For some 25 years in revolutionary Haiti, most of the productive land was nationalized and run as state property. This paper shows that this economic system can be accurately described as agrarian socialism. Its life and death are compared with the experiences of 20th-century socialist regimes and their transition to a market economy, paying special attention to the kindred case of São Tomé. Haitian socialism is interesting because it was the unintended, accidental product of an emergency situation: the killing or flight of all the French landlords, which made their land vacant property and drove the state to run it in the public interest to defend the revolution. Therefore, it can be read as a natural experiment in socialism in the absence of a socialist ideology and of a socialist party that could hold the system together, constrain its income distribution, and control its eventual privatization.