Defining "socialist"

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Was the USSR truly socialist? I've read the industry was apparently 70% state owned, which would make it more state capitalist if anything. However for much of it's history it did fight to spread socialist ideology for the final goal of achieving socialism, and this is of course why every powerful capitalist country opposed them. It should also be noted that some including Orthodox Marxists do believe that state capitalism is perhaps a necessary step in the transitioning to true socialism, but I digress.

The question is, does socialism only exist after the workers have democratic control over the means of production? Or could the process of reaching for this specific goal in itself be considered socialism? Meaning, could you still call a country socialist even though the workers haven't gained control of production, though the government is moving towards this goal?



"does socialism only exist after the workers have democratic control over the means of production?"

That is correct, AFAIK. The USSR was socialist, but it was not communist. Communism -- the stateless, classless ideal society -- takes a good long while to build, and probably cannot be built at all in one country or even continent, surrounded by capitalist/imperialist forces. The USSR made fabulous progress toward the goal given where they started, in feudal misery. The degeneration apparently started with Kruschev.

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