Socialist governments have sought to shape the meaning of consumption for their citizens, as well as to control the production and distribution of consumer goods. Ideological representations of goods, services, and lifestyles aimed to prevent popular unrest, to motivate people to work, and to demonstrate the justice and superiority of socialism in contrast to capitalism. This entry focuses on the ideology of consumption. Although the emphasis here is on the USSR, Soviet ideology served as a template for many other socialist governments.

Necessary Inequality

Socialist ideology has wavered between justifying and decrying consumer inequalities. Vladimir Lenin, the architect of the Russian revolution, argued that society first had to pass through a transitional stage of socialism on the path from capitalism to communism. To consolidate power, Lenin argued, ...

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