From Wikipedia:

This article is about socialism as an economic system and political philosophy. For socialism as a specific stage of socioeconomic development in Marxist theory, see Socialism (Marxism).

Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources.[1][2][3] A socialist society is organized on the basis of relatively equal power-relations, self-management, dispersed decision-making (adhocracy) and a reduction or elimination of hierarchical and bureaucratic forms of administration and governance, the extent of which varies in different types of socialism.[4][5] This ranges from the establishment of cooperative management structures to the abolition of all hierarchical structures in favor of free association.

As an economic system, socialism is the direct allocation of capital goods (means of production) to meet economic demands so that production is oriented toward use and accounting is based on some physical magnitude, such as physical quantities or a direct measure of labour time.[6][7] Goods and services for consumption are distributed through markets, and distribution of income is based on the principle of individual merit/individual contribution.[8]

As a political movement, socialism includes a diverse array of political philosophies, ranging from reformism to revolutionary socialism. Some currents of socialism, often referred to as state socialism, advocate complete nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange as a strategy for implementing socialism; while social democrats advocate public control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Libertarian socialists and anarchists reject using the state to build socialism, arguing that socialism will, and must, arise spontaneously. They advocate direct worker-ownership of the means of production alternatively through independent syndicates, workplace democracies, or worker cooperatives.

Modern socialism originated from an 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private property on society. Utopian socialists such as Robert Owen (1771–1858), tried to found self-sustaining communes by secession from a capitalist society. Henri de Saint Simon (1760–1825), who coined the term socialisme, advocated technocracy and industrial planning.[9] Saint-Simon, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx advocated the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalise economic activity by eliminating the anarchy of capitalist production that results in instability and cyclical crises of overproduction.[10][11]

Socialists inspired by the Soviet model of economic development, such as Marxist-Leninists, have advocated the creation of centrally planned economies directed by a single-party state that owns the means of production. Others, including Yugoslavian, Hungarian, East German and Chinese communist governments in the 1970s and 1980s, instituted various forms of market socialism[citation needed], combining co-operative and state ownership models with the free market exchange and free price system (but not free prices for the means of production).[12]


The socialist perspective is generally based on materialism or positivism and the understanding that human behavior is largely shaped by the social environment. In particular, scientific socialism holds that social mores, values, cultural traits and economic practices are social creations, and are not the property of an immutable natural law.[13] The ultimate goal for Marxist socialists is the emancipation of labour from alienating work. Marxists argue that freeing the individual from the necessity of performing alienating work in order to receive goods would allow people to pursue their own interests and develop their own talents without being coerced into performing labour for others. For Marxists, the stage of economic development in which this is possible is contingent upon advances in the productive capabilities of society.

Socialists generally argue that their movement is an attempt to bring social organization up to the level of current technological progress to fully take advantage of modern technology. They argue that capitalism is either obsolete or approaching obsolescence as a viable system for producing and distributing wealth in an effective manner.[14] Socialists generally argue that capitalism concentrates power and wealth within a small segment of society that controls the means of production and derives its wealth through a system of exploitation. This creates a stratified society based on unequal social relations that fails to provide equal opportunities for every individual to maximize their potential,[15] and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public,[16] and focuses on satisfying market-induced wants as opposed to human needs. Socialists argue that socialism would allow for wealth to be distributed based on how much one contributes to society, as opposed to how much capital one holds.


As an economic system, socialism is based on the direct allocation of economic inputs (the means of production) and production for use. Production is therefore planned and does not suffer from the cyclical fluctuations inherent to economies based on capital accumulation. Accounting for the use of economic inputs is based on calculation in-natura, while final goods and services are distributed through markets.

Market socialism retains the process of capital accumulation, but subjects investment to social control, utilizing the market to allocate the factors of production. The profit generated by publicly owned firms would go to a social dividend, which would be used for public investment or public finance. Market socialist theories range from libertarian theories like mutualism, to theories based on Neoclassical economics like 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 or municipalisation. 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.[17][18]

Management and control over the activities of enterprises is based on self-management and self-governance, with equal power-relations in the workplace to maximize occupational autonomy. A socialist form of organization 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.[19]

"I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), 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."

Albert Einstein, Why Socialism?, 1949 [20]

Planned economy

This form of socialism combines public ownership and management of the means of production with centralised state planning, and can refer to a broad range of economic systems from the centralised Soviet-style command economy to participatory planning via workplace democracy. In a centrally planned economy, decisions regarding the quantity of goods and services to be produced are planned in advance by a planning agency. This type of economic system was often combined with a single-party political system, and is thus associated with the Communist states of the 20th century.

In the economy of the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services to make and provide, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices. Soviet economic planning was an alternative to allowing the market (supply and demand) to determine prices for producer and consumer goods. The Soviet economy utilized material balance accounting to a limited extent, although this never totally replaced financial accounting. During the Great Depression, many socialists[who?] considered Soviet-style planned economies the remedy to capitalism's inherent flaws – monopoly, business cycles, unemployment, unequally distributed wealth, and the economic exploitation of workers.[citation needed] Although the Soviet economy was nominally a centrally-planned economy, in practice the plan was formulated as on-the-go as information was collected and relayed from enterprises to planning ministries. The Soviet economy's lack of self-management in the workplace, the existence of financial calculation and a bureaucratic elite based on hierarchical and centralized powers of authority have led many socialists[which?] to classify this economic model as either Bureaucratic collectivist, Coordinatorist, State capitalist or Deformed workers' states.

De-centralised planned economy

Some socialists propose various decentralised, worker-managed or self-managed economic systems, as in Mutualism. A de-centralised planned economy is one where ownership of enterprises is accomplished through various forms of worker cooperatives; planning of production is done from the bottom up by local worker councils in a democratic manner. 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.[21]

Another, more recent, variant is participatory economics, based on Anarcho-Collectivism, 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.[22]

Anarchist communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production,[23][24] direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need".[25][26]

De-centralized planning is associated with Social anarchism, Anarcho-communism, Trotskyism, council communism, left communism, democratic socialism and Inclusive Democracy.

State-directed economy

A state-directed economy is a system where either the state or worker cooperatives own the means of production, but economic activity is directed to some degree by a government agency or planning ministry through coordinating mechanisms such as indicative planning and dirigisme. This differs from a centralised planned economy (or a command economy) in that micro-economic decision making, such as quantity to be produced and output requirements, are left to managers and workers in the state and cooperative enterprises rather than being mandated by a comprehensive economic plan from a centralised planning board. However, the state will plan long-term strategic investment and seek to coordinate at least some aspects of production. It is possible for a state-directed economy to have elements of both a market and planned economy. For example, investment decisions may be semi-planned by the state, but decisions regarding production may be determined by the market mechanism.

State-directed socialism can also refer to technocratic socialism; economic systems that rely on technocratic management over the means of production and economic policy.

In western Europe, particularly in the period after World War II, many socialist and social democratic parties in government implemented what became known as mixed economies, some of which included a degree of state-directed economic activity. 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".[27] Beckett also states that "Everyone called the 1945 government 'socialist'." These governments nationalised major and economically vital industries while permitting a free market to continue in the rest. These were most often monopolistic or infrastructural industries like mail, railways, power and other utilities. In some instances a number of small, competing and often relatively poorly financed companies in the same sector were nationalised to form one government monopoly for the purpose of competent management, of economic rescue (in the UK, British Leyland, Rolls-Royce), or of competing on the world market.

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.[28][29]

Market socialism

Market socialism consists of publicly owned or cooperatively owned enterprises operating in a market economy. It is a system that utilizes 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.[30] 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. Yugoslavia implemented a market socialist economy based on cooperatives and worker self-management.

The current economic system in China is formally titled 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,[31] with a private sector mainly engaged in commodity production and light industry responsible from anywhere between 33%[32] (People's Daily Online 2005) to over 70% of GDP generated in 2005.[33] However by 2005 these market-oriented reforms, including privatization, virtually halted and were partially reversed.[34] The current Chinese economy consists of 150 corporatized state enterprises that report directly to China's central government.[35] By 2008, these state-owned corporations had become increasingly dynamic and generated large increases in revenue for the state,[36][37] resulting in a state-sector led recovery during the 2009 financial crises while accounting for most of China's economic growth.[38]

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.[39]

However, the lack of self-management in economic enterprises and the increasing role of privatization suggests that these economies actually represent state capitalism instead of genuine market socialism.

Social theory

Marxist and non-Marxist social theorists agree that socialism developed in reaction to modern industrial capitalism, but disagree on the nature of their relationship. 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.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx, 1875.

In the most influential of all socialist theories, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed the consciousness of those who earn a wage or salary (the "working class" in the broadest Marxist sense) would be molded by their "conditions" of "wage-slavery", leading to a tendency to seek their freedom or "emancipation" by throwing off the capitalist ownership of society. 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.

Marx wrote: "It is not the consciousness of [people] that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."[40]

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.[41][42]

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.[43]

"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."[43] A socialist society based on democratric cooperation thus arises. Eventually the state, associated with all previous societies which are divided into classes for the purpose of suppressing the oppressed classes, withers away.

By contrast, Émile Durkheim posits that socialism is rooted in the desire to bring the state closer to the realm of individual activity, in countering the anomie of a capitalist society, considering that socialism "simply represented a system in which moral principles discovered by scientific sociology could be applied". Durkheim could be considered a modern social democrat for advocating social reforms, but rejecting the creation of a socialist society.[44]

Che Guevara sought socialism based on the rural peasantry rather than the urban working class, attempting 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.[45]

In the middle of the 20th century, socialist intellectuals retained considerable influence in European philosophy. Eros and Civilisation (1955), by Herbert Marcuse, explicitly attempted to merge Marxism with Freudianism. The social science of Marxist structuralism had a significant influence on the socialist New Left in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Utopian versus scientific

The distinction between "utopian" and "scientific socialism" was first explicitly made by Friedrich Engels in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, which contrasted the "utopian pictures of ideal social conditions" of social reformers with the Marxian concept of scientific socialism. Scientific socialism begins with the examination of social and economic phenomena—the empirical study of real processes in society and history.

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",[46] namely the working class, which must become conscious of the historical objectives set it by society. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist, presents an alternative mechanism of how socialism will come about from a Weberian perspective: the increasing bureaucratisation of society that occurs under capitalism will eventually necessitate state-control to better coordinate economic activity.

Eduard Bernstein revised this theory to suggest that society is inevitably moving toward socialism, bringing in a mechanical and teleological element to Marxism and initiating the concept of evolutionary socialism. 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 it would be the result of political struggle or revolution by the working class and did not believe it to be the ultimate goal of humanity.[47]

Utopian socialists establish a set of ideals or goals and present socialism as an alternative to capitalism, with subjectively better attributes. Examples of this form of socialism include Robert Owen's New Harmony community.

Reform versus revolution

Reformists, such as classical social democrats, believe that a socialist system can be achieved by reforming capitalism. Socialism, in their view, can be reached through the existing political system by electing socialists to political office to implement economic reforms.

Revolutionaries, such as Marxists and Anarchists, believe such methods will fail because the state ultimately acts in the interests of capitalist business interests, and a socialist party will either be subsumed by the capitalist system or find itself unable to implement fundamental reforms. They believe that spontaneous revolution is the only means to establish a new socio-economic system. The task of socialist organizations or parties is to educate the masses to build socialist consciousness. They do not necessarily define revolution as a violent insurrection, but instead as a thorough and rapid change.[48]

By contrast, Leninists and Trotskyists advocate the creation of a vanguard party, led by professional revolutionaries, to lead the working class in the conquest of the state. After taking power, Leninists seek to create a socialist state dominated by the revolutionary party, which they see as being essential for laying the foundations for a socialist economy.

Revolutionary Syndicalists argue that revolutionary trade or industrial unions, as opposed to the state or worker councils, are the only means to establish socialism.

Other theorists, such as Joseph Schumpeter, Thorstein Veblen and some of the Utopian socialists, believed that socialism would form naturally and spontaneously without, or with very limited, political action as the capitalist economic system decays into obsolescence.

Socialism from above or below

Socialism from above refers to the viewpoint that reforms or revolutions for socialism will come from, or be led by, higher status members of society who desire a more rational, efficient economic system. Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, and later evolutionary economist Thorstein Veblen, believed that socialism would be the result of innovative engineers, scientists and technicians who want to organise society and the economy in a rational fashion, instead of the working-class. Social democracy is often advocated by intellectuals and the middle-class, as well as the working class segments of the population. Socialism from below refers to the position that socialism can only come from, and be led by, popular solidarity and political action from the lower classes, such as the working class and lower-middle class. Proponents of socialism from below — such as syndicalists and orthodox Marxists — often liken socialism from above to elitism and/or Stalinism.

Allocation of resources

Resource allocation is the subject of intense debate between market socialists and proponents of economic planning.

Many socialists advocate de-centralized participatory planning, where economic decision-making is based on self-management and self-governance and a democratic manner from the bottom-up without any directing central authority. Leon Trotsky held the view that central planners, regardless of their intellectual capacity, operated without the input and participation of the millions of people who participate in the economy and understand/respond to local economic conditions; such central planners would be unable to effectively coordinate all economic activity.[49]

On the other hand, Leninists and some State socialists advocate directive planning where directives are passed down from higher planning authorities to enterprise managers, who in turn give orders to workers.

Equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome

Proponents of equality of opportunity advocate a society in which there are equal opportunities and life chances for all individuals to maximise their potentials and attain positions in society. This would be made possible by equal access to the necessities of life. This position is held by technocratic socialists, Marxists and social democrats. Equality of outcome refers to a state where everyone receives equal amounts of rewards and an equal level of power in decision-making, with the belief that all roles in society are necessary and therefore none should be rewarded more than others. This view is shared by some communal utopian socialists and anarcho-communists.


The major socialist political movements are listed below. Note that independent socialist theorists, utopian socialists and academic apolitical forms of socialism are not represented in these movements.

Democratic Socialism

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 democratic centralism and the revolutionary vanguard party of Leninism. 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.[50] It is best demonstrated by the economic format which has been used in Sweden, Denmark, Norway & Finland in the past few decades.[51]


Leninists advocate the creation of a vanguard party, led by professional revolutionaries, to lead the working class in the conquest of the state. They believe that socialism will not arise spontaneously through the natural decay of capitalism, and that workers by themselves are unable to organize and develop socialist consciousness, therefore requiring the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard. After taking power, Leninists seek to create a socialist state dominated by the revolutionary party, which they see as being essential for laying the foundations for a socialist economy. The mode of industrial organization championed by Leninists and Marxism-Leninism is the capitalist model of scientific management inspired by Fredrick Taylor. Leninism branched into Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism and Maoism.

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian socialists promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production. Libertarian socialism is opposed to all coercive forms of social organization, and promotes free association in place of government and opposes the coercive social relations of capitalism, such as wage labor. They are opposed to hierarchical leadership structures, such as Vanguard parties, and are opposed to using the state to create socialism. Currents within libertarian socialism include Marxist tendencies such as left communism, council communism and autonomism, as well as non-Marxist movements like anarchism.


Anarchism believes that the state cannot be used to establish a socialist economy and proposes a political alternative based on federated decentralized autonomous communities. It includes proponents of both individualist anarchism and social anarchism. Mutualists advocate free-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 anarcho-syndicalists worker´s direct action and the General strike.

Social Democracy

Traditional Social democrats advocated the creation of socialism through political reforms by operating within the existing political system of capitalism. The Social democratic movement sought to elect socialists to political office to implement reforms. The modern social democratic movement has abandoned the goal of achieving a socialist economy, and instead advocates for social reforms to improve capitalism, such as a welfare state and unemployment benefits.


Syndicalism, or trade-unionism, is a political movement that operates through industrial trade unions and rejects State socialism. They advocate a socialist economy based on federated unions or syndicates of workers who own and manage the means of production.


The English word socialism (1839) derives from the French socialisme (1832), the mainstream introduction of which usage is attributed, in France, to Pierre Leroux,[52] and to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud; and in Britain to Robert Owen in 1827, father of the cooperative movement.[53][54] Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity. Mazdak, a Persian communal proto-socialist,[55] 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[56] and Aristotle.[57]

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.[9] 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.[58] 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.[9] The key focus of Simon's socialism was on administrative efficiency and industrialism, and a belief that science was the key to progress.[1]

Charles Fourier

Charles Fourier, influential early French socialist thinker

This was accompanied by a desire to implement a rationally organised economy based on planning and geared towards large-scale scientific and material progress,[9] 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.[59]

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.[1] On the other hand Charles Fourier advocated phalansteres which were communities that respected individual desires (incluiding sexual preferences), affinities and creativity and saw that work has to be made enjoyable for people.[60] 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.[61]

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.[62]

First International and Second International
Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Bakunin speaking to members of the IWA at the Basel Congress in 1869

The International Workingmen's Association (IWA), also known as the First International, was founded in London in 1864. 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[63] 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.

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 organizations.[64] It was termed the "Socialist International" and Engels was elected honorary president at the third congress in 1893. Anarchists were ejected and not allowed in mainly because of the pressure from marxists.[65]

Revolutions of 1917–1936

Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, and Lev Kamenev at the Second Communist Party Congress, 1919.

If Socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years.

Vladimir Lenin, November 1917 [66]

By 1917, the patriotism of World War I changed into political radicalism in most of Europe, the United States, and Australia. 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 arrived in Russia from Switzerland, calling for "All power to the soviets." In October, his party, the Bolsheviks, won support of most soviets at the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, while he and Leon Trotsky simultaneously led the October Revolution. As a matter of political pragmatism, Lenin reversed Marx's order of economics over politics, allowing for a political revolution led by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries rather than a spontaneous establishment of socialist institutions led by a spontaneous uprising of the working class as predicted by Karl Marx.[67] On 25 January 1918, at the Petrograd Soviet, Lenin declared "Long live the world socialist revolution!"[68] 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.[69]

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".[70] 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.[71]

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,[72] and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets dissolved it.[73][74]

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.[75][76] 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.


Rosa Luxemburg, prominent Marxist revolutionary, martyr and leader of the German Spartacist uprising, 1919.

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.[77]

In 1922, the fourth congress of the Communist International took up the policy of the United Front, urging Communists to work with rank and file Social Democrats while remaining critical of their leaders, who they 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."[78] 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.[79][80]

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

After World War II

Joseph Stalin, infamous leader of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953.

In 1951, British Health Minister Aneurin Bevan expressed the view that, "It is probably true that Western Europe would have gone socialist after the war if Soviet behaviour had not given it too grim a visage. Soviet Communism and Socialism are not yet sufficiently distinguished in many minds."[81]

In 1951, the Socialist International was re-founded by the European social democratic parties. It declared: "Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of Socialism in many countries for decades... Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a rigid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism."[82]

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 Soviet Union had become a superpower through its adoption of a planned economy, albeit at enormous human cost. This achievement seemed hugely impressive from the outside, and convinced many nationalists in the former colonies, not necessarily communists or even socialists, of the virtues of state planning and state-guided models of social development. This was later to have important consequences in countries like China, India and Egypt, which tried to import some aspects of the Soviet model.[citation needed]

Social democracy in power


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

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

In the UK, the Labour Party was influenced by the British social reformer William Beveridge, who had identified five "Giant Evils" afflicting the working class of the pre-war period: "want" (poverty), disease, "ignorance" (lack of access to education), "squalor" (poor housing), and "idleness" (unemployment).[83] Unemployment benefit, as well as national insurance and hence state pensions, were introduced by the 1945 Labour government. However Aneurin Bevan, who had introduced the Labour Party's National Health Service in 1948, criticised the Attlee Government for not progressing further, demanding that the "main streams of economic activity are brought under public direction" with economic planning, and criticising the implementation of nationalisation for not empowering the workers with democratic control of operations.

Bevan's In Place of Fear became the most widely read socialist book of the post-war period. It states: "A young miner in a South Wales colliery, my concern was with one practical question: Where does the power lie in this particular state of Great Britain, and how can it be attained by the workers?" [84][85]

The post-war social democratic governments introduced social reform and wealth redistribution via state welfare and taxation. The UK Labour Government nationalised major public utilities such as mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel, and the Bank of England.[86] France claimed to be the world's most State-controlled, capitalist country.[87]

In the UK, the National Health Service provided free health care to all.[88] Working-class housing was provided in council housing estates, and university education available via a school grant system. Ellen Wilkinson, Minister for Education, introduced free milk in schools, saying, in a 1946 Labour Party conference: "Free milk will be provided in Hoxton and Shoreditch, in Eton and Harrow. What more social equality can you have than that?" Clement Attlee's biographer argued that this policy "contributed enormously to the defeat of childhood illnesses resulting from bad diet. Generations of poor children grew up stronger and healthier, because of this one, small, and inexpensive act of generosity, by the Attlee government".[89]

In 1956, Anthony Crosland said that 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.[90] However, the Labour government did not seek to end capitalism, in terms of nationalising of the commanding heights of the economy, as Lenin had put it. In fact, the "government had not the smallest intention of bringing in the 'common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange'",[91] yet this was the declared aim of the Labour Party, stated in its 'socialist clause', Clause 4 of the Labour Party Constitution. Cabinet minister Herbert Morrison argued that, "Socialism is what the Labour Government does."[91] Crosland claimed capitalism had ended: "To the question, 'Is this still capitalism?', I would answer 'No'."[92]

Social democracy adopts free market policies

Many social democratic parties, particularly after the Cold war, adopted neoliberal-based market policies that include privatization, liberalization, deregulation and financialization; resulting in the abandonment of pursuing the development of moderate socialism in favor of market liberalism. Despite the name, these pro-capitalist policies are radically different from the many non-capitalist free-market socialist theories that have existed throughout history.

In 1959, the German Social Democratic Party adopted the Godesberg Program, rejecting class struggle and Marxism. In 1980, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the U.S., Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Brian Mulroney, in Canada, the Western, welfare state was attacked from within. Monetarists and neoliberalism attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship at public expense.

In the 1980s and 1990s, western European socialists were pressured to reconcile their socialist economic programmes with a free-market-based communal European economy. In the UK, the Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock made a passionate and public attack against the party's Militant Tendency at a Labour Party conference, and repudiated the demands of the defeated striking miners after the 1984-1985 strike against pit closures. 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.[93]

In the 1990s, released from the Left's pressure, the British Labour Party, under Tony Blair, posited policies based upon the free market economy to deliver public services via private contractors. In 1995, the Labour Party re-defined its stance on socialism by re-wording clause IV of its constitution, effectively rejecting socialism by removing any and all references to public, direct worker or municipal ownership of the means of production. In 1995, the British Labour Party revised its political aims: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few."[94]

The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's socialist 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 industrialization into French society, are promoted as essential socialist values.[95]

Early 2000s

Those who championed socialism in its various Marxist and class struggle forms sought out other arenas than the parties of social democracy at the turn of the 21st century. Anti-capitalism and anti-globalisation movements rose to prominence particularly through events such as the opposition to the WTO meeting of 1999 in Seattle. Socialist-inspired groups played an important role in these new movements, which nevertheless embraced much broader layers of the population, and were championed by figures such as Noam Chomsky. The 2003 invasion of Iraq led to a significant anti-war movement in which socialists argued their case.

The Financial crisis of 2007–2010 led to mainstream discussions as to whether "Marx was right".[96][97] Time magazine ran an article 'Rethinking Marx' and put Karl Marx on the cover of its European edition in a special for the 28 January 2009 Davos meeting.[98][99] While the mainstream media[which?] tended to conclude that Marx was wrong, this was not the view of socialists and left-leaning commentators.[100][101]

A Globescan BBC poll on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall found that 23% of respondents believe capitalism is "fatally flawed and a different economic system is needed", with that figure rising to 40% of the population in some developed countries such as France; while a majority of respondents including over 50% of Americans believe capitalism "has problems that can be addressed through regulation and reform".[102]


Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana and theorist of African Socialism on a soviet postage stamp

African socialism has been and continues to be a major ideology around the continent. Julius Nyerere was inspired by Fabian socialist ideals.[103] 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, 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 advocate for popular people's planning and against the creation of a market economy in land and housing. Today many African countries have been accused of being exploited under neoliberal economics.[104]


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 modeling socialist enterprise on traditional management styles employed by government agencies.

In the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party has led a transition from the command economy of the Mao period to an economic program they term the socialist market economy or "socialism with Chinese characteristics". Under Deng Xiaoping, the leadership of China embarked upon a programme of market-based reform that was more sweeping than had been Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika program of the late 1980s. Deng's programme, however, maintained state ownership rights over land, state or cooperative ownership of much of the heavy industrial and manufacturing sectors and state influence in the banking and financial sectors.

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.[105] In Singapore, a majority of the GDP is still generated from the state sector comprising government-linked companies.[106] In Japan, there has been a resurgent interest in the Japanese Communist Party among workers and youth.[107][108] In Malaysia, the Socialist Party of Malaysia got its first Member of Parliament, Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj, after the 2008 general election.


In Europe, the socialist Left Party in Germany grew in popularity[109] 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.[110] Communist candidate Dimitris Christofias won a crucial presidential runoff in Cyprus, defeating his conservative rival with a majority of 53%.[111] In Greece, in the general election on 4 October 2009, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won the elections with 43.92% of the votes, the Communist KKE got 7.5% and the new Socialist grouping, (Syriza or "Coalition of the Radical Left"), won 4.6% or 361,000 votes.[112]

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.[113]

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 the 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.[114][115][116] In the following May 2010 UK general election, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, launched in January 2010 [117] 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.[118][119] The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition plans to contest the 2011 elections, having gained the endorsement of the RMT June 2010 conference.[120]

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.[121] 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".[122]

Latin America

Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela.

"Every factory must be a school to educate, like Che Guevara said, to produce not only briquettes, steel, and aluminum, but also, above all, the new man and woman, the new society, the socialist society."
Hugo Chávez, at a May 2009 socialist transformation workshop [123]

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."[124]

"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, is increasingly influential in Latin America.[125][126][127]

United States

Socialist parties in the United States reached their zenith in the early 20th century, but currently active parties and organizations include the Socialist Party USA, the Socialist Workers Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, the latter having approximately 10,000 members.[128]

Criticism of socialism

Economic liberals, pro-capitalist libertarians and some classical liberals view private property of the means of production and the market exchange as natural and/or moral phenomena, which are central to their conceptions of freedom and liberty, and thus perceive public ownership of the means of production, cooperatives and economic planning as infringements upon liberty. Some of the primary criticisms of socialism are distorted or absent price signals,[129][130] reduced incentives,[131][132][133] reduced prosperity,[134][135] feasibility,[129][130][136] and its social and political effects.[137][138][139][140][141][142]

Critics from the neoclassical school of economics criticize state-ownership and centralization of capital on the grounds that there is a lack of incentive in state institutions to act on information as efficiently as capitalist firms do because they lack hard budget constraints, resulting in reduced overall economic welfare for society.[143] Economists of the Austrian school argue that socialist systems based on economic planning are unfeasible because they lack the information to perform economic calculation in the first place, due to a lack of price signals and a free price system, which they argue are required for rational economic calculation.[144]

04.13.2011. 15:32

Get Our Newsletter
* Email Address:
* Pref Format:
* security code:

Email marketing
I'm looking for sponsors to financially help with this site.  If you might be interested please send me a message using the Contact form. 


I'm semi-retired (forced unemployment) and have a modest standard of living.  So I plan to give all extra donation, beyond my immediate needs, to several of my favorite charities.


More Videos
When you watch these videos, look for the facts. Sometimes you need to skip over sections that are childish or blatant propaganda. The videos I have listed here are very thought provoking.

Secret America
End of Liberty [1:14:00]
Ron Paul on the Fed (01/02/11) [16:58]
Ron Paul on the Federal Reserve and FEMA[10:27]
Ron Paul: "The Big Bankers Never Lose"[3:03]
Ron Paul on the Two-Party System [3:03]

Solar Flares

911 Revisited

New World Order
Aaron Russo MAD AS HELL [1:23:00]


Global Warming

Financial Crisis

North American Union

2012 Enlightenment|Doom?



pophis Hit Earth in 2029? [4:21]

Copyright © 2010-2011, TheWebGuy | Login