Economic Globalization and the Fate of Contemporary Socialism

Song Mengrong
Loyola University Chicago (visiting professor)

With the rapid development of economic globalization in the last decades of the 20th century, the socialist movement suffered the big the setback and socialist countries in Europe came to disappear. Unassailably, the disappearance of socialist countries in Europe is one of the important conditions and characteristic of the development of the economic globalization too. From these phenomena, there is the assertion that capitalism has defeated all threats to the capitalist institution. Then, is there the connection between the development of the economic globalization and the Low tide of worldwide socialist movement? If the answer is positive yes, what it is? And, with the development of the economic globalization, what is the fate of the worldwide socialism including Chinese socialism?


The connection between the economic globalization and capitalist, socialist development


The economic globalization, from the view of allocation of the market economic resources, means the allocation of resources and factors, that is to say, production, trade, investment, financial capital, information can smoothly flow in the world, which create the real material foundation of world history and common relations among different countries and nations in the world; From the view of the development level of productive forces, it is a new stage of the highly socializing the productive forces; From the view of the essence of economic relations mainly dominated until now, it means the new expansion of economic relations of the world led by a few developed countries. However, all of the above have constructed the realistic conditions and grounds of the existence and development of socialist theory and practice for new century


The economic globalization is a process of great progress of the human history, also is a process full of contradictions and conflicts, mixed with civilization and savage, richness and poverty, magic and moldering. The economic globalization is a historic trend, which has gestated with the capitalist production relations’ coming into being and growth; has became obvious with the well-developed capitalism, the great progress of industrialization and post-industrialization, the world capitalist economic system shaping up; has developed with the globalization of the capitalist intrinsic conflicts, the growth of capitalist self-negative factors — socialist factors in capitalist society and in the world, the expansion of the influence on the process of the globalization by contemporary socialist force and people of all countries in the world; will be in the end with the socialist force and world people getting the dominant position in the process.


As a strict definition of modern economic globalization, its pregnancy, from the early 19century to 1870s, was also the period that scientific socialist theory and movement were pregnant and set up.


Its middle period, from the late 19 century to the early 20 century, was also the time when the socialism was propagated among the workers’ movement in west Europe and the world, then was boosted flourish in main countries in Europe and America, in the late stage of the same period, the first high tide of economic globalization and the first split of socialist movements occurred almost in the same time, the scientific socialism and democratic socialism developed along their own ways in theory, practice and institution;


Its development was interrupted in the first half of the 20th century, the period between World War I and World War II,while the socialist system came into being in the world first time. Then, the two socialist high tides successively appeared, fashionable in the world. At the same time, because of constant wars, crises and abrupt socialism’s rise formed the severe press and influence on capitalism, capitalism had to adjust and reform, which were the theoretical and practical foundation for the establishment of the state monopoly capitalism.


Its start-up again was after World War II, the process of economic globalization has got highly tide since the late 20th century, especially since the middle 1980 s.The globalization of production, finance, scientific and technology information and market economy have got the unprecedented upsurge. Multinational companies became the dominance of world economy day by day. “The global village” has become the thing that can be experienced first time. In the meantime, the tide to blend with the world economy and to establish the market mechanism appeared in most of socialist countries. But the reforms in some countries failed. At the last decade of 20th century socialism came into the low tide. So, it is the time to adjust, innovate and rejuvenate the world socialist theory and practice and institutions. Nowadays, the process of economic globalization is in the ascendant, but with the growth of economy, the new and old intrinsic contradictions of the capitalist economic relations become deeper and deeper, the polarity between the south and north and social division in the developed countries are aggravated continually, which lead to the continuous national and religious and regional conflicts, environmental crises, the terrorism becomes a highlight, anti-globalization movements break out in west countries. There is the sign that trend of socialist thought revives in west countries.


The process of emergence, development and becoming important of the economic globalization shows that the economic globalization is a historic course, which affected by many factors, such as the revolution and growth of productive forces in the world, the reform of the capitalist economic relations and system, the process of the global expansion and economic periods of capitalist relations. In fact, the economic globalization is still led by the capitalist economic relations mainly, thus it is a course-advancing wave upon wave with great development and leap and crisis as to split. The process of economic globalization promotes the development of socialism with the material grounds, objective demands, social powers and the environment of socialist practical progress. From the view of the trend of development, the great advance of economic globalization is connected with that man democratically controls and humanizes the worldwide growth of economy, politics and society; man more and more calls the realization of the new civilization and the socialist essence. It is also connected with the maturity of the historic conditions, which push forward the socialist vigor, innovation and growth.


The factors related to the socialist severe setback in the late 20th century and the development of the economic globalization


Generally, as well as objectively, it is a failure in the worldwide games for socialism suffering the severe setback in the late 20th century that the young socialism produced by the immature world economic relations and material basis stack up against the mature and advanced capitalism, which continually expand in the world with the high-tech and economic globalization. The reasons are two as follows: First, although economic globalization, as a result of development of social productive forces and scientific is huge progress of human civilization, it is still dominated by capitalist powerful economic and political and ideological forces for their managing to every nation and everywhere of the world in the capitalist economic system in current historical stage; Second, although socialist system was established on the grounds of the global market and relations which were created and explored and constantly strengthened by capitalism, but with varied reasons socialist countries were at distance from world relations of the economy and science and technology in long run, and their development were limited ,their system became more and more rigid. In a word, the socialist setback in the end of the 20th century just is the colliding of the both of the two processes.


From the view of concrete aspects, the connections between the socialist severe setback in the late 20th century and the development of the economic globalization

are as followings:

Firstly, the economic globalization needs the openness and marketization, which reflects the objective requirements and direction of world productive force development. It is an extreme shock wave for traditional rigid socialist institution. The shock wave could not be transformed into the motive force for successful reform in some socialist countries. But it destroyed both the old system and the socialist system.

Secondly, since the middle 1980s, the economic globalization has fast developed. In the economic contest between the socialism and capitalism socialism lost the game during the time, which threatened the ideological leading position of the ruling party and the legality of the authorities in socialist countries.

Thirdly, U.S as a leader and other western governments, international economic organization, and institutions consciously integrated the economic globalization, liberalization, privatization, marketization and western values, political systems, then instilled into socialist countries by different channels and ways. Moreover, the period from 1980s to 1990s was also the golden time for neoliberalism. All of the factors had great influence on the socialist ruling parties and policy-making think tanks who were looking for the reform plan.

Under the surging tide of the economic globalization, some ruling parties lost the guide of the scientific theory and mainstay because they faced a developing and changing world after the long-term closure.

The above analysis shows:

There are two sides in which the economic globalization affects the socialist process since the last decade of 20th century. On one hand, economic globalization, as a result that social productive force highly developed and the science and technology advanced by leaps and bounds, and as the great achievement of man’s cultural progress, impelled that the socialism developed from the primary stage to advanced stage, the realistic socialist system closely linked and mixed with the world cultural process. The economic globalization is the precondition and environment for the transform from socialism with old model to new one, and for the growth of socialism to be mature. The globalization provides tremendous opportunities for the relative backward socialist countries to realize economic and social bound developments. On the other hand, as the leading course of developed countries and capitalist economic relations, economic globalization, for the socialism, means a course in which there are pitfalls and the socialism may be evolved and swallowed. That is to say, if the Communist Party in power of some nation can’t keep clear-headed, insist on the right theoretical guide, superb coping with strategies, necessary independence and initiative, being well versed in avoiding harm, the socialism in the country may get in serious crisis when she blend with the economic globalization.

In sum, from the view of the history and world, under the high tide of the economic globalization, the worldwide severe socialist setback at the end of 20th century is not the historic failure of socialist theory, system and practice, and nether is the socialist historic end, but it is the first time for the worldwide socialism to change qualitatively from the young to mature, which means the end of primary socialist model. The socialism winded up in the former Soviet Union and the east European countries, while the exploration of Socialism with Chinese characteristic has succeeded, which is the successful example for the socialist reform. The Chinese socialism conforms to the trend of economic globalization, and it shows the new future of the socialist rejuvenation and development, the vitality and energy of the new socialist.

We have every reason to believe that with the promotion of the economic globalization, world. We have every reason to believe that with the promotion of the economic globalization, world civilization will forge rapidly ahead and socialism will greet more space, solid foundation and conditions to develop in 21st century. The more important thing is that we should learn all the lessons and experiences from the 20th century’s socialism, that is, we should actively participate the economic globalization, shouldn’t lose the goal and direction of the socialist values, should be good at holding the right of initiative, through out keeping the ruling parties advanced and vigorous.


The author :

Prof. Song Mengrong,

Visiting Scholar of Department of Philosophy ,

Loyola University Chicago,

Chicago 6525,W.Shridan Road, IL 60626


Vice President of the Research Society For World Socialism of China

Professor in Liaoning Provincial Politics and Economy College,