World Socialist System
World Socialist System
a social, economic, and political community of free sovereign states developing toward socialism and communism and united by common interests and goals and by the bonds of international socialist solidarity. The countries of the world socialist system have the same type of economic base, which rests on social ownership of the means of production, and the same type of political system—rule by the people, headed by the working class and its vanguard, the Communist and workers’ parties. They also have a single ideology, Marxism-Leninism, and a common interest in defending their revolutionary gains, guaranteeing their security against imperialist encroachments, struggling for peace throughout the world, and providing aid to peoples fighting for national independence. The single goal of the members of the world socialist system is communism, which is being built on the basis of cooperation and mutual aid. While remaining sovereign states, the socialist countries are drawing closer together within the world socialist system, which is opposed, on a class basis, to the world capitalist system.
The material base of the world socialist system is the world socialist economic system, which is built on socialist production relations. It is made up of the totality of interrelated and gradually converging economies of the sovereign socialist states, which are linked by the international socialist division of labor and the world socialist market.
The formation of the world socialist system is the logical result of the development of world economic and political forces in the period of the general crisis of capitalism, the decline of the world capitalist system, and the establishment of communism as a single, all-embracing socioeconomic formation. The rise and development of the world socialist system is a major objective accomplishment of the international revolutionary workers’ and communist movement and of the working class’ struggle for social emancipation. The world socialist system is the direct continuation of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which laid the foundation for the epoch of humanity’s transition from capitalism to communism.
The ripening of the conditions for the transition of new lands and peoples to socialism was accelerated by the success of the USSR in socialist construction, the victory of the USSR over fascist Germany and militaristic Japan in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, and the liberation of European and Asian peoples from fascist occupation and Japanese military rule by the Soviet Army. As a result of the powerful upsurge in the liberation struggles of the peoples of a number of Central and Eastern European countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia) and the struggles of the Korean and Vietnamese peoples in 1944–49, the people’s democratic and socialist revolutions were victorious. From that time, socialism transcended the boundaries of a single country and embarked on the world historical process of its transformation into a world economic and political system. In 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR) took the socialist path, and the revolution was victorious in China. At the end of the 1950’s, Cuba, the first socialist country in the western hemisphere, joined the world socialist system.
Each country in the world socialist system began to build a new society from a different level of economic and political development. Moreover, each country had its own history, traditions, and distinctive national characteristics. The world socialist system includes countries which, even before World War II, had a large proletariat tempered in class battles, as well as countries in which the working class was small at the time of the revolution. These differences give rise to special features in the forms of socialist construction and require creative application of the general laws of socialist construction, taking concrete conditions into account. Even countries that have not passed through the capitalist stage of development, such as the Mongolian People’s Republic, can begin and successfully carry out socialist construction owing to the existence of the world socialist system.
With the victory of socialist revolutions in a number of European and Asian countries, a new, socialist type of international relations based on the principle of socialist internationalism gradually took shape. The principle of socialist internationalism is an outgrowth of the socialist mode of production and the international goals of the working class and of all working peopie.
The establishment of a new type of international relations is a complicated, multifaceted process associated with the problem of overcoming the oppressive heritage of national exclusiveness, dissension, and mistrust and of centuries of rule by the exploiting classes. The objective difficulties in establishing all-around cooperation among the socialist states are the product of past differences in levels of economic and social development and in class structures. The task of overcoming these consequences of the past and of eliminating all vestiges of petit bourgeois and nationalist ideology will require a relatively long time. The world socialist system moves forward in the context of a bitter struggle with imperialism, which seeks by various means to divide the socialist countries.
The backbone of all forms of cooperation among socialist states is interparty cooperation. Without the active direction of the Marxist-Leninist parties, socialist construction in general is impossible. Drawing on their knowledge of objective laws and their generalized collective experience, the Communist and workers’ parties have jointly worked out the principles and norms of relations among parties and among states in the world socialist system. These principles include full equality, mutual respect for independence and sovereignty, mutually beneficial economic cooperation, and fraternal mutual assistance. The fundamental interests of each socialist country are served by unity of action in the international arena; coordination in building and defending socialism; extensive exchange of experience in party, economic, and government work; cultural exchange; and the expansion and strengthening of fraternal mutual assistance.
The experience of the world socialist system shows that a new society can be successfully built only when the general laws of socialist construction discovered by Marxism-Leninism are applied. Deviation from Marxist-Leninist principles and proletarian internationalism and from the general laws of socialist construction leads to serious deformations in the functioning of the economic base and the political superstructure. The chauvinistic, anti-Soviet course of the Maoists has hurt the cause of unity of the world socialist system. In spite of various difficulties, strengthening the unity and solidarity of the socialist states has been and remains the primary, decisive line of development of the world socialist system.
The world socialist system took shape along two interrelated lines. In the countries that had broken away from the capitalist system, the process of building a new society began, and the elements of socialism were strengthened. At the same time, close economic and political ties were established among the socialist states, binding them firmly into a socialist commonwealth.
Until the late 1940’s most of the European people’s democracies concentrated on general democratic, anti-imperialist, and antifeudal tasks. The revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry was established and consolidated during this stage. On the initiative of the Communist and workers’ parties in the people’s democracies, measures paving the way for the gradual transition to socialist construction were implemented.
Far-reaching transformations in the economic sphere were carried out during this period. During the first years of people’s power, radical agrarian reforms were passed, eliminating the vestiges of feudal relations on the land and the class of large-scale landowners. Industry, transportation, the banks, and commercial enterprises were nationalized, and nationalized property became the basis of the state sector of the national economy. Both the big bourgeoisie and dependence upon foreign monopolies were in fact eliminated. In Bulgaria the revolution was socialist from the very beginning, and state power took the form of the power of the working class in close alliance with the toiling peasantry.
During the people’s democratic revolutions the military and political alliances between the people’s democracies and the USSR—alliances that had come into being during the liberation struggle—became stronger, giving the people’s democracies the chance to defend the workers’ gains, despite the economic and political pressure and military threats of imperialism. The most important political act directed at stabilizing the international position of the countries of Central and Southeast Europe and heightening their international prestige was the signing of treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between them and the Soviet Union.
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s state power and the strategic industries in the European people’s democracies came under the complete power of the working class in alliance with the peasantry and other strata of the working people. Socialist industrialization and the socialist transformation of agriculture began. The economies of the socialist states began to develop on the basis of long-term national economic plans. Under difficult historical conditions, the fraternal countries created their own industrial bases, relying on aid from the Soviet Union, and ensured the victory of socialist production relations and an uninterrupted rise in the material and cultural standard of living of the working people. During the 1950’s and the first half of the 1960’s the material and technical basis of socialism was built in most of the European socialist countries.
In the sphere of relations among states, the international socialist division of labor began to develop during this period, as well as cooperation based on long-term economic agreements. Since the mid-1950’s, most of the socialist countries have coordinated their five-year plans. This has become the basic method of economic cooperation among them.
The socialist community has developed in such a way that the countries most closely linked economically and politically are the members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), which was founded in 1949, and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, which was founded in 1955. These institutions are intended to unify and coordinate the political, economic, and military efforts of the member countries. Close ideological collaboration has also developed among the COMECON countries, and their national socialist cultures have enriched each other and grown closer. The exchange of experience and the mutual enrichment of cultures have led to the development of common criteria for the socialist way of life and to the strengthening of socialist patriotism and internationalism. The COMECON countries constitute a powerful industrial complex that makes possible joint efforts to solve the complicated problems of continuing economic development and technological progress. Impressive results in the effort to raise the standard of living of the working people have been achieved by the COMECON countries.
In the mid-1960’s many of the countries in the world socialist system finished laying the foundations for socialism and moved on to the building of the developed, socialist society. The USSR entered the stage of developed socialism. The Soviet people are creating the material and technical basis of communism. The COMECON countries are moving toward more complex, more profound forms of economic cooperation and are developing the policy of socialist economic integration. A vital factor in the convergence and perfection of the national industrial complexes is the establishment of rational proportions among the national economies of different states through the mutual adaptation and perfection of the national economies, so that the efficiency of social production may be raised.
As the world socialist system develops, socialist internationalism grows stronger. Its power is most evident when tense international situations arise. International socialist mutual assistance made it possible to repel imperialist aggression in Korea and Vietnam, to defend socialist Cuba, and to successfully protect socialist gains in Hungary and Czechoslovakia from the imperialists. On the basis of socialist internationalism, the peoples of the fraternal countries are steadily strengthening their moral, political, and economic unity.
The economic laws of socialism operate in the world socialist system. Joint planning is the chief method of implementing socialist economic integration. The world socialist market, with its system of commodity-money relations, is an organic component of the contemporary world socialist economy. As the world socialist system develops, the substantial differences in the levels of economic, political, and cultural development of the various socialist countries are gradually being overcome. The less developed socialist countries are moving ahead at increasingly rapid rates and are catching up with the more advanced socialist countries. For example, Bulgaria, which was once an industrially underdeveloped agrarian country, had by the early 1970’s made significant progress in approaching the level of such countries as the USSR, the GDR, and Czechoslovakia in per capita industrial output and national income and in standard of living.
The world socialist system is the main force consistently defending peace and international security and blocking imperialist policies of war and conquest. The ruling circles of the imperialist powers are forced to take into account the resolute, peace-loving policies of the socialist countries and their defensive strength.
A very important feature of the world socialist system in its present stage of development is the consistent pursuit by the countries of the socialist community of a coordinated foreign policy aimed at strengthening universal peace and international security and at ensuring the most favorable international conditions for the development of socialism. As a result of the successes of the world socialist system in economic competition with capitalism, a new alignment of forces has taken shape in the international arena, opening up genuine prospects for a stable and lasting peace for all mankind.
From 1951 to 1973, industrial output increased by a factor of 3.3 in the advanced capitalist countries and by a factor of 9.5 in the socialist countries. In 1973 the share of the socialist countries in world industrial output was 13 times greater than in 1917. The world socialist system, which occupied 26 percent of the earth’s surface and accounted for one-third of its population in the early 1970’s, produced approximately 39 percent of the total industrial output of the world. The COMECON countries, which occupy 18 percent of the earth’s territory and include less than 10 percent of its population, produce 33 percent of the world industrial output and approximately 25 percent of the world income. The world socialist system has nothing in common with autarky or isolation. On the basis of peaceful coexistence between the two world systems and on the initiative of the world socialist system, various forms of international economic cooperation are developing steadily.
The world socialist system has won decisive positions from the capitalist system. In the nonsocialist world, the socialist community encourages all genuinely democratic and revolutionary forces. Increasingly, new states and peoples are launching a struggle against imperialism and its neocolonialist and aggressive aspirations and choosing a socialist orientation.
Thus, in the course of the coexistence and confrontation of the two world systems, the superiority of the forces of socialism over those of capitalism increases. This creates favorable conditions for the class struggle of the proletariat in the capitalist countries, facilitating their transition to socialism, and makes possible the independent development of the peoples who have freed themselves from the yoke of colonialism.
Within the socialist community, the socialist states continue to converge on the basis of the objective process of the internationalization of the productive forces. Socialist internationalization and the transition of increasing numbers of countries to the stage of socialist construction create the prerequisites for the total, worldwide victory of socialism and communism.
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