What Are The Origins of Socialism?

RSS Author RSS     Views:N/A
Bookmark and Share          Republish
There is lot of confusion about the origins of socialism and how it came to be so pervasive across much of the world. This article will examine socialism as an ideology from its founders through to its interchangeable links with communism.

Contrary to common opinion, the word socialism was not coined by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong. In fact it was from the writing of French journalist, Pierre Leroux, back in 1832 that the word socialism originated. At the time, Leroux was editor of a Parisian journal known as Le Globe.

Socialism has since evolved into somewhat different meanings depending on the political movement and society that implements the ideology. However, if you boil it down to definitions, socialism can be defined as an approach to government that believes in the nationalisation or state ownership of businesses and distribution of wealth by government control. Unlike communism, according to modern definition, socialism is implemented by way of democratic election and is not entrenched by way of dictatorship.

A major difference between communism and socialism is their respective approaches to capitalism. Communists, starting with Karl Marx himself, have always believed that the capitalist system must be removed and cannot be tolerated in any circumstances. Socialism, in the democratic sense, does not advocate the end of the capitalist system but believes in the need for government intervention and ownership of a nationís resources. The belief of socialists often extends beyond government ownership of natural resources such as mining and energy through to the nationalisation of all industry at its most extreme.

Even today, it would still be difficult to find a single democratic socialist party anywhere in the world that has removed the nationalisation of industry from their charter or policy platform. At last report, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party, for example, retain nationalisation of industry as their core belief. However, to fully implement nationalisation would usually result in electoral defeat as the Chifley Labor government found in Australia at the 1949 election when they ran for re-election on a platform of nationalising the banking sector.

At heart socialism has at its core the belief that a more equitable way must be found in distributing a nationís wealth. Only then will the poor and underprivileged get a real chance of their living standards being lifted so they can live at something better than subsistence level. Most of the disagreement amongst socialists over time has always been about the best way of achieving this notion of a more equal distribution of a nationís wealth. Marxís ideology of extreme socialism (known as communism) required workersí to dominate and control the means of production.

In many respects, socialism has a utopian view of human equality very similar to that of religion. That is, the notion that no individual should have to suffer poverty and deprivation and this can be all solved if only people will work to make it happen. Socialist governments continue to suffer with a reputation for poor economic management. The latest examples being the now defeated British Labour government and Irish Socialist/Green Alliance government both of which have left behind significant debt and high levels of unemployment and a reputation for having mismanaged their respective countries economies.

Those who thought the end of the Soviet Union would result in the end of socialism/communism were clearly mistaken. Many socialist parties have been elected to government in the twenty odd years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.

Whether you are a believer in socialism http://app-products-info.webs.com or not is very much an individual judgement, in many respects based on life circumstances, education and family influences. However, one thing appears certain and that is socialism will most likely continue to have a wide appeal with many supporters across the third world, developing world and first world economies in the years to come.

I have a background in business as well as having worked for a boss in various employment from politics to the civil service. I am currently involved in a consultancy where I advise on business start-ups in the renewable energy and building sectors.

Report this article

Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article