Doesn’t socialism always end up in dictatorship?

I was taught that socialism can’t work because it always leads to a dictatorship, as seen in:

Marxist socialism was conceived of by and for strong, prosperous post-capitalist societies (France, pre-war Germany). These countries would already have enough money and capital to redistribute and put power in the hands of an educated working class.

However, capitalists already had a lot of power in these societies and used this power to stamp out socialism out of self interest.

Less-wealthy countries that imported these ideas (Soviet Union, China, Venezuela) were able to implement socialist and communist policies because capitalists did not have much power yet.

But, socialism was not invented for these pre-industrial, agrarian societies, it had to be heavily adapted.

Instead of a way to redistribute wealth/capital, leaders attempted to use it as a way to industrialize their society. Out of necessity, these governments prioritized state-led industrialization over democratic rights.

Current Marxist-socialist thinking didn’t have any ideas or plans for how a country should develop and industrialize, but in hindsight we can see that the interpretation of socialism by these developing countries did not stay true to Marx’s motivations.

The only places where socialism was able to take hold were the places that were not ready for it. And it was only ABLE to take hold because they were not ready for it.


  1. Title inspired by an essay by Joseph M. Schwartz in The ABCs of Socialism
  2. Reference: