Socialism - Coggle Diagram
- The revolutionary road to socialism was popular in the 19th century for 2 reasons:
- Each industrialization and capitalism brought poverty, exploitation, and unemployment. This was expected to radicalize the working classes.
- Workers were largely excluded from political participation and so had little ability to influence policies in governments that were usually dominated by the bourgeoisie.
- After 1945, national liberation movements in Africa, Asia, and South America tried to adopt revolutionary socialism to:
- remove colonial powers and dismantle outdated social and economic systems.
- bring about rapid modernization to enable these societies to catch up with more prosperous and technologically advanced industrial countries
- Revolutionary socialism has usually resulted in fundamentalist regimes that have claimed to be based on socialist principles.
- However, the key issue is that these states replaced private property with state ownership, not common ownership.
- Without genuine common ownership, no further stages of Marxism were able to occur and these regimes used the term 'communist' to justify brutal suppression of opposition in their country.
Justifications for revolution:
- The bourgeois state is an instrument of class oppression, which upholds capitalist interests and is reinforced by the state apparatus.
- Gradual change won't lead to a socialist society because the ruling class and bourgeois values are too enhanced in the capitalist state and society.
- A total transformation of society is required as the ruling class won't give up its power without a fight. Revolutionary socialists often resort to violence to establish their regimes.
- For example the civil wars in Russia (1918-1921), China (1946-1949) and Mexico (1910-1920).
- Attempts to reform a capitalist society would undermine the principles and objectives of socialism, wince capitalism is based on inequality and exploitation.
- Marxist theory has undergone a rebirth since the economic crash of 2007/8, with a huge increase in sales of their books.
- The collapse of the USSR in the late 1980s allowed Marxist theory to be severed from the totalitarian Soviet Union once and for all.
Social democracy in practice:
- Championed by modern socialist thinkers such as Crosland, social democracy adopted a program with 3 key features:
- A mixed economy, with only key strategic industries, nationalized.
- Keynesian economics as a means of regulating the capitalist economy and maintaining full employment.
- Reform of capitalism, using the welfare state, to redistribute wealth and tackle social inequality and poverty.
What is social democracy?
- Social democracy is a revisionist form a democracy and attempts to reconcile free-market capitalism with state intervention, based on 4 assumptions:
- Capitalism is a dependable creator of wealth, but distributes that wealth unfairly.
- State intervention in economic and social affairs protects the public and remedies capitalism's weaknesses.
- Peaceful constitutional methods should be used to bring about social chnage.
- Socialism is morally superior to capitalism and should focus on social justice
The evolution of socialism:
- In the late 19th century, some socialists concluded that Marxism was flawed. Bernstein revisionist study, Evolutionary Socialism (1899), argued that capitalism wasn't developing along Marxist lines. The capitalist system was resilient and not succumbing to economic crises or promoting ever-deepening class conflict.
- Bernstein concluded that capitalism wasn't brutally exploitative. It could be reformed peacefully through electoral politics. He called for state ownership of key industries, legal safeguards, and welfare measures to protect workers.
- In the 20th century, Western socialist parties recognized the dynamism and productivity of the market economy and pursued a revisionist policy of reforming capitalism.
The decline of social democracy:
- After 1945, social democracy was a balancing act, trying to deliver both economic efficiency and egalitarianism. This tension was concealed during the early post-war boom decades when economic growth, high employment, and low inflation delivered both rising living standards and tax revenues to expand welfare programs.
- Economic downturn in the 1970s-80s exposed this central tensions. Unemployment rose and demand for welfare increased as tax-based funding for social support declined. Social democrats faced a critical dilemma: reduce inflation and taxes to stimulate the economy or prioritize the funding of welfare.
- The shift to a service-based economy in the 1980s-90s and the contraction of the working class due to deindustrialization, reduced social democracy's electoral base. The collapse of the Soviet communist bloc and rejection of its system discredited forms of socialism that looked to the state to deliver economic and social reform.
Marx and Engles:
- Social class is central to socialism
- Underpins 3 key elements of marxism:
- Historical materialism - historical and social development can be explained in terms of economic and class factors.
- The economic system (capitalism) influences or 'conditions' other aspects of society.
- Dialectic change - each stage of human history has its economic system and class structure.
- Within each stage, dialectic change is propelled by the struggle between exporters and the exploited.
- This only ends with the establishment of a communist society.
- Revolutionary class consciousness - the exploited class must acquire a revolutionary class consciousness to overthrow their oppressors.
- The proletariat must become a 'class for itself', aware of its interests and determined to pursue them.
- HN is socially determined and can only be expressed under communism.
- Humans are sociable, rational, and cooperative, with the capacity for significant personal and social development.
- Humans are productive and capable of leading satisfying lives based on fulfilling work, where the conditions for free creative production exists.
- Under capitalism, workers are alienated from:
- The product of their labor because they don't own what is produced.
- Their work colleagues due to capitalism's competition ethos and division of labor.
- The production process because it doesn't represent the human power of creative transformation.
Their human capabilities and potential since they can't freely create and enjoy the beauty.
- Under communism, workers are freed to realize their true human potential by engaging in many different activities.
- 'Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. they have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unitel'
- 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles'
Anthony Giddens (1938-)
The rejection of state intervention: social democracy must be modernized due to the impact of globalization, the new knowledge economy, and more individualistic aspirations.
The 'social investment' state: Giddens rejected the economic and social engineering that underpinned the state welfare and redistribution programs of previous social democratic governments.
- Equality of opportunity over equality. For this marker-driven system to be fair, everyone needs an equal opportunity to better themselves through their ability and effort.
- Government action would be required to control the inevitable widening inequalities of outcome
- State welfare and redistribution foster a culture of dependency.
- Instead, a 'social investment' state is needed, a 'contract' between the state and the citizen.
- The state benefits from growth so must invest in infrastructure and education.
- The people must take advantage of this and help themselves.
- The free market is the most efficient system of production and it encoirages desirable personal qualities, such as responsibilities
- Community and responsibility, rather than class conflict, are important to offset the negative effect of the free market and promote social cohesion, shared values and individual and social responsibility.