1st Edition

Socialist Economic Systems 21st Century Pathways

By Steven Rosefielde Copyright 2023
    326 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bernie Sanders’ socialist advocacy in the United States, communist China’s economic successes and a Marxist revival are inspiring many to muse about improved strategies for building superior socialist futures. Socialist Economic Systems provides an objective record of socialism’s promises and performance during 1820–2022, identifies a feasible path forward and provides a rigorous analytic framework for the comparison of economic systems.

    The book opens by surveying pre-industrial utopias from Plato to Thomas More, and libertarian communal designs for superior living. It plumbs all aspects of the revolutionary and democratic socialist political movements that emerged after 1870 and considers the comparative economic, political and social performance of the USSR and others from the Bolshevik Revolution onwards. The book also provides case studies for all revolutionary Marxist–Leninist regimes, and supplementary discussions of Mondragon cooperatives, Israeli kibbutzim, Nordic corporatism and European democratic socialism. It investigates the theoretical and practical complexities of command-planning, reform communism, market communism, worker economic management and egalitarianism. It examines communism as an engine of economic growth, and a mechanism for improving people’s quality of existence, including living standards, labor self-governance, egalitarianism, social justice, and prevention of crimes against humanity before addressing the perennial question of what needs to be done next. A suggested path forward is elaborated drawing lessons from the warts-and-all historical performance of socialist economies during 1917–2022 and failed socialist prophesy. The evidence indicates that the key to 21st-century socialism success lies in empowering workers of all descriptions to govern democratically for their mutual protection and welfare without the extraneous imposition of priorities imposed by other movements.

    The book is essential reading for anyone interested in socialism, political economy, comparative economic systems, and political and social history.

    List of Illustrations



    Executive Summary



    PART I

    Socialist Cross Currents (1820–1920)

    1 Utopia

    2 Libertarian Socialism

    3 Socialist Utopian Fiction

    4 Prelude to the Marxist–Leninist Moment


    Marxist-Leninism (1917–1991)

    5 Bolshevik Revolution

    6 Planning

    7 Perestroika

    8 Worker Self-Management

    9 Maoism

    10 Castroism

    11 Reform Communism

    12 World Communism

    13 Dystopian Socialist Fiction (1890–1950)

    14 Crimes against Humanity

    15 Oblivion


    Post Command Planning

    16 Chinese Market Communism

    17 Democratic Socialism

    18 Anarcho-Socialism

    19 New Age Planning

    20 Egalitarian Socialism

    21 Japanese Communalist-Socialism

    22 21st-Century Socialism


    Appendix 1

    Appendix 2

    Appendix 3

    Appendix 4

    Appendix 5



    Steven Rosefielde is Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.