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Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets or planning, how management is to be organised within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism.
A socialist economic system is based on the organisational precept of production for use, meaning the production of goods and services to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs where objects are valued based on their use-value or utility, as opposed to being structured upon the accumulation of capital and production for profit. In the traditional conception of a socialist economy, coordination, accounting and valuation would be performed in kind (using physical quantities), by a common physical magnitude, or by a direct measure of labour-time in place of financial calculation. While commodities are scarce and exchanged using money, distribution is organized on the principle of to each according to his contribution. As technological and organizational advances in the productive forces yield higher output, commodities become freely accessible allowing for distribution according to need. Marxists refer to this more advanced stage of production as communism. The exact methods of resource allocation and valuation are the subject of debate within the broader socialist calculation debate.
The socialist political movement includes a diverse array of political philosophies. Core dichotomies within the socialist movement include the distinction between reformism and revolutionary socialism and between state socialism and libertarian socialism. State socialism calls for the nationalisation of the means of production as a strategy for implementing socialism, while libertarian socialism generally place their hopes in decentralized means of direct democracy such as libertarian municipalism, citizens' assemblies, trade unions, and workers' councils coming from a general anti-authoritarian stance. Democratic socialism highlights the central role of democratic processes and political systems and is usually contrasted with non-democratic political movements that advocate socialism.
Modern socialism originated from an 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private property on society. The revival of republicanism in the American Revolution of 1776 and the egalitarian values introduced by the French Revolution of 1789 gave rise to socialism as a distinct political movement. In the early 19th century, "socialism" referred to any concern for the social problems of capitalism irrespective of the solutions to those problems. However, by the late 19th century, "socialism" had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for an alternative post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership. During this time, German philosopher Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels published works criticizing the utopian aspects of contemporary socialist trends and applied a materialist understanding of socialism as a phase of development which will come about through social revolution instigated by escalating and conflicting class relationships within capitalism. The socialist movement came to be the most influential worldwide movement and political-economic worldview of the 20th century.
For Andrew Vincent "The word ‘socialism’ finds its root in the Latin sociare, which means to combine or to share. The related, more technical term in Roman and then medieval law was societas. This latter word could mean companionship and fellowship as well as the more legalistic idea of a consensual contract between freemen."  The term "socialism" was created by Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the founders of what would later be labelled "utopian socialism". The term "socialism" was created to contrast against the liberal doctrine of "individualism", which stressed that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another. The original socialists condemned liberal individualism as failing to address social concerns of poverty, social oppression, and gross inequality of wealth. They viewed liberal individualism as degenerating society into supporting selfish egoism that harmed community life through promoting a society based on competition. They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism, that advocated a society based on cooperation. The term socialism is attributed to Pierre Leroux, and to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud in France; and in Britain to Robert Owen in 1827, father of the cooperative movement.
The modern definition and usage of the term "socialism" settled by the 1860s, becoming the predominant term among the earlier associated words "co-operative", "mutualist" and "associationist". The term "communism" also fell out of use during this period, despite earlier distinctions between socialism and communism from the 1840s. An early distinction between "socialism" and "communism" was that the former aimed to only socialize production while the latter aimed to socialize both production and consumption. However, by 1888 the term "socialism" was used by Marxists in place of "communism", which was now considered an old-fashion term synonymous with socialism. It was only until 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution that "socialism" came to refer to a distinct stage between capitalism and communism, introduced by Vladimir Lenin as a means to defend the Bolshevik seizure of power against traditional Marxist criticisms that Russia was not sufficiently developed for socialist revolution.
Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity. Mazdak, a Persian communal proto-socialist, instituted communal possessions and advocated the public good. And it has been claimed, though controversially, that there were elements of socialist thought in the politics of classical Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. In the post-revolutionary period right after the French Revolution activists and theorists like François-Noël Babeuf, Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, Filippo Buonarroti, and Auguste Blanqui influenced the early French labour and socialist movements. In Britain Thomas Paine proposed a detailed plan to tax property owners to pay for the needs of the poor in Agrarian Justice  while Charles Hall wrote The Effects of Civilization on the People in European States denouncing capitalism´s effects on the poor of his time which influenced the utopian schemes of Thomas Spence. The first "self-conscious socialist movements developed in the 1820s and 1830s. The Owenites, Saint-Simonians and Fourierists provided a series of coherent analyses and interpretations of society. They also, especially in the case of the Owenites, overlapped with a number of other working-class movements like the Chartists." A later important socialist thinker in France was Pierre Joseph Proudhon who proposed his philosophy of mutualism in which "everyone had an equal claim, either alone or as part of a small cooperative, to possess and use land and other resources as needed to make a living". There were also currents inspired by dissident Christianity of christian socialism "often in Britain and then usually coming out of left liberal politics and a romantic anti-industrialism" which produced theorists such as Edward Bellamy, Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley.
The first advocates of socialism favoured social levelling in order to create a meritocratic or technocratic society based upon individual talent. Count Henri de Saint-Simon is regarded as the first individual to coin the term socialism. Saint-Simon was fascinated by the enormous potential of science and technology and advocated a socialist society that would eliminate the disorderly aspects of capitalism and would be based upon equal opportunities.[unreliable source?] He advocated the creation of a society in which each person was ranked according to his or her capacities and rewarded according to his or her work. The key focus of Saint-Simon's socialism was on administrative efficiency and industrialism, and a belief that science was the key to progress. This was accompanied by a desire to implement a rationally organised economy based on planning and geared towards large-scale scientific and material progress, and thus embodied a desire for a more directed or planned economy. Other early socialist thinkers, such as Thomas Hodgkin and Charles Hall, based their ideas on David Ricardo's economic theories. They reasoned that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated to prices charged by the producer when those commodities were in elastic supply, and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labour – the cost of the labour (essentially the wages paid) that was required to produce the commodities. The Ricardian socialists viewed profit, interest and rent as deductions from this exchange-value.
West European social critics, including Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Blanc, Charles Hall and Saint-Simon, were the first modern socialists who criticised the excessive poverty and inequality of the Industrial Revolution. They advocated reform, with some such as Robert Owen advocating the transformation of society to small communities without private property. Robert Owen's contribution to modern socialism was his understanding that actions and characteristics of individuals were largely determined by the social environment they were raised in and exposed to. On the other hand Charles Fourier advocated phalansteres which were communities that respected individual desires (including sexual preferences), affinities and creativity and saw that work has to be made enjoyable for people. The ideas of Owen and Fourier were tried in practice in numerous intentional communities around Europe and the American continent in the mid-19th century.
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, the word communism was too culturally and aurally close to the Roman Catholic communion rite, hence English atheists denoted themselves socialists. Friedrich Engels argued that in 1848, at the time when the Communist Manifesto was published, "socialism was respectable on the continent, while communism was not." The Owenites in England and the Fourierists in France were considered "respectable" socialists, while working-class movements that "proclaimed the necessity of total social change" denoted themselves communists. This latter branch of socialism produced the communist work of Étienne Cabet in France and Wilhelm Weitling in Germany. The British moral philosopher John Stuart Mill also came to advocate a form of economic socialism within a liberal context. In later editions of his Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mill would argue that "as far as economic theory was concerned, there is nothing in principle in economic theory that precludes an economic order based on socialist policies." While democrats looked to the Revolutions of 1848 as a democratic revolution, which in the long run ensured liberty, equality, and fraternity, marxists denounced 1848 as a betrayal of working-class ideals by a bourgeoisie indifferent to the legitimate demands of the proletariat.
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March (more formally, from 28 March) to 28 May 1871. The Commune was the result of an uprising in Paris after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. The Commune elections held on 26 March elected a Commune council of 92 members, one member for each twenty thousand residents. Despite internal differences, the Council began to organize the public services essential for a city of two million residents. It also reached a consensus on certain policies that tended towards a progressive, secular, and highly-democratic social democracy. Because the Commune was only able to meet on fewer than sixty days in all, only a few decrees were actually implemented. These included the separation of church and state, the remission of rents owed for the entire period of the siege (during which, payment had been suspended), the abolition of night work in the hundreds of Paris bakeries, the granting of pensions to the unmarried companions and children of National Guards killed on active service; the free return, by the city pawnshops, of all workmen's tools and household items valued up to 20 francs, pledged during the siege. The Commune was concerned that skilled workers had been forced to pawn their tools during the war; the postponement of commercial debt obligations, and the abolition of interest on the debts; and the right of employees to take over and run an enterprise if it were deserted by its owner; the Commune, nonetheless, recognized the previous owner's right to compensation.
The International Workingmen's Association (IWA), also known as the First International, was founded in London in 1864. The International Workingmen's Association united diverse revolutionary currents including French followers of Proudhon, Blanquists, Philadelphes, English trade unionists, socialists and social democrats. The IWA held a preliminary conference in 1865, and had its first congress at Geneva in 1866. Due to the wide variety of philosophies present in the First International, there was conflict from the start. The first objections to Marx's came from the Mutualists who opposed communism and statism. However, shortly after Mikhail Bakunin and his followers (called Collectivists while in the International) joined in 1868, the First International became polarised into two camps, with Marx and Bakunin as their respective figureheads. The clearest differences between the groups emerged over their proposed strategies for achieving their visions of socialism. The First International became the first major international forum for the promulgation of socialist ideas.
The followers of Bakunin were called collectivist anarchists and sought to collectivize ownership of the means of production while retaining payment proportional to the amount and kind of labor of each individual, but the anarcho-communists sought to extend the concept of collective ownership to the products of labor as well. While both groups argued against capitalism, the anarchist communists departed from Proudhon and Bakunin, who maintained that individuals have a right to the product of their individual labor and to be remunerated for their particular contribution to production. But, Errico Malatesta put it: "...instead of running the risk of making a confusion in trying to distinguish what you and I each do, let us all work and put everything in common. In this way each will give to society all that his strength permits until enough is produced for every one; and each will take all that he needs, limiting his needs only in those things of which there is not yet plenty for every one." Anarchist communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Emilio Covelli, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian Republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences with collectivist anarchism explicit until after Bakunin's death. Syndicalism emerged in France from the inspiration in part by the ideas of Pierre Joseph Proudhon and later by Fernand Pelloutier and Georges Sorel. Syndicalism developed at the end of the 19th century "out of the French trade-union movement—syndicat being the French word for trade union. It was a significant force in Italy and Spain in the early 20th century until it was crushed by the fascist regimes in those countries. In the United States, syndicalism appeared in the guise of the Industrial Workers of the World, or “Wobblies,” founded in 1905." Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism, which proposes that industries be organised into confederations or syndicates. It is a form of communism and economic corporatism that advocates interest aggregation of multiple non-competitive categorised units composed of specialists and representatives of workers in each respective field to negotiate and manage an economy. Syndicalism also refers to the political movement and tactics used to bring about this type of system. An influential anarchist movement based on syndicalist ideas is anarcho-syndicalism. The International Workers Association is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labour unions from different countries.
The Fabian Society' is a British socialist organisation which was established with the purpose of advancing the principles of socialism via gradualist and reformist means. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, most notably India and Singapore. Originally, the Fabian society was committed to the establishment of a socialist economy, alongside a commitment to British imperialism as a progressive and modernizing force. Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank and is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation and the now disbanded League for Social Reconstruction) and in New Zealand. Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds "in an implied contractual relationship with the public". It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. Inspired by the medieval guild theorists such as Samuel G. Hobson and G.D.H. Cole advocated the public ownership of industries and their organization into guilds, each of which would be under the democratic control of its trade union. On the other hand the guild socialists were less inclined to invest power in the state than were the Fabians.
As the ideas of Marx and Engels took on flesh, particularly in central Europe, socialists sought to unite in an international organisation. In 1889, on the centennial of the French Revolution of 1789, the Second International was founded, with 384 delegates from 20 countries representing about 300 labour and socialist organisations. It was termed the "Socialist International" and Engels was elected honorary president at the third congress in 1893. In 1889, on the centennial of the French Revolution of 1789, the Second International was founded, with 384 delegates from 20 countries representing about 300 labour and socialist organizations. Anarchists were ejected and not allowed in mainly because of the pressure from marxists. It has been argued that at some point the Second International turned "into a battleground over the issue of libertarian versus authoritarian socialism. Not only did they effectively present themselves as champions of minority rights; they also provoked the German Marxists into demonstrating a dictatorial intolerance which was a factor in preventing the British labor movement from following the Marxist direction indicated by such leaders as H. M. Hyndman". Eduard Bernstein was a leading social democrat in Germany who proposed the concept of evolutionary socialism. Reformism was quickly targeted by revolutionary socialists, with Rosa Luxemburg condemning Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism in her 1900 essay Reform or Revolution?. Revolutionary socialism encompasses multiple social and political movements that may define "revolution" differently from one another. Revolutionary socialism also includes non-Marxist movements like anarchism, revolutionary syndicalism and some forms of democratic socialism. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany became the largest and most powerful socialist party in Europe, despite working illegally until the anti-socialist laws were dropped in 1890. In the 1893 elections it gained 1,787,000 votes, a quarter of the total votes cast, according to Engels. In 1895, the year of his death, Engels emphasised the Communist Manifesto's emphasis on winning, as a first step, the "battle of democracy".
In 1904, Australians elected the first Australian Labor Party prime minister: Chris Watson, who became the first democratically elected social democrat. The British Labour Party first won seats in the House of Commons in 1902. The International Socialist Commission (ISC, also known as Berne International) was formed in February 1919 at a meeting in Berne by parties that wanted to resurrect the Second International. By 1917, the patriotism of World War I changed into political radicalism in most of Europe, the United States, and Australia. Other socialist parties from around the world who were beginning to gain importance in their national politics in the early 20th century included the Italian Socialist Party, the French Section of the Workers' International, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, the Socialist Party of America in the United States, the argentinian Socialist Party and the Chilean Partido Obrero Socialista.
In February 1917, revolution exploded in Russia. Workers, soldiers and peasants established soviets (councils), the monarchy fell, and a provisional government convoked pending the election of a constituent assembly. In April of that year, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Majority (or in Russian: "Bolshevik") faction of socialists in Russia and known for his profound and controversial expansions of Marxism, returned to his country from exile in Switzerland. Lenin had published essays on his analysis of imperialism, the monopoly and globalization phase of capitalism as predicted by Marx, as well as analyses on the social conditions of his contemporary time. He observed that as capitalism had further developed in Europe and America, the workers remained unable to gain class consciousness so long as they were too busy working and concerning with how to make ends meet. He therefore proposed that the social revolution would require the leadership of a vanguard party of class-conscious revolutionaries from the educated and politically active part of the population. Upon arriving in Petrograd, he declared that the revolution in Russia was not over but had only begun, and that the next step was for the workers' soviets to take full state authority. He issued a thesis outlining the Bolshevik's party programme, including rejection of any legitimacy in the provisional government and advocacy for state power to be given to the peasant and working class through the soviets. The Bolsheviks became the most influential force in the soviets, and on 7 November, the capitol of the provisional government was stormed by Bolshevik Red Guards in what afterwards known as the "Great October Socialist Revolution". The rule of the provisional government was ended and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic - the world's first constitutionally socialist state - was established. On 25 January 1918, at the Petrograd Soviet, Lenin declared "Long live the world socialist revolution!" He proposed an immediate armistice on all fronts, and transferred the land of the landed proprietors, the crown and the monasteries to the peasant committees without compensation.
On 26 January 1918, 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". Governing through the elected soviets, and in alliance with the peasant-based Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Bolshevik government began nationalising banks, industry, and disavowed the national debts of the deposed Romanov royal régime. It sued for peace, withdrawing from World War I, and convoked a Constituent Assembly in which the peasant Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SR) won a majority. The Constituent Assembly elected Socialist-Revolutionary leader Victor Chernov President of a Russian republic, but rejected the Bolshevik proposal that it endorse the Soviet decrees on land, peace and workers' control, and acknowledge the power of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies. The next day, the Bolsheviks declared that the assembly was elected on outdated party lists, and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets dissolved it. In March 1919 world communist parties formed Comintern (also known as the Third International) at a meeting in Moscow.
Parties which did not want to be a part of the resurrected Second International (ISC) or Comintern formed the International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP, also known as Vienna International/Vienna Union/Two-and-a-Half International) on 27 February 1921 at a conference in Vienna. The ISC and the IWUSP joined to form the Labour and Socialist International (LSI) in May 1923 at a meeting in Hamburg Left wing groups which did not agree with the centralisation and abandonment of the soviets by the Bolshevik Party led Left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks which were a series of rebellions and uprisings against the Bolsheviks led or supported by left wing groups including Socialist Revolutionaries, Left Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and anarchists. Within this left wing discontent the most large scale events were the worker's Kronstadt rebellion and the anarchist led Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine uprising which controlled an area known as the Free Territory.
The Bolshevik Russian Revolution of January 1918 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 in developed capitalist countries. In 1919, Lenin and Trotsky organised the world's Communist parties into a new international association of workers – the Communist International, (Comintern), also called the Third International. The Russian Revolution also influenced uprisings in other countries around this time. The German Revolution of 1918–1919 resulted in the replacement of Germany's imperial government with a republic. The revolutionary period lasted from November 1918 until the formal establishment of the Weimar Republic in August 1919 and included an episode known as the Bavarian Soviet Republic and the Spartacist uprising. In Italy the events known as the Biennio Rosso was characterised by mass strikes, worker manifestations as well as self-management experiments through land and factories occupations. In Turin and Milan, workers councils were formed and many factory occupations took place under the leadership of anarcho-syndicalists organised around the Unione Sindacale Italiana.
By 1920, the Red Army, under its commander Trotsky, had largely 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. While industry remained largely state-controlled, Lenin acknowledged that the NEP was a necessary capitalist measure for a country unripe for socialism. Profiteering returned in the form of "NEP men" and rich peasants (Kulaks) gained power in the countryside. Nevertheless the role of Trotsky in this episode has been questioned by other socialists incluiding ex-trostkists. In the United States Dwight Macdonald broke with Trotsky and left the trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, by raising the question of the Kronstadt rebellion, which Trotsky as leader of the Soviet Red Army and the other Bolsheviks had brutally repressed. He then moved towards democratic socialism  and anarchism. A similar critique on Trotsky's role on the events around the Kronstadt rebellion was raised by the American anarchist Emma Goldman. In her essay "Trotsky Protests Too Much" she says "I admit, the dictatorship under Stalin's rule has become monstrous. That does not, however, lessen the guilt of Leon Trotsky as one of the actors in the revolutionary drama of which Kronstadt was one of the bloodiest scenes."
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, whom they criticised 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. In 1923, on seeing the Soviet State's growing coercive power, the dying Lenin said Russia had reverted to "a bourgeois tsarist machine... barely varnished with socialism." After Lenin's death in January 1924, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – then increasingly under the control of Joseph Stalin – rejected the theory that socialism could not be built solely in the Soviet Union, in favour of the concept of Socialism in One Country. Despite the marginalised Left Opposition's demand for the 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.[self-published source?][unreliable source?]
In 1924 the Mongolian People's Republic was established and was ruled by the Mongolian People's Party. The Russian Revolution and the appearance of the Soviet State motivated a worldwide current of national Communist parties which ended having varying levels of political and social influence. Among these there appeared the Communist Party of France, the Communist Party USA, the Italian Communist Party, the Chinese Communist Party, the Mexican Communist Party, the Brazilian Communist Party, the Chilean Communist Party and the Communist Party of Indonesia.
In Spain in 1936, the national anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance, and abstention by CNT supporters led to a right wing election victory. But in 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped bring the popular front back to power. Months later, the former ruling class responded with an attempted coup causing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land. The events known as the Spanish Revolution was a workers' social revolution that began during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and more broadly libertarian socialist organisational principles throughout various portions of the country for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia, and parts of the Levante. Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party of Spain influence, as the Soviet-allied party actively resisted attempts at collectivization enactment. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertarian communes. Anarchist historian Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution, which he claimed "came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history."
The rise of Nazism and the start of World War II led to the dissolution of the LSI in 1940. The Socialist International was formed in Frankfurt in July 1951 as a successor to the LSI. Trotsky's Fourth International was established in France in 1938 when Trotskyists argued that the Comintern or Third International had become irretrievably "lost to Stalinism" and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power.
Post-World War II social democratic governments introduced social reform and wealth redistribution via state welfare and taxation. Social Democratic parties dominated post-war politics in countries such as France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Norway. At one point, France claimed to be the world's most state-controlled capitalist country. The nationalised public utilities included Charbonnages de France (CDF), Electricité de France (EDF), Gaz de France (GDF), Air France, Banque de France, and Régie Nationale des Usines Renault. In 1945, the British Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee, was elected to office based upon a radical socialist programme. The UK Labour Government nationalised major public utilities such as mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel, and the Bank of England. British Petroleum, privatised in 1987, was officially nationalised in 1951, and there was further government intervention during the 1974–79 Labour Government Anthony Crosland said that in 1956, 25 per cent of British industry was nationalised, and that public employees, including those in nationalised industries, constituted a similar percentage of the country's total employed population. Labour re-nationalised steel (1967, British Steel) after the Conservatives denationalised it, and nationalised car production (1976, British Leyland). The National Health Service provided taxpayer-funded health care to everyone, free at the point of service. Working-class housing was provided in council housing estates, and university education became available via a school grant system.
The Nordic model refers to the economic and social models of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland). During most of the post-war era, Sweden was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party largely in cooperation with trade unions and industry. In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party held power from 1936 to 1976, 1982 to 1991, and 1994 to 2006. From 1945 to 1962, the Norwegian Labour Party held an absolute majority in the parliament. This particular adaptation of the mixed market economy is characterised by more generous welfare states (relative to other developed countries), which are aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilising the economy. It is distinguished from other welfare states with similar goals by its emphasis on maximising labour force participation, promoting gender equality, egalitarian and extensive benefit levels, large magnitude of redistribution, and liberal use of expansionary fiscal policy.
After World War II the USSR became a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first spacecraft, and the first astronaut. The economy of the Soviet Union was the modern world's first centrally planned economy. It was based on a system of state ownership of industry managed through Gosplan (the State Planning Commission), Gosbank (the State Bank) and the Gossnab (State Commission for Materials and Equipment Supply). Economic planning was conducted through a series of Five-Year Plans. The emphasis was put on a very fast development of heavy industry and the nation became one of the world's top manufacturers of a large number of basic and heavy industrial products, but it lagged behind in the output of light industrial production and consumer durables. The Eastern Bloc was the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact which included the People's Republic of Poland, the German Democratic Republic, the People's Republic of Hungary, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the Socialist Republic of Romania, the People's Socialist Republic of Albania and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. Both Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev´s denunciation of the excesses of Stalin´s regime during the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 1956 and the events in Hungary produced ideological fractures and disagreements within the communist and socialist parties of Western Europe.
In the postwar years, socialism became increasingly influential throughout the so-called Third World. Countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America frequently nationalised industries held by foreign owners. The Chinese Revolution was the second part of Chinese Civil War which ended in the establishmente of the People's Republic of China. The term "Third World" was coined by French demographer Alfred Sauvy in 1952, on the model of the Third Estate, which, according to the Abbé Sieyès, represented everything, but was nothing: "...because at the end this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World like the Third Estate, wants to become something too" (Sauvy). The emergence of this new political entity, in the frame of the Cold War, was complex and painful. Several tentatives were made to organise newly independent states in order to oppose a common front towards both the US's and the USSR's influence on them, with the consequences of the Sino-Soviet split already at works. Thus, the Non-Aligned Movement constituted itself, around the main figures of Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of India, Sukarno, the Indonesian president, Josip Broz Tito the Communist leader of Yugoslavia, and Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of Egypt who successfully opposed the French and British imperial powers during the 1956 Suez crisis. After the 1954 Geneva Conference which put an end to the French war against Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, the 1955 Bandung Conference gathered Nasser, Nehru, Tito, Sukarno, the leader of Indonesia, and Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People's Republic of China. As many African countries gained independence during the 1960s, some of these newly formed governments rejected the ideas of capitalism in favour of a more afrocentric economic model. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sékou Touré of Guinea, were the main architects of African Socialism. The Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement and its allies against the government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, and finally ousted Batista on 1 January 1959, replacing his government with Castro's revolutionary state. Castro's government later reformed along communist lines, becoming the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1965.
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist approach to social justice and focused mostly on labour unionisation and questions of social class. They rejected involvement with the labour movement and Marxism's historical theory of class struggle. In the U.S., the "New Left" was associated with the Hippie movement, anti-war college campus protest movements as well as the black liberation movements such as the Black Panther Party. While initially formed in opposition to the "Old Left" Democratic party, groups composing the New Left gradually became central players in the Democratic coalition. In 1968 in Carrara, Italy the International of Anarchist Federations was founded during an international anarchist conference held there in 1968 by the three existing European federations of France, the Italian and the Iberian Anarchist Federation as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile.
The protests of 1968 comprised a worldwide escalation of social conflicts, predominantly characterised by popular rebellions against military, capitalist, and bureaucratic elites, who retorted with an escalation of political repression. In capitalist countries, these protests marked a turning point for the Civil Rights movement in the United States, which produced revolutionary movements like the Black Panther Party. In that country the prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. organised the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice while personally showing sympathy for democratic socialism. In reaction to the Tet Offensive, protests also sparked a broad movement in opposition to the Vietnam War all over the United States and even into London, Paris, Berlin and Rome. Mass socialist or communist movements grew not only in the United States but also in most European countries. The most spectacular manifestation of this were the May 1968 protests in France, in which students linked up with wildcat strikes of up to ten million workers, and for a few days the movement seemed capable of overthrowing the government. In many other capitalist countries, struggles against dictatorships, state repression, and colonization were also marked by protests in 1968, such as the beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City, and the escalation of guerrilla warfare against the military dictatorship in Brazil. In communist party led countries there were also protests against bureaucratic and military elites. It was amidst the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (1966–1976), and in Eastern Europe there were also widespread protests that escalated particularly in the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. Like the Italian and French Communist parties, the Communist Party of Finland denounced the occupation. The Portuguese communist secretary-general Álvaro Cunhal was one of few political leaders from western Europe to have supported the invasion for being counter-revolutionary. along with the Luxembourg party and conservative factions of the Greek party. In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a social-political youth movement movilized against "bourgeois" elements which were seen to be infiltrating the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. This movement motivated maoism inspired movements around the world in the context of the Sino-Soviet split.
In Indonesia within the Indonesian killings of 1965–66 a right wing military regime with support from the United States government killed between 300,000 and one million people mainly to crush the growing influence of the Communist Party of Indonesia and other leftist sectors. In Latin America in the 1960s a socialist tendency within the catholic church appeared which was called Liberation theology which enden motivating even the Colombian priest Camilo Torres to enter the ELN guerrilla. In Chile, Salvador Allende, a physician and candidate for the Socialist Party of Chile, was elected president through democratic elections in 1970. In 1973, his government was ousted by the American-backed military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted until the late 1980s. In Italy Autonomia Operaia was a leftist movement particularly active from 1976 to 1978. It took an important role in the autonomist movement in the 1970s, aside earlier organisations such as Potere Operaio, created after May 1968, and Lotta Continua. Out of this experience came out the contemporary socialist radical movement known as autonomism.
The Nicaraguan Revolution encompassed the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the dictatorship in 1978-79, the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990 and the socialist measures which included widescale agrarian reform and educational programs. The People's Revolutionary Government was proclaimed on 13 March 1979 in Grenada which was overthrown by armed forces of the United States in 1983. The Salvadoran Civil War (1979–1992) was a conflict between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or 'umbrella organization' of five socialist guerrilla groups. A coup on October 15, 1979 led to the killings of anti-coup protesters by the government as well as anti-disorder protesters by the guerillas, and is widely seen as the tipping point towards the civil war.
Eurocommunism was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various Western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant for a Western European country and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Some Communist parties with strong popular support, notably the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) adopted Eurocommunism most enthusiastically. The Communist Party of Finland was dominated by Eurocommunists while the French Communist Party (PCF) and many smaller parties strongly opposed to Eurocommunism and stayed aligned to the positions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union until the end of the USSR. Outside of Western Europe, it is sometimes referred to as "Neocommunism." In the late 1970s and in the 1980s the Socialist International had extensive contacts and discussion with the two leading powers of the Cold War period, the United States and the Soviet Union, on issues concerning East-West relations and arms control. Since then, the SI has admitted as member parties not only the Nicaraguan FSLN but also the left-wing Puerto Rican Independence Party, as well as former Communist parties such as the Democratic Party of the Left of Italy and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO). The Socialist International aided social democratic parties in re-establishing themselves when dictatorship gave way to democracy in Portugal (1974) and Spain (1975). Until its 1976 Geneva Congress, the SI had few members outside Europe and no formal involvement with Latin America.
After Mao's death in 1976 and the arrest of the faction known as the Gang of Four, who were blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping took power and led the People´s Republic of China to significant economic reforms. The Communist Party of China subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives and the communes were disbanded in favor of private land leases. This turn of events marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy named as "socialism with Chinese characteristics" which 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. China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990s. Under their administration, China's economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2%. At the Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in December 1986, reformist politicians replaced the "old guard" government with new leadership. The reformers were led by 71-year-old Nguyen Van Linh, who became the party's new general secretary. Linh and the reformers implemented a series of free-market reforms – known as Đổi Mới ("Renovation") – which carefully managed the transition from a planned economy to a "socialist-oriented market economy". Mikhail Gorbachev wished to move the USSR in the direction of Nordic-style social democracy, calling it "a socialist beacon for all mankind." Prior to its dissolution in 1991, the USSR had the second largest economy in the world after the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic integration of the Soviet republics was dissolved, and overall industrial activity declined substantially. A lasting legacy remains in the physical infrastructure created during decades of combined industrial production practices.
Many social democratic parties, particularly after the Cold war, adopted neoliberal market policies including privatisation, deregulation and financialisation. They abandoned their pursuit of moderate socialism in favour of market liberalism. By the 1980s, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the United States, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Brian Mulroney in Canada and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the Western welfare state was attacked from within. Monetarists and neoliberals attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship. In the UK, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock made a public attack against the entryist group Militant at the 1985 Labour Party conference. The Labour Party ruled that Militant was ineligible for affiliation with the Labour Party, and the party gradually expelled Militant supporters. The Kinnock leadership had refused to support the 1984–1985 miner's strike over pit closures, a decision that the party's left wing and the National Union of Mineworkers blamed for the strike's eventual defeat. In 1989, at Stockholm, the 18th Congress of the Socialist International adopted a new Declaration of Principles, saying:
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.
In the 1990s, the British Labour Party, under Tony Blair, enacted policies based upon the free market economy to deliver public services via the Private finance initiative. Influential in these policies was the idea of a "third Way" which called for a re-evalutation of welfare state policies. In 1995, the Labour Party re-defined its stance on socialism by re-wording Clause IV of its constitution, effectively rejecting socialism by removing all references to public, direct worker or municipal ownership of the means of production. The Labour Party stated: "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."
African socialism has been and continues to be a major ideology around the continent. Julius Nyerere was inspired by Fabian socialist ideals. He was a firm believer in rural Africans and their traditions and ujamaa, a system of collectivisation that according to Nyerere was present before European imperialism. Essentially he believed Africans were already socialists. Other African socialists include Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah. Fela Kuti was inspired by socialism and called for a democratic African republic. In South Africa the African National Congress (ANC) abandoned its partial socialist allegiances after taking power, and followed a standard neoliberal route. 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 work for popular people's planning and against the creation of a market economy in land and housing.
The People's Republic of China, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam are Asian countries remaining from the wave of Marxism-Leninist implemented socialism in the 20th century. States with socialist economies have largely moved away from centralised economic planning in the 21st century, placing a greater emphasis on markets. Forms include the Chinese socialist market economy and the Vietnamese socialist-oriented market economy. They utilise state-owned corporate management models as opposed to modelling socialist enterprise on traditional management styles employed by government agencies. In China living standards continued to improve rapidly despite the late-2000s recession, but centralized political control remained tight. Brian Reynolds Myers in his book The Cleanest Race, and later supported by other academics, dismisses the idea that Juche is North Korea's leading ideology, regarding its public exaltation as designed to deceive foreigners and that it exists to be praised and not actually read pointing out that North Korea's latest constitution, of 2009, omits all mention of communism. Though the authority of the state remained unchallenged under Đổi Mới, the government of Vietnam encourages private ownership of farms and factories, economic deregulation and foreign investment, while maintaining control over strategic industries. The Vietnamese economy subsequently achieved strong growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction, exports and foreign investment. However, these reforms have also caused a rise in income inequality and gender disparities. Elsewhere in Asia, 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. In Singapore, a majority of the GDP is still generated from the state sector comprising government-linked companies. In Japan, there has been a resurgent interest in the Japanese Communist Party among workers and youth. In Malaysia, the Socialist Party of Malaysia got its first Member of Parliament, Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj, after the 2008 general election.
The United Nations World Happiness Report 2013 shows that the happiest nations are concentrated in Northern Europe where the Nordic model of social democracy persists, with Denmark topping the list. The Nordics ranked highest on the metrics of real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption. The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's socialist and social-democratic bloc, are now "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." As a result, today, the rallying cry of the French Revolution – "Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité" – which overthrew absolutism and ushered industrialisation into French society, are promoted as essential socialist values. To the left of the PES at the European level is the Party of the European Left, (PEL; also commonly abbreviated "European Left") which is a political party at the European level and an association of democratic socialist, socialist and communist political parties in the European Union and other European countries. It was formed in January 2004 for the purposes of running in the 2004 European Parliament elections. PEL was founded on 8–9 May 2004 in Rome. Elected MEPs from member parties of the European Left sit in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European parliament. In Europe, the socialist Left Party in Germany grew in popularity due to dissatisfaction with the increasingly neoliberal policies of the SPD, becoming the fourth biggest party in parliament in the general election on 27 September 2009. Communist candidate Dimitris Christofias won a crucial presidential runoff in Cyprus, defeating his conservative rival with a majority of 53%. In Greece, in the general election on 17 June 2012, Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) won 26.89% of the votes and became the second largest party in parliament. In Ireland, in the 2009 European election, Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party took one of three seats in the capital Dublin European constituency. In Denmark, the Socialist People's Party (SF or Socialist Party for short) more than doubled its parliamentary representation to 23 seats from 11, making it the fourth largest party. In 2011, the socialist parties of Social Democrats, Socialist People's Party and the Danish Social Liberal Party formed government, after a slight victory over the liberal parties. They were led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and had the Red-Green Alliance as a supporting party. In Norway, the Red-Green Coalition consists of the Labour Party (Ap), the Socialist Left Party (SV), and the Centre Party (Sp), and governed the country as a majority government from the 2005 general election until 2013. In the UK, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers put forward a slate of candidates in the 2009 European Parliament elections under the banner of No to EU – Yes to Democracy, a broad left-wing alter-globalisation coalition involving socialist groups such as the Socialist Party, aiming to offer an alternative to the "anti-foreigner" and pro-business policies of the UK Independence Party. In the following May 2010 UK general election, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, launched in January 2010 and backed by Bob Crow, the leader of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT), other union leaders and the Socialist Party among other socialist groups, stood against Labour in 40 constituencies. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition plans to contest the 2011 elections, having gained the endorsement of the RMT June 2010 conference. In France, the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) candidate in the 2007 presidential election, Olivier Besancenot, received 1,498,581 votes, 4.08%, double that of the Communist candidate. The LCR abolished itself in 2009 to initiate a broad anti-capitalist party, the New Anticapitalist Party, whose stated aim is to "build a new socialist, democratic perspective for the twenty-first century". All around Europe and in some places of Latin America there exists a social center and Squatting movement mainly inspired by autonomist and anarchist ideas.
For the Encyclopedia Britannica "the attempt by Salvador Allende to unite Marxists and other reformers in a socialist reconstruction of Chile is most representative of the direction that Latin American socialists have taken since the late 20th century. ... Several socialist (or socialist-leaning) leaders have followed Allende’s example in winning election to office in Latin American countries." Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa refer to their political programmes as socialist. Chávez has adopted the term socialism of the 21st century. After winning re-election in December 2006, Chávez said, "Now more than ever, I am obliged to move Venezuela's path towards socialism." Hugo Chávez was also reelected in October 2012 for his third six-year term as President, but he died in March 2013 from cancer. After Chávez's death on 5 March 2013, vice-president from Chavez's party Nicolás Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the President. A special election was held on 14 April of the same year to elect a new President, which Maduro won by a tight margin as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela; he was formally inaugurated on 19 April. "Pink tide" is a term being used in contemporary 21st-century political analysis in the media and elsewhere to describe the perception that Leftist ideology in general, and Left-wing politics in particular, are increasingly influential in Latin America. Foro de São Paulo is a conference of leftist political parties and other organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean. It was launched by the Workers' Party (Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) of Brazil in 1990 in the city of São Paulo. The Forum of São Paulo was constituted in 1990 when the Brazilian Workers' Party approached other parties and social movements of Latin America and the Caribbean with the objective of debating the new international scenario after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the consequences of the implementation of what were taken as neoliberal policies adopted at the time by contemporary right-leaning governments in the region, the stated main objective of the conference being to argue for alternatives to neoliberalism. Among its member include current socialist and social-democratic parties currently in government in the region such as Bolivia´s Movement for socialism, Brazil´s Workers Party, the Communist Party of Cuba, the Ecuadorian PAIS Alliance, the Venezuelan United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the Socialist Party of Chile, the uruguayan Broad Front, the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front and the salvadorean Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.
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According to a 2013 article in The Guardian "Contrary to popular belief, Americans don't have an innate allergy to socialism. Milwaukee has had several socialist mayors (Frank Zeidler, Emil Seidel and Daniel Hoan), and there is currently an independent socialist in the US Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In 1920, Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs won nearly one million votes." Current active parties and organisations include the Socialist Party USA, the Socialist Workers Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, the latter having approximately 10,000 members. Some internal factions of the Green Party are social democratic and eco-socialist. Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, has described himself as a democratic socialist and has praised Scandinavian-style social democracy. Anti-capitalism, anarchism and the anti-globalisation movement rose to prominence through events such as protests against the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 in Seattle. Socialist-inspired groups played an important role in these movements, which nevertheless embraced much broader layers of the population and were championed by figures such as Noam Chomsky. In a 2011 Pew poll, young Americans between the ages of 18-29 favored socialism to capitalism by 49% to 43%. In the March 2013 Los Angeles mayoral election, a candidate from the Socialist Workers Party participated in the race. In the October 2013 Seattle City Council election, Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant beat incumbent Democrat Richard Conlin for position 2, making Sawant the first Marxist to win city-wide election since Anna Louise Strong in 1916. In Canada, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the precursor to the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP), had significant success in provincial politics. In 1944, the Saskatchewan CCF formed the first socialist government in North America. At the federal level, the NDP is currently the Official Opposition, after winning 103 out of 308 seats (up from 37) in the 2011 Canadian federal election.
The Progressive Alliance is a political international founded on 22 May 2013 by political parties, the majority of whom are current or former members of the Socialist International. The organisation states the aim of becoming the global network of "the progressive", democratic, social-democratic, socialist and labour movement".
Early socialist thought took influences from a diverse range of philosophies such as civic republicanism, Enlightenment rationalism, romanticism, forms of materialism, Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant), natural law and natural rights theory, utilitarianism and liberal political economy.
The philosophical basis for contemporary socialism was heavily influenced by the emergence of positivism during the European Enlightenment. Positivism held that both the natural and social worlds could be understood through scientific knowledge and be analyzed using scientific methods. This core outlook influenced early social scientists and different types of socialists ranging from anarchists like Peter Kropotkin to technocrats like Saint Simon.
The fundamental objective of socialism is to attain an advanced level of material production and therefore greater productivity, efficiency and rationality as compared to capitalism and all previous systems, under the view that an expansion of human productive capability is the basis for the extension of freedom and equality in society.
Many forms of socialist theory hold that human behaviour is largely shaped by the social environment. In particular, socialism holds that social mores, values, cultural traits and economic practices are social creations and not the result of an immutable natural law. The object of their critique is thus not human avarice or human consciousness, but the material conditions and man-made social systems (i.e.: the economic structure of society) that gives rise to observed social problems and inefficiencies.
In the 20th century socialist economists were heavily influenced by neoclassical economics and its precepts in analytic philosophy. Notable socialists often combined neoclassical economics with Marxian analysis and historical materialism. Bertrand Russell, often considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, identified as a socialist. Bertrand Russell opposed the class struggle aspects of Marxism, viewing socialism solely as an adjustment of economic relations to accommodate modern machine production to benefit all of humanity through the progressive reduction of necessary work time.
Socialists tend to argue that "capitalism necessarily leads to unfair and exploitative concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the relative few who emerge victorious from free-market competition—people who then use their wealth and power to reinforce their dominance in society. Because such people are rich, they may choose where and how to live, and their choices in turn limit the options of the poor."
From the socialist perspective, freedom is conceived of as a concrete situation as opposed to a purely abstract or moral concept, and is closely related to human creativity and the importance socialists ascribe to creative freedom. Socialists view creativity as an essential aspect of human nature, and define freedom as a state of being where individuals are able to express their creativity unhindered by constraints of both material scarcity and coercive social institutions. Marxists stress the importance of freeing the individual from coercive, exploitative and alienating social relationships they are compelled to partake in merely to survive, as well as the importance of economic development as providing the material basis for the existence of a state of society where there are enough resources to allow for each individual to pursue his or her genuine creative interests. In Marxist terminology, this is the goal of transcending alienation through material abundance.
The socialist concept of individuality is thus intertwined with the concept of individual creative expression. Karl Marx believed that expansion of the productive forces and technology was the basis for the expansion of human freedom, and that socialism, being a system that is consistent with modern developments in technology, would enable the flourishing of "free individualities" through the progressive reduction of necessary labour time. The reduction of necessary labour time to a minimum would grant individuals the opportunity to pursue the development of their true individuality and creativity.
In general, models of socialism often include some form of co-operative management of economic affairs based on equal power relationships, and socialists generally oppose hierarchies of a non-technical nature.
Karl Marx eschewed theorizing on moral concepts. Instead of advocating principles of justice or equality, Marx's case for socialism was grounded in economic and materialist logic and his analysis of the development of the productive forces. Although Karl Marx is sometimes mistaken as an egalitarian, Marx opposed idealism and the concept of "equality". Marx did, however, have a theory of the evolution of moral principles in relation to specific economic systems.
In Marxist theory, upper-stage communism is based on a principle whereby access to goods and services is based on need, stressing equal access to the articles of consumption. The "equality" in a communist society is not about equality of outcome, but about equal access to the articles of consumption so that individuals are free from dependency on other individuals or groups, and are thus able to overcome alienation.
The American socialist economist John Roemer has put forth a new perspective of equality and its relationship to socialism. Roemer attempts to reformulate Marxist analysis to accommodate normative principles of distributive justice, shifting the argument for socialism away from purely technical and materialist reasons to one of distributive justice. Roemer argues that, according to the principle of distributive justice, the traditional definition of socialism based on the principle that individual compensation be proportional to the value of the labour one expands in production is inadequate. Roemer concludes that egalitarians must therefore go beyond socialism as it is classically defined.
Socialists do not base their critique of capitalism on the denunciation of greed, vilification of human nature or capitalists, or on human avarice but on the structural causes of social and economic problems that emerge from the normal functioning of the capitalist system.
Socialists argue that the accumulation of capital generates waste through externalities that require costly corrective regulatory measures. They also point out that this process generates wasteful industries and practices that exist only to generate sufficient demand for products to be sold at a profit (such as high-pressure advertisement); thereby creating rather than satisfying economic demand.
Socialists argue that capitalism consists of irrational activity, such as the purchasing of commodities only to sell at a later time when their price appreciates, rather than for consumption, even if the commodity cannot be sold at a profit to individuals in need; therefore, a crucial criticism often made by socialists is that making money, or accumulation of capital, does not correspond to the satisfaction of demand (the production of use-values). The fundamental criterion for economic activity in capitalism is the accumulation of capital for reinvestment in production; this spurs the development of new, non-productive industries that don't produce use-value and only exist to keep the accumulation process afloat (otherwise the system goes into crisis), such as the spread of the financial industry, contributing to the formation of economic bubbles.
Socialists view private property relations as limiting the potential of productive forces in the economy. According to socialists, private property becomes obsolete when it concentrates into centralized, socialized institutions based on private appropriation of revenue (but based on cooperative work and internal planning in allocation of inputs) until the role of the capitalist becomes redundant. With no need for capital accumulation and a class of owners, private property in the means of production is perceived as being an outdated form of economic organization that should be replaced by a free association of individuals based on public or common ownership of these socialized assets. Private ownership imposes constraints on planning, leading to uncoordinated economic decisions that result in business fluctuations, unemployment and a tremendous waste of material resources during crisis of overproduction.
Excessive disparities in income distribution lead to social instability and require costly corrective measures in the form of redistributive taxation, which incurs heavy administrative costs while weakening the incentive to work, inviting dishonesty and increasing the likelihood of tax evasion while (the corrective measures) reduce the overall efficiency of the market economy. These corrective policies limit the incentive system of the market by providing things such as minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxing profits and reducing the reserve army of labor, resulting in reduced incentives for capitalists to invest in more production. In essence, social welfare policies cripple the capitalism and its incentive system and are thus unsustainable in the long-run. Marxists argue that the establishment of a socialist mode of production is the only way to overcome these deficiencies. Socialists and specifically Marxian socialists, argue that the inherent conflict of interests between the working class and capital prevent optimal use of available human resources and leads to contradictory interest groups (labor and business) striving to influence the state to intervene in the economy in their favor at the expense of overall economic efficiency.
Early socialists (Utopian socialists and Ricardian socialists) criticized capitalism for concentrating power and wealth within a small segment of society. and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public.
Socialist economics starts from the premise that "individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members."
The original conception of socialism was an economic system whereby production was organised in a way to directly produce goods and services for their utility (or use-value in classical and Marxian economics): the direct allocation of resources in terms of physical units as opposed to financial calculation and the economic laws of capitalism (see: Law of value), often entailing the end of capitalistic economic categories such as rent, interest, profit and money. In a fully developed socialist economy, production and balancing factor inputs with outputs becomes a technical process to be undertaken by engineers.
Market socialism refers to an array of different economic theories and systems that utilise the market mechanism to organise production and to allocate factor inputs among socially owned enterprises, with the economic surplus (profits) accruing to society in a social dividend as opposed to private capital owners. Variations of market socialism include Libertarian proposals such as mutualism, based on classical economics, and neoclassical economic models such as the Lange Model.
The ownership of the means of production can be based on direct ownership by the users of the productive property through worker cooperative; or commonly owned by all of society with management and control delegated to those who operate/use the means of production; or public ownership by a state apparatus. Public ownership may refer to the creation of state-owned enterprises, nationalisation, municipalisation or autonomous collective institutions. The fundamental feature of a socialist economy is that publicly owned, worker-run institutions produce goods and services in at least the commanding heights of the economy.
Management and control over the activities of enterprises are based on self-management and self-governance, with equal power-relations in the workplace to maximise occupational autonomy. A socialist form of organisation would eliminate controlling hierarchies so that only a hierarchy based on technical knowledge in the workplace remains. Every member would have decision-making power in the firm and would be able to participate in establishing its overall policy objectives. The policies/goals would be carried out by the technical specialists that form the coordinating hierarchy of the firm, who would establish plans or directives for the work community to accomplish these goals.
The role and use of money in a hypothetical socialist economy is a contested issue. Socialists including Karl Marx, Robert Owen, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and John Stuart Mill advocated various forms of labour vouchers or labour-credits, which like money would be used to acquire articles of consumption, but unlike money, they are unable to become capital and would not be used to allocate resources within the production process. Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky argued that money could not be arbitrarily abolished following a socialist revolution. Money had to exhaust its "historic mission", meaning it would have to be used until its function became redundant, eventually being transformed into bookkeeping receipts for statisticians, and only in the more distant future would money not be required for even that role.
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
The Socialist calculation debate refers to an ongoing discourse on the subject of how a socialist economy would perform economic calculation given the absence of the law of value, money and financial prices for capital goods and the means of production. More specifically, the debate was centered on the application of economic planning for the allocation of the means of production as a substitute for capital markets, and whether or not such an arrangement would be superior to capitalism in terms of efficiency and productivity.
A planned economy is a type of economy consisting of a mixture of public ownership of the means of production and the coordination of production and distribution through economic planning. There are two major types of planning: decentralised-planning and centralised-planning. Enrico Barone provided a comprehensive theoretical framework for a planned socialist economy. In his model, assuming perfect computation techniques, simultaneous equations relating inputs and outputs to ratios of equivalence would provide appropriate valuations in order to balance supply and demand.
The most prominent example of a planned economy was the economic system of the Soviet Union, and as such, the centralised-planned economic model is usually associated with the Communist states of the 20th century, where it was combined with a single-party political system. In a centrally planned economy, decisions regarding the quantity of goods and services to be produced are planned in advance by a planning agency. (See also: Analysis of Soviet-type economic planning). The economic systems of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc are further classified as command economies, which are defined as systems where economic coordination is undertaken by commands, directives and production targets. Studies by economists of various political persuasions on the actual functioning of the Soviet economy indicate that it was not actually a planned economy. Instead of conscious planning, the Soviet economy was based on a process whereby the plan was modified by localized agents and the original plans went largely unfulfilled. Planning agencies, ministries and enterprises all adapted and bargained with each other during the formulation of the plan as opposed to following a plan passed down from a higher authority, leading some economists to suggest that planning did not actually take place within the Soviet economy and that a better description would be an "administered" or "managed" economy.
Although central planning was largely supported by Marxist Leninists, some factions within the Soviet Union before the rise of Stalinism held positions contrary to central planning. Leon Trotsky rejected central planning in favour of decentralised planning. He argued that central planners, regardless of their intellectual capacity, would be unable to coordinate effectively all economic activity within an economy because they operated without the input and tacit knowledge embodied by the participation of the millions of people who in the economy. As a result, central planners would be unable to respond to local economic conditions.
A self-managed, decentralised economy is based upon autonomous self-regulating economic units and a decentralised mechanism of resource allocation and decision-making. This model has found support in notable classical and neoclassical economists including Alfred Marshall, John Stuart Mill and Jaroslav Vanek. There are numerous variations of self-management, including labour-managed firms and worker-managed firms. The goals of self-management are to eliminate exploitation and reduce alienation. Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds "in an implied contractual relationship with the public". It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. It was strongly associated with G. D. H. Cole and influenced by the ideas of William Morris.
One such system is the cooperative economy, a largely free market economy in which workers manage the firms and democratically determine remuneration levels and labour divisions. Productive resources would be legally owned by the cooperative and rented to the workers, who would enjoy usufruct rights. Another form of decentralised planning is the use of cybernetics, or the use of computers to manage the allocation of economic inputs. The socialist-run government of Salvador Allende in Chile experimented with Project Cybersyn, a real-time information bridge between the government, state enterprises and consumers. Another, more recent, variant is participatory economics, wherein the economy is planned by decentralised 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. A contemporary model for a self-managed, non-market socialism is Pat Devine's model of negotiated coordination. Negotiated coordination is based upon social ownership by those affected by the use of the assets involved, with decisions made by those at the most localised level of production.
Michel Bauwens identifies the emergence of the open software movement and peer-to-peer production as a new, alternative mode of production to the capitalist economy and centrally planned economy that is based on collaborative self-management, common ownership of resources, and the production of use-values through the free cooperation of producers who have access to distributed capital.
Anarchist communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, private property, and capitalism in favour of common ownership of the means of production. Anarcho-syndicalism as practiced in Catalonia and other places in the Spanish Revolution during the Spanish Civil War. Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution,.
The economy of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia established a system based on market-based allocation, social ownership of the means of production and self-management within firms. This system substituted Yugoslavia's Soviet-type central planning with a decentralised, self-managed system after reforms in 1953.
The Marxian economist Richard D. Wolff argues that "reorganizing production so that workers become collectively self-directed at their work-sites" not only moves society beyond both capitalism and state socialism of the last century, but would also mark another milestone in human history, similar to earlier transitions out of slavery and feudalism. As an example, Wolff claims that Mondragon is "a stunningly successful alternative to the capitalist organisation of production."
State socialism can be used to classify any variety of socialist philosophies that advocates the ownership of the means of production by the state apparatus, either as a transitional stage between capitalism and socialism, or as an end-goal in itself. Typically it refers to a form of technocratic management, whereby technical specialists administer or manage economic enterprises on behalf of society (and the public interest) instead of workers' councils or workplace democracy.
A state-directed economy may refer to a type of mixed economy consisting of public ownership over large industries, as promoted by various Social democratic political parties during the 20th century. This ideology influenced the policies of the British Labour Party during Clement Attlee's administration. In the biography of the 1945 UK Labour Party Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Francis Beckett states: "the government... wanted what would become known as a mixed economy".
Nationalisation in the UK was achieved through compulsory purchase of the industry (i.e. with compensation). 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; the nationalisation 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.
Market socialism consists of publicly owned or cooperatively owned enterprises operating in a market economy. It is a system that utilises the market and monetary prices for the allocation and accounting of the means of production, thereby retaining the process of capital accumulation. The profit generated would be used to directly remunerate employees or finance public institutions. In state-oriented forms of market socialism, in which state enterprises attempt to maximise profit, the profits can be used to fund government programs and services through a social dividend, eliminating or greatly diminishing the need for various forms of taxation that exist in capitalist systems. The neoclassical economist Léon Walras believed that a socialist economy based on state ownership of land and natural resources would provide a means of public finance to make income taxes unnecessary. Yugoslavia implemented a market socialist economy based on cooperatives and worker self-management.
Mutualism is an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that advocates a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labour in the free market. Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank that would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration. Mutualism is based on a labour theory of value that holds that when labour or its product is sold, in exchange, it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labour necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility".
The current economic system in China is formally referred to as a Socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics. It combines a large state sector that comprises the 'commanding heights' of the economy, which are guaranteed their public ownership status by law, with a private sector mainly engaged in commodity production and light industry responsible from anywhere between 33% (People's Daily Online 2005) to over 70% of GDP generated in 2005. Although there has been a rapid expansion of private-sector activity since the 1980s, privatisation of state assets was virtually halted and were partially reversed in 2005. The current Chinese economy consists of 150 corporatised state-owned enterprises that report directly to China's central government. By 2008, these state-owned corporations had become increasingly dynamic and generated large increases in revenue for the state, resulting in a state-sector led recovery during the 2009 financial crises while accounting for most of China's economic growth. However, the Chinese economic model is widely cited as a contemporary form of state capitalism, the major difference between Western capitalism and the Chinese model being the degree of state-ownership of shares in publicly listed corporations.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has adopted a similar model after the Doi Moi economic renovation, but slightly differs from the Chinese model in that the Vietnamese government retains firm control over the state sector and strategic industries, but allows for private-sector activity in commodity production.
In this context, socialism has been used to refer to a political movement, a political philosophy and a hypothetical form of society these movements aim to achieve. As a result, in a political context socialism has come to refer to the strategy (for achieving a socialist society) or policies promoted by socialist organisations and socialist political parties; all of which have no connection to socialism as a socioeconomic system.
At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. – Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program
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In the most influential of all economic theories on socialist thought, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels argued that socialism would emerge from historical necessity as capitalism rendered itself obsolete and unsustainable from increasing internal contradictions emerging from the development of the productive forces and technology. It was these advances in the productive forces combined with the old social relations of production of capitalism that would generate contradictions, leading to working-class consciousness.
Marx and Engels held the view that the consciousness of those who earn a wage or salary (the working class in the broadest Marxist sense) would be moulded by their conditions of wage slavery, leading to a tendency to seek their freedom or emancipation by overthrowing ownership of the means of production by capitalists, and consequently, overthrowing the state that upheld this economic order. For Marx and Engels, conditions determine consciousness and ending the role of the capitalist class leads eventually to a classless society in which the state would wither away.
The Marxist conception of socialism is that of a specific historical phase that will displace capitalism and precede communism. The major characteristics of socialism (particularly as conceived by Marx and Engels after the Paris Commune of 1871) are that the proletariat will control the means of production through a workers' state erected by the workers in their interests. Economic activity would still be organised through the use of incentive systems and social classes would still exist, but to a lesser and diminishing extent than under capitalism.
For orthodox Marxists, socialism is the lower stage of communism based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution" while upper stage communism is based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need"; the upper stage becoming possible only after the socialist stage further develops economic efficiency and the automation of production has led to a superabundance of goods and services.
Marx argued that the material productive forces (in industry and commerce) brought into existence by capitalism predicated a cooperative society since production had become a mass social, collective activity of the working class to create commodities but with private ownership (the relations of production or property relations). This conflict between collective effort in large factories and private ownership would bring about a conscious desire in the working class to establish collective ownership commensurate with the collective efforts their daily experience.
Che Guevara and Mao Zedong sought socialism based on the rural peasantry rather than the urban working class. Che Guevara attempted to inspire the peasants of Bolivia by his own example into a change of consciousness. Guevara said in 1965:
Socialism cannot exist without a change in consciousness resulting in a new fraternal attitude toward humanity, both at an individual level, within the societies where socialism is being built or has been built, and on a world scale, with regard to all peoples suffering from imperialist oppression.
Thorstein Veblen, a leading American institutionalist and evolutionary economist, argued that a subset of the working-class, the technical specialists and engineers, would become the driving force behind socioeconomic change within capitalism. There is an antagonism between industry and business, where industry refers to the process of producing goods and services and business is defined as the process of "making money". Thorstein Veblen saw socialism as an immediate stage in an ongoing evolutionary process in economics that would result from the natural decay of the system of business enterprise. In contrast to Marx, he did not believe socialism would be the result of political struggle or political revolution by the working class as a whole and did not believe it to be the ultimate goal of humanity. But like Marx, Veblen saw technology as the underlying force driving social change.
Joseph Schumpeter viewed intellectuals and the intelligentsia as the group within society that would gradually move society toward socialism. Socialism would be partially a result of socio-economic evolution, the growth of workers' self-management, industrial democracy and social planning, and partially from political pressure on the part of intellectuals in Western society.
Socialists have taken different perspectives on the state and the role it should play in revolutionary struggles, in constructing socialism, and within an established socialist economy.
Preceding the Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia, many socialists including reformists, orthodox Marxist currents such as council communism and the Mensheviks, Anarchists and Libertarian socialists criticised the idea of using the state to conduct central planning and own the means of production as a way to establish socialism. Following the victory of Leninism in Russia, the idea of "state socialism" spread rapidly throughout the socialist movement, and eventually "state socialism" came to be identified with the Soviet economic model.
Joseph Schumpeter rejected the association of socialism (and social ownership) with state ownership over the means of production, because the state as it exists in its current form is a product of capitalist society and cannot be transplanted to a different institutional framework. Schumpeter argued that there would be different institutions within socialism than those that exist within modern capitalism, just as feudalism had its own distinct and unique institutional forms. The state, along with concepts like property and taxation were concepts exclusive to commercial society (capitalism) and attempting to place them within the context of a future socialist society would amount to a distortion of these concepts by using them out of context
In the 19th century the philosophy of state socialism was first explicitly expounded by the German political philosopher Ferdinand Lassalle. In contrast to Karl Marx’s perspective of the state, Lassalle rejected the concept of the state as a class-based power structure whose main function was to preserve existing class structures. Thus Lassalle also rejected the Marxist view that the state was destined to “wither away”. Lassalle considered the state to be an entity independent of class allegiances and an instrument of justice that would therefore be essential for achieving socialism.
Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen, which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists. However, visions of imaginary ideal societies, which competed with revolutionary social-democratic movements, were viewed as not being grounded in the material conditions of society and as reactionary. Although it is technically possible for any set of ideas or any person living at any time in history to be a utopian socialist, the term is most often applied to those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label "utopian" by later socialists as a negative term, in order to imply naivete and dismiss their ideas as fanciful or unrealistic.
Religious sects whose members live communally, such as the Hutterites, for example, are not usually called "utopian socialists", although their way of living is a prime example. They have been categorized as religious socialists by some. Likewise, modern intentional communities based on socialist ideas could also be categorized as "utopian socialist".
For Marxists, the development of capitalism in western Europe provided a material basis for the possibility of bringing about socialism because, according to the Communist Manifesto, "What the bourgeoisie produces above all is its own grave diggers", namely the working class, which must become conscious of the historical objectives set it by society.
Revolutionary socialists believe that a social revolution is necessary to effect structural changes to the socio-economic structure of society. Among revolutionary socialists there are differences in strategy, theory and the definition of "revolution". Orthodox Maxists and Left Communists take an Impossibilist stance, believing revolution should be spontaneous as a result of contradictions in society resulting from technological changes in the productive forces. Lenin theorized that under capitalism the workers cannot achieve class consciousness beyond organising into unions and making demands of the capitalists. Therefore, Leninists advocate that it is historically necessity for a vanguard of class conscious revolutionaries to take a central role in coordinating the social revolution to overthrow the capitalist state and, eventually, the institution of the state altogether. "Revolution" is not necessarily defined by revolutionary socialists as violent insurrection, but as a complete dismantling and rapid transformation of all areas of class society led by the majority of the masses: the working class.
Reformism is generally associated with social democracy and gradualist democratic socialism. Reformism is the belief that socialists should stand in parliamentary elections within capitalist society, and if elected, utilize the machinery of government to pass political and social reforms for the purposes of ameliorating the instabilities and inequities of capitalism.
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The major socialist political movements are described below. Independent socialist theorists, [utopian socialist] authors, and academic supporters of socialism may not be represented in these movements. Some political groups have called themselves socialist while holding views that some consider antithetical to socialism. The term socialist has also been used by some politicians on the political right as an epithet against certain individuals who do not consider themselves to be socialists, and against policies that are not considered socialist by their proponents.
There are many variations of socialism and as such there is no single definition encapsulating all of socialism. However there have been common elements identified by scholars. Angelo S. Rappoport in his Dictionary of Socialism (1924) analysed forty definitions of socialism to conclude that common elements of socialism include: general criticisms of the social effects of private ownership and control of capital – as being the cause of poverty, low wages, unemployment, economic and social inequality, and a lack of economic security; a general view that the solution to these problems is a form of collective control over the means of production, distribution and exchange (the degree and means of control vary amongst socialist movements); agreement that the outcome of this collective control should be a society based upon social justice, including social equality, economic protection of people, and should provide a more satisfying life for most people. Bhikhu Parekh in The Concepts of Socialism (1975) identifies four core principles of socialism and particularly socialist society: sociality, social responsibility, cooperation, and planning. Michael Freeden in his study Ideologies and Political Theory (1996) states that all socialists share five themes: the first is that socialism posits that society is more than a mere collection of individuals; second, that it considers human welfare a desirable objective; third, that it considers humans by nature to be active and productive; fourth, it holds the belief of human equality; and fifth, that history is progressive and will create positive change on the condition that humans work to achieve such change.
Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies often defined as self-governed voluntary institutions, but that several authors have defined as more specific institutions based on non-hierarchical free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. While anti-statism is central, some argue that anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. Mutualists advocate market socialism, collectivist anarchists workers cooperatives and salaries based on the amount of time contributed to production, anarcho-communists advocate a direct transition from capitalism to libertarian communism and a gift economy and anarcho-syndicalists worker's direct action and the general strike.
Libertarian socialism is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic society without private property in the means of production. Libertarian socialists believe in converting present-day private productive property into common or public goods, while retaining respect for personal property. Libertarian socialism is opposed to coercive forms of social organisation. It promotes free association in place of government and opposes the social relations of capitalism, such as wage labour. The term libertarian socialism is used by some socialists to differentiate their philosophy from state socialism, and by some as a synonym for left anarchism. Currents within libertarian socialism include Marxist tendencies such as left communism, council communism and autonomism, as well as non-Marxist movements such as social anarchism, Communalism, Participism, and Inclusive Democracy.
Modern democratic socialism is a broad political movement that seeks to promote the ideals of socialism within the context of a democratic system. Some Democratic socialists support social democracy as a temporary measure to reform the current system, while others reject reformism in favor of more revolutionary methods. Modern social democracy emphasises a program of gradual legislative reform of capitalism in order to make it more equitable and humane, while the theoretical end goal of building a socialist society is either completely forgotten or redefined in a pro-capitalist way. The two movements are widely similar both in terminology and in ideology, although there are a few key differences.
The major difference between social democracy and democratic socialism is the object of their politics: contemporary social democrats support a welfare state and unemployment insurance as a means to "humanize" capitalism, whereas democratic socialists seek to replace capitalism with a socialist economic system, arguing that any attempt to "humanize" capitalism through regulations and welfare policies would distort the market and create economic contradictions.
Democratic socialism generally refers to any political movement that seeks to establish an economy based on economic democracy by and for the working class. Democratic socialists oppose authoritarian "socialists" as Stalinists and Maoists. Democratic socialism is difficult to define, and groups of scholars have radically different definitions for the term. Some definitions simply refer to all forms of socialism that follow an electoral, reformist or evolutionary path to socialism, rather than a revolutionary one.
You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.
Christian socialism is a broad concept involving an intertwining of the Christian religion with the politics and economic theories of socialism.
Islamic socialism is a term coined by various Muslim leaders to describe a more spiritual form of socialism. Muslim socialists believe that the teachings of the Qur'an and Muhammad are compatible with principles of equality and public ownership drawing inspiration from the early Medina welfare state established by the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim Socialists are more conservative than their western contemporaries and find their roots in Anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and Arab nationalism. Islamic Socialist leaders believe in Democracy and deriving legitimacy from public mandate as opposed to religious texts.
Blanquism refers to a conception of revolution generally attributed to Louis Auguste Blanqui which holds that socialist revolution should be carried out by a relatively small group of highly organised and secretive conspirators. Having seized power, the revolutionaries would then use the power of the state to introduce socialism. It is considered a particular sort of 'putschism' – that is, the view that political revolution should take the form of a putsch or coup d'état. Rosa Luxemburg and Eduard Bernstein have criticised Lenin that his conception of revolution was elitist and essentially 'Blanquist'. Marxism–Leninism is a political ideology combining Marxism (the scientific socialist concepts theorised by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) and Leninism (Vladimir Lenin's theoretical expansions of Marxism which include anti-imperialism, democratic centralism, and party-building principles). Marxism–Leninism was the official ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and of the Communist International (1919–43) and later it became the main guiding ideology for trotskists, maoists, and stalinists.
Social democracy is a political ideology that officially has as its goal the establishment of democratic socialism through reformist and gradualist methods. Alternatively, Social democracy is defined as a policy regime involving a welfare state, collective bargaining schemes, and support for publicly financed public services. It is often used in this manner to refer to the social models and economic policies prominent in Western and Northern Europe during the later half of the 20th century. It has been described by Jerry Mander as “hybrid” economics, an active collaboration of capitalist and socialist visions, and, while such systems aren't perfect, they tend to provide high standards of living.
Social democrats advocate for a peaceful, evolutionary transition of the economy to socialism through progressive social reform of capitalism. It asserts that the only acceptable constitutional form of government is representative democracy under the rule of law. It promotes extending democratic decision-making beyond political democracy to include economic democracy to guarantee employees and other economic stakeholders sufficient rights of co-determination. It supports a mixed economy that opposes the excesses of capitalism such as inequality, poverty, and oppression of various groups, while rejecting both a totally free market or a fully planned economy. Common social democratic policies include advocacy of universal social rights to attain universally accessible public services such as education, health care, workers' compensation, and other services, including child care and care for the elderly. Social democracy is connected with the trade union labour movement and supports collective bargaining rights for workers. Most social democratic parties are affiliated with the Socialist International.
Syndicalism is a social movement that operates through industrial trade unions and rejects state socialism and the use of establishment politics to establish or promote socialism. They reject using state power to construct a socialist society, favouring strategies such as the General strike. Syndicalists advocate a socialist economy based on federated unions or syndicates of workers who own and manage the means of production.
Some Marxist currents advocate Syndicalism, such as DeLeonism.
Socialist feminism is a branch of feminism that focuses upon both the public and private spheres of a woman's life and argues that liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women's oppression. Marxist feminism's foundation is laid by Friedrich Engels in his analysis of gender oppression in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884). August Bebel's Woman under Socialism (1879), the "single work dealing with sexuality most widely read by rank-and-file members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)",. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both Clara Zetkin and Eleanor Marx were against the demonization of men and supported a proletariat revolution that would overcome as many male–female inequalities as possible. As their movement already had the most radical demands in women's equality, most Marxist leaders, including Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, counterposed Marxism against liberal feminism, rather than trying to combine them. Anarcha-feminism began with late 19th and early 20th century authors and theorists such as anarchist feminists Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres ("Free Women") linked to the Federación Anarquista Ibérica, organized to defend both anarchist and feminist ideas. In 1972, the Chicago Women's Liberation Union published "Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women's Movement," which is believed to be the first to use the term "socialist feminism," in publication.
Many socialists were early advocates for LGBT rights. For early socialist Charles Fourier, true freedom could only occur without suppressing passions; the suppression of passions is not only destructive to the individual, but to society as a whole. Writing before the advent of the term 'homosexuality', Fourier recognised that both men and women have a wide range of sexual needs and preferences which may change throughout their lives, including same-sex sexuality and androgénité. He argued that all sexual expressions should be enjoyed as long as people are not abused, and that "affirming one's difference" can actually enhance social integration. In Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism, he passionately advocates for an egalitarian society where wealth is shared by all, while warning of the dangers of social systems that crush individuality. Wilde's libertarian socialist politics were shared by other figures who actively campaigned for homosexual emancipation in the late 19th century such as Edward Carpenter. The Intermediate Sex: A Study of Some Transitional Types of Men and Women was a book from 1908 and an early work arguing for gay liberation written by Edward Carpenter who was also an influential personality in the foundation of the Fabian Society and the Labour Party. After the Russian Revolution under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the Soviet Union abolished previous laws against homosexuality. Harry Hay was an early leader in the American LGBT rights movement as well as a member of the Communist Party USA. He is known for his roles in helping to found several gay organizations, including the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States which in its early days had a strong marxist influence. The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality reports that "As Marxists the founders of the group believed that the injustice and oppression which they suffered stemmed from relationships deeply embedded in the structure of American society". Also emerging from a number of events, such as the May 1968 insurrection in France, the anti-Vietnam war movement in the US and the Stonewall riots of 1969, militant Gay Liberation organisations began to spring up around the world. Many saw their roots in left radicalism more than in the established homophile groups of the time, The Gay Liberation Front took an anti-capitalist stance and attacked the nuclear family and traditional gender roles.
Eco-socialism, green socialism or socialist ecology is an political position merging aspects of Marxism, socialism, and/or libertarian socialism with that of green politics, ecology and alter-globalization. Eco-socialists generally believe that the expansion of the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion, poverty, war and environmental degradation through globalization and imperialism, under the supervision of repressive states and transnational structures. Contrary to the depiction of Karl Marx by some environmentalists, social ecologists and fellow socialists as a productivist who favoured the domination of nature, eco-socialists have revisited Marx's writings and believe that he "was a main originator of the ecological world-view". Eco-socialist authors, like John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett, point to Marx's discussion of a "metabolic rift" between man and nature, his statement that "private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite absurd as private ownership of one man by another" and his observation that a society must "hand it [the planet] down to succeeding generations in an improved condition". The english socialist William Morris is largely credited with developing key principles of what was later called eco-socialism. During the 1880s and 1890s, Morris promoted his eco-socialist ideas within the Social Democratic Federation and Socialist League. Green anarchism, or ecoanarchism, is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. An important early influence was the thought of the American anarchist Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden as well as Leo Tolstoy and Élisée Reclus. In the late 19th century there emerged anarcho-naturism as the fusion of anarchism and naturist philosophies within individualist anarchist circles in France, Spain, Cuba and Portugal.Social ecology is closely related to the work and ideas of Murray Bookchin and influenced by anarchist Peter Kropotkin. Bookchin´s first book, Our Synthetic Environment, was published under the pseudonym Lewis Herber in 1962, a few months before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. His groundbreaking essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept in radical politics. In the 1970s, Barry Commoner, suggesting a left-wing response to the Limits to Growth model that predicted catastrophic resource depletion and spurred environmentalism, postulated that capitalist technologies were chiefly responsible for environmental degradation, as opposed to population pressures. The 1990s saw the socialist feminists Mary Mellor and Ariel Salleh address environmental issues within an eco-socialist paradigm. With the rising profile of the anti-globalization movement in the Global South, an "environmentalism of the poor", combining ecological awareness and social justice, has also become prominent. David Pepper also released his important work, Ecosocialism: From Deep Ecology to Social Justice, in 1994, which critiques the current approach of many within Green politics, particularly deep ecologists. Currently, many Green Parties around the world, such as the Dutch Green Left Party (GroenLinks), contain strong eco-socialist elements. Radical Red-green alliances have been formed in many countries by eco-socialists, radical Greens and other radical left groups. In Denmark, the Red-Green Alliance was formed as a coalition of numerous radical parties. Within the European Parliament, a number of far-left parties from Northern Europe have organized themselves into the Nordic Green Left Alliance.
Socialism has been critiqued from numerous different perspectives. Because there are many models of socialism, most critiques are only focused on a specific type of socialism.
Economic liberals and right libertarians view private ownership of the means of production and the market exchange as natural entities or moral rights which are central to their conceptions of freedom and liberty, and view the economic dynamics of capitalism as immutable and absolute. Therefore, they perceive public ownership of the means of production, cooperatives and economic planning as infringements upon liberty.
According to the Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises, an economic system that does not utilize money, financial calculation and market pricing will be unable to effectively value capital goods and coordinate production, and therefore socialism is impossible because it lacks the necessary information to perform economic calculation in the first place. Another central argument leveled against socialist systems based on economic planning is based on the use of dispersed knowledge. Socialism is unfeasible in this view because information cannot be aggregated by a central body and effectively used to formulate a plan for an entire economy, because doing so would result in distorted or absent price signals.
Many economic criticisms of socialism focus on the experiences of Soviet-type planned economies. It is argued that a lack of budget constraints in enterprises operating in a planned economy reduces incentives for enterprises to act on information efficiently, thereby reducing overall welfare for society.
Philosophers have also criticized the aims of socialism, arguing that equality erodes away at individual diversities, and that the establishment of an equal society would have to entail strong coercion.
Upon what point are orthodox political economy and socialism in absolute conflict? Political economy has held and holds that the economic laws governing the production and distribution of wealth which it has established are natural laws ... not in the sense that they are laws naturally determined by the condition of the social organism (which would be correct), but that they are absolute laws, that is to say that they apply to humanity at all times and in all places, and consequently, that they are immutable in their principal points, though they may be subject to modification in details. Scientific socialism holds, the contrary, that the laws established by classical political economy, since the time of Adam Smith, are laws peculiar to the present period in the history of civilized humanity, and that they are, consequently, laws essentially relative to the period of their analysis and discovery.
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