Which Countries are Socialist? Which Are Not?

I don’t know if I can agree that Germany is a socialist country. Its got a government and a public sector and a welfare system but its got a large private sector. I don’t know what percentage of the workforce work in the private sector for capitalist employers but its a lot. I might look it up. The means of production aren’t socially owned, right?

(Is America a socialist country by your definition?)

My position is that social democracy is a form of socialism. The social democrats call themselves socialists and their parties are typically called socialist parties.

America surely has socialist elements, but we don’t have any big socialist parties in this country. We don’t have a social democratic party or a party calling itself socialist in power in the US. We don’t have a ruling or large party that is a member of the Socialist International, as is the case with possibly most of the countries on Earth.

America has always been a Hard Right country as far as any kind of socialism goes. It’s basically a place for neoliberal experiments. Of all of the world’s richest countries, it is generally agreed that the US is by far the least socialist.

I realize that any social spending or social welfare projects are part of the social democratic project, but I doubt if many social democrats would describe the US as a social democratic country in spite of our meager and tattered safety net.

Now most of Europe is socialist. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are socialist. Japan is socialist. Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, China, Mongolia and North Korea are socialist. 40% of the Nepalese government is held by Maoists. Most of the Arab World and Iran are more or less socialist. Most of the CIS is socialist.

Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Paraguay, Bolivia and some Caribbean countries are at the very least run by socialists. Quite a bit of Africa is run by socialist parties. You can look at the list of the Socialist International and you will see that many countries have ruling or major parties that are part of the SI.

Which places are not socialist? Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Gabon, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong at the very least.

Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea are uncertain. Singapore has a lot of social democratic elements. Much of the housing is public housing for instance. That’s a socialist project. Taiwan and South Korea both underwent huge land reforms, and Taiwan now has national health care. Further, South Korea has huge state involvement in the economy, and I believe that Taiwan traditionally did too.

Neither Taiwan nor South Korea is run by neoliberal rightwing hardline free marketeers. Both of them seem to be following the Japanese model. The Japanese model is considered to be noncapitalist mode of production. No one really knows what it is. Some call it state capitalism. Others call it national socialism along WW2 German lines.

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59 Comments

Filed under Africa, Americas, Asia, Caribbean, Conservatism, Economics, Europe, Government, Japan, Latin America, Middle East, NE Asia, Neoliberalism, North America, Political Science, Politics, Regional, SE Asia, Singapore, Socialism, South America, South Korea, Taiwan, US Politics, USA

59 responses to “Which Countries are Socialist? Which Are Not?

  1. Hi Robert,

    One interesting thing about Singapore. Shortly after independence they passed laws that says most of the land belong to the state. I read somewhere that about 80% of land in Singapore today belongs to the state. The other 20% of land can be taken over by the state.

    Another interesting issue. I remember visiting an exhibition about the Arab diaspora in Singapore. It is said that they are the largest private land owner in Singapore before independence. They are mostly Yemeni Arabs, yet they are a very small part of Singaporean population (0.2% of the population pre-independence). When you have a small part of the population owning so much land this will create resentment. So I think Singaporean government did the right thing by taking ownership of most land.

    Finally Singapore indeed has some socialist elements including public housing. However this public housing has not been affordable to young couple for quite some time now. I have explained this in my comment here https://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/a-debate-about-communism-and-capitalism/#comments

  2. Steve

    Well, that clarifies your position.

    I don’t know what you think about this but it was the labour party in the UK that replaced student grants with student loans, and introduced university tuition fees.

    They did put quite a lot of funding into things like community centres and charities that help the poor and vulnerable, but they were borrowing the country further and further into a sovereign debt crisis (like the Tory government before).

    The national debt is over a trillion and governments of both parties have been running deficits most years since the late 70’s. Fuck! So there is a very real practical fiscal issue that needs to be addressed.

    The present conservative government are at least trying to address it but they have done so by cutting funding to the charities and community projects, cutting jobs in the public sector, and now they are talking about ending housing benefits for under 25’s!

    I can’t say I like what they have done but what are we supposed to do? Keep borrowing forever? How do you stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit without cutting the public sector?

  3. Aditya Kadambi

    India is not socialist?
    Are you all right ,mate??
    India officially claims to have a mixed economy post the early 90s but there are massive socialist schemes & humongous welfare

  4. India’s unfeeling treatment of her lower orders makes what little “socialism” they practice there just about meaningless. Socialism in India? On paper, at best.

  5. Yes, we in the US do have a Socialist Party, and a big one. It just doesn’t add the “Social…” to the “Social Democrat” label. It’s just called the “Democratic Party”. And in England the so-called “Labor Party” fills the same bill. Each believes–and acts on that belief–that everyone’s earnings and property are not their own, and can be looted by the State as the State sees fit. In other words, one’s life and life’s work is not their own but belongs to the State.

  6. Dogmaster

    Richard Kirby was accurate, we do have here in the USA a socialist party and it is the Democratic Party. I do not know enough about the Labor Party in England to offer any comment. Go ahead and ban me the way you banned Kirby, for I know how much you cannot stand a viewpoint opposed to yours, typical liberal.
    Oh, just in case you were wondering, I came across your site because I did a Google search, “Is Peru a socialist country?” For some strange reason I came upon your site in the top few hits.
    Just know this; proper thinking folks are on to you Progressives (translation, Regressives) and we know exactly what you are up to in trying to destroy Western civilization as we know it. Bless your lil’ pea-pickin’ Marxist hearts. That will never happen!! I can assure you of that.
    Nice getting a different word into your ear…now ban me too, you little chicken.

  7. Isabella

    So, is Japan a socialist country? I’ve been told I’m a socialist by many people so I’m just curious!

    • Sort of. It is definitely not a free market neoliberal laissez faire capitalist country! In fact, it’s not even really capitalist. It more like “state capitalism.” And yes, I would call Japan a socialist country, but the socialism is provided by the corporations who take care of the social spending that the government would normally do.

      And welcome to the site, comrade.

    • Martin White

      Japan is largely socialist yes. All modern democracies are socialist, all decent people are by definition socialists. Its the sign on a civilised nation to care for its poorest and sick people… Why don’t Americans understand this and call me a communist?

    • Miko

      In Japan, businesses are controlled by its owners, not government. I believe Japan is a capitalist country.

      • I suppose we should define what Socialism is. It needn’t be state ownership of all businesses and resources although it can mean exactly that. To my mind its a self explanatory work (Being socially aware and caring for your fellow citizens) with health care, help with housing and benefits for the unemployed. I found this re. Japan somewhere on the Internet.
        Not sure where you re getting your info. Government in Japan is HUGE and very controlling. Taxes are high and there are a lot of social services. It s not socialist per se, but the fact that Japan is mostly Japanese creates a similar “all for all” feeling. But it is most certainly a combination of free market and socialism. From what I’ve seen of Japan I like it.

  8. Where are any of the European countries on this list? I was doing a rebuttal on someone’s social media post and came across your article, so I was specifically trying to determine whether France and Denmark were socialist. I don’t think you covered enough of that continent.🙂
    http://www.awesomewriter.com

  9. laura

    what would the Bahamas fall under?

  10. Sorry, dear sir, But Brazil is not socialist. We have a left to left-center wing government, but all the economy is a capitalista one. We have ultra-rich, we have billioneres and huge conglomaretes. Private property is the norme. In recent years we have some social avances, thanks to Lula e Dilma, but the “white elite” is doing a lot of noise lately. So no, we are not even near

  11. Dan

    Can someone please post examples of successful socialist societies where the vast majority of it’s citizens enjoy prosperity, that experience nominal levels of government corruption, that actively encourage foreign immigration and grant citizenship in high rates, and can competently defend itself from external aggression?

    I would like to find an example that is so compelling that I would prefer to live there instead of the US.

    If there is no direct answer, then I would be happy to have input from participants on a socialist blog as to what is the best example of a thriving socialist society and why you would rather live there than wherever you are now. In other words, I would declare the US to be the most successful Capitalist/Democratic society ever. What is the best Socialist society ever?

    You can ban me if you want but I’m not a troll. I’d really appreciate knowing what modern socialists aspire to.

    • Can someone please post examples of successful socialist societies where the vast majority of its citizens enjoy prosperity, that experience nominal levels of government corruption, that actively encourage foreign immigration and grant citizenship in high rates, and can competently defend itself from external aggression?

      Most countries on Earth are officially socialist. The social democratic form of socialism meets all the criteria you describe and it is found everywhere in the world’s richest countries in Europe, in the Persian Gulf states, in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, etc. Libya was a good example until Ghaddafi was overthrown. Belarus is a good example of a more purely socialist or Soviet type model that works very well.

      I am curious how you define prosperity. The way you defined prosperity rules out most nations on Earth.

      • martin1

        Strange that a nation virtually comprised of “poor” immigrants” should be so hostile to Immigrants.

        • EPGAH

          Also, the ones most opposed to new waves of immigrants…are previous waves of immigrants.

          Possibly, they remember usurping from those who belong here, and don’t want to be usurped in the same way by the newcomers.

          Or less hyperbole, more immigrants drives down wages and drives up prices, so noone is really eager to have more of THAT except the most evil of Capitalist Bosses, right?

        • martin1

          I have utter confidence that the wealthiest country on the planet will somehow manage to keep you employed gainfully. even if it is flipping burgers and there’s no shame in that whatsoever BTW.

        • TRASH

          MARTIN 1 America’s immigrant problems have been with Scots-American “hillbillies”, Italians, Jews, Irish and Latinos but South Asian and East Asians are generally not violent or aggressive on the street.

        • martin1

          I re watched “The gangs of New York” only a few days ago. It was pretty accurate. They sure didn’t care for the Irish did they ?(dead rabbits)
          I hate that the movies tend to glamorise the Mafia

        • TRASH

          Scientists have determined that Mongolian tribes fought newer arrivals from Siberia/Mongolia during the original settlement of the Americas.

          It is nothing new.

        • martin1

          I expect they did although I wasn’t around when there was a land bridge to Alaska. Good job they didn’t have guns.

        • TRASH

          MARTIN 1 Actually South Asians and Northeast Asians are quite well-behaved chaps in the U.S.

          Its the hot-blooded Italians, tough Irish fighters, Scots-American warriors, Russian thugs etc. who you might want to avoid.

          I doubt you would ever have a problem with a Korean-American or Indian.

        • martin1

          I don’t have a problem with any nationality as it happens. My middle Grandson is married to a British born Chinese girl and my wife of 50 years is from Tipperary Ireland. I would welcome anyone to Britain if it were left to me (as long as they don’t want to kill us)

        • martin1

          The Pilgrims were staunch puritans in fact, they landed from the Mayflower and although many died they helped each other. Did you know that the puritans didn’t tolerate other religions like Presbyterians and certainly not Catholics? Many were either killed or at least put in the stocks. The history of the early days of America are largely myth. I’m not talking “redistribution” I’m talking about a helping hand.

  12. TRASH

    America is LESS attractive to the average North African or Syrian than UK or Norway with their generous welfare.

    If America were truly the land of opportunity North Africans and Syrians would be arriving in Ocean Liners.

  13. TRASH

    PROSPERITY The average person in Russia today has gadgets and luxuries that would have been unheard of 25 years in the 1990’s.

    • martin1

      The average Russian is poor indeed since the rouble collapsed. Europe is much more prosperous and more generous with welfare for the poor the sick and the elderly. As a Royal Navy officer in the late sixties I was shocked and dismayed by the life style of the average American. I saw parts of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia that looked more like Aleppo or Baghdad. I also saw segregation first hand which horrified me. Still no universal health care from Uncle Sam either. I know people who have to choose which items they can afford from a doctors prescription. It’s free to the poorest in Britain and pensioners over 60 years of age (me and my wife) It certainly pays to actually visit these places before deciding who’s prosperous and who’s not. Socialist seem to do better I’d say.

    • martin1

      Oh dear, you really are a racist aren’t you? Germany has the third/ or fourth now, largest economy on earth. Where do you think those BMW’s and Porches come from? Syria I agree are a different kettle of fish. I’m sure they’ll contribute mightily to the American economy if you give them a chance. You won’t though will you?

  14. TRASH

    Districts of Manchester and London have poverty as do Glasgow, Leeds. Areas where Afro-Caribbeans and Pakistanis lived are quite run-down.

  15. TRASH

    MARTIN1 Parts of Belfast, London and Northern England used to be poor. Particularly their Afro-Caribbean and South Asian districts.

    Rural poverty in a few places in Wales USED to be quite bad as well.

    Bearing in mind that its been decades since I was there.

    • martin1

      They still are, not quite starving but poor enough. I used to live in London but moved away about fifteen years ago. Did you know that a three bedroom apartment in Mayfair or Knightsbridge which were £5/10,000 only about twenty years ago is now likely to cost £15 million plus and even if you have that much money which I assume you don’t (I don’t either) you still can’t buy it, They will decide who they sell it to. It won’t be me and it won’t be me.. I was lucky, I paid for my house years ago fortunately for me. I’d never seen “food banks” until a few years ago. Now they’re everywhere.
      The gap between haves and have nots grows ever wider. I have no answers to the problem other than we need 2 million affordable homes, decent homes.Half to buy at cost price and the other half to let at a fair rent. Getting benefits is a positive nightmare ( I get a healthy pension) so I’m OK, but its not about me is it?
      I know Britain is positively awash with money for the few. Social mobility might help I suppose. If there is no work they should be able to move to somewhere where there is. Its not as easy as it sounds I know. At least we have a “free at the point of use” NHS and pensions for all regardless of what you’ve paid in in the past. The latest “gimmick” of the Conservatives is to “sanction” benefits” if you happen to be five minutes late signing on or they deem you just aren’t trying hard enough to get a job where there are no jobs. Of late I’ve been arguing like hell with supporters of that delightful Milton Friedman (deceased) and the premise “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” I say “yes there is, come to my house, all lunches are free. Actually we were talking about Xmas when we never know who’s going to turn up. Some arrive and some don’t but however many turn up (one year it was nine) instead of the usual five. Not a problem, sit down and enjoy your free lunch . Many Americans are generous to a fault but those damn Libertarians… Fuck ’em. What’s worse is that they just cant accept how wrong they are. I’m not in favour of Russian style “Gulags” of course but I’m a Socialist to the core. I just can’t figure out why they see this as a bad thing.

      • EPGAH

        What if you only had enough to feed your own family…and more showed up? Would you starve yourself and your family to feed the invaders?

        • TRASH

          EPGAH With globalization and technology, the number of people who will actually be employed is shrinking fast.

          And that is the college-educated. High school graduates or GED’s from rural white towns? Nobody will have a job in 20 years.

        • Gay State Girl

          The boomers are retiring and the energy sector is growing. Some manufacturing jobs have returned because the wages (along with production costs) have grown in China.

        • Jason Y

          EPGAH With globalization and technology, the number of people who will actually be employed is shrinking fast.

          And that is the college-educated. High school graduates or GED’s from rural white towns? Nobody will have a job in 20 years.

          Yeah, but what about stuff you learn in trade schools like electrician jobs etc.. ?? If NAMS are really as low IQ as WNs claim, then they would have a tough time even passing a trade school.

        • martin1

          Well I only have eight chairs but I can cram a few more in which I’ve done. Hey, my guests aren’t freeloaders, they’re invited. There’s always enough, if there wasn’t I’d get some more of one of my four sisters. Who taught you that sharing was a bad thing? Mr Friedman or Miss Rand?
          I was told that Americans were generous by nature, I was told wrong I guess. But re. enough food. In Christmas week we get a huge turkey and two legs of lamb (when half price) stick them in the freezer just in case and a sack of taters in the garage. We can feed an army for a week and be damn honoured to do it. I know in the long run I pay for it but it’d go to waste and often does anyway. To all extents and purposes it a FREE lunch

      • martin1

        @ Epgah. I lock my door yeah not to protect my belongings we just feel safer and snug, I once lived in a watermill where we never ever locked the door. We had a Pyrenean mountain dog. Don’t you believe in “gifts”? Did your parents not pay more for your birthday present than they could afford and wrecked the monthly budget? Mine sure did. They taught me generosity of nature and the socialist dream. I very glad they did. You really should try it some time…

      • martin1

        @Epgah. No you are not “most of us” you are a single sad person who doesn’t want to pay a penny to help a fellow man or woman. Why don’t you just admit to being a Scrooge and that’s an end to the matter.

  16. RunTan411

    I am from Japan. I don’t label my country as a socialist as I have been taught in Japan and the country does not control everything. The fact that all people in Japan may the country seem socialist but there are freedom in business and personal life. Japan actually is a capitalist democratic nation. You may be confused with Japan being a collectivist and high context country, but that is about culture and not politics.

    • Its only America that considers caring for it’s poorest, elderly and sick people as being Socialist/Communist. What you have in Japan is similar to Europe. A mixed economy. Americans consider this just a short leap into the gulag archipelago.

  17. TRASH

    Martin is correct and for all that America hides behind family values and community standards there is no other developed country that is so brutal in this regard.

  18. TRASH

    MARTIN Japan and Sweden are homogeneous so it is easy for the entire country to see itself as an extended family.

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