WhatsApp Image 2021-03-09 at 1.59.30 PM

Political Philosophies – Socialism – World History – Free PDF Download

Introduction:

  • Socialism is Socio-Economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the workers, either directly through popular collectives such as workers’ councils, or indirectly exercised on behalf of the people by the state, and in which egalitarianism or equality is an important goal.
  • Thus, under Socialism, the means of production are owned by the state, community of the workers( as opposed to privately owned as under capitalism).
  • Communism and Socialism are economic and political structures that promote equality and seek to eliminate social classes.
  • The two are interchangeable in some ways, but different in others.
  • In a Communist society, the working class owns everything, and everyone works towards the same communal goal.
  • There are no wealthy or poor people all are equal, and the community distributes what it produces based only on need.
  • Nothing is obtained by working more than what is required.
  • Communism frequently results in low production, mass poverty and limited advancement.
  • Poverty spread so widely in the Soviet Union in the 1980s that its citizen revolted.
  • Like Communism, the main focus of Socialism is on equality.
  • But workers earn wages they can spend as they choose, while the government, not citizens, owns and operates the means for production.
  • Workers receive what they need to produce and survive, but there’s no incentive to achieve more, leaving little motivation.
  • The term socialism is variously attributed to Pierre Lerouxor to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud or Robert Owen in the mid 19th century.
  • According to Frederick Engels, by 1847, the term Socialism( usually referring to the Utopian philosophies of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier) was considered quite respectable on the continent of Europe, while Communism was the opposite.

History of Socialism:

  • Certain elements of socialist thought long predate the socialist ideology that emerged in the first half of the 19th century.
  • For example, Plato’s “The Republic” and Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia dating from 1516 have been cited as including Socialist or Communist ideas.
  • Modern Socialism emerged in early 19th century Britain and France, from a diverse array of Doctrines and Social experiments, largely as a reaction or protests against some of the excesses of 18th and 19th century capitalism.
  • Early 19 century socialist thought was largely Utopian in nature, followed by the more pragmatic and revolutionary Socialist and Communist movements in the late 19th century.
  • Social critics in the late 18th century and the early 19th century such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Blanc, Louis Blanc and Henri de Saint-Simon criticize the excesses of poverty and inequality of the industrial revolution, and advocated reforms such as the egalitarian distribution of wealth and the transformation of society into small utopian communities in which private property was to be abolished.
  • Some Socialist Religious movements, such as the Shakers in America, also date from this period as does the Chartist movement for political and social reforms in the United Kingdom( possibly the first mass working class movement in the world).
  • It was Karl Marx, though, who first employed systematic analysis( sometimes known as “Scientific Socialism”) in an ambitious attempt to expose capitalism’s contradictions and the specific mechanisms by which it exploits and alienates.
  • His ambitious work “Das Kapital”, the first volume of which was published in 1867 with two more edited and published after his death by Frederic Engels is modeled to some extent on Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”, one of the cornerstone of capitalist theory.
  • In it, he transformed Smith’s labor theory of value into his own characteristic “Laws of Value”( that the exchange value of a commodity is actually independent of the amount of Labor required to appropriate it’s useful qualities), and reveals how commodity fetishism obscures the reality of capitalist society.
  • In 1864, the International Workingman’s Association( IWA) or First International, was founded in London, and became the first major international forum for the promulgation of Socialist ideas, under the leadership of Marx and Johann Georg Eccarius.
  • Anarchists, like Russian Mikhail Bakunin, and proponents of other alternative visions of Socialism, which emphasized the potential of small scale communities and agrarianism, coexisted with the more influential currents of Marxism and social democracy.
  • Much of the development of Socialism is indistinguishable from the development of Communism, which is essentially an extreme variant of socialism.
  • Marx and Engels, who together had founded the Social Democratic Workers Party of Germany in 1869, we’re also responsible for setting up the Second International( or Socialist International) in 1889, as the ideas of socialism gained new adherents, especially in central Europe, and just before his death in 1895, Engels boasted of a “single great international army of Socialists”.
  • In the First World War started in 1914, the Socialist Social Democratic parties in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany supported their respective state’s war effort, discarding their commitment to internationalism and solidarity, and the second international dissolved during the war.
  • In Russia, however, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin denounced the war as an imperialist conflict, and urged workers worldwide to use it as an occasion for proletarian revolution.
  • In February 1917, revolution broke out in Russia and the workers, soldiers and peasants set up councils.
  • The Bolsheviks won a majority in the Soviets in October 1917 and, at the same time, the Octobre revolution was led by Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
  • The new Soviet government immediately nationalized the banks and major industries, repudiated the former Romonov regime’s national debts, sued for peace and withdrew from the First World War, and implemented a system of government through the elected workers council or Soviets.
  • The Third International( also known as the Communist International or Comintern) was an international communist organization founded in Moscow 1919 to replace the Disbanded Second International.
  • After Lenin’s death in 1924, the Communist Party of Soviet Union, under Joseph Stalin declared a policy of “Socialism in One Country”, taking the route of isolationism.
  • This led to a polarization of socialism around the question of the Soviet Union and adoption of Socialists or Social Democratic policies in response, or in other cases the vehement repudiation of all that it stand for.
  • However, not everyone thought Socialism is necessarily entailing revolution, and non-revolutionaries such as influential economist John Maynard Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith, took inspiration from the work of John Stuart Mill as well as Marx, and provided theoretical justification for state involvement in an existing market economy.
  • The proposed model of Social Democracy( and more left wing Democratic Socialism) and be considered a moderate form of Socialism( although many societies would not), and aims to reform Capitalism democratically through state regulation and the creation of a state sponsored programs and organizations which work to ameliorate or remove injustices purportedly inflicted by the capitalist marking system.

Criticism of Socialism:

  • Criticisms of socialism range from disagreements over the efficiency of Socialist economic and political models, to outright condemnation of Socialist states.
  • Some critics dispute that the egalitarian distribution of wealth and nationalization of industries advocated by some Socialists can be achieved without loss of political or economic freedoms.
  • Some argue that countries where the means of productions are Socialized are less prosperous than those where the means of production are under private control.
  • Yet others argue that Socialist policies reduce work incentives( because workers do not receive rewards for a work well done) and reduce efficiency through the elimination of the profit and loss mechanism and a free price system and reliance on central planning.
  • They also argue that Socialism stagnates technology due to the competition being stifled.
  • The tragedy of the commons effect has been attributed to Socialism by some, whereby when assets are owned in common, there are no incentives in place to encourage wise stewardship( that is if everyone owned an asset, people act as if no one owns it).
  • There has also been much focus on the economic performance and human rights records of Communist states, although this is not necessarily a criticism of Socialism.
  • Socialists have counter argued that Socialism can actually increase efficiency and economic growth better than capitalism, or that a certain degree off efficiency can and should be sacrificed for the sake of economic quality or other social goals.
  • They further argue that market systems have a natural tendency towards Monopoly or Oligopoly in major industries, leading to a distortion of prices, and that a public monopoly is better than a private one.
  • Also, they claim that a Socialist approach can mitigate the role of externalities in pricing.
  • Some Socialists have made a case of Socialism and central planning being better able to address the issue of managing the environment than selfserving capitalism.

Types of Socialism:

  • Historically, there have been many variations of proposed and realized Socialism.
  • Socialist philosophy have evolved considerably overtime.
  • What holds all of them together is, perhaps, a fundamental belief that capitalism must either be reigned in or eliminated in order for inequality to be reduced, an individual and collective freedoms and well-being to be ensured.
  • Socialism in its current form, can be broadly broken down into these categories:
  • Authoritarian State Socialism:
  • Such as Marxism-Leninism as widely implemented, with strict central planning of the economy, all productive enterprise is owned by the state, and the state controlled by the select few of a single party.
  • Democratic State Socialism: 
  • A more Democratic version of State socialism that arguably aligns more closely with Marx’s original ideals then Marxist-Leninism, world more open( but still representative) Democratic controls manage the means of production and economic planning.
  • Democratic Socialism:
  • Democratic Socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside Social ownership of the means of production with an emphasis on self-management and/or Democratic management of economic institutions within market socialism or decentralized and participatory planned economy.
  • Fabian Socialism:
  • A form of Socialism in which a gradualist or a reformers agenda rather than revolutionary agenda in reigning over the negativities of Socialism and advancing the principles of Democratic Socialism.
  • This is closest among the forms of Socialism which is followed in India.
  • Market socialism:
  • Market socialism is a term used to define an economic system in which there is a market economy directed and guided by socialist planners, and where prices would be set through trial and error( making adjustments as shortages and surpluses occur) rather than relying on a free price mechanism.
  • By contrast, a Socialist market economy, such as that practiced in People’s Republic of China, is one where major industries are owned by the state entities, but compete with each other within a pricing system set by the market and the state does not routinely intervene in the setting of prices.
  • Mixed Economies/ New Deal Socialism/ Social Democracy:
  • Free enterprises coexist with central regulation of the economy, some socialized production, and welfare programs, with markets ultimately subject to representative Democratic controls.
  • Libertarian Socialism:
  • It aims to create a society without political, economic or social hierarchies, in which every person would have free, equal access to tools of information and production.
  • This would be achieved through the abolition of authoritarian institutions and private property, so that direct control of the means of production and resources will be gained by the working class in society as a whole.
  • Most Libertarian Socialists advocate abolishing the state altogether, in much the same way as Utopian Socialists and many varieties of Anarchism( including Social Anarchism, Anarcho-Communism, Anarcho-Collectivism, and Anarcho-Syndicalism)
  • Anarcho-Communism: 
  • It has many of the features of Libertarian Socialism, but differentiates itself mainly in that it seeks a more complete, stateless anarchy and facilitates individual agency above collective or communal concerns.

 

World History | Free PDF