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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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

25 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.

  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.🙂

  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.

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