This is much too complex an issue to explore thoroughly here, but it is worth noting that many “socialist” states in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in what used to be called “the third world” were socialist only in name. Many of them were run as fiefdoms by dictators who stole much of the national wealth and deposited it in Swiss banks. Others, like Cuba, were kept afloat only by large infusions of cash from patron states like the Soviet Union or China.

International agencies like the World Bank which insist on “opening” such economies to outside capitalist investment can also cause tremendous suffering and rob nations of their dignity and independence. But without an international socialist safety net, it is not clear that socialism provides a viable alternative. Unless one is content to implement a closed, low-level agrarian form of socialism, a successful economy must be highly developed, and socialists have been markedly less successful than capitalists in undertaking such development.

Back to list of misconceptions.