The way to overcome the capitalist mode of production was pointed out by the founders of modern socialism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This path is constructed in the political practice of struggle between social classes, which in every country has peculiarities and is therefore not a ready-made model that should be implemented. It is a path that should be guided by a theoretical framework that does not consist of a mere abstract lucubration, but in a dialectical relationship between real and concrete thinking. In this sense we find in Marxist thought the basis of the critical theory of the functioning of capitalism and the elements for its overcoming. Three of them deserve to be emphasized: 1) the solution of the contradiction between productive forces and production relations; 2) the conquest of political power for the socialist transition; and 3) the disappearance of social classes and the state as we know them today, that is, the emergence of communist society or the communist mode of production.
We find the first element in the Communist manifesto. Marx and Engels (2009) put the agenda of change in the relations of production and the type of state, ie the revolutionary transformation of society, on the agenda. The Friends of Letters and Struggles present the establishment of the contradiction between the development of the productive forces and the present relations of production as the element which creates a systemic imbalance. This imbalance would be a matter of class struggle. The era of the social revolution is an era in which the development of the productive forces is mutilated by the existing relations of production and is no longer stimulated. And the social classes, as organized and fighting collectives, represent on the one hand the “outdated” relations of production, fight for the preservation of the present social structure (the bourgeoisie) and on the other hand represent the increasing productivity forces fighting for historical change (the proletariat) – in this case from capitalism to socialism. So it is not an economic or political conflict, but a special confrontation at a precisely defined stage of the historical process, a time of revolution.
The second element is in The civil war in France. Analyzing the experiences of the Paris Commune in 1971, Marx (2013) shows that the assumption of political power by the state is the essential beginning of the socialist transition process. By exercising an obstacle to the private control of the means of production, a new form of political organization (new non-capitalist state) is characterized by a mass democracy of the people, the socialization of political power, which can initiate the process of socializing the means of production: unified democratic Planning in the center and worker management in basic production. The suppression of private property and the direct producer’s collective control over the means of production promote the development of the productive forces, which the new state puts at the service of collective well-being and not private profit.
The third element is in the Criticism of the Gothaer program. Marx (2012) distinguishes between two phases of communist society. The first, the socialist transition, immediately follows capitalism, but bears traces of its origins, such as bourgeois ideas and values, as well as opportunities for labor exploitation. In the process, the proletariat conquers the power of the state and becomes the new ruling class that establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat (on the one hand, the use of state strength against the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolution, on the other hand, the mass democracy of the people). To protect oneself from one’s enemies it is necessary to build a new society with a different form of political organization and a new economy based on the development of productive forces free from the ties of capitalist property. Society then enters a higher level, communism, in which class antagonism (bourgeois against the proletariat) disappears completely. And the state, no longer necessary to protect the property and exploitation of workers, withers and gives way to another form of political organization that has never existed in human history (this applies to the experiences of the 20th century). and 21st century).
These elements were latently, overtly and / or programmatically present in the political forces fighting for a socialist transition in the face of world expansion and the uneven and combined development of capitalism in the 20th century. According to the study by Visentini et. al. (2013) we can argue that these socialist experiences, diverse and with their specifics, were initiated by the Mexican Revolution of 1910 or even the Russian Revolution of 1905, although they were diverted or defeated in a short period of time. Indeed, it was the Russian Revolution of 1917 that sparked the revolutionary wave of the century: in the countries that made up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after the October 1917 revolution in Russia; Form people’s democracies in Eastern Europe between World War I and World War II; in China and North Korea after World War II; in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the 1970s; in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia also in the 1970s; 1959 in Cuba and 1979 in Nicaragua; 1967 in Yemen and 1978 in Afghanistan; etc. Contrary to the indications of socialist theorists, there have been no revolutions in the central capitalist countries in which the productive forces are more developed, production relations are based on wage labor, the political system is made up of bourgeois democracy, and the proletariat is more politically organized to promote transition . They took place on the periphery of the international system and then took on different characters and consequences in order to overcome capitalism: democratic, democratic-popular, national liberation, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal (usually they combine more than one of these characters).
However, these experiences had common features such as: central economic planning to the detriment of the free market with nationalization of large corporations and collective ownership of the means of production (so Soviet Russia ceased to be a semi-feudal social formation and achieved position of economic and military power in the first half the 20th century, a time when there was only peace between 1928 and 1941); State policies to gradually eliminate inequalities and universalize public services such as health, education, transportation, housing, leisure, and other social goals that the liberal West wanted, but did not, and will not achieve under the auspices of the US, a neoliberal program that ruled capitalist countries; political centralization, the order of which was aimed at defending the conquests of the revolution against attacks by domestic and foreign counterrevolutionary forces, and organized a system different from bourgeois democracy with other forms of participation and opposition; and at the international level, the various types of interventions and sanctions these countries have suffered mainly from Washington (the specialized CIA) to defeat them, obstruct their experience and / or isolate them, which put them into orbit from Soviet Russia when it was the state that was best able to counter such attacks and offered military supplies, legitimation, political and economic support.
In particular, the USSR played a prominent role in building socialism both on its territory and in progressive processes around the world, such as the welfare state in Europe and national developmentalism in Latin America. Above all, Russian development and other socialist experiences threatened capitalism – it had become more civilized or less barbaric – and implemented or influenced other countries to develop strategies such as: universalization of political rights, generalization of political systems including “minorities” and Liquidation of the census; Appreciation of women and equality of the sexes; Creation of social security systems and upgrading of work with workers’ right to organize in order to achieve and defend success; balance the greed of the bourgeoisie and the possibility of building welfare societies; Adoption of a central economic planning mechanism for the promotion of industrialization and technological development with the inclusion of the masses and the participation right; Defeat or attack on cultural supremacy and Eurocentric racism and criticism of colonialism and imperialism; it defeated fascism, changed the rules in international relations, promoted national liberation movements and anti-colonial revolutions, and thus proposed equality of peoples and international cooperation; etc. In the USSR there have been false economic calculations for the construction of socialism, periods of political intolerance and harmful participation in various areas of international capitalist competition. However, the capitalist forces that attacked it internally and externally on a daily basis defeated it. It was his above-mentioned successes, rather than his failures, that led to economic, political and ideological aggression, thus leading to the closure of the first cycle of socialist experiences and leaving an open path for socialist transition.
Despite the defeat of the USSR and the end of the first cycle, China took a different path than the Soviets, the West did not defeat it and it seems to be opening a second cycle. Chinese Marxists like Jiang Hui (2017, 2019) point out that socialism with Chinese characteristics has become the flag of socialist world transition and the 21st century is a time of competition between US-led global capitalism and world socialism. This is led by a former peripheral country that is now a great power. After a period of state capitalism and the enormous development of the productive forces, China seems to be in a primary phase of socialist transition, in which – as Marx emphasizes – elements of capitalism remain and the struggle to overcome them is even more intense. internal and external. However, the tendency of a socialist country to take the top position in the world economy for the first time in history has become concrete. In this sense, other trends in China have characterized their experience in building world socialism – which, according to the Chinese themselves, can only be global or not. They propose the development and independence of the performance of socialist forces (currently weak and dispersed) in all countries in order to determine their path, combined with regional or international coordination and integration in order to unify actions, basic theoretical understandings and goals of socialism.
However, without the rigid command model of the Third International. Then world socialism combines national features in a nation-state form with cosmopolitanism. In other words, they enliven proletarian internationalism and the world history of Marx and Engels. In this way it is even possible to counter the attacks of international capitalist / fascist forces. They support connecting socialist forces around the world with progressive social movements like anti-globalization, democratic rights, pacifists, environmental issues, feminism, etc. to build great anti-capitalist forces that destroy the current social order and build a new one. They highlight a socialist movement that takes economic and social development into account with ecological responsibility and follows the notes of the founders of modern socialism, as in Capital (Marx 2008) on environmental destruction through capitalist accumulation.
The Chinese believe that the socialist path through national experiences is varied, made up of advances and setbacks, and victories and defeats. It is a process whose global reach is of crucial importance for its existence and which, above all, is tedious and lengthy. In addition, according to Xi Jinping (2016), China plays a fundamental role as socialism with Chinese features enabled scientific socialism to show new strength in the 21st century. In addition, an extremely realistic, viable and correct path should be followed, which captivates the world with its conquests.
On the whole, Marx and Engels initially paved the way to socialism theoretically and scientifically and fought for it. Then the USSR opened them in practice, completing a first cycle that left a legacy for future generations. Now China, a first cycle survivor, is learning from past mistakes and successes to turn to world socialism. It must be emphasized that the idea of cycles is only a didactic view of the development of socialism worldwide. Then, not necessarily in cycles, as long as there is a socialist perspective, be it in poor Bolivia or in huge China, the possibility for humanity to leave its prehistory is always real.
Hui, Jiang (2017) World Socialism in the 21st Century: New Structure, New Features and New Trends, International critical thinking7, 2, 159-170.
Hui, Jiang (2019): We are still in the historical era established by Marxism. International critical thinking22 August 2019, 1-17.
Jinping, Xi. (2016). Speech on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing. English edition of the Qiushi Journal, October-December, Volume 8, No. 4, Issue No. 29.
Marx, Karl (2008) O Capital: Crítica da Economia Política. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira.
Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich. (2009). Manifesto comunista. Habana: Ciencias Sociales.
Marx, Karl. (2012). Crítica do programa de Gotha. São Paulo: Boitempo.
Marx, Karl. (2013). A Guerra Civil na França. São Paulo: Boitempo.
P. G. Visentini, A. D. Pereira, J. M. Martins, L. D. Ribeiro and L. G. Gröhmann (2013). Revoluções e regimes marxistas: Rupturas, Experiências e Impacto Internacional. Porto Alegre: Leitura XXI / Nerint / UFRGS.
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