I have lived in Slovakia for nearly forty years during socialism and now for more than ten years under capitalism. During the periods of 1988-1999, I shuttled between the USA and Slovakia. I observed that socialism and capitalism, these economically and politically different systems each produced a different kind of society.
After the transformation of socialism to capitalism in Slovakia in 1989, I was surprised by the unexpected changes (most of them negative ones) that capitalism had brought into our daily life. As a result, I joined the Communist party of Slovakia in 2000 and started to be more interested in the discussion of socialism versus capitalism.
Many books and articles present theories and conclusions criticizing real socialism in former socialist countries by emphasizing the crimes of communism. Interestingly, many of the book’s authors never lived under socialism or lived in countries under the transition of socialism to capitalism. Instead of a real discussion about socialism versus capitalism, many of them presented limited facts and repeated myths about the totalitarian communist regime, the crimes of communism and the failure of socialism. I had a feeling that they were trying to hide real evidence about socialism or did not know the real facts.
Now when former socialist countries are transformed into capitalist ones, it is easy to compare how the transition affects the economy, human rights, freedom, happiness, satisfaction and the whole economic, cultural and social life of the people. It is easy to compare the crimes of communism with the crimes of recent democracy. As I found out, there are many studies criticizing socialism. However, I do not know of studies comparing the result of a real socialist experiment in the former socialist countries versus real capitalism in the same countries, in spite of fact these data now easily available.
Usually when I read books describing socialism in the former socialist countries as a “criminal, totalitarian and inhuman communist regime, under which people were living without freedom, human rights, or democracy”, I am very surprised and cannot understand the descriptions. I cannot find statistical data or use my personal experience to support this general view.
These myths provoked me to write some books and this blog. I would like to present the real data of socialism versus capitalism from statistical yearbooks and other statistical sources, starting with agriculture.
Development of agriculture in Slovakia
During socialism the foreign propaganda was telling us that our agricultural cooperatives were primitive and not as effective as the private farms in the USA and Western Europe. They told us that socialism, the centrally planned economy and the collectivization of agriculture was responsible for our bad results during socialist agriculture. They said that we needed to get rid of socialism, the centrally planned economy, state farming and the co-operatives. After 1989 we followed this advice and, as it is shown below, the results are the opposite of what the propaganda persuaded us to do.
Co-operative and state farming in 1988 used nearly 100% of the area under cultivation. During socialism all agricultural policy was centrally planned. After coup d’État in 1989 in Slovakia, capitalism started with privatization and abandoned the socialist organization of agriculture. At the beginning of 2004, the private sector had a 99% share in agriculture production in Slovakia.
Results are shown in Figures 1-9 below.
The very telling figures, shown below, reveal the truth, which is exactly the opposite of the propaganda that has tutored us. It is seen from the figures that our agriculture was poor under capitalism (years < 1948), when Slovakia was politically and economically connected with the Western capitalist countries. It improved when it disconnected from Western countries, and declined again after 1989, when Slovakia was again politically and economically connected with Western capitalist countries. It is seen from the figures that in spite of the best capitalist theories and predictions, in the real experiment, the socialist system of agricultural production was better than the capitalist one. How is that possible? Why in some parameters does the capitalistic democracy destroy our agriculture to a greater extent than Hitler’s army, the Red army and partisans combined during WWII.
The mystery of the Slovak agricultural development is that nobody in Slovakia or in the developed capitalist countries has mentioned the results of the real socialist-capitalist experiment during many discussions on TV or in other media sources. It still surprises me that nowadays, most of the respectful political and economic scholars from home and abroad are still repeating the myths about the inefficient and primitive socialist agriculture as the result of the socialist system.
Bratislava, July 27, 2008