Skip to main content

The Rise and Transcendence of State Socialism: Stalinism, De-Stalinization and Beyond

  • Chapter
Comparative Sociology and Social Theory
  • 59 Accesses


From the point of view of the theorists of mid-century who divided the countries of the globe into three parts, several characteristics set state socialist societies apart as a distinct ‘second world’. In contrast to industrial capitalism’s primarily privately owned system of production, state socialism involved collective ownership and centralized planning and control. The separation of economic and political spheres of capitalist democracies is contrasted with the fusion of economics and politics in the state socialist system, in which all spheres of life are potentially open to being politicized and subordinated to the goals laid down in state socialist ideology as interpreted by the political leadership (Davis and Scase, 1985). In consequence, individuals and the institutions of civil society have little independence in what have been called (controversially, as Giddens [1985] and Rupnik [1988] note) ‘totalitarian states’. The alternative route to industrial society and the modern world offered by state socialism was not a polar opposite of the capitalist democracies, however, and it took some of the features of capitalist industrialization to the extreme. The scale of state socialist industrial plants often dwarfed that of their capitalist counterparts for example, the prime illustration of this being the giant steel-making works at Magnitogorsk where production grew to parallel the output of entire countries such as Britain (Kotkin, 1992).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Institutional subscriptions


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


Copyright information

© 1997 Graham Crow

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Crow, G. (1997). The Rise and Transcendence of State Socialism: Stalinism, De-Stalinization and Beyond. In: Comparative Sociology and Social Theory. Palgrave, London.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics