produce unproductive labour. However, if she/he sings in restaurant will perform a productive labour. Service sector has been constituted a part of the process of capitalist. Since the beginning of 1980th service sector has growing so much so that, now in many capitalist country service industry overtaken manufacturing sector. Further, mental labour has now constituted a substantial part of the service industry. Here, worker/wage-slave is using mental labour in place of physical labour. However, both consuming energy.    

Finally, it had been a fashion   since 1980th to expunge   the term labour- sole resource of surplus-value/capital- and everybody turned into middle class- by the magic wand of           American new-cons. However, with the explosion of capitalism crisis of 2008, which manifested as financial crash, the magic wand started to lose its usefulness.

(2)Socialism Imperative, Professor Michael Lebowitz

(3)- Thanks to the backwardness of Russia, Lenin did not consider the point of society emerging from the womb of old one , rather, he designated a long period   of time to realizing “ for each according to her/his ability and for each according to her/his work ˮ as first phase/Socialism. Ibid

(4) Hugo Chavez and Professor Michael Lebovitz- Socialism Imperative



     لنين، بنا به شرائط عقب افتاده ی روسيه، نه زمان خروج از رحم جامعه ی کهن، بلکه يک دوره ی طولانی را برای تحقق از هر کس به اندازه ی کارش و برهر کس به اندازه ی توانش را فاز اول و سپس مرحله ی از هر کس به اندازه ی توانش و برهر کس به اندازه ی نيازش را فاز دوم ناميد. همچنان که در بالا توضيح داده شد، با سرنگونی و شکست مقاومت سرمايه داری فرايند توامان توسعه و ترقی نيروهای مولده و بالندگی فرد و اجتماع آغاز می شود. پرفسور مايکل لبوويتز، ضرورت سوسياليسم، Socialism imperative