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Socialism Portal

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Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and an egalitarian society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals and a fair or egalitarian distribution of wealth.[1][2] Modern socialism originated in the late nineteenth-century working class political movement as well as the intellectual movement that criticized the effects of industrialization on society. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution which represents the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.[3][4]

The first socialists predicted a world improved by both technology and better social organization, and many modern socialists share this belief [5][6], although modern socialists have a bigger emphasis on egalitarianism whereas traditional socialists favored meritocracy. Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital, creates an unequal society and does not provide equal opportunities for everyone in society to attain such status. Therefore socialists advocate the creation of an egalitarian society, in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how, and to what extent this could be achieved.[1]

Socialism is not a discrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and program; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionism and economic rationalization, sometimes opposing each other. Another dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split on how a socialist economy should be established between the reformists and the revolutionaries. Some socialists advocate complete nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; while others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Socialists inspired by the Soviet model of economic development, have advocated the creation of centrally planned economies directed by a state that owns all the means of production. Others, including Yugoslavian, Hungarian, Polish and Chinese Communists in the 1970s and 1980s, instituted various forms of market socialism combining co-operative and State ownership models with the free market exchange.[7] Social democrats propose selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies combined with tax-funded welfare programs and the regulation of markets; Libertarian socialism (which includes Socialist Anarchism and Libertarian Marxism) rejects state control and ownership of the economy altogether and advocates direct collective ownership of the means of production via co-operative workers' councils and workplace democracy.


Etymologically, the English word socialism (1839) derives from the French socialisme (1832), the mainstream introduction of which usage is attributed, in France, to Pierre Leroux[8] and to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud; and in Britain to Robert Owen in 1827, father of the cooperative movement.[9][10]

Western European social critics were the first, modern socialists – Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Blanc, and Saint-Simon, who criticised the excessive poverty and inequality consequence of the Industrial Revolution, and advocated reform via the egalitarian distribution of wealth and the transformation of society to small communities without private property. Saint-Simon delineated collectivist principles reorganizing society to so build socialism upon planned, utopian communities.

Linguistically, the contemporary connotation of the words socialism and communism accorded with the adherents' and opponents' cultural attitude towards Religion. In Christian Europe, of the two, communism was believed the atheist way of life. In Protestant England, communism was too-culturally and -aurally close to the Papist Roman Catholic communion rite, hence English atheists denoted themselves socialists.[11]

In 1847, Frederick Engels said socialism was respectable on the continent, while communism was not. The Owenites in England and the Fourierists in France were considered socialists, while working-class movements that "proclaimed the necessity of total social change" denoted themselves Communists. This latter branch of socialism, was powerful enough to produce the communisms of Étienne Cabet, in France, and Wilhelm Weitling, in Germany.[12]

First International


Socialists made varying interpretations of The Communist Manifesto.

In 1864, the International Workingmen's Association (IWA)  – the First International  – was founded in London. Londoner Victor le Lubez, a French radical republican, invited Karl Marx to participate as a representative of German workers.[13] In 1865, the IWA had its preliminary conference, and its first congress, at Geneva, in 1866. Karl Marx was a member of the committee; he and Johann Georg Eccarius, a London tailor, were the two mainstays of the International, from its inception to its end; the First International was the premiere international forum promulgating socialism.

In 1869, under the influence of Marx and Engels, the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was founded. In 1875, the SDW Party merged with the General German Workers' Association, of Ferdinand Lassalle, metamorphosing to the contemporary German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Since the 1870s, in Germany, Socialism was associated with trade unions, as the SPD constituted trade unions, while, in Austria, France, and other countries, socialist parties and anarchists did like-wise. That ideologic development greatly contrasts with the British experience of Socialism, wherein politically-moderate New Model Unions dominated unionized labor from the mid–nineteenth century, and trade-unionism was stronger than the political labor movement, until appearance of the Labour Party in the early twentieth century. The first U.S. socialist party was founded in 1876, then metamorphosed to a Marxist party in 1890; the Socialist Labor Party exists today. An early leader of the Socialist Labor Party was Daniel De Leon, who had considerable influence beyond the United States as well.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Socialists supported and advocated many branches of Socialism – from the gradualism of trade unions to the radical revolution of Marx and Engels to the anarchists emphasizing small-scale communities and agrarianism; all co-existing with the most influential Marxism and Social Democracy. The Anarchists, led by the Mikhail Bakunin, believed Capitalism and State inseparable, neither can be abolished without abolishing the other.

Second International

As the ideas of Marx and Engels gained popularity, especially in central Europe, socialists founded the Second International in 1889, the centennial of the French Revolution. Three hundred socialist and labor union organizations from 20 countries sent 384 delegates.[14]

In 1890, The Social Democratic Party of Germany used the limited, universal, male suffrage to exercise the electoral strength necessary to compel rescindment of Germany's Anti-Socialist Laws.[15] In 1893, the SPD received 1,787,000 votes, a quarter of the votes cast. Before the SPD published Engels's 1895 introduction to Karl Marx's Class Struggles in France 1848–1850, they deleted phrases that they felt were too revolutionary for mainstream readers.[16]

When World War I began in 1914, most European socialists supported the bellicose aims of their national governments. The British, French, Belgian, and German social democratic parties discarded their political commitments to proletarian internationalism and worker solidarity to co-operate with their imperial governments. In Russia, Vladimir Lenin denounced the Europeans' Great War war as an imperialist conflict, and urged workers worldwide to use the war as occasion for proletarian revolution. The Second International dissolved during the war. However, Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and other anti-war Marxists conferred in the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915.

Revolutions of 1917–1923

File:Stalin Lenin jk.jpg

Vladimir Lenin (background) and Joseph Stalin.

By the year 1917, the patriotism propelling the First World War metamorphosed to political radicalism in most of Europe, the United States (cf. Socialism in the United States), and Australia. In February, popular revolution exploded in Russia when workers, soldiers, and peasants established 'soviets (councils) wielding executive power in a Provisional Government valid until convocation of a Constituent Assembly. In April, Lenin arrived in Russia from Switzerland, calling for "All power to the soviets." In October, his party (the Bolsheviks) won support of most soviets while he and Trotsky simultaneously led the October Revolution. On 25 October 1917, at the Petrograd Soviet, Lenin declared "Long live the world socialist revolution!"[17]

On 26 October, the day after assuming executive power, Lenin wrote Draft Regulations on Workers' Control, which granted workers control of businesses with more than five workers and office employees, and access to all books, documents, and stocks, and whose decisions were to be "binding upon the owners of the enterprises".[18] Immediately, the Bolshevik Government nationalised banks, most industry, and disavowed the national debts of the deposed Romanov royal régime; it governed via elected soviets; and it sued for peace and withdrew from the First World War. Despite that, the peasant Socialist-Revolutionary (SR) Party won the Constituent Assembly against the Bolshevik Party, who then acted resolutely the next day.[19]

The Constituent Assembly convened for 13 hours (16.00 hrs 5 Jan – 4.40 hrs 6 Jan 1918). Socialist-revolutionary leader Victor Chernov was elected President of a Russian republic and the next day, the Bolsheviks dissolved the Constituent Assembly.[20] The Bolshevik Russian Revolution of October 1917 engendered Communist parties worldwide, and their concomitant revolutions of 1917-23. Few Communists doubted that the Russian success of socialism depended upon successful, working-class socialist revolutions effected in developed capitalist-economy countries.[21][22] In 1919, Lenin and Trotsky organised the world's Communist parties into a new international association of workers – the Communist International, (Comintern), also denominated the Third International.

In November 1918, the German Revolution deposed the monarchy; as in Russia, the councils of workers and soldiers were comprised mostly of SPD and USPD (Independent Social Democrats) revolutionaries installed to office as the Weimar republic; the SPD were in power, led by Friedrich Ebert. In January 1919. the left-wing Spartacist Putsch challenged the SPD government, and President Ebert ordered the army and Freikorps mercenaries to violently suppress the workers' and soldiers' councils. Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were captured and summarilly executed. Also that year, in Bavaria, the Communist régime of Kurt Eisner was suppressed. In Hungary, Béla Kun briefly headed a Hungarian Communist government. Throughout, popular socialist revolutions in Vienna, Italy's northern industrial cities, the German Ruhr (1920) and Saxony (1923) all failed in spreading revolutionary socialism to Europe's advanced, capitalist countries.

In Russia in August 1918, assassin Fanya Kaplan shot Lenin in the neck, leaving him with wounds from which he never fully recovered. Earlier, in June, the Soviet government had implemented War Communism to manage the foreign economic boycott of Russia and invasions by Imperial Germany, Imperial Britain, the United States and France (interfering in the Russian Civil War beside royalist White Russians). Under war communism, private business was outlawed, strikers could be shot, the white collar classes were forced to work manually, and peasants could be forced to provide to workers in cities.

By 1920, as Red Army commander, Trotsky had mostly defeated the royalist White Armies. In 1921, War Communism was ended, and, under the New Economic Policy (NEP), private ownership was allowed for small and medium peasant enterprises; industry remained State-controlled, Lenin acknowledged that the NEP was a necessary capitalist measure for a country mostly unripe for socialism, thus the existence of NEP businessmen and NEP women (NEP Men) flourished and the Kulaks gained capitalist power as rich peasants.[23]

In 1923, on seeing the Soviet State's greatly coercive power, the dying Lenin said Russia had reverted to "a bourgeois tsarist machine... barely varnished with socialism."[24] After Lenin's death (January 1924), the Communist Party of the Soviet Union  – then controlled by Joseph Stalin  – rejected the theory that socialism could not be built solely in the Soviet Union, and declared the Socialism in One Country policy. Despite the marginal Left Opposition's demanding restoration of Soviet democracy, Stalin developed a bureaucratic, authoritarian government, that was condemned by democratic socialists, anarchists and Trotskyists for undermining the initial socialist ideals of the Bolshevik Russian Revolution.[25][26]

Inter-war era and World War II


Joseph Stalin

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 brought about the definitive ideological division between Communists as denoted with a capital "C" on the one hand and other communist and socialist trends such as anarcho-communists and social democrats, on the other. The Left Opposition in the Soviet Union gave rise to Trotskyism which was to remain isolated and insignificant for another fifty years, except in Sri Lanka where Trotskyism gained the majority and the pro-Moscow wing was expelled from the Communist Party.

In 1922, the fourth congress of the Communist International took up the policy of the United Front, urging Communists to work with rank and file Social Democrats while remaining critical of their leaders, who they criticized for "betraying" the working class by supporting the war efforts of their respective capitalist classes. For their part, the social democrats pointed to the dislocation caused by revolution, and later, the growing authoritarianism of the Communist Parties. When the Communist Party of Great Britain applied to affiliate to the Labour Party in 1920 it was turned down.

After World War II

In 1945, the world’s three great powers met at the Yalta Conference to negotiate an amicable and stable peace. UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill joined USA President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee. With the relative decline of Britain compared to the two superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, however, many viewed the world as "bi-polar" – a world with two irreconcilable and antagonistic political and economic systems. Many termed the Soviet Union "socialist", not least the Soviet Union itself, but also commonly in the USA, China, Eastern Europe, and many parts of the world where Communist Parties had gained a mass base. In addition, scholarly critics of the Soviet Union, such as economist Friedrich Hayek were commonly cited as critics of socialism. This view was not universally shared, particularly in Europe, and especially in Britain, where the Communist Party was very weak. In 1951, British Health Minister Aneurin Bevan expressed the view that, "It is probably true that Western Europe would have gone socialist after the war if Soviet behaviour had not given it too grim a visage. Soviet Communism and Socialism are not yet sufficiently distinguished in many minds."[27]

In 1951, the Socialist International was refounded by the European social democratic parties. It declared: "Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of Socialism in many countries for decades... Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a rigid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism."[28]

The last quarter of the twentieth century marked a period of major crisis for Communists in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, where the growing shortages of housing and consumer goods, combined with the lack of individual rights to assembly and speech, began to disillusion more and more Communist party members. With the rapid collapse of Communist party rule in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe between 1989 and 1991, the Soviet version of socialism has effectively disappeared as a worldwide political force.

In the postwar years, socialism became increasingly influential throughout the so-called Third World. Countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America frequently adopted socialist economic programs. In many instances, these nations nationalized industries held by foreign owners. The Soviet Union had become a superpower through its adoption of a planned economy, albeit at enormous human cost. This achievement seemed hugely impressive from the outside, and convinced many nationalists in the former colonies, not necessarily communists or even socialists, of the virtues of state planning and state-guided models of social development. This was later to have important consequences in countries like China, India and Egypt, which tried to import some aspects of the Soviet model.



Little Red Book's 5 to 6.5 billion copies might be a world record.

In 1949, the Chinese Revolution established a Communist state in China. Criticizing the invasion and trade embargo of the young Soviet state, Bevan wrote "At the moment it looks as though the United States is going to repeat the same folly in China... You cannot starve a national revolution into submission. You can starve it into a repressive dictatorship; you can starve it to the point where the hellish logic of the police state takes charge."[29]

Social Democracy in power

File:Attlee BW cropped.jpg

Clement Attlee, U.K. Prime Minister, Labour Party government, 1945–51

In 1945, the British Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee, was elected to office based upon a radical, socialist program. Socialist and Communist parties dominated the post-war French, Italian, Czechoslovakian, Belgian, Norwegian, and other, governments. In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party held power from 1936 to 1976 and then again from 1982 to 1991 and from 1994 to 2006. Labour parties governed Australia and New Zealand. In Germany, the Social Democrats lost in 1949. In Eastern Europe, the war-resistance unity, between 'Social Democrats and Communists, continued in the immediate postwar years, until Stalin imposed Communist régimes.

At first, Social Democracy held the view of having begun a serious assault against want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness, the five "Giant Evils" afflicting the working class, identified by the British social reformer William Beveridge.[30] However, from the Labour Party's left wing, Aneurin Bevan, who had introduced the Labour Party’s National Health Service in 1948, criticised the Attlee Government for not progressing further, demanding that the "main streams of economic activity are brought under public direction" with economic planning, criticising the implementation of nationalization for not empowering the workers, in the nationalised industries, with democratic control of operations.

In Place of Fear, the most widely read socialist book of the period, Bevan begins: "A young miner in a South Wales colliery, my concern was with one practical question: Where does the power lie in this particular state of Great Britain, and how can it be attained by the workers?" [31][32] The Frankfurt Declaration of the re-founded Socialist International stated:

1. From the nineteenth century onwards, Capitalism has developed immense productive forces. It has done so at the cost of excluding the great majority of citizens from influence over production. It put the rights of ownership before the rights of Man. It created a new class of wage-earners without property or social rights. It sharpened the struggle between the classes.

Although the world contains resources, which could be made to provide a decent life for everyone, Capitalism has been incapable of satisfying the elementary needs of the world’s population. It proved unable to function without devastating crises and mass unemployment. It produced social insecurity and glaring contrasts between rich and poor. It resorted to imperialist expansion and colonial exploitation, thus making conflicts, between nations and races, more bitter. In some countries, powerful capitalist groups helped the barbarism of the past to raise its head again in the form of Fascism and Nazism.| The Frankfurt Declaration 1951[28]

The post-war social democratic governments introduced social reform and wealth redistribution via state welfare and taxation. The new U.K. Labour Government effected the nationalizations of major public utilities such as mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel, and the Bank of England.[33] To wit, France claimed to be the world's most State-controlled, capitalist country.[34]

In the UK, the National Health Service provided free health care to all of the British population. Working-class housing was provided in council housing estates, and university education available via a school grant system. Ellen Wilkinson, Minister for Education, introduced free milk in schools, sayining, in a 1946 Labor Party conference: Free milk will be provided in Hoxton and Shoreditch, in Eton and Harrow. What more social equality can you have than that? To wit, Clement Attlee's biographer says this contributed enormously to the defeat of childhood illnesses resulting from bad diet. Generations of poor children grew up stronger and healthier, because of this one, small, and inexpensive act of generosity, by the Attlee government.[35]

In 1956, Anthony Crosland said that 25 per cent of British industry was nationalized, and that public employees, including those in nationalised industries, constituted a like percentage of the country's total employed population.[36] Yet the Social Democrats did not seek ending capitalism; national outlook and dedication to the "post-war order" prevented nationalization of the industrial commanding heights, as Lenin put it. In 1945, they were denominated socialist, but, in the UK, Social Democrats were the parliamentary majority, The government had not the smallest intention of bringing in the ‘common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange’ as written in Clause 4 of the Labor Party Constitution;[37] nevertheless, Crosland said Capitalism had ended: To the question, ‘Is this still capitalism?’, I would answer ‘No’.[38] In 1959, the German Social Democratic Party adopted the Godesberg Program, rejecting class struggle and Marxism.

In 1980, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the U.S., Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Brian Mulroney, in Canada, the Western, welfare state was attacked from within. As education secretary of the Conservative Government, 1970–1974, Margaret Thatcher abolished free milk for school children. Monetarists and neoliberals attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship at public expense.

In the 1980s and 1990s, western European socialists were pressured to reconcile their socialist economic programmes with a free-market-based communal European economy. In the UK, the Labour Party struggled much; Neil Kinnock’s made a passionate and public attack against the Party's Militant Tendency at a Labour Party conference, and repudiated the demands of the defeated striking miners after a year-long strike against pit closures. In the 1990s, released from the Left's progressive pressure, the Labour Party, under Tony Blair, posited policies based upon the free market economy to deliver public services via private contractors.

In 1989, at Stockholm, the 18th Congress of the Socialist International adopted a Declaration of Principles, saying that

Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society.[39]

The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's socialist bloc, are "to pursue international aims in respect of the principles on which the European Union is based, namely principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy, respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and respect for the Rule of Law." Today, the rallying cry of the French Revolution  – "Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity"  – now constitute essential socialist values.[40]

In 1995, the British Labour Party revised its political aims: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few."[41] Cabinet minister Herbert Morrison said, "Socialism is what the Labour Government does."[37]

21st century

Main article: Socialism of the 21st century

Hugo Chavez

In some Latin American countries, socialism has re-emerged in recent years, with an anti-imperialist stance, the rejection of the policies of neo-liberalism and the nationalisation or part nationalisation of oil production, land and other assets. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, for instance, refer to their political programs as socialist. Chávez has coined the term "21st century socialism" (sometimes translated more literally as "Socialism of the 21st century"). After winning re-election in December 2006, President Chávez said, "Now more than ever, I am obliged to move Venezuela's path towards socialism."[42]

In the developing world, some elected socialist parties and communist parties remain prominent, particularly in India and Nepal. The Communist Party of Nepal in particular calls for multi-party democracy, social equality, and economic prosperity.[43] In China, the Chinese Communist Party has led a transition from the command economy of the Mao period to an economic program they term the socialist market economy or "socialism with Chinese characteristics." Under Deng Xiaoping, the leadership of China embarked upon a program of market-based reform that was more sweeping than had been Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika program of the late 1980s. Deng's program, however, maintained state ownership rights over land, state or cooperative ownership of much of the heavy industrial and manufacturing sectors and state influence in the banking and financial sectors. In South Africa the ANC abandoned its partial socialist allegiances on taking power and followed a standard neo-liberal route. But from 2005 through to 2007 the country was wracked by many thousands of protests from poor communities. One of these gave rise to a mass movement of shack dwellers, Abahlali baseMjondolo that, despite major police suppression, continues to advocate for popular people's planning and against the marketization of land and housing. Communist candidate Dimitris Christofias won a crucial presidential runoff in Cyprus, defeating his conservative rival with a majority of 53%.[44] The Left Party in Germany has also grown in popularity.[45]

African socialism continues to be a major ideology around the continent. The People's Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam are states remaining from the first wave of socialism in the 20th century.


See also: Socialist economics

Economically, socialism denotes an economic system of state ownership and/or worker ownership of the means of production and distribution. In the economy of the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services to make and provide, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices. Soviet economic planning was an alternative to allowing the market (supply and demand) to determine prices and production. During the Great Depression, many socialists considered Soviet-style planned economies the remedy to capitalism's inherent flaws – monopoly, business cycles, unemployment, unequally distributed wealth, and the economic exploitation of workers.

In the West, neoclassical liberal economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman said that socialist planned economies would fail, because planners could not have the business information inherent to a market economy (cf. economic calculation problem), nor would managers in Soviet-style socialist economies match the motivation of profit. Consequent to Soviet economic stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s, socialists began to accept parts of their critique. Polish economist Oskar Lange, an early proponent of market socialism, proposed a central planning board establishing prices and controls of investment. The prices of producer goods would be determined through trial and error. The prices of consumer goods would be determined by supply and demand, with the supply coming from state-owned firms that would set their prices equal to the marginal cost, as in perfectly competitive markets. The central planning board would distribute a "social dividend" to ensure reasonable income equality.[46]

In western Europe, particularly in the period after World War II, many socialist parties in government implemented what became known as mixed economies. In the biography of the 1945 Labour Party Prime Minister Clem Attlee, Francis Beckett states: "the government... wanted what would become known as a mixed economy".[47] Beckett also states that "Everyone called the 1945 government 'socialist'." These governments nationalised major and economically vital industries while permitting a free market to continue in the rest. These were most often monopolistic or infrastructural industries like mail, railways, power and other utilities. In some instances a number of small, competing and often relatively poorly financed companies in the same sector were nationalised to form one government monopoly for the purpose of competent management, of economic rescue (in the UK, British Leyland, Rolls Royce), or of competing on the world market.

Also in the UK, British Aerospace was a combination of major aircraft companies British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley and others. British Shipbuilders was a combination of the major shipbuilding companies including Cammell Laird, Govan Shipbuilders, Swan Hunter, and Yarrow Shipbuilders Typically, this was achieved through compulsory purchase of the industry (i.e. with compensation). In the UK, the nationalization of the coal mines in 1947 created a coal board charged with running the coal industry commercially so as to be able to meet the interest payable on the bonds which the former mine owners' shares had been converted into.[48][49]

Some socialists propose various decentralized, worker-managed economic systems. One such system is the cooperative economy, a largely free market economy in which workers manage the firms and democratically determine remuneration levels and labor divisions. Productive resources would be legally owned by the cooperative and rented to the workers, who would enjoy usufruct rights.[50] Another, more recent, variant is participatory economics, wherein the economy is planned by decentralized councils of workers and consumers. Workers would be remunerated solely according to effort and sacrifice, so that those engaged in dangerous, uncomfortable, and strenuous work would receive the highest incomes and could thereby work less.[51] Some Marxists and anarcho-communists also propose a worker-managed economy based on workers councils, however in anarcho-communism, workers are remunerated according to their needs (which are largely self-determined in an anarcho-communist system). Recently socialists have also been working with the technocracy movement to promote such concepts as energy accounting.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Social and political theory

Marxist and non-Marxist social theorists agree that socialism developed in reaction to modern industrial capitalism, but disagree on the nature of their relationship. Émile Durkheim posits that socialism is rooted in the desire to bring the state closer to the realm of individual activity, in countering the anomie of a capitalist society. In socialism, Max Weber saw acceleration of the rationalization started in capitalism. As critic of socialism, he warned that placing the economy entirely in the state's bureaucratic control would result in an "iron cage of future bondage".

In the middle of the twentieth century, socialist intellectuals retained much influence in European philosophy; Eros and Civilization (1955), by Herbert Marcuse, explicitly attempts to merge Marxism with Freudianism. The social science of structuralism much influenced the socialist New Left in the 1960s and the 1970s.


Main article: Criticisms of socialism

Criticisms of socialism range from claims that socialist economic and political models are inefficient or incompatible with civil liberties to condemnation of specific socialist states. There is much focus on the economic performance and human rights records of Communist states, although some proponents of socialism reject the categorization of such states as socialist.

In the economic calculation debate, classical liberal Friedrich Hayek argued that a socialist command economy could not adequately transmit information about prices and productive quotas due to the lack of a price mechanism, and as a result it could not make rational economic decisions. Ludwig von Mises argued that a socialist economy was not possible at all. Hayek further argued that the social control over distribution of wealth and private property advocated by socialists cannot be achieved without reduced prosperity for the general populace, and a loss of political and economic freedoms.[52][53]

Hayek's views were echoed by Winston Churchill in an electoral broadcast prior to the British general election of 1945:

. . . a socialist policy is abhorrent to the British ideas of freedom. Socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the object worship of the state. It will prescribe for every one where they are to work, what they are to work at, where they may go and what they may say. Socialism is an attack on the right to breathe freely. No socialist system can be established without a political police. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance.[54]

This statement was challenged the next day by the Labour Party candidate, Clement Attlee, who went on to win the election.[55][56][57][58][59]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Newman, Michael. (2005) Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280431-6
  2. "Socialism" Merriam-Webster. Merriam Webster Online.
  3. Marx, Karl, Communist Manifesto, Penguin (2002)
  4. "Socialism" Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  5. Frank E. Smitha, Adam Smith, Socialists and Liberals (2003)
  6. [1]. MacroHistory: World History.
  7. "Market socialism," Dictionary of the Social Sciences. Craig Calhoun, ed. Oxford University Press 2002; and "Market socialism" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003. See also Joseph Stiglitz, "Whither Socialism?" Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995 for a recent analysis of the market socialism model of mid–20th century economists Oskar R. Lange, Abba P. Lerner, and Fred M. Taylor.
  8. Leroux: socialism is “the doctrine which would not give up any of the principles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” of the French Revolution of 1789. "Individualism and socialism" (1834)
  9. Oxford English Dictionary, etymology of socialism
  10. Russell, Bertrand (1972). A History of Western Philosophy. Touchstone. p. 781
  11. Williams, Raymond (1976). Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society, Fontana.
  12. Engels, Frederick, Preface to the 1888 English Edition of the Communist Manifesto, p202. Penguin (2002)
  13. MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations, First International (International Workingmen’s Association), accessed 5 July 2007
  14. The Second (Socialist) International 1889–1923 accessed 12 July 2007
  15. Engels, 1895 Introduction to Marx's Class Struggles in France 1848–1850
  16. cf Footnote 449 in Marx Engels Collected Works on Engels' 1895 Introduction to Marx's Class Struggles in France 1848–1850
  17. Lenin, Meeting of the Petrograd Soviet of workers and soldiers' deputies 25 October 1917, Collected works, Vol 26, p239. Lawrence and Wishart, (1964)
  18. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 26, pp. 264–5. Lawrence and Wishart (1964)
  19. Caplan, Brian Lenin and the First Communist Revolutions, IV. (HTML) George Mason University. URL accessed on 2008-02-14.
  20. Payne, Robert; "The Life and Death of Lenin", Grafton: paperback pp. 425–440
  21. Bertil, Hessel, Introduction, Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the first four congresses of the Third International, pxiii, Ink Links (1980)
  22. "We have always proclaimed, and repeated, this elementary truth of Marxism, that the victory of socialism requires the joint efforts of workers in a number of advanced countries." Lenin, Sochineniya (Works), 5th ed. Vol. XLIV p. 418, Feb 1922. (Quoted by Mosche Lewin in Lenin's Last Struggle, p. 4. Pluto (1975))
  23. Soviet history: NEPmen
  24. Serge, Victor, From Lenin to Stalin, p. 55.
  25. Serge, Victor, From Lenin to Stalin, p. 52.
  26. Brinton, Maurice (1975). The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control 1917–1921 : The State and Counter-revolution. (HTML) Solidarity. URL accessed on 2007-01-22.
  27. Bevan, Aneurin, In Place of Fear, p 63, p91
  28. 28.0 28.1 The Frankfurt Declaration
  29. Bevan, Aneurin, In Place of Fear, p63
  30. cf Beckett, Francis, Clem Attlee, Politico, 2007, p243. "Idleness" meant unemployment, and hence the starvation of the worker and his/her family. It was not then a pejorative term. Unemployment benefit, as well as national insurance and hence state pensions, were introduced by the 1945 Labour government.
  31. Crosland, Anthony, The Future of Socialism, p52
  32. Bevan, Aneurin, In Place of Fear p.50, pp.126–128, p.21 MacGibbon and Kee, second edition (1961)
  33. British Petroleum, privatized in 1987, was officially nationalised in 1951 per government archives [2] with further government intervention during the 1974–79 Labour Government, cf 'The New Commanding Height: Labor Party Policy on North Sea Oil and Gas, 1964–74' in Contemporary British History, Volume 16, Issue 1 Spring 2002 , pages 89–118. Elements of these entities already were in public hands. Later Labour re-nationalised steel (1967, British Steel) after Conservatives de-nationalized it, and nationalized car production (1976, British Leyland), [3]. In 1977, major aircraft companies and shipbuilding were nationalised
  34. The nationalized public utilities include CDF (Charbonnages de France), EDF (Électricité de France), GDF (Gaz de France), airlines (Air France), banks (Banque de France), and Renault (Régie Nationale des Usines Renault) [4].
  35. Beckett, Francis, Clem Attlee, p247. Politico's (2007)
  36. Crosland, Anthony, The Future of Socialism, pp.9, 89. Constable (2006)
  37. 37.0 37.1 Beckett, Francis, Clem Attlee, Politico, 2007, p243
  38. Crosland, Anthony, The Future of Socialism p46. Constable (2006)
  39. Socialist International - Progressive Politics For A Fairer World
  40. R Goodin and P Pettit (eds), A to contemporary political philosophy
  41. Labour Party Clause Four
  42. Many Venezuelans Uncertain About Chavez' '21st century Socialism' , Voice of America, Washington 9 July 2007. Accessed 12 July 2007
  43. Communist Party of Nepal'
  44. Christofias wins Cyprus presidency'
  45. Germany’s Left Party woos the SPD'
  46. John Barkley Rosser and Marina V. Rosser, Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 2004).
  47. Beckett, Francis, Clem Attlee, (2007) Politico's.
  48. Socialist Party of Great Britain (1985). The Strike Weapon: Lessons of the Miners’ Strike (PDF), London: Socialist Party of Great Britain. URL accessed 2007-04-28.
  49. Hardcastle, Edgar (1947). The Nationalisation of the Railways. Socialist Standard 43 (1).
  50. Vanek, Jaroslav, The Participatory Economy (Ithaca, NY.: Cornell University Press, 1971).
  51. Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel, The Political Economy of Participatory Economics (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1991).
  52. Hayek, Friedrich (1994). The Road to Serfdom, 50th anniversary, University of Chicago Press.
  53. Hans-Hermann Hoppe. A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism. Kluwer Academic Publishers. page 46 in PDF.
  54. Alan O. Ebenstein. Friedrich Hayek: A Biography. (2003). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226181502 p.137
  55. Morgan, Kenneth (1984). Labour in power, 1945-1951, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  56. Harris, Kenneth (1983). Attlee, 1st American, New York: Norton.
  57. Spartacus Educational, The 1945 General Election
  58. The Listener magazine, 14 June 1945.
  59. Williams, Francis (1949). Fifty years' march; the rise of the Labour Party, London: Odhams Press.

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