Socialism is an ideology that has a range of economic and social systems characterised by social proprietorship and democratic control of the means of production as well as the political beliefs, theories, and movements that aim at their formation. Socialism has been theorised from the standpoint of an economic system, a philosophy, or even a type of society. However, there is a conjunction on socialism as an ideology which supports collective and as an economic/social system that seeks the freedom of the oppressed in an unequal society. Boyle has noted that all socialist of all schools, are agreed, as an abstract proposition, "the collective ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, which can be operated "socially" for the equitable good of all" (1912).
The central concept of socialism is a visualization of human beings as social beings united by their common humanity. Popular poet John Donne stated that "No man is an Island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main". This emphasizes the degree to which individual identity is shaped by social interaction and the membership of social groups and collective bodies. Fundamentally, socialism favours the collective ownership of means of production. The elementary idea of socialism originates from working man association and their mission to ensure equality among all employees and all the people in a society. Therefore, one can consider socialism or a socialist economy as an economy where the workers own the means of production. This is to ensure that the class that produces the wealth of society collectively decides how it will be used for the benefit of all. From this viewpoint, "socialist are those who seek to establish a society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use, not profit" (Coleman 1990).
Socialists choose cooperation to competition, and favour collectivism over individualism. The defining, value of socialism is equality, socialism sometimes being portrayed as a form of egalitarianism. Socialists consider that a measure of social equality is the essential assurance of social stability and cohesion, and that it supports freedom in the sense that it gratifies material needs and helps for personal development. The socialist movement has conventionally articulated the interests of the industrial working class, seen as systematically troubled or structurally disadvantaged within the capitalist system. The objective of socialism is to lessen or abolish class divisions.
It is elucidated in numerous studies that socialism evolved as a reaction against the social and economic conditions produced in Europe by the growth of industrial capitalism. The birth of socialist ideas was closely associated to the development of a new but growing class of industrial workers, who suffered the poverty and deprivation that are so often a feature of early industrialisation. Since two hundred years, socialism has established the principal oppositional force within capitalist societies, and has pronounced the interests of oppressed and disadvantaged peoples in many parts of the world. The major impact of socialism has been in the form of the twentieth-century communist and social-democratic movements. However, in the late twentieth century, socialism suffered a number of spectacular reverses, leading some to declare the 'death of socialism'. The most remarkable of these reverses was the collapse of communism in the Eastern European Revolutions of 1989-91. Partly in response to this, and partially as a consequence of globalisation and changing social structures, parliamentary socialist parties in many parts of the world revised, and sometime rejected, traditional socialist philosophies.
Some elements of socialist supposed to be predate the socialist ideology that developed in the first half of the 19th Century. For instance, Plato's "The Republic" and Sir Thomas More's "Utopia", dating from 1516, have been cited as including Socialist or Communist ideas.
Modern Socialism arose in the beginning of the 19th Century in Britain and France, from range of doctrines and social experiments, principally as a reaction or protest against some of the excesses of 18th and 19th Century Capitalism. In the beginning of 19th Century, Socialist thought was mainly utopian in nature, followed by the more pragmatic and revolutionary Socialist and Communist movements in the end of the 19th Century.
Social criticizers in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century such as Robert Owen (1771 - 1858), Charles Fourier (1772 - 1837), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 - 1865), Louis Blanc (1811 - 1882) and Henri de Saint-Simon (1760 - 1825) disparaged the excesses of poverty and inequality of the Industrial Revolution, and encouraged transformations 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 reform in the United Kingdom.
Famous political philosopher, Karl Marx first employed systematic analysis, called as "scientific socialism" in a determined 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 Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895), is modelled to some extent on Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations". It is one of the foundations of Capitalist theory. In this ideology, he transforms Smith's labour theory of value into his own characteristic "law of value" (that the exchange value of a commodity is actually independent of the amount of labour required to appropriate its useful qualities), and discloses how commodity fetishism disguises the reality of Capitalist civilisation.
In 1864, the International Workingmen's Association (IWA) or First International, was originated in London, and became the first major international forum for the proclamation of Socialist thoughts, under the leadership of Marx and Johann Georg Eccarius. Anarchists, like the Russian Mikhail Bakunin (1814 - 1876), and advocates of other alternative visions of Socialism which accentuated the potential of small-scale communities and agrarianism, harmonised with the more influential currents of Marxism and social democracy. Much of the development of Socialism is indistinguishable for the development of Communism, which is basically an extreme variation of Socialism.
Marx and Engels jointly founded the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany in 1869. They were also responsible for establishing the Second International (or Socialist International) in 1889, as the ideas of Socialism gained new advocates, especially in Central Europe, and just before his death in 1895, Engels bragged of a "single great international army of socialists". It is revealed in theoretical studies that the groundwork of modern socialism was laid through the writing of Karl Max and Federick Engel in 1848 in The Communist Manifesto. The main view was that capitalism was unmanageable and would be abolished by the working class in a revolution. They had opinion that the working class will ultimately rise up against the ruling class to control the means of production. Engel avowed that the Marxist technique far supposed previous "eclectic" forms of socialism by providing the modern proletariat with a powerful analytical tool (Steger 1997). Socialism in this sense is viewed as the step between a country's current state and its move to complete communism (Ree 1998). Lenin stated that the period "between capitalist and communist society which is the period of revolutionary transformation of the former into the latter" could be labelled as the socialist period. In that case, it is a transformational period in which Lenin called its state structure as the revolutionary despotism of the proletariat. In this respect, socialism is visualized as a predecessor to communism. This suggests the direct control of the services and industries by the workers and whereby all authorities in such economy instigate from the worker's union.
When the First World War underway in 1914, the socialist social democratic parties in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany sustained their respective states' war effort, discarding their commitment to internationalism and solidarity, and the Second International liquefied during the war.
In Russia, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870 - 1924) condemned the war as an imperialist conflict, and advised workers at international level to use it as an occasion for proletarian revolution. In February 1917, revolution broke out in Russia and the workers, soldiers and peasants established councils. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the soviets in October 1917 and, at the same time, the October Revolution was led by Lenin and Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940). The new Soviet government instantly nationalized the banks and major industries, rejected the former Romanov regime's national debts, charged for peace and withdrew from the First World War, and implemented a system of government through the chosen workers' councils or soviets. The Third International (also known as the Communist International) was an international Communist organization founded in Moscow in 1919 to substitute the disbanded Second International.
After the death of Lenin in 1924, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, under Josef Stalin announced a policy of "socialism in one country", taking the route of isolationism. This resulted in a polarization of Socialism around the question of the Soviet Union and espousal of socialist or social democratic policies in response, or in other cases the fervent repudiation of all that it stands for.
It has been observed that all political researchers had not visualized socialism as necessarily entailing revolution, and non-revolutionaries such as the dominant economists John Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946) and John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - 2006), motivated from the work of John Stuart Mill as well as Marx, and offered theoretical explanation for state involvement in an existing market economy. This type of Social Democracy can be considered a moderate form of Socialism and aims to transform Capitalism representatively through state regulation and the creation of state-sponsored programs and organizations which work to ameliorate or remove injustices supposedly caused by the Capitalist market system.
The features of socialism are as under.
A socialist economy is categorised by public ownership of the means of production and distribution. There is collective ownership whereby all mines, farms, factories, financial institutions, distributing agencies (internal and external trade, shops, stores, etc.), means of transport and communications, are owned, controlled, and regulated by government departments and state corporations. A small private sector also exists in the form of small business units which are carried on in the villages by local artists for local consumption.
A socialist economy is centrally planned which operates under the supervision of a central planning authority. It lays down the various objectives and targets to be accomplished during the plan period. Central economic planning means "the making of major economic decisions such as type of goods and quantity is to be produced, how, when and where it is to be produced, and to whom it is to be allocated by the conscious decision of a determinate authority, on the basis of a wide-ranging survey of the economic system as a whole."
The central planning authority establishes and utilises the economic resources by deliberate direction and control of the economy for attaining definite objectives and targets laid down in the plan during a specified period of time.
A socialist economy functions within definite socio-economic objectives. These objectives "may concern aggregate demand, full employment, satisfaction of communal demand, allocation of factors of production, distribution of the national income, the amount of capital accumulation, economic development." To accomplish, these objectives laid down in the plan, priorities and gallant targets are fixed to include all features of the economy.
In socialism ideology, consumer's independence infers that production in state- owned industries is generally governed by the inclinations of consumers, and the available merchandises are distributed to the consumers at fixed prices through the state-run department stores. Consumer's autonomy under socialism is limited to the choice of socially beneficial commodities.
In a socialist economy, there is great equality of income distribution as compared with a free market economy. The removal of private ownership in the means of production, private capital accumulation, and profit motive under socialism avert the accrual of large wealth of a few wealthy persons. The unearned incomes in the form of rent, interest and profit go to the state which utilises them in providing free education, public health facilities, and social security to the people. "As far as wages and salaries are concerned, most modern socialists do not aim at complete and rigid equality. It is now generally understood that the maintenance offered choice of occupation implies wage differentials."
The pricing process under socialism ideology does not operate freely but works under the control and regulation of the central planning authority. There are administered prices fixed by the central planning authority. There are also the market prices at which consumer goods are sold. There are also the accountings prices on the basis of which the managers decide about the production of consumer goods and investment goods, and also about the choice of production procedures.
There are numerous advantages of socialism ideologies in society.
Prof. Schumpeter stated many arguments to support socialism.
1. Greater Economic Efficiency: Economic efficiency under socialism is more than under capitalism. The means of production are controlled and regulated by the central planning authority towards chosen ends. The central planning authority makes thorough survey of resources and utilises them in the most effectual manner. Increased productivity is protected by evading the wastes of competition and by undertaking expensive research and production processes in a synchronised manner. Economic efficiency is also attained by utilising resources in producing socially useful goods and services which satisfy the basic wants of the people, like cheap food, cloth, and housing.
2. Greater Welfare due to Less Inequality of Income: In a socialist economy, there is less disparity of income as compared with a capitalist economy because of the absence of private ownership of the means of production, private capital accumulation, and private profit. All people work for the welfare of the state and each is paid his salary according to his ability, education and training. All rents, interests and profits from various sources go to the state which spends them for public welfare in providing free education, cheap and congenial housing, free public health amenities, and social security to the people.
3. Absence of Monopolistic Practices: Major benefit of socialism is that it is free from monopolistic practices to be found in a capitalist society. Since under socialism, all means of production are owned by the state, both competition and domination are disregarded. The misuse by the monopolistic is absent. Instead of private monopoly, there is the state monopoly of the productive system but this is operated for the welfare of the people. In the state-owned factories, socially useful commodities are produced which are of high quality and are also reasonably assessed.
4. Absence of Business Fluctuations: A socialist economy is free from business instabilities. There is economic stability because production and consumption of goods and services are regulated by the central planning authority in accordance with the objectives, targets and priorities of the plan. Therefore, there is neither overproduction nor joblessness.
1. Loss of Consumer's Sovereignty: There is loss of consumers' dominion in a socialist economy. Consumers do not have the liberty to buy whatever commodities they want. They can consume only those commodities which are available in department stores. Often the quantities which they can buy are fixed by the state.
2. No Freedom of Occupation: Consumers do not have freedom of choosing profession in such a society. Every person is provided job by the state. But he cannot leave or change it. Even the place of work is allotted by the state. All occupational movements are authorized by the state.
3. Misallocation of Resources: Under socialism, there is random allocation of resources. The central planning authority often commits mistakes in resource allocation because the entire work is done on trial and error basis.
4. Bureaucratic: A socialist economy is a bureaucratic economy. It is operated like a machine. So it does not offer the necessary initiative to the people to work hard. People work under pressure and fear of higher authorities and not for any personal gain or self-interest.
There is no uncertainty that a socialist economy is better than a capitalist economy because of its awesome merits. But it is disliked for the loss of political, economic and personal autonomies.
Democratic Socialism: It promotes Socialism as an economic principle (the means of production should be under control of ordinary working people), and democracy as a governing principle (political power should be in the hands of the people democratically through a co-operative commonwealth or republic). Reformist socialism believes in 'socialism through the ballot box', and thus accepts basic liberal democratic principles such as consent, constitutionalism and party competition. This ideology attempts to bring about Socialism through peaceable democratic means as opposed to violent insurgence, and represents the reformist tradition of Socialism.
It is similar to Social Democracy. This refers to an ideology that is more centrist and supports a broadly Capitalist system, with some social reforms (such as the welfare state), intended to make it more impartial and humane. Democratic Socialism, by contrast, suggests an ideology that is more left-wing and supportive of a fully socialist system, established either by gradually reforming Capitalism from within, or by some form of radical transformation.
Revolutionary Socialism: This types of ideology advocates the need for central social change through revolution or than insurgence instead of gradual reform as a strategy to accomplish a socialist society. Revolutionary socialism reflected in the communist tradition, holds that socialism can only be initiated by the revolutionary overthrow of the existing political and social system. It is based upon the belief that the existing state structures are incurably linked to capitalism and the interests of the ruling class. The Third International, which was founded following the Russian Revolution of 1917, described itself in terms of Revolutionary Socialism but also became broadly identified with Communism. Trotskyism is the theory of Revolutionary Socialism as supported by Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940), stating the need for an international grassroots revolution (rather than Stalin's "socialism in one country") and firm support for a factual dictatorship of the proletariat based on democratic philosophies. Luxemburgism is another Revolutionary Socialist tradition, based on the writings of Rosa Luxemburg (1970 - 1919). It is similar to Trotskyism in its opposition to the Totalitarianism of Stalin, while concurrently avoiding the reformist politics of modern Social Democracy.
Utopian Socialism: It described the first currents of modern socialist thought in the beginning of the 19th Century. Generally, it was used by later socialist philosophers to define early socialist, or quasi-socialist, scholars who created hypothetical visions of perfect egalitarian and communalist societies without actually concerning themselves with the manner in which these societies could be created or sustained. They precluded all political (and especially all revolutionary) action, and wanted to attain their ends by peaceful means and small experiments, which more practical socialists like Karl Marx saw as necessarily doomed to failure. But the early theoretical work of philosophers such as Robert Owen (1771-1858), Charles Fourier (1772-1837) and Etienne Cabet (1788-1856) gave more push to later socialist movements.
Libertarian Socialism: This type of socialism ideology has aim 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 attained through the eradication of authoritarian institutions and private property, so that direct control of the means of production and resources will be gained by the working class and society as a whole. Most Libertarian Socialists support abolishing the state altogether, in much the same way as Utopian Socialists and many varieties of Anarchism.
Market Socialism: This ideology elucidates 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) instead of relying on a free price mechanism. By contrast, a Socialist Market Economy, such as that practiced in the People's Republic of China, in one where major industries are owned by state entities, but compete with each other within a pricing system set by the market and the state does not routinely interfere in the setting of prices.
Eco-Socialism: It is a philosophy amalgamating aspects of Marxism, Socialism, Green politics, ecology and the anti-globalization movement. They promotes the non-violent dismantling of Capitalism and the State, focusing on collective ownership of the means of production, in order to alleviate the social exclusion, poverty and environmental degradation brought by the capitalist system, globalization and imperialism.
Christian Socialism: It denotes to those on the Christian left whose politics are both Christian and socialist, and who visualize these two things as being interconnected. Christian socialists draw parallels between what some have characterized as the egalitarian and anti-establishment message of Jesus, and the messages of modern Socialism.
Scientific socialism: It undertakes a scientific investigation of historical and social development, which, in the form of Marxism, proposes not that socialism 'should' replace capitalism, but forecasts that it inevitably 'would' replace capitalism.
Fundamentalist socialism: This ideology aims to abolish and replace the capitalist system, observing socialism as qualitatively different from capitalism. Fundamentalist socialists, such as Marxists and communists, generally associate socialism with common ownership of some form.
Revisionist socialism: This ideology believe in reform, looking to reach an accommodation between the efficiency of the market and the enduring moral vision of socialism. This is most clearly articulated in social democracy.
The moral power of socialism originates not from its concern with what people are like, but with what they have the capacity to become. This has led socialists to develop utopian visions of a better society in which human beings can attain sincere emancipation and fulfilment as members of a community. In this regard, socialism is intended to persist because it serves as a reminder that human development can extend beyond market individualism.
Socialism has great and persistent impact on the politics and culture of most egalitarianisms, with the exception of the United States and Japan. European countries reflect socialist policies. Europe's eastern half underwent an unproductive forty-year experiment with communism. More compassionately, countries of Western Europe such as Sweden, France, and Germany implement socialist priorities through state ownership of major industries, high levels of public employment, strict legal requirements providing job security, and extensive welfare states. Workforces in most European states get several weeks of guaranteed paid vacation. In France, most workers are limited to 35 hours of work per week. Significantly, every country in Europe has a dominant Socialist party that contests and wins elections. Once considered one of the most conservative states, Spain is currently run by the Spanish Socialist Party. Britain's socialist-inspired party, Labour, has governed that country since 1997. The developed world is not the only place where socialism's inheritance is important. India spent decades of incessant rule by a Socialist political party. Senegal's young democracy in Western Africa recently arose from four decades of Socialist rule; its government still employs approximately forty percent of the official workforce and controls major industries.
In the year of 1904, U.S. Socialist Party campaign poster with candidate Eugene V. DebsIn America, by contrast, socialism's influence has been relatively weak. Trade unions did and do exist in the United States but never came under the sway of Marxist principle. While a Socialist party does exist, and has even fielded candidates for the US position, it never gained electoral success at the national or state level. The Roosevelt administration announced welfare policies similar to, if less extensive than, those found in Europe during the 1930s, but only as a response to the Great Depression, war, and as a matter of reasonable politics. Marxism has never succeeded in the United States outside of the university subculture. Socialist philosophies never capturing the popular imagination. Socialism's failure to sink roots in America is also an acknowledgement to the overwhelming supremacy of classical liberalism. Belief in individual responsibility, acceptance in economic success for those who work hard, and a distrust of big government have severely handicapped socialism's ideological challenge. Americans are more likely to admire businesspersons and entrepreneurs than slander them. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the celebrity of a Warren Buffet or Donald Trump in any other country but the United States. Americans are more concerned about acquiring private property than making sure it is equally distributed.
Socialism's affluences have recently diminished outside the United States as well. Experiments with state ownership of the economy, such as those in France, India, and Sweden botched to sustain attractive growth rates after the 1970s and left countries less competitive in a globalized market. Socialist parties have toned down both their ideological rhetoric and policies in response to developing world economy. The continued demand of socialist values in other countries still explains wide differences between politics in America and the rest of the world because it has radically reset the standards of political discussion. The political values of a conservative in Britain or France are much more likely to appear liberal in the United States.
Socialism in India: Socialism is not a state of excellence but an effective movement trying to satisfy demands for equality, freedom and honourable efficiency. Socialist thought was a product of its own time and environment. It emerged in India also which had to be applied with modifications and adaptations. Socialism in India arose as a new religion, attached itself with anti-colonialism and by doing so the sharp edges of western socialism were rounded off and a progressive phenomenon transformed the political situation of India. With time, the congress socialist party which was formed in 1934 as a major political instrument recurrently faced ideological challenges. Sometimes Gandhian plea weakened it and major time the splits and mergers moderated its creed. The mission for socialism took its leaders along diverse ambitions and very often contradictory paths, leaving the movement to spend itself out. Masani joined Swatantra party, Ashok Mehta back to congress and J.P. Narayan devoted himself to Bhoodan movement, so as a distinguished comrade in arms Achyut Patwardhan, left politics mid-way in his life creating intellectual vacuum of some magnitude in the socialist movement. One major problem which spoiled the prospects of socialism in India was the role played by Nehru. He was at top of Congress, kept on pervading socialist ideology into Congress's programmes, and thus actually took the wind off the sails of the socialists. This would better be counted as political strategy in order to decline the space for socialist movement. From the political approach, the idea of socialism has less impact in contemporary India.
In the 42nd amendment, the phrase 'socialist' was added to the preamble of Indian Constitution. Therefore, India became a "democratic socialist" country. India's socialist pattern of society will be classless and casteless. Her socialism will be based on noble means, guaranteeing freedom of thought and conscience. It is well recognized that India's socialism is an assertion of faith in the ingenuity of men and women of India who are stimulated to build up a new society through a bold path of Truth and Non-violence. India hatreds regimentation and application of force, which was learnt under the headship of Mahatma Gandhi, 'to march forward without compromise, without turning from the path'. To pave the way for Socialism, India has eradicated Landlordism. A comprehensive policy of social reorganization has been taken up in the form of Panchayat Raj, Co-operative Farming and community Development Projects to quicken progress towards Socialism and strengthen parliamentary democracy. In Indian framework, the "socialist" gives a positive direction to State activities. They include:
Criticizers of socialism offered many arguments. Disapprovals of Socialism range from disagreements over the efficiency of socialist economic and political models, to outright condemnation of socialist states. They debated that socialism is irreversibly stained by its association with statism. The emphasis upon collectivism leads to an endorsement of the state as the embodiment of the public interest. Both communism and social democracy are in that sense 'top-down' versions of socialism, meaning that socialism amounts to an extension of state control and a restriction of freedom. Another argument of challengers emphasized the unintelligibility and confusion inherent in modern socialist theory. In this perspective, socialism was only ever meaningful as a critique of, or alternative to, capitalism. The acceptance by socialists of market principles demonstrates either that socialism itself is faulty or that their analysis is no longer rooted in sincerely socialist ideas and theories.
Some opponents dispute that the unrestricted distribution of wealth and the nationalization of industries supported by some socialists can be accomplished without loss of political or economic freedoms. Others argue that countries where the means of production are socialized are less wealthy than those where the means of production are under private control. However, critics argue that socialist policies lessen work incentives (because workers do not receive rewards for a work well done) and decrease efficiency through the abolition of the profit and loss mechanism and a free price system and dependence on central planning. They also debate that Socialism deteriorates technology due to competition being muffled. 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. There has also been much focus on the economic performance and human rights records of Communist states, although this is not a criticism of Socialism.
To refute the criticisms, socialists have reasoned that socialism can essentially increase efficiency and economic development better than Capitalism, or that a certain degree of efficiency can and should be sacrificed for the sake of economic equality or other social goals. They further argue that market systems have a natural tendency toward monopoly or oligopoly in major industries, leading to a misrepresentation of prices, and that a public monopoly is better than a private one. Socialists claim that a socialist approach can alleviate the role of externalities in pricing. Some socialists have made a case for Socialism and central planning being better able to address the issue of managing the environment than self-serving Capitalism.
To summarize, socialism emerged as a challenging to classical liberalism in the 19th century. It was a political response to the dreadful conditions of industrial workforces in the advanced capitalist countries and laid claims to representation of the working class. Socialism contains variety of divisions and competing traditions. Socialism is depicted as morally higher to capitalism because human beings are ethical creatures, bound to one another by the ties of love, sympathy and compassion. Since the socialist ideology is part of the appearance of mass politics, socialism can be debated as having a contribution to modern democracy.
The modern democratic ideal is based on inhabitant participation in choosing who their leader would be. The fact that the majority are the middle class and those below the rank also establish the "proletariat", socialism has power to unite the majority in a class conscious situation which can further democracy. It can be said that Socialism is a changeover of stage because the transition of a society based on mistreatment to that based on equality is not just a straight process. Socialism has main objective to eradicate poverty, racism, sexism the threat of environmental disaster and to prevent the still posed threat of a catastrophic nuclear war. Socialism is never a one party approach to government, it inspire mass political partaking, collective decision process and not an exclusive model of social distribution and state ownership of the means of production.