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Growth of the doctrine


The word begins in obscurity. Though various origins have been suggested, the first use in French has commonly been ascribed to the Globe ofFebruary 13, 1832, where the word socialistes was chosen to describe thefollowers of Saint-Simon. (However, a recondite reference to socialism ayear earlier, in the religious journal Le semeur, has been uncovered. )Englishmen have claimed the honor of its coinage, since the word “socialist” did appear in the London Cooperative Magazine in 1826, although it was not until several years later that followers of RobertOwen began describing themselves as socialists. Clearly, however, the termwas in the air, for it described a converging mood; and the first articleon “socialism” as an idea in opposition to “individualism” was written byPierre Leroux and appeared in 1835 in the Encyclopédic nouvelle, edited byLeroux and Reynaud. The word recurred thereafter in various writings byLeroux.

By 1840 the term “socialism” was commonly used throughout Europe toconnote the doctrine that the ownership and control of the means ofproduction–capital, land, or property–should be held by the community as awhole and administered in the interests of all. Within 120 years after theterm became known in Europe, the doctrine had spread so widely that onecould find regimes in Sweden, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, eastern Europe, Cuba, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Burma, and Ceylon calling themselves socialist, and thelabels Arab socialism, African socialism, and Asian socialism used to describe the grafting of indigenous traditions onto ideological doctrine. Rarely in the history of the world has an idea taken hold so deeply and dispersed so quickly. One would have to go back to the spread of Islam, in the century and a half following the death of Muhammad, to find a comparable phenomenon. And the analogy is not without relevance, for one finds in both instances the promise of a perfect community, the effort to create a solidarity larger than that of tribe or class, a reaction to the meaninglessness of existing religious beliefs, a militant proselytizing spirit, and leadership by new elites. In fact, the comparison with Islam is meant to suggest that the spread of socialism cannot be wholly accounted for in economic or class terms. The socialist movement has (or had) the character of a secular religion, and only from this view can one explain its development and internal vicissitudes.

This article will discuss the formulation of early socialist doctrine, the differentiation of the socialist movement and the spread of socialism, the role of socialist parties, and varieties of socialist belief since Marx. [Marxist views and positions are elaborated in Marxism and in the articles under Communism. ]

Growth of the doctrine


The meaning of socialism, both logically and sociologically, can only be understood as a contrast to individualism. The Enlightenment, English political economy, the French Revolution, and the nascent industrialism had all combined to produce what in 1826 a disciple of Saint-Simon called individualism. In this doctrine, society existed to serve the individual and the pursuit of his own satisfactions; natural rights inhered in each individual, and government was not to regulate the economic life of society. Even the French Revolution, with all its passion for virtue and its defense of popular sovereignty, fostered the idea of economic individualism.

The attack on individualism drew its strength from a Catholic and a socialist point of view. Bon aid and de Maistre, both theocrats, were militantly against “political Protestantism” and asserted that man exists only for society. Particularly after the revolution of 1830, many French writers of a conservative bent–Lamartine, Balzac, Sainte- Beuve, Lammenais, and Tocqueville–expressed their alarm about I’odieux individualisme and held it responsible for the disintegration that they felt was occurring in their society. While the conservatives attacked The politicalphilosophy which they linked to the French Revolution, the socialists were appalled by the economic doctrine of laissez-faire: this, Louis Blanc declared, was responsible for man’s ruthless exploitation of man in moder nindustry. Under industrialization, the socialists alleged, the individual had been torn from old moorings and had no anchorage. Friedrich Engels, writing about London in The Condition of the Working Class in England, described “the brutal indifference, the unfeeling isolation of each in his private interest,” which people experienced in the British capital, and stated that “the dissolution of mankind into monads of which each one has a separate principle, the world of atoms, is here carried out to its utmost extreme” ([1845] 1958, p. 24).

Against the atomization and “egoism” of society, as Saint-Simon called it, the social critics proposed a new order based on association, harmony, altruism, and, finally, the word that superseded all of these–socialism. The idea of socialism has a long history in the Utopian tradition; one can trace its roots back to the dream of returning to a golden age of social harmony or to the radical theological creed–expressed most vividly by the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century and the Levellers and Diggers of theseventeenth–of the equality of all men. But equality alone is not the essence of socialism. The heart of socialism is to be found in the idea of community and in the doctrine that men can realize their full potential and achieve human emancipation in community. By this touchstone, the seeds of modern socialism are to be found in Rousseau [see the biography ofRousseau].

The theme of community is also the central theme of Fourier, Owen, Saint-Simon, and Marx. The first three sought to achieve it through the a priori elaboration of the theoretical elements of community. Marx, on the other hand, sought to realize it through the sphere of philosophy and what he held to be its material embodiment, the proletariat. It is in the phrase “the realization of philosophy,” the end point of a process of history, and not in any alleged distinction between Utopian and scientific descriptions of socialism, that the difference between Marx and the others lies.

Both Owen and Fourier sketched socialist Utopias that were enormously attractive to individuals whose sensibility was repelled by the evils of industrialism. Each wanted to establish a small agrarian community that science could make practical–in effect, a withdrawal from society. Neither man had a sense of history or any realistic awareness of the politics of his time. [See the biographies ofFourier and Owen. ]

Saint-Simon ( “the last gentleman and the first socialist” of France) was a very different sort, and the customary inclusion of him with Fourier and Owen as a “Utopian” is actually a disservice to a formidable intellectual, a disservice initially performed by Marx, who, although he derived many ideas from Saint-Simon, failed to see the implications of much of the French writer’s thought. John Stuart Mill, however, clearly recognized Saint-Simon’s contribution, remarking, in Principles of Political Economy(1848), that in the few years of its public promulgation, Saint-Simon’s thought had sowed the seeds of nearly all the socialist tendencies. Durkheim considered Saint-Simon to be the father of socialism, as well as of positivism, and devoted a book to his theories. Although in the Communist Manifesto Marx cavalierly dismissed Saint-Simon as a Utopian, Engels in his later years remarked that Saint-Simon’s “breadth of view” and “genius” contained in embryo “all the ideas of later socialists which are not strictly economic.” For what Saint-Simon presented is what we know today as the theory of industrial society, and his discussion of the nature of solidarity outlines the theory of occupational community which Durkheim later elaborated. [See the biography ofSaint-Simon. ]

It is not too much to say, following Markham (1952), that the Saint-Simonians were the most important single force behind the greate conomic expansion of the Second Empire, particularly in the development of banks and railways. Enfantin, the most bizarre of the Saint-Simonians, formed the society for planning the Suez Canal. The brothers Emile and Isaac Pereire, who promoted the first French railway from Paris to Saint-Germain, also founded the Credit Mobilier, the first industrial investment bank in France, and the Compagnie Generate Transatlantique, whose first ships were named after Saint-Simon and his followers.

In the hands of some of his more zealous followers, Saint-Simon’sdoctrines were made to seem ludicrous. Yet his own insight was considerable, and it was the Saint-Simonians’ more diffuse (but no less intense) belief in Marxism which gave that doctrine its command over so large a part of the world.


The Communist Manifesto (Marx & Engels 1848) and the writing done in the thirty years following it make up the corpus of work that later socialists drew upon and associated with Marx [for a detailed discussion, see the biographies ofEngels and Marx]. Relying on The politicalactivities of Marx as well as on his judgments, the diverse socialist factions sought to justify their own policies. Thus Lenin and the Bolsheviks found in the address to the Communist League of March 1850, and in Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme (Marx Engels1875-1891), the justification of their revolutionary and insurrectionary tactics. From Marx’s activity in Cologne in the early part of 1849 and from his inaugural speech to the Grand Council of the International Workingmen’s Association (the First International), democratic socialists have argued that peaceful electoral change is possible in the achievement of socialism.

Marx envisaged a two-stage development in industrial countries that presaged the victory of socialism. The first was the democraticrevolution; the second, the social revolution. By the “democraticrevolution” Marx meant the victory of the middle classes over the remnantsof the aristocracy and the clearing away of feudal remains to achieve the successful development of capitalist production and of political rights for all in the society. By the “social revolution” Marx meant the economic victory of the proletariat, who will take over the ownership of the means of production. From this point of view, England was the most advanced country and, therefore, presumably the one most ripe for socialism. Measured on the same yardstick, Germany, while developing industrially, was still lagging behind because the middle classes had failed to completethe democratic revolution; Russia was the least advanced, since the middle classes had failed to act at all, whereas the German middle classes had at least done something in 1848. In the socialist perspective, therefore, Russia was the country where a revolution was most imminent, since it hadlagged so far behind and was only beginning to catch up economically. But before 1914 all orthodox Marxists expected this to be a bourgeois, rather than a socialist, revolution, since the working class in Russia was too small to sustain a socialist revolution and the economy was too “immature” for socialism. Against the populists and the anarchists in Russia whoargued that the country could skip a social stage and usher in a socialismbased in part on the old village miry, or communal holdings, the early Russian Marxists—Axelrod, Plekhanov, and Lenin—argued that socialism in Russia would have to await the development of capitalism and the creation of a sizable working class. Only at the beginning of the twentieth century did the thought occur to some Russian Marxists, notably “Parvus” and Trotsky—and later Lenin himself, when he was converted to the idea—that they could use the impending Russian revolution to wrest power from the bourgeoisie and thus spark revolution in the advanced industrial countries. Before 1917, no Marxists thought that socialism would be possible in preindustrial or underdeveloped countries. The West was expected to lead the way.

What kind of socialism was supposed to emerge? What would society be like the day after the revolution? And what were Marxists supposed to do while waiting for the revolution? No political party can exist without a program that holds out the promise of immediate benefits. But as Schumpeter has pointed out, anything positive done or to be done in the vitiated atmosphere of capitalism was ipso facto tainted. Marx and Engels discouraged programs that involved constructive policy within the capitalist order because they smacked of bourgeois radicalism. However, when they faced the problem in 1847, they resolutely cut the Gordian knot. As Schumpeter put it: “The Communist Manifesto quite illogically lists anumber of immediate objects of socialist policy, simply laying the socialist barge along side the liberal liner” (1942, p. 317 in the 1962 edition).

The problem was to recur constantly throughout The political history of most of the European socialist parties. Should one make immediate demands or not? This issue was fought out, for example, within the American Socialist party at the turn of the century; and it resulted in such factions as the Reformists, and the Impossibilists, who declared themselves against any such program on the ground that it would dilute the revolutionary ardor of the masses. More important, the problem of reforms, and of what kind of reforms, had to be confronted by the various socialist parties of Europe in the 1930s–such as the British Labour party, the German Social Democratic party, and the French Socialist party–when the yentered the government and even took over sole responsibility for running it in a capitalist society. As we shall see, many of these governments and countries foundered when the socialist governments discovered, for example, that they had no solution for the problem of unemployment undercapitalism. The slogan “Socialism or Capitalism” had left them unprepared for the exigencies of the intermediate period. This is always the dilemmaof social movements that live in a world but are not of it.

Gotha and Erfurt

Marx did, of course, distinguish between socialism and communism, in the sense that the first is a transitional period and the second the undefined realm of man’s freedom. For this aspect of the idea of socialism, two documents are crucial—the Gotha Programme (see Marx & Engels 1875-1891) and the Erfurt Program (see Kautsky 1892), two doctrinal statements of the German Social Democratic party.

In 1875, two German socialist parties, one dominated by followers of Ferdinand Lassalle, the other by Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel, nominal followers of Marx, met in Gotha to create a unified socialist party. The program they adopted there was in the main a product ofLassallean doctrine, and in a private communication Marx wrote a searing critique of it. In 1891, the German Social Democratic party adopted theso-called Erfurt Program (named for the city where the party congress was held), which was written principally by Karl Kautsky, under the directsupervision of Engels; Engels then published the Critique for its historicinterest, feeling that the Erfurt Program went beyond the criticism Marxhad made of the Gotha document. But the Critique, in its tone andimplications, was more revolutionary and radical than the Erfurt Program, and, predictably, the left-wingers in the socialist movement, beginning with Lenin, formulated their program from the Critique. It was in the Critique that Marx used the phrase “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat,” which after 1917 provoked far more recriminatory debates between communists and socialists than any other words he wrote. The communists took it as a justification of the suppression of all political parties other than the true proletarian party under Soviet rule. The socialists insisted that the phrase applied only to temporary and special situations until a truly democratic state could be organized, and wasnugatory in those situations where a peaceful transition to socialism, through the electoral process, was possible.

The inflammatory phrase does not appear in the Erfurt Program, nor doesany statement of immediate aims or political demands. The program was intended as a full-fledged analysis of the tendencies of capitalism, froma Marxian point of view, and as a general discussion of the “cooperative commonwealth” of the future. The program assumes the recurrent Marxist theme: “Few things are . . . more childish than to demand of the socialist that he draw a picture of the commonwealth which he strives for. . . . Never yet in the history of mankind has it happened that a revolutionary party was able to foresee, let alone determine, the forms of the newsocial order which it strove to usher in” (Kautsky [1892] 1910, pp. 122-123).

On the forms of organization, the managerial problems of a socialist regime—how orders are to be given, who will give them, which industriesare to be managed by workers directly, which by state enterprises; in short, the practical problems that the Soviet state faced after the communists had assumed power—the program is completely silent.

Kautsky, who inherited Engels’ mantle as the leading Marxist the oretician, was prompted only once to deal with the problem of the organization of production in a socialist society (but not with the structure of authority with in an enterprise). In some lectures delivered and published in 1902 as The Social Revolution, he declared simply that the organization of production would follow the scope of the market.

For example, gas lighting is clearly a municipal business. The development of electric lighting and the transformation of power in mountainous regions makes the nationalization of water power necessary. This operates also to transform illumination from a municipal to a national business. Again the business of the shoemaker was formerly confined to the local market. The shoe factory does not supply simply the community, but the whole nation, with its production, and is ripe not for communalization, but for nationalization. The same is true of sugar factories, breweries, etc. (1902, pp. 115–116)

In fact, when Kautsky had finished with his itemization (transportation, railroads, steamships, mines, forests, iron foundries, machinemanufactures), it was clear that almost all industries would benationalized in the “proletarian regime.” [See the biography ofKautsky. ]

If one goes beyond these pedestrian problems, however, it is interesting that the Erfurt Program ends, curiously enough, on a note reminiscent of the young Marx and of that strain in German romanticism which looked back to the glory of Greece.

The blessed harmonious culture, which appeared only once in the history ofmankind and was then the privilege of a small body of select aristocrats, will become the common property of all civilized nations. What slaves were to the ancient Athenians, machinery will be to modern man. Man will feelall the elevating influences that flow from freedom from productive toil, without being poisoned by the evil influences which, through chattel slavery, finally undermined the Athenian aristocracy. And as the modern means of science and art are vastly superior to those of two thousand years ago, and the civilization of today overshadows that of the litte land of Greece, so will the socialist commonwealth in moral greatness and material well-being the most glorious society that history has thus farknown. (Kautsky [1892] 1910, p. 158)

Differentiation of the movement

The period from 1870 onward in western Europe saw the swift growth ofindustrialization and urbanization, the two crucial elements of modern society. This expansion of industrial power and of economic growth andwealth, which was due largely to two technological innovations—theimprovement of steel metallurgy and the application of electrical energyto factory, city, and home– seemed to confirm a number of Marx’spredictions regarding the development of capitalism (see Marx 1867-1879, vol. 1, chapter 25, and vol. 3, chapter 23). Capitalism was undergoing remarkable changes. The expansion of the joint stock company (the prototype of the modern corporation) was forcing a separation of ownership and management, which in many areas resulted in the industrial manager’staking the place of the capitalist as the central person of theorganization, and the large-scale enterprise began employing hundreds and even thousands of workers under a single roof. More important, the “amalgamation” movements of the 1880s and 1890s—the rise of trusts, cartels, and monopolies—and the consequent elimination of hundreds of smaller businesses seemed to bear out Marx’s predictions about the centralization of capital and the socializing of the processes of production.

Volume 1 of Capital was published in 1867, and the subsequent expansion ofthe volume, along with its rapid translation into many languages, gave Marx, hither to a neglected and cantankerous emigre in London, an authorityin the international socialist movement, particularly in its German branch, which he had never had before. With the assiduous publication andspread of Marx’s works by the growing socialist movements, Marxism suddenly became a vogue as no other socialist doctrine had ever been; andwith the proliferation of followers and propagandists who in newspapers, pamphlets, and street meetings proselytized the simplified works of Marx, the doctrine itself assumed a canonical status that was unprecedented inthe history of secular writing.

The Second International

In 1889 almost four hundred delegates fromtwenty different countries (three-fourths of them from Germany and France)met in Paris to create a new International, the Second International of socialist parties. The so-called First International, the International Working-men’s Association, was a loose confederation of small politicaland trade union groups, rather than parties, that had been organized in 1864. Although Marx was not the initiator of the First International, hequickly became its dominant intellectual figure, supplanting Mazzini, who had been asked to write its first draft program. The International brokeup in 1872, when Marx and the anarchist leader Bakunin quarreled; though the anarchists were expelled, Marx had the International’s center moved to New York, preferring to bury it rather than allow some other group to capture it. The First International was formally dissolved in Philadelphia in 1876.

More than any other step, the founding of the Second International symbolized the swift rise of Marxist socialism in Europe. It was only 14 years earlier, in 1875, that the German Social Democratic party, the first socialist party in Europe, had been formed. In the next dozen years or so, socialist parties were organized in France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden. In Russia in 1883, the year of Marx’s death, GeorgiiPlekhanov organized the first political group of Russian Marxists. Aboutthe same time, in England, M. H. Hyndman, the son of an aristocrat, organized the Social Democratic Federation, which, while calling itself Marxist, never acquired more than a small sectarian following; and aquixotic band of reformers organized the Fabian Society (the name alluded to the Roman general Fabius Cunctater–Fabius the Delayer–who was known forhis patient, waiting tactics against Hannibal). In 1889, the year the Second International was founded, the historic Fabian Essays in Socialism was issued, with chapters by George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb, and Annie Besant. The book eventually sold two million copies, and laid theintellectual foundations of the British Labour party and of Labour governments for the next sixty years.

Socialist parties

By 1914, socialism had become the single most important political force on the Continent. In the 1912 Reichs tag elections, the German Social Democrats amassed 4. 5 million votes (over 30 per cent of the total) and 110 seats in the parliament, making it the largest single party in Germany. In France one of the socialist groups, the SFIO, garnered 1. 4 million votes and 103 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In Italy the socialists held over seventy seats in the parliament, and efforts were made to invite the party, or at least its right wing, into the government.

But the rise of the socialist parties was not only a simple matter of winning large numbers of votes, primarily among the working class. With in a new and growing system of universal political suffrage, it transformed the nature of the party system and The political structure of each country.

The political party of the first half of the nineteenth century was usually a loose association of “notables,” in Max Weber’s terminology, invariably based on individual constituencies or districts, and often withlittle responsibility to an electorate. With the growing democratization of the franchise in England, associationswere formed in each district; and the caucus system, developed in 1868, enabled the Liberals to begin building local machines with full-time election workers. Yet mass membership was infrequent, and the parties of England, as well as the United States, depended for their finances on wealthy contributors. What the socialists did, particularly in Germany, was to introduce the disciplined and centralized mass party, with formal machinery for enrollment, regular payment of dues, a system of subscription to party newspapers and magazines, and, often, specified requirements of party activity. At its prewar peak, the German Social Democratic party had a million members and an annual budget of nearly two million marks.

But the socialist movement did more than build the first mass political party. It tried, in most of the European countries and to a lesser extent in England, to build a complete working-class culture, a social world of its own, independent of the official culture of the society. The German socialist movement, the model for all other socialist parties, built large consumer cooperatives (with a large wholesale organization and its own processing plants) as well as housing developments. By the 1890s there were national organizations of workers’ athletic societies, workers’bicycling clubs, and workers’ hiking clubs. In time, the workers’recreational and cultural movement extended into all fields from chess to the theater, where a strong Volksbuhne (people’s stage) was created. A working-class child could begin life in a socialist creche, join a socialist youth movement, go to a socialist summer camp, hike with the socialist Wandervögel, sing in a workers’ chorus, and be buried by a socialist burial society in a socialist cemetery.

If the idea of proletarian mountain climbing or socialist chess playing invites ridicule, one must see, as Carl Landauer (1959) points out, that the workers had been “excluded” from almost all accepted society, and they responded by creating their own.

Revisionism and reformism

The socialist movements at the turn of the century may have felt sure about inheriting the future, but there was considerable uncertainty as to when and how that inheritance would be realized. Marx, in all his writings, had never been specific about the road to power. After 1850 he felt that the day of the barricades was finished, not only for military reasons but also because bourgeois society would stabilize itself for a long time to come. Against this view, apocalyptic hopes occasionally flared up, as during the Paris Commune. Yet Marx never took a dogmatic view as to any single course which the socialist movement would necessarily have to follow. In several instances, he felt that socialism might be achieved peacefully in the Western countries, where democratic institutions were being established. But he never ruled out the possibility of, and even the need for, violence, should the occasion demand it. Marx and Engels, throughout their lifetimes, insisted simply on the necessity of a revolution, by which they, as well as Kautsky, who became the leading spokesman for orthodox Marxism after the 1890s, meant a complete overturn of society once the socialists were in power—the abolition of private property, the end of social privilege, the breaking of The political and police power ofthe old ruling classes.

But the question whether this aim could be achieved by peaceful means was never settled. And this ambiguity was responsible for the major doctrinal conflicts that preoccupied the socialist movements from 1890 to 1914.

The major issues had to do with the themes of revisionism and reformism. Although their belief in socialism was never shaken, some individuals were skeptical that capitalist society was actually heading in the direction Marx had predicted. The standard of living was evidently rising rather than falling, and though some of the old middle class was disappearing, an emerging class of white-collar workers was taking its place. In many countries this new class did not wholly identify itself with the manual workers (with whom socialism was identified) or with the socialist parties. Most of all, the socialists’ increasing success in parliament posed practical problems, such as entering the cabinets in coalition with other parties (and trying to put through social legislation rather than just waiting for capitalism to fall) and making alliances with nonworking-class parties such as the Liberals in England, the Catholic Center in Germany, or the Radical party in France. As James Joll hasneatly put it: “By the end of the nineteenth century, no Socialist party could escape the difficulties presented by its own existence as a mass party, forced, for the moment at least, to function with in a political system which at the same time it was seeking to destroy” (1955, p. 77).

Germany. The problem was especially great in Germany, whose Social Democratic party was the most theoretically intransigent, and it was first posed by Eduard Bernstein, who was the editor of the party journal and was chosen by Engels to be one of his literary executors. In 1899, Bernstein wrote Die Voraussetzungen des Sozialismus unddie Aufgaben der Sozialdemokratie (The Presuppositions of Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy), which triggered the debate. He argued, in effect, that the party should recognize the new changes in industrial society and declare itself to be what it was actually becoming—a partyprincipally concerned with social reform. [See the biography ofBernstein. ]

Although Bernstein’s arguments had some immediate political implications, the debate was conducted largely on a theoretical level. There were important doctrinal and historical reasons for this. The German movement had always set great store in theory as the guide to the future; and the discussion of theory–especially in a party isolated from the academic world—was in Germany a matter of status and prestige. But the debate on theory had important psychological roots as well. Although Marx had alway stried to shape the course of the German socialist movement, his influence during most of his life was virtually nil. The first German Workers party was organized in 1863 by Lassalle, whose dandified manners andaristocratic pretensions infuriated Marx. The constitutional struggle between Bismarck and the liberal opposition dominated The political life of Prussia at the time; and to Marx and Engels, observing the situation from England, this struggle was an outward expression of the conflict between the historic forces of aristocratic feudalism and bourgeois capitalism. They therefore urged the new German Workers party “to drivethe ’revolutionary’ Liberals forward against the government, preparing at the same time to lead the proletariat in its turn against the victorious forces of the bourgeoisie once the feudal system had succumbed to theironslaught” (Morgan 1965, p. 8). But Lassalle and his followers wereconvinced that Prussian liberalism had no such revolutionary propensitiesand that the quickest way for the workers to increase their influence wasto join Bismarck’s campaign against his liberal opponents, hoping to win in return certain socialist demands–freedom of the press and associationand, above all, manhood suffrage, which Lassalle and his followers felt was necessary to any further advance. Lassalle, under the influence of Louis Blanc, also hoped that the state would finance cooperative factories so that the workers could become their own employees and overcome the"iron law of wages” which kept them impoverished under capitalism. Lassalle, a Hegelian, believed that the state should rule society; and socialism, with state ownership of factories, was the embodiment of the ideal of the state. Against Lassalle (and his successor J. B. Schweitzer), the socialists Liebknecht and Bebel organized a rival socialist party, known as theEisenachers. Nominally Marxist, the Eisenachers were primarily ananti-Prussian party, and though they adopted the program of the International Workingmen’s Association, they did so largely for tactical reasons against the Lassalleans. In practice they operated as a broad"people’s party.” The war of 1870 and the subsequent unification ofGermany dissolved most of the issues between the two factions.

The debate remained on a theoretical plane for good practical reasons. Reformism–which assumed that effective parliamentary power could beobtained–was impossible in Germany; for while imperial Germany had a parliamentary system, decisive power was actually in the hands of the emperor. Any chancellor needed the Reichstag’s approval for legislationand for the budget, but a chancellor could be replaced only if he lost the confidence of the emperor. The chancellor, in fact, was responsible not to the Reichstag but to the crown. The government, though constitutional in form, was in fact autocratic. And while social democracy was growing inparliamentary strength, there was no corresponding growth in the powers of parliament.

Thus The political system barred the Social Democrats from any legitimatehopes of winning power through parliamentary means and reinforced the rhetoric of revolutionary intransigence. The “fatal mistake,” as Schumpeter called it, was Bismarck’s. In a Machiavellian stratagem, he introduced universal suffrage in the federal empire after 1871, in thehope of winning the peasant votes, and to some extent those of the workers, against the urban middle classes. When the socialist vote began to increase, Bismarck introduced restrictive legislation against the socialists as a party, while introducing a comprehensive set of social welfare measures in order to win the loyalty of the workers. The maneuverfailed. When the antisocialist laws lapsed in 1890, the socialists emerged stronger than ever, and their experiences reinforced their antagonistic temper and revolutionary rhetoric.

By the turn of the century, and the reafter, the party controlled largemunicipal administrations, was supported by a powerful trade union movement, and had a vast bureaucracy of its own. The party’s ideology nolonger corresponded to its sociological reality (Michels 1911), but, because The political system did not allow the party to discard it srevolutionary rhetoric, the ideology remained intact.

Thus, when Kautsky came to answer Bernstein, he couched his polemic in the language of Marxist scholasticism. In practical fact, the situation confronting the Social Democratic party of Germany —as well as the socialist parties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and czarist Russia—was the failure of the bourgeoisie, as far back as 1848, to complete their middleclass political revolution and eliminate the structures of monarchy and aristocratic rule. But Kaut sky offered no program to deal with this problem other than the rhetorical formula of revolution and the relentless march of history which would sharpen the crises of capitalism.

When in 1918 all three empires—Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia—collapsed, the socialist parties in these and other countries alladopted widely varying courses. Although capitalism by the turn of the century had become the predominant economic form of Western society, political structures and cultural traditions varied widely from one country to another. Paradoxical as it seems in Marxist terms, the culturalelements, more than the economic conditions in each country, account forthe varying forms the socialist movement took. As Schumpeter remarked, every country had its own socialism.

England. In Germany a rigid class structure, reinforced by a militaristiccode of honor, excluded the workers from society and led to a counterstiffness of doctrinal Marxist orthodoxy. In Great Britain, by contrast, the intelligence of an old gentry class, a deep tradition of liberty andof political rights, the lack of a militaristic tradition and even of a standing army, the long-established supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy, and the deep-rooted empirical conception of politics, which rendered ideological “all-or-none” terms distasteful—all made for a civil polity, one that accepted the existence of the socialist movement as a legitimate part of British society.

The British Labour party came in to being in order to realize the rights of the working class in the society. The exemplar of peaceful–and piecemeal—social change, it was never Marxist, though it was based on strong class feeling and class loyalty. The sources of this position are three fold: There was, first, the deep and persistent strain of nonconformist Christian evangelism, which saw equality as a moralim perative. (The writings of R. H. Tawney, principally his books Equality [1931] and The Acquisitive Society [1920], which helped to shape the English socialist outlook, reflect this evangelism. ) There was, second, the influence of the Fabians, principally Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who, representing one aspect of the Benthamite tradition, were social engineers for whom socialism was a tidy answer to the waste and disorder of the capitalist world. And third, there was the large trade union movement, which saw in the Labour party a means of influencing the course of favorable legislation.

Where as the Continental socialist parties participated actively in the affairs of the Second International, the British Labour party, before World War i, remained insular and rarely tried to impose its influence, asthe Germans did, on other socialist parties. Much of this was due to the general isolation of the British from Continental social thought (on erarely encounters a discussion of “the state” in English political theory), which in turn has to do with the British temperament. As G. D. H. Cole, who knew Webb well, wrote:

Sidney Webb’s first thought in dealing with any question he took up was to find an administratively workable solution; and apart from a very fewessentially simple ideas–he did not trouble himself much about underlying philosophy. He was fully convinced that the trend of events in the modern world was towards Socialism, and that this trend would continue: so tha the saw no need to put himself into revolutionary opposition to the main course of development. . . . He had what is some times called a “civilservice” mind–that is, a habit of translating every idea into terms of them achinery needed to give it effect. . . . He was, however, impatient of dreamers, and uninterested in theories which he could not turn into practical schemes. (Cole 1953-1960, vol. 3, part 1, p. 210)

H. G. Wells summed up still another side of British socialism when he left the Fabian Society after a personal falling-out with Shaw and the Webbs. He caricatured all of them savagely in his novel The New Machiavelli. “Hersoul was bony,” he wrote of the character named Altiora Bailey (Beatrice Webb). “If they [Altiora and her husband] had the universe in hand I know they would take down all the trees and put up stamped tin green shades and sunlight accumulators. Altiora thought trees hopelessly irregular and seacliffs a great mistake.” The root image of their world, Wells wrote, was"an organized state as confident and powerful as modern science. . . . Individualism meant muddle, meant a crowd of separate undisciplined little people all obstinately doing things jarringly each one in his own way. . . . The organized state would end muddle forever” (Wells [1910] 1927, p. 193).

The Webbs spent most of their lives making detailed empirical inquiriesinto problems of social welfare and administration. While Marxism isusually associated with the idea of planning, Marx, as we have seen, never drew any specific blue print of a planned society. Nor did the German Social Democrats, despite their large parliamentary represervation, even study industrial organization and indicate what theymight do if they came into power. The Webbs and the Fabians, however, issued several hundred tracts providing detailed expositions of Labour thinking on both the local and the national levels. One can appreciate the thorough going detail of Fabian research from a series of studies(conducted between 1898 and 1901) about the municipalization of different services—alcohol traffic, milk supply, pawnshops, slaughter houses, bakeries, hospitals, and fire insurance (see Cole 1953-1960, vol. 3, part1, pp. 215-216). In 1909, the Webbs’s minority report on the operation ofthe poor laws set out in comprehensive detail the conception and policy ofthe welfare state (Great Britain . . . 1909). Later studies dealt with the general problems of the organization and control of industry. [See thebiography ofWebb, Sidney and Beatrice. ]

The Fabians operated primarily as an elite group and never sought a large membership. Their influence was felt through their published ideas, their research, and their propaganda. Before World War i, the Fabians were aconstituent group in the Labour party; but in keeping with their avowed tactic of permeating all institutions of society that had the power toinfluence policy the civil service, the professions, business groups, and local government–they drew upon all groups, non socialist as well associalist, for help. After 1918, when the British Labour party adopted a new constitution and accepted as its basic program a Fabian policy statement drafted by Sidney Webb, relations between the Fabian Society and the Labour party became closer.

The Labour party has been unique among socialist parties, not only because of its open emphas is on “gradualism” but also because of its structure. Unlike the Continental socialist parties, based on individual membership, the British Labour party originated as a federation of unions and constituent socialist societies, and its funds were raised principally through levies on the union members. Until 1918 individuals could notbecome members directly. They became affiliated with the Labour part yeither through membership in the Independent Labour party, the Fabian Society, or the trade unions, and policy was worked out in negotiations between these organizations. Candidates were nominated by agreement between the unions and affiliates, on a roughly proportional basis. Theindividuals elected to Parliament then formed the parliamentary Labour party.

After 1918 the membership system was changed in order to organize local Labour parties directly in each constituency, but the federated structure remained. The formulation of policy has the refore been a complicated affair. Since the trade unions have traditionally constituted the largest group in the party and vote en bloc in the Labour party conventions, the annual Trades Union Congress is an important arena for adopting resolutions. The annual Labourparty conference of unions, affiliates (such as the consumer-cooperative movement), and local constituency parties sets policy. But this policy is only morally binding on the parliamentary Labour party. In office, the Labour party is responsible only to the parliamentary party, not to the Labour party as a whole. In this crucial respect, once again, the BritishLabour party is shaped by the structure of British politics and not by theconventional theories of socialist organization.

France. In England, the transition to a modern industrial society wasaccomplished peacefully by the economic, and to some extent social, blending of the rising plutocratic groups with the gentry, while a set ofpolitical compromises brought all sections of the country, including theworking class, into the society. In Germany, the older feudal elements, using the state, had created powerful industries and maintained apolitical hegemony over the subordinated middle class. The working class, excluded socially, had built its own institutions, but paradoxically thesevery institutions had facilitated the integration of the workers into the society.

France lacked any such unifying features. Economically, it was atwo-sector society with a large peasant and artisan class alongside amodern industrial economy. Politically the feudal structure had beenbroken, but the bourgeois parties were never able to establish theirunambiguous control; the unstable balance of forces periodically openedthe way to an adventurer attempting to seize power. The working classitself was split.

In Germany and England, the trade unions were part of the organized socialist movement because they hoped to achieve most of their a imsthrough political concessions by the government rather than through direct economic bargaining. But in France, the trade unions were completely independent of the socialist parties. One wing, the syndicalists, basedtheir gospel on Proudhon’s anti-authoritarian and antipolitical ideas, and their anti-parliamentary bias on the betrayals of the 1848 revolution and the Commune. The French form of union organization, the Bourses deTravail, which stressed the local community of all trades rather than the nation wide organization of one industry or craft, expressed the tendency to create a new society of labor rather than to concentrate on wages and working conditions. The other wing was that of “politicalsocialism,” but here, too, many of the temperamental weaknesses of Frenchpolitics–its tendentiousness, its hyperbolic rhetoric, and itsinstability–were apparent in the French socialist movement.

In 1896, there were no fewer than six national socialist parties inFrance, each usually more interested in fighting the others than infighting the opposition. By 1905, the six had been reduced to two nationalparties, one led by Jules Guesde, who was the spokesman for orthodox Marxism and whose following was chiefly in the industrial north, and the other by Jean Jaures, a former professor of philosophy and a renownedorator–a humanist repelled by the aridities of Marxist dogma–whosefollowing was among teachers, skilled workers, and intellectuals attractedto the idea of ethical socialism.

Under the pressure of the Socialist International, the two parties made anuneasy union, but the factions were still unable to agree on whether toenter coalition governments headed by bourgeois parties. The Frenchparliamentary system, with its emphasis on multiparties, made it difficult for any single party to assume power. The art of government was the art ofcoalition. As socialist parliamentary strength rapidly increased, the socialists faced the problem of silently abstaining, thereby allowing rightist cabinets to govern, or entering center-left coalitions. Those whoopposed coalitions argued that the assumption of governmental responsibility would weaken the militancy of the workers and would forcethe party to agree to non-socialist programs. Those who favored coalition, originally named the Possibilists, argued that in government, socialistscould more easily defend the republic against reactionary forces–and atthe same time help pave the way to socialism.

Syndicalism. If the British Labour party and Fabian gradualism to gether represent one end of the socialist continuum, revolutionary syndicalism, with its faith in direct action and the general strike, represents the other. The word “syndicalism” simply meant “unionism,” but in the period preceding World War i it connoted an antiparliamen-tary, antire formist tendency deeply rooted in the Proudhon a narchist, antipolitical, antiauthoritarian tradition.

Revolutionary syndicalism was primarily a pheno men on of the Latin countries–France, Italy, and Spain–though syndicalist elements made astrong showing in the British labor movement among the seamen and the transport workers, and in the United States among the western miners and loggers of the Industrial Workers of the World ( “Wobblies” ). Syndicalism never took hold in central Europe, the heartland of orthodox Marxism.

Marx and Engels had taught their followers to regard syndicalist tendencies as an expression of backwardness and immaturity, as a passing phase in the development of industrialism which would disappear after the emergence of the largescale factory system and a modern industrial proletariat. What ever the validity of that appraisal, syndicalism as itemerged in France was not only a despairing rebellion against industrial capitalism but, in its vision of the future, a protest against the destruction of free trade unionism under an authoritarian state socialism.

This aspect of syndicalism was formulated by Fernand Pelloutier, a journalist who had been active in the various Marxist movements in France. Disillusioned with The political parties, which were preoccupied withobtaining office and power, Pelloutier felt that the only protection workers could have against arbitrary managerial power–either innationalized industries or in capitalist enterprises—would be workers’control of industry.

Syndicalism was important less as a doctrine for reorganizing society than as an attitude. It was hostile to parliamentary methods—and in 1905 the French trade union movement, in the famous Charter of Amiens, laid down the principle of strict independence from all political party involvement. Its in junction has been so strong that, unlike every other European trade union official, no French union secretary was allowed to take a parliamentary seat. The charter proclaimed the general strike as the instrument of revolution, a single collective action where by the entire working class, by laying down its tools, could halt the operations of industry and in that “transforming moment” take power. Further, the charter glorified spontaneity rather than organization; and it emphasized the role of a conscious minority, an elite of revolutionary proletarians whose task it would be to lead an aroused working class into revolution aryaction. [SeeSyndicalismand the biography ofSorel. ]

Guild socialism

The syndicalist emphasis on workers’ control has hadre current appeal in workingclass and radical movements. In Great Britain, where the “medievalist socialism” of William Morris and John Ruskin, firmly against industrialism and statism, caught on for a time, syndicalist ideas had a strange efflorescence before World War i in the"guild socialism” of A. R. Orage and G. D. H. Cole. [See the biography ofCole, G. D. H. ]

The guild socialists, reacting against the administrative socialism of theFabians, blueprinted a decentralized socialist society in greater detail than any other socialist movement had. Politically, the guild state was to be a bicameral body–the one a geographical parliament based on local constituencies, the other a “functional” body made up of representatives of each trade or industry. The consumer, through Parliament, was to set the goals of production(e. g. , the division between consumption and investment, the priorities of development); the Council of Guild Representatives, the producers, was to be responsible for the efficient management of industry. Each guild was tobe a self-governing body, based on local councils, and was to set its ownconditions of work. Each guild would receive money in proportion to its membership, but would pay wages in accordance with its own rules–either inequal shares or in differentials according to skill. Thus a national political and economic planning system was combined with the idea of cooperative workshops.

Russian populism

The course of world politics since 1917 has been dominated by the long shadow and the doctrinal pronouncements of VladimirIl’ich Ul’ianov. Before 1914, however, Lenin played only a small role in the affairs of international socialism. He was a member, after 1905, of the bureau (executive committee) of the Second International, one of 69 persons representing 23 member countries. He was known personally to the leading figures of the socialist movement, but his works, not yettranslated, were little known; and as an exile representing one of several fiercely quarrelsome sects, he carried little weight in the International.

Moreover, none of the prominent the oreticians of Marxism expected a socialist revolution in Russia: there was only a small industrial proletariat, and the country was still backward and feudal. In accordance with the theory of “necessary” stages of social development which Georgii Plekhanov (1883) had posited in founding the Marxist movement in Russia, this vast country still had to pass through the stage of capitalism, and the bourgeois middleclass democratic revolution was still to come. Once Russia could be led along the lines of Western social development, then political freedom, trade union freedom, and legal socialist activity wouldbe achieved; after the democratic revolution, which was the role of the middle classes, would come the social revolution, in the more distantfuture. In effect, Russia was still “before 1848.”

Yet the revolution did occur and was shaped by certain peculiar features of Russian social history. Before socialism, the dominant radical tradition in Russia had been populism, a doctrine associated in large measure withthat remarkable exile Alexander Herzen. Herzen saw in the peasant communes the seeds of a future cooperative society that could by pass the harsh and disruptive effects of capitalism. From London, Herzen kept alive the liberal spirit of the Russian in telligentsia through his magazine Kolokol (The Bell), and in his home were to be found the major exiles from Russia.

The populism preached by Herzen idealized the peasantry and asserted, in almost mystic fashion, that the peasant was the source of wisdom and virtue. In the summer of 1873, roused by the appeal of Mikhail Bakunin, hundreds of students went to the countryside to “go to the people” androuse them to action. Students disguised as workmen wandered the country side, preaching revolution, but the peasantry, suspicious of their would—be saviors, simply turned them over to the police.

The episode was important in the history of populism, and its lesson was drawn most starkly by Peter Tkachev, one of the theorists of Russian populism. Insisting that the peasants as a mass the people—were incapable of revolutionary creativeness and that only a “conscious minority” the intelligentsia—could make the revolution, Tkachev sketched the kind of organization that would be necessary. It would have to be, he argued, aconspiratorial one, based on the principles of centralization of power and decentralization of functions. And it would have to be led by the intelligent sia. These two the mesthe need for compact organization and the role of a revolutionary elite—were to bear fruit some twenty years later in the thinking of Lenin [see the biography ofLenin].

Socialism between the world wars

The war that had begun in the summer of 1914 not only brought revolution to Russia; it signaled the collapse of international socialism. For several years the heat and lightning of war had flashed in Europe, and each time the international socialist movement had proclaimed itsreadiness to strike in order to prevent international conflagration. It sgrowing power seemed to assure a new foundation for the maintenance of peace. Yet in 1914, with very little dissent, the socialist parties of Germany, Austria, and France all voted to support their governments in the war. The German Social Democrats, the most powerful socialist party in the world, had in the past publicly dissociated them selves from the German state. And the Kaiser, in turn, had once called them “fellows without acountry.” Now, with only one dissenting vote, the parliamentary party gave full support to the budgetary war credits the government requested. There were tiresome quotations from Marx in supportof the action: Marx had supported the principle of nationality; Marx hadonce proposed support of Germany in a war against Russia; and in 1891 Engels had said that in such a war Germany would be fighting for itsnational existence. Once scripture was being cited, the French party hadits own rationalizations, heavily laden with quotations from Marx. So did the Austrians. The fact remained that when the crisis finally came, nationalism as an emotional idea proved to be stronger than class, and international solidarity proved to be a myth. The International was at anend.

Polarization of belief

The period between the two world wars saw Europetorn apart by the conflicting ideologies of communism and fascism. In theprocess, democracy and the socialist movement were the losers. Italy, Germany, Austria, and Spain came under fascist or authoritarianleadership. Even earlier, right-wing dictatorships took over Portugal, Hungary, and Rumania. Belgium and France were threatened by strong fascistmovements. Only Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries wererelatively free of these storms, though a small fascist group arose inEngland. The sociological reasons for these variations in fortune will bediscussed in this section.

The October Revolution in Russia had brought before the European socialistmovement the insurrectionary idea of the seizure of power. For more thanforty years the idea had been an abstraction to the socialist movement. Lulled by the “inevit-ablism” preached by Engels and by the steady growthof electoral success, the socialist movements had assumed that at somedistant time it might yet be necessary to seize, or at least to maintain, power that had been established legally; but no one took the ideaseriously. Even inside Russia the idea, while fiercely debated, had an airof mimetic combat. Plekhanov had argued that men could act only insofar associal conditions allowed them to do so, i. e. , only within the limits ofthe “laws” of history. But Lenin had apparently demonstrated the primacyof “will,” at least within disorganized situations wherein a small groupof determined men, acting skillfully and in disciplined fashion, could seize power.

Within Marxian theory there were actually three successive versions of thetheory of taking power. The first, later presented in Lenin’s “What Is toBe Done?” (1902), conceived of the proletariat as directed by a smallgroup of professional revolutionaries drawn from the middle-classintelligent- sia; the working class would support the middle-class revolution in thefaith that there would be a second round wherein the proletariat–supportedin Germany by a peasant revolt–could take over. But this conception passedwith the end of the revolutionary wave of 1848-1850; and asindustrialization and a new appraisal of the nature of factory life and the role of the proletariat emerged, a second version appeared. Now theemphasis was placed on the building of mass political parties led byworkers who had achieved theoretical competence–typified in Germany byBebel, who had been a carpenter, and in England by Keir Hardie, who was aminer. It was now felt that socialism need not come throughinsurrectionary tactics or coups led by small bands of professionalrevolutionaries, but peacefully, through parliamentary means or evensimply in a show of strength.

After 1905 a few socialist theorists had argued that a new stage wasemerging. These included Rosa Luxemburg, a Polish-Jewish intellectual withdoctorates in philosophy and jurisprudence; Herman Gorter; AntonPannekoek, a Dutch astronomer; and A. L. Helfand, a Russian-born economistwho wrote under the name Parvus. Each of these socialists was influencedby developments in the Western labor movements rather than by events inRussia. In her book The Accumulation of Capital (1913), Luxemburg tried toextend Marx’s economic doctrines by arguing that after a phase ofimperialism, in which capitalists would seek to export capital surpluses, the capitalist system must inevitably break down and create a crisis. [See the biography ofLuxemburg. ] Gorter and Pannekoek had been close toanarcho-syndicalism, and Rosa Luxemburg and Parvus (in his early years)had been active in the left wing of the German social democratic movement. In one way or another, they all insisted that with the growing educationof the working class, there would develop, during a crisis, arevolutionary spontaneity in the masses, and that to insist on partyhierarchy and professional leadership would only lead to a dictatorship bythe leaders.

The Third International

It was only after the Bolshevik victory in 1917, and the creation of the Third (Communist) International, that Lenin’searlier text was canonized in order to claim for the Bolsheviks a uniquerevolutionary knowledge and thus to enforce the hegemony of the Russianparty over all other Communist parties.

Lenin summoned the revolutionary working-class groups to a conference, which met in Moscow on March 2, 1919, for the purpose of organizing thenew International. Its main objectives were the immediate seizure of power by working-class parties in Europe, the abandonment of false bourgeois democracy, and the establishment of adictatorship of the working class for the systematic suppression andexpropriation of the exploiting classes.

There was an apocalyptic fervor in the air. World revolution seemedpalpably near. Shortly after the first congress of the CommunistInternational, a Soviet republic was proclaimed by B61a Kun in Hungary, and another in Bavaria by left-wing socialists. It seemed as if the onlything needed to carry out a successful revolution was steely revolutionarywill. A second world congress of the Comintern (the shorthand name for Communist International) was convoked in Moscow in July 1920. It was nolonger a small gathering; delegations came from parties in a dozen countries.

The chief feature of the meeting, which gave organizational shape to theinternational communist movement, was the drafting of 21 points asconditions for membership in the Comintern. The purpose of these pointswas to create in each country a disciplined, conspiratorial party whosechief purpose would be to combat the old socialist leaderships and toassert the binding, from-the-top-down, authority of the Comintern overeach national party. Throughout Europe and in the United States, suchsocialist leaders as Ramsay Mac-Donald in England, Kautsky and RudolfHilferding in Germany, Morris Hillquit in the United States, and JeanLonguet in France had opposed participation in the war and had taken a “middle” position against the reformists. But in the opinion of the newComintern, these leaders had to be rejected and exposed as much as thoseof the right wing, and had to be fought just as bitterly. The 21 pointscommanded communists to split every socialist party and trade union in the world, to organize an underground machine in addition to the publicactivities of the party, to disorganize as much as possible the army ofeach country, and to reject any cooperation with “social patriots andmiddle-group people.”

By 1923 the revolutionary tide had receded all over Europe. The communistshad completely misread both the character of the labor movements ofwestern Europe and the social structure of those societies. For a shortperiod the communists engaged in adventurism and even in putschism: theRed Army marched into Poland to advance the revolution, only to bedefeated by Pilsudski, once a nationalistic socialist, who a few yearslater set up an authoritarian regime; insurrections were planned, in 1923, in Saxony and Thuringia; and an abortive uprising inHamburg failed. But after 1923 it was clear that, for the time being atleast, Europe had achieved some measure of political and economicstabilization. The Soviet Union itself turned, under Lenin, to the problemof what to do with power in a single country. The large Norwegian Laborparty, as well as such syndicalist leaders as Jack Tanner in England andAlfred Ros-mer and Pierre Monatte in France, withdrew from the Cominternbecause of the centralization of party structure. What was left in Europewas the wreckage of the socialist movement in half a dozen countries and the fear of revolution that drove the middle classes to support right-winggroups. Within the Comintern, the hegemony of the Russian party wascomplete, and within a short time the International itself becameprincipally an arm of Soviet foreign policy, rather than an independentinstrument of revolution. [SeeCommunism, article onthe international movement. ]

The sharp turn to the left in the Soviet Union in 1929, and Stalin’seffort to consolidate his rule by turning on his erstwhile right-wingpolitical allies, coincided with a world-wide economic depression and therise of fascism in Germany and other countries. For the communists theseevents heralded the final crisis of capitalism, and they awaited a freshwave of revolutionary activity. After an analysis of fascism in Italy, communist theorists argued that fascism was the last stage of monopolycapitalism; and since it could not solve the inherent contradictions ofthe capitalist crisis, inevitably the revolution was again at hand. Fromthis analysis the communists concluded that the chief obstacle to theirvictory was not the capitalists but the socialists, who still “misled” themajority of the working class. In several instances, the communists evenworked with the Nazis in order to diminish socialist influence. They votedwith the Nazis in the Prussian Landtag to bring down the Social Democraticgovernment. They cooperated with the Nazis in the Berlin street-car strikein 1932 in order to increase disorder in Germany.

Socialists in government and opposition

The communists thus became theimplacable enemies of the democratic regimes in central and westernEurope; and the middle classes in many countries, principally Italy andGermany, out of fear of the left and because of economic crises, oftenvoted for the extreme right. However, an important element contributing tothe weakness of the democratic regimes was the inability of the socialists, owing to the contradictory attitude toward capitalism and democracy inspired in them by Marxian dogmatics, to provide anyeffective leadership or support for democratic societies.

In 1931 the reconstructed Socialist International consisted of partieswith more than six million dues-paying members. The total parliamentary vote for socialist candidates was almost 26 million. More than 1, 300 socialist deputies sat in the parliaments of their countries. Some 360daily newspapers spoke for the labor movement. Yet, remarkably, this largeforce was almost completely paralyzed when the crises occurred.

The root problem was an old one. The socialist movement, true to itsMarxist heritage, did not believe that capitalist society could bereformed. When the socialists, particularly of the right wing, were thrustinto office because of the failure or the unwillingness of any other partyto rule, they followed the most orthodox of economic policies, because"the crisis has to run its course.” Believing, from a Marxist point ofview, that the reason for the depression was a disproportion in growthbetween the producer goods sector and consumer goods sector, they tried touse up the resultant “overproduction” so that a better proportion betweenproducers’ and consumers’ purchasing power would emerge, leading to an upswing.

As Adolf Sturmthal has pointed out in The Tragedy of European Labor(1943), the socialist movement, with all its strength, was basically apressure group seeking social concessions from the state for the immediatebenefit of the working class. But it had neither an economic program norany clear idea of planning. State intervention arose out of unorthodoxeconomic theories, such as John May-nard Keynes’s in England and GunnarMyrdal’s in Sweden, or the unorthodox financial policies of HjalmarSchacht, who had been made president of the Reichsbank by the Germansocialists when Hitler began the rearmament that revived the Germaneconomy. Nowhere except in Sweden, and later in the planning ideas ofHendrik de Man, did the socialists have any idea of what to do about thedepression [see the biography ofMan].

Italy. The socialists, in a different way from the communists, alsomisread the nature of fascism. For example, fascism was barely mentionedin the major report of the 1928 International Socialist Congress on thepolitical situation in Europe. It was seen as an idiosyncrasy of theItalians; and its ideology, emotional roots, and irrational quality werenot understood. Yet Italy did foreshadow quite clearly the fate of the other nations in central Europe.

Shortly after the war, Italy seemed on the verge of a proletarianrevolution. In the general election of 1919 the socialists won two millionout of a total of 5. 5 million votes, and the leadership of the party hadpassed into the hands of the left wing, which openly asserted that thenext step would be the “creation of a Socialist Republic and theestablishment of a proletarian dictatorship.” Workers had spontaneouslybegun to seize factories, and the peasants of Sicily and the south hadappropriated the uncultivated holdings of absentee landlords. As Sturmthalput it: “Continuous unrest, strikes, factory occupations, expropriation ofland–all this convinced the middle class that a revolution was impendingand that the democratic middle-class state was powerless to stave off thedanger. Public opinion became more and more convinced that a strong manwas needed to establish law and order” ([1943] 1951, p. 182).

The decisive, dramatic incident occurred in August 1920, when a wagedispute in the metal industries led to sudden “stay-in” strikes in which500, 000 workers occupied the factories, kept the machinery going, andassembled arms to resist evacuation. Workers in other industries called on their leaders to order the taking over of other factories. But the socialist leadership, divided and uncertain, hesitated; and finally a pact was reached with the industrialists whereby the employers agreed inprinciple to the union’s demand for workers’ control of production. This was the high point of the revolutionary tide, and the n a new forceappeared, the Fascisti.

Organized by Benito Mussolini, a former leader of the left wing of the Italian Socialist party, the Fascisti preached anticapitalism, nationalism, and the necessity of violence. With his squadristi, Mussoliniwent into the streets to break up working-class meetings and to beat upworking-class leaders. In 1921 an effort was made to form a socialist-liberal coalition government and save the country from the threatened civil war. The right-wing socialists made the proposal, but the idea was vetoed by the left wing. By 1922 a form of civil war had spreadin Italy. In the large urban industrial centers of the north, strongholdsof the socialist movement, the city administrations passed into the handsof Mussolini’s squadristi through terror and intimidation. Bologna, Genoa, Livorno, Milan, and finally Naples were taken over by the fascists. Ageneral strike called by the trade unions on August 31, 1922, failedignominiously, despite the united support of the labor movement; andmiddle-class opinion swung even more strongly to the fascists. At the invitation of the king, and with the support of the army, bureaucracy, and big business, Mussolini was invited to become premier. For two years he ruled by parliamentary means, but after the assassinationof Giacomo Matteotti in June 1924 and left-wing withdrawal from the Chamber of Deputies as a moral protest, Mussolini became more openlydictatorial: trade unions, political parties, and cultural organizationswere either disbanded or placed under fascist control, and local autonomy was abolished. By 1926 parliamentary government had vanished. [SeeFascism. ]

Germany. In November 1918, the Germany of Wilhelm was no more. The Kaiserhad abdicated, and Friedrich Ebert, a former saddlemaker who was now the head of the Social Democratic party, installed himself as head of the newrepublic. But the socialists themselves were split into three factions. The “majority socialists” represented the right wing of the party. The"independent socialists,” led by Kautsky and Bernstein (together for the first time in twenty years), had opposed the war and now favored a radical program of economic reform. The extreme left, led by Luxemburg and Liebknecht, knew that the German republic was going to be a middle-classstate and wanted to organize a proletarian party prepared for an eventualrevolutionary opportunity. But younger socialists took over the left wingen masse, overruled Luxemburg and Liebknecht, and began to prepare the “Spartacus group,” as the left wing called itself, for immediaterevolution.

In this situation the attitude of the majority socialists was decisive. The Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Councils, which had sprung up spontaneously onthe Soviet model, elected the majority socialists to the leadership of the new Council of People’s Commissars. But the majority socialists feared arepetition of the Russian chaos and sought first to achieve stability withthe cooperation of some of the military.

When the Spartacus group initiated a rebellion in early 1919, it was putdown by Gustav Noske– the majority socialist appointed ascommander-in-chief of the army–with the help of the Free Corps, createdand led by former imperial officers. After the uprising was quashed, FreeCorps officers cold-bloodedly murdered Liebknecht and Luxemburg, who hadloyally supported their comrades despite their opposition to the venture. When, in the spring of 1919, left-wing socialists–and later the communists–took over the newly proclaimed Bavarian republic, the FreeCorps was used to take Munich and to murder hundreds of the insurgents, thus seriously reducing the authority and prestige of the socialists. InMarch 1920, Reichswehr troops led by a little-known nationalist namedWolfgang Kapp mutinied and marched into Berlin. The republican governmentcould not muster enough loyal troops to defend the capital, and fled toStuttgart. A powerful general strike, joined by all the factions, defeatedthe putsch in four days. When Kapp was routed from Berlin, communist-ledworkers in the Ruhr tried to continue the general strike. The newly formedWeimar coalition– majority socialists, the Catholic Center, andConservative Democrats–sent the Reichswehr into the Ruhr to crush the revolt.

In the end the majority socialists, as well as the republic, were thelosers. In the general elections of June 1920, the majority socialists and the middle-class parties of the Weimar coalition lost heavily, and the nationalist parties gained. A new cabinet consisting of the Catholic Center and the right-wing German People’s party took office. It was clear that on the right as well as on the left the republic itself had onlyshaky support among the German people.

The socialists were given one more chance. In May 1928 the GermanSocialist party, now reunited because the independents refused to acceptthe Diktat of the Comintern, emerged as the strongest party in the Reichstag. Although they lacked an absolute majority, the socialists tookoffice, with Herman Miiller as chancellor and Hilferding, the famedsocialist theoretician, as minister of finance. But a year later Germany, along with the rest of the Western world, was plunged into the depression, and the socialists had no economic policy to meet the crisis. Hilferding, mindful of the ruinous inflation of the early 1920s, followed an orthodoxdeflationary policy which reduced purchasing power and increasedunemployment. The strength of the labor movement defeated the employers’efforts to reduce wages and salaries; the fault, however, lay not with the employers, who had to reduce production costs or get out of business, but with the state, which had failed to work out any active policy. Instead oftapping idle capital funds, the government worked above all to balance the budget, or at least to reduce budget deficits, even if this meant reducingunemployment insurance benefits. Several German socialist economistsfavored devaluation or the abandonment of the gold standard, a monetarypolicy later associated with Keynes. But they were opposed, on the groundthat this would lead to economic and political nationalism. In allessentials the socialists followed a policy of laissez-faire: the depression had to “run its natural course.” After all, as any Marxist knew, capitalism could not be reformed.

England. A similar dilemma confronted the British Labour party. In 1918 ithad adopted a socialist program for the first time; the new social system was described as a thing that would emerge gradually out of capitalism, bya series of piecemeal changes. The Labour party was then still weak, thirdin size after the Conservatives and the Liberals. Five years later, following a prolonged period of unemployment which the Conservatives hadbeen unable to cope with, the Labour party emerged as the strongestEnglish party and, supported by the Liberals, in January 1924 formed thefirst Labour government in British history. The government carried outsome modest social reforms, but its tenure was short. When the BritishForeign Office published the so-called Zinoviev letter, a set ofinstructions from the head of the Comintern to British communists onantimilitarist tactics–a letter now conceded to be a forgery–the electorate voted strongly Tory, and the Labour government was ousted.

The trade unions, disappointed by their failure in politics, turned tomore militant economic action. The coal miners, always the most militant, had a genuine grievance–their wages had recently been cut. (The problem was one of government monetary policy; in 1925 England returned to the gold standard at the prewar pound-dollar exchange rate, and the prices ofBritish exports were above the world market level. ) The miners, refusingto accept the wage cut and demanding the nationalization of industry, wenton strike in May 1926. With the support of the entire trade unionmovement, this strike soon widened into a general strike, the first inEnglish history. Railwaymen, local transport workers, builders, printers, iron and steel workers, all walked out, almost completely paralyzingLondon and other parts of Great Britain. The strike had had norevolutionary aim– its only purpose had been to support the miners– butwhen the government stood firm, the unions, uncertain of their next step, retreated. After nine days the general strike was called off, and its mainresult was that the left wing lost influence and the right wing gainedcomplete control of the labor movement.

In June 1929 the British Labour party had its second chance. In the general election of that year, the party won 287 of the 615 seats in theHouse of Commons and, with the support of the Liberals, formed the secondLabour government, with Ram- say MacDonald as prime minister. But the problem that soon confronted the German socialists was already bedeviling England. Though other countriesat the time were still enjoying prosperity, England, because it could notcompete in world markets, had a great deal of unemployment. The Labourgovernment was pledged to make far-reaching social reforms; the businesscommunity demanded reduced taxes and a retrenchment in social policy. Acollision was inevitable. One way out would have been devaluation orstrict exchange controls to keep gold from leaving England. Either coursewould have been an acknowledgment of the end of Britain’s domination ofthe international economy–which she had maintained for almost a hundredyears–and a new policy of economic nationalism. This the Labour government refused to do.

When the depression hit England full force, the Labour government had itsback to the wall. The flight of capital from London had become a flood, and the Bank of England warned that unless the budget was balanced, the pound would fall. In orthodox fashion, the Labour government was committedto free trade and to defense of the gold parity of the pound. MacDonaldproposed, as an economy measure, to cut unemployment benefits; and whenthe trade union elements in the party rejected such a cut, or anyreduction in social services, MacDonald split the Labour government and, taking 14 colleagues with him, formed a national coalition with theConservatives and the Liberals. The national government itself failed tostem the tide, and in September 1931 Britain went off the gold standard, introduced protectionism and a tariff, and began, under a Tory government, to set up economic dikes in an effort to save itself from the floods ofworld-wide depression. The Labour party, though it still retained somestrength among the electorate, suffered a great loss of parliamentarystrength–from 287 to 52. For nine years it sat in opposition until itjoined the Churchill government of national unity in 1940. In 1945, forthe first time in its history, the Labour party won a clear electoral majority.

Austria. In February 1934, after four days of bloody fighting, the reactionary regime of Engel-bert Dollfuss destroyed the Austrian socialdemocracy. This was a blow that struck the international socialistmovement especially hard, for Austrian social democracy had been the modelfor all proud socialists. It was a disciplined party and had the supportof almost all of the working class. Its leaders and theoreticians, particularly Friedrich Adler and Otto Bauer, had been respected for their courage and their contributionsto socialist thought. The party, while revolutionary in its aims, maintained a sanity and realism in political affairs which had preventedit from imitating the adventurism of the Hungarian communists in 1919 orthe feckless policy of the German Social Democrats. In 1927, at the peakof its strength, the Austrian Socialist party polled 42 per cent of thetotal electoral vote, and in Vienna the socialists won a majority ofalmost two-thirds. Half a million of Vienna’s two million inhabitants weredues-paying party members, and the city was a showcase of municipalachievement. In 1919 the socialists had joined with the Christian Socialparty in a coalition that gave the country stability and permittedsections of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire to achieve their independence. The first president of the Austrian republic, Karl Seitz, was a socialist, as was its first chancellor, the noted legal scholar Karl Renner.

The problem of the Austrian socialists was twofold: their strength wasentirely in the urban areas, while the surrounding countryside and the middle classes supported the Christian Social party; and Austria was underdirect and steady pressure from Italy to crush the socialist movement andestablish a fascist regime. When the Nazi vote began to increase inAustria, as a result of Hitler’s prestige and his direct aid to the newNazi party of Austria, Dollfuss, a Catholic, was faced with the choice ofcoming to terms either with the Nazis or with the socialists. With the support of Mussolini (who wanted an independent Austria as a bufferagainst Germany), Dollfuss suppressed both the Nazis and the socialists. But the defeat of the socialists meant that the Austrian government hadlost its main hope of independence. Four years later Kurt von Schuschnigg, who succeeded Dollfuss when the latter was assassinated by the Nazis, invited the underground socialists and the trade unions to support himagainst the Nazis. However, while negotiations were going on, Nazi troopsinvaded Austria and the country was annexed by Germany.

France. Only in France, among the major countries of western Europe, was afascist threat —that of Colonel de la Rocque and the Cagoulards, the right-wing group supported by the army— beaten back. In June 1936, asocialist government headed by Leon Blum took office. It was the firsttime that the party officially entered a coalition government, but it did so—also for the first time —with the support of the communists, who hadabandoned their cry of “social fascism” and now proclaimed the need for apopular front to resist fascism. Within a year a French New Deal had been inaugurated. The tradeunions, never before recognized by French employers, now were grantedcollective bargaining rights. A social insurance system was establishedfor the first time. Through public works and wage increases, Blum tried toincrease the purchasing power of the workers and, thus, to restoreprosperity. But, curiously, Blum resisted the idea of economic planning, fearing that it was essentially “statist” and fascist in character. Caughtbetween the rejection of capital exchange controls by its politicalallies; the Radicals, and the communist opposition to devaluing the franc, the first Popular Front government fell.

Sweden. Only in Sweden did the socialists have any real success, and the yachieved it by abandoning the orthodox economic policies that the GermanSocial Democratic and British Labour governments had followed. In 1932 aSwedish labor government was formed for the first time. It decided thatbalancing the budget on a year-to-year basis made little sense and thatthe government itself had to intervene in the economy. The governmentembarked on a set of extensive public works and financed these endeavorsnot by taxes, which simply would have shifted the existing purchasingpower, but by borrowing money from idle capital funds. Public investmentduring a depression had to be expanded to compensate for reduced privatespending. By following a steady policy of economic expansion, the Swedishgovernment managed to eliminate unemployment by 1938. Five years earlierit had been as high as 164, 000. These “Swedish stepping stones to fullemployment,” as A. P. Lerner described the process (1944), whollyunorthodox at the time, have become commonplace economic practice inalmost all Western countries.

The rest of the melancholy story of European socialism before 1939–the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet purge trials and the Hitler-Stalin pact–while crucial to the history of Europe, is less relevant to the discussionof socialist theory and doctrine.

Socialism since World War II

Revisionism and peasant revolution

In the the ory and practice of socialism after 1945 there were two completelyunexpected developments. One was the rise of “revisionism” in the communist countries and movements of Europe. That is, the highlycentralized command economies were modified by the trend toward a marketand profit system, dogmatic ideology was eroded and tended to be replacedby pragmatic and instrumental policies, and force and violence were discouraged as a means of fosteringrevolutionary change in non-communist countries. In fact, with theextension of planning and public control in the noncommu-nist countries ofEurope as a parallel to the growing decentralization of planning incommunist countries, some the orists have argued that a “convergence” wastaking place between the communist social systems and those of the West.

The second development was the rise of the peasantry as a revolutionary force—or at least as a presumed revolutionary force—in colonial countries, bolstered by a new the ory that the revolutions in the last third of the twentieth century would be made not by the proletariat, which had lost itselan through embourgeoisement, but by the peasantry. For the peasants werenow, in the words of the “Internationale,” the wretched of the earth. Marx, in many of his writings, had scorned the peasantry as intrinsicallyreactionary and small-minded because of its preoccupation with privateproperty; he used the phrase “rural idiocy” more than once. But modernmethods of communication and a network of trained political cadres havesince the 1920s been able to weld the peasantry into an active politicalforce. The Chinese Communist party under Mao Tse-tung, following thedestruction of its urban base of support when Chiang Kai-shek smashed the Shanghai commune in 1927, had reorganized itself as a peasant party andhad won power by enlisting peasant support. Fidel Castro, though amiddle-class intellectual, made his revolutionary appeal through the peasantry, while the Cuban working class, including the communist-dominated trade unions, “coexisted” tacitly with the dictatorBatista. In Algeria, in South America, in Vietnam, the peasantry, not theurban working class, became the focus of revolutionary appeal.

The spread of socialism as word and doctrine, especially in the yearsafter World War n, presented itself as a paradox, particularly in terms ofthe original intention and predictions of Marx. It was assumed by Marxiststhat the triumph of socialism would occur first in the industrializedcountries, as a result of the contradictions and crises of the capitalisteconomic system; but this triumph has taken place primarily in backwardcountries and in agrarian societies. Marxism was an ideology of protestagainst the course of industrialization, but it has become, instead, theideology of industrialization; not a creed of social justice, welfare, and the equitable distribution of products, but a rationale for centralizedcontrols, postponement of consumption, and rapid economic growth.

Since the Soviet Union embodied these developments, it became an importantmodel for many of the new states that were seeking to embark on the difficult road of industrialization. The Stalinist regime had apparentlysucceeded in transforming Russia from an agrarian country into anindustrial one. Despite enormous waste during collectivization, it hadachieved high rates of economic growth, and its successes were mostdramatically symbolized by the technological achievement of being the first nation successfully to launch man-made vehicles into outer space.

Socialism in western Europe

In the West, the socialist movement saw the complete triumph of what, in classical doctrine, would be calledreformism. During the war against fascism, almost all the socialistparties had joined the governments of national unity, either at home or inexile. The sense of the nation and democracy took priority over the ideasof class and capitalism. In the Western countries, the labor and socialistparties had become completely of their societies, as well as in them.

One can identify five features, common to almost all the socialist partiesof western Europe, which marked this new practice and doctrine:

(1) The complete abandonment of the idea of revolutionary methods and violence as a means to power; the complete acceptance of parliamentary means; and the complete readiness to participate in nonsocialist coalition governments. The an-guished theoretical debates which had earlier split the French, Belgian, Austrian, and other parties on the question of entering “bourgeois govern-ments” had vanished.

(2) The transformation of the socialist and labor parties from class parties, speaking only for working-class interests, to people’s parties seeking a more inclusive concept of general welfare. In some instances, as in Germany, there was the realization that as a working-class party the Social Democrats would be consigned to being a permanent minority; in other instances, as in England, there was the recognition that the changing class structure of society, particularly the rise of a technical and salaried middle class, made it imperative for the Labour party to speak for these social groups as well as for the working class.

(3) The recognition that the definition of socialism as a social and economic ideal was inseparable from the idea of democracy, both as a means and as an end. The Marxist concept that lingered through the 1930s–that democracy was a “bourgeois” concept and only a mask for class rule– was rejected. By democracy as a means, the social-ist parties meant the full guarantee of the rights of free speech and free assembly, and the maintenance of political rightsfor the opposition. As an end, democracy was defined as the free consentof the governed.

(4) The surrender of the idea of nationalization or state ownership of the means of production as a “first principle” of socialism, and the substitution of public control of enterprise and planning as the means of achieving economic growth and equita-ble incomes. The sectarian orthodoxy that within a capitalist state one could not plan for social ends was replaced by the theory that governmental powers could be used for the gradual transforma-tion of the economy and that a “mixed economy" of public and private enterprise was the most de-sirable solution.

(5) A complete opposition to totalitarianism. While the socialist movements had long been in ideological opposition to communism, what the new attitude meant, in practice, was support of the military and political aspects of the Atlantic Alliance against the Soviet bloc and an identifica-tion with the national interests of each Western country, through NATO, against Russian expan-sionism. Nothing, perhaps, more strongly revealed the degree of change than the choice of Paul-Henri Spaak, once the firebrand leader of the Belgian left, as secretary-general of NATO.

Germany’s Social Democrats. Most of the transformed socialist attitudeswere expressed at the Frankfurt Congress of 1951, which symbolized therevival of the Socialist International. Although no longer the powerfulvoice of a confident movement or the platform for thunderous internationalpronouncements, the Socialist International still provided some doctrinalidentification for those who still called themselves socialists. ItsDeclaration of Principles, unanimously adopted, stated the new commonconceptions of socialism almost a hundred years after the initialstatements of the First International, as formulated in Marx’s inauguraladdress of 1864.

“Socialism,” the declaration reads, “aims to liberate the people fromdependence on a minority which owns or controls the means of production. . . . It aims to put economic power in the hands of the people as a wholeand to create a community in which free men work together as equals”(Lowenthal 1951, p. 113).

Private versus public control remains the decisive contrast, but privatecontrol is not identified with private ownership, nor public control withstate ownership; and the phrase “exploited classes” has been superseded by “the people.” Democratic planning becomes the basic means for the creation of socialism, and public ownership is regarded as only one of a number ofdifferent means, to be used where necessary. “Democratic socialism,” saysthe statement, “therefore stinds in sharp contradiction both to capitalistplanning and to every form of totalitarian planning; these exclude publiccontrol of production and a fair distribution of its results” (ibid. ).

Democracy, in this revised credo, is not only a means to the achievement of socialism—a “favorable battleground for the class struggle,” as theolder view had it—but an integral aspect of socialism itself. “Accordingly,” as Richard Lowenthal put it, “the conflict betweendemocratic socialism and communism no longer appears as a disagreementabout means to a common end, but as a conflict of fundamental ends betweenthe adherents of a democratically controlled economy and the defenders ofthe despotism of a managerial bureaucracy” (ibid. ).

Nowhere is the change more striking than in the new program of principlesadopted in 1959 by the German Social Democratic party in Bad Godesberg. The German SPD had long been a reformist party, but its very adherence tooutworn dogmas, as we have seen in its attitude toward the possibility of reforming capitalism in the 1920s and 1930s, crippled its ability to actrealistically in economic and political affairs. But the Bad Godesbergprogram rejects the very idea of Marxism. The name of Karl Marx and the concept of Marxism are missing from the declaration of principles, andterms like “class” and “class struggle” are carefully avoided.

In modern political analysis, party programs are rarely taken seriously. Usually they are formal documents, paying lip service to expected pietiesthat historically made the parties’ activities legitimate. But, as F. R. Allemann points out:

The German social-democracy is a “programme party” of the first water: inits history of nearly a hundred years it has always attached the greatestimportance to basing its policy on a solid system of principles laid downin a fixed programme rather than merely on the urgent issues of the moment. In this respect at least it has remained true to its Marxisttradition: in its view any political action that is intended to influenceand transform society must be based on an analysis of that society. (1960, p. 67)

This was the view that guided the formulation of the Erfurt Program in1891; it is the view behind the Bad Godesberg declaration of 1959.

The overriding idea in the Bad Godesberg program is that a modernindustrial society cannot be ordered by a single uniform principle. Commonownership is recognized as a legitimate form of public control, but the analysis centers not on property but on economicpower, which must be subject to public control. For the first time asocialist party states explicitly that private ownership of the means ofproduction is entitled to “protection and promotion” so long as it doesnot hinder the construction of an equitable social order. The idea ofsubjecting the entire economy to central planning is rejected, and theparty accepts the free market, wherever there is real competition. The Basic formula is “as much competition as possible–as much planning asnecessary,” and the SPD not only describes free consumer choice and the free choice of place of employment as “all-important foundations” offreedom, but lauds free competition and entrepreneurial initiative asimportant elements of Social Democratic economic policy. The economicpattern envisaged is that of a “mixed economy” in which the private profitmotive has a place and in which the control of great economic power is the central task of a libertarian economic policy.

In line with the lessons of the previous twenty years, particularly thoseof the Soviet experience, the party declared that the problem of economicpower cannot be settled simply by transferring power from private handsinto that of the state. Being dependent on an uncontrolled statebureaucracy is not necessarily better than being subject to privatecapitalist power. The conclusions, however, are rather vague: commonownership is to be “organized according to the principles ofself-government and decentralization,” and in the managerial structures “the interests of the workers and employees must be represented just asmuch as the public interest and that of the consumers” (ibid. ).

The aim of the new socialist program is a plural society, and this ideaextends not only into economics but into the cultural sphere as well. Thusthe party refrains from proclaiming any “ultimate truths” and states thatneither a state nor a political party should have any power in religiousand philosophical spheres. As Allemann says, “Marxism set out both to’interpret’ and to ’change’ the world.” The German Social Democrats, having rejected the myths behind the ideology of socialism, no longer “claim to provide a universally valid philosophy nor do they believe anylonger that their policy is in accord with the irrevocable laws of socialdynamics” (ibid. ).

Britain’s Labour party. The British Labour party never had Germansocialism’s attachment to world philosophy, and its sense of crisis wasless severe. The wellsprings of evangelical feeling, ex- pressed in a strong commitment to equality and social justice, stillprovide the emotional justification of socialism for the EnglishLabourites; but a different problem has confronted the leadership. Socialism, as it was accepted in the West, had been a singularlydistributivist doctrine. It presumed that capitalism had solved all the problems of production and that its failures had to do with socialinjustice and inequality. But the problem of economic growth was found topersist in all social systems. How does one step up the rate of output andincrease production without overt controls and coercion, and withoutinflation?

In 1945 the British Labour party, for the first time in its history, won amajority in Parliament and assumed sole charge of the government. For sixyears it ruled, and during that time it laid down the permanentfoundations of a welfare state in England. Social services were extended, and for the first time a comprehensive system of medical care wasestablished. A number of basic industries, principally coal, railways, transport, and steel, were nationalized; but, to the dismay of the government, nationalization did not provide any automatic answers to the problem of growth. Coal and railways had been sick industries, but the Labour policies, although they helped maintain full employment, did notmaterially increase the productivity of these industries. In 1951 Labour was voted out of office and replaced by a Tory government. Its defeatcaused the British Labour party to ponder its program. In office it hadexhausted the “intellectual capital” inherited from the early Fabians. What would it do if it was voted into power again? The major task ofintellectual renovation was attempted by C. A. R. Crosland in his book the Future of Socialism (1956), which became the working text for HughGaitskell, the new leader of the party. Crosland’s main argument was thatthe Labour party must give up the shibboleth of nationalization and, ineconomic matters, promote the modernization of industry in whatever socialform it could best be done, whether private or public. The main content ofsocialism, Crosland said, is not economic but social: to seek an equitabledivision of wealth by reducing the role of inherited property as the meansof achieving a privileged place in the society; and to erase social classdistinctions, by a major reform of the educational system. Only byreleasing talents which remain unfulfilled, because of the social classsystem, could Britain eventually find new vigor in its industry and itsculture.

For the traditionalists in the party, both left and right, the Crosland-Gaitskell vision smacked of heresy. An effort on Gaitskell’s part to eliminate clause four–whichpledges the party to nationalization of industry as a major doctrinaltenet–from the British Labour party constitution, was rebuffed. Gaitskelldied before the British Labour party was again voted into power in 1965, but the revisionism he espoused had clearly taken hold in the party.

Italy’s Socialist party. The one socialist party in the West whichmaintained a traditional left-wing line was the Italian. Forged in exileand deeply conscious of the intense class heritage of Italian workers, the Italian Socialist party, led by Pietro Nenni, maintained an electoralalliance with the communists for more than ten years, and still vaguelypreached the class struggle. A small group of moderate Socialists, led byGiuseppe Saragat, split away from the Italian Socialist party in 1947 tojoin the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats.

The Khrushchev disclosures in 1956 of Stalin’s misdeeds, the Sovietintervention in Hungary in the same year, the general disillusionment withcommunism, and the growing feeling in Italy that no effective role couldbe played without entering a coalition government eventually led Nenni, in1963, to join a center–left coalition and finally, in 1966, the two wingsof Italian socialism were reunited.

Whatever the socialists in Italy, or in any of the Western countries, could offer, it was no longer the old certitudes of doctrinaire Marxism. Few of the parties had any sure answers about how to build a new socialorder. All that remained was a lingering vision–and hope.

Socialism in the “third world.”

To speak of the tiers monde as asociological entity is to group together geographical areas that arevastly different in their historical and class structures and similar onlyin their poverty, their instability, and, in most cases, their quest formodernization.

The area encompassed by north Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco toEgypt and Syria, was the cradle of ancient civilizations, an areaceaselessly marauded by invading armies for thousands of years. Itspopulations have absorbed a great jumble of genetic strains, and in the last several hundred years the mixture of Arab, Turkish, and European(French, English, and Italian) cultures has blended into a cosmopolitanmelange. It is a world with a small, westernized, intellectual elite, astrong, traditional religious structure, and a vast mass of poor peasants. Southeast Asia has an array of old societies and ancient empires which, inmost instances, were held together after the departure of the former colonial rulers by a thin administrative class, trained bythese rulers, while The political parties or military regimes learned howto govern. Africa south of the Sahara is a motley collection of tribalsocieties grouped in political areas that were carved out by the oldimperial powers. These areas were almost never formed on a basis ofindigenous unity, and there has been no educated or technical classavailable for the many complex tasks of government and economic development.

The social structures of these areas are vastly different from those ofEurope, and it is difficult to see where Marxist categories could beapplied. In south and southeast Asia, primordial relations of blood, religion, language, or tribe are expressed as communal attachments; andnations have been split by ancient ethnic, tribal, caste, regional, andreligious differences. India has Muslim–Hindu divisions, caste lines, secularist-traditionalist splits, and ten major linguistic divisions. Burma, since gaining its independence, has been plagued by insurrectionsof the Shan, Karen, and Kachin peoples, split by linguistic, religious, tribal, and regional differences. Ceylon’s Sinhalese and Tamil communitiesdiffer in language, race, caste, and religion. Indonesia has the classicdivision between the central island, Java, and the outer islands, as wellas a secularist-Islamic controversy. The Malay states are split betweenthe Chinese and the Malays, and the disunity is compounded by indigenoustribal groups in Sarawak and Sabah.

In Africa, within the predominant tribal societies, there has been littleclass differentiation, since most of the land has been held collectivelyand life has heen led communally. But between tribes there has been grislyhostility, and the rectification of borders between the new nationsprovides grist for conflict that will go on for generations. In theIslamic world, in countries as divergent as Morocco and Pakistan, theocratic structures are fused with The political and administrative apparatus, and this fusion in turn shapes a distinctive social structure.

The major tasks which most of these countries have set for the mselves aremodernization and industrialization. How far modernization necessarily must upset the traditional and religious values of a society is a questionthat divides sociologists. But it is clear that in many of these countriesthe new elites are seeking to upset or supplant the traditional values, often because the source of their own authority or of their routes topower rests on different criteria. In these countries socialism is oftenseen as the means of creating new, modernized states. Since the end of World War n, Arab socialism, Africansocialism, and Asian socialism have emerged as new ideological flags andnew socioeconomic forms.

The socialism of these new elites is vastly different from the traditionalvisions of the nineteenth-century socialist prophets, intellectuals whoseideologies were universalistic and humanistic. The new ideologies areparochial, instrumental, and largely the creation of political leaders. While the driving forces of the old ideologies were social equality andpolitical freedom, economic development and national power inspire the new ideologies.

Socialism appeals to the new elites in a number of ways: as a doctrine, itidentifies them with a historical–progressive movement; as an ideology, itseeks to create an identity that can transcend tribal and communalboundaries; and as a social system, it concentrates power in the hands ofthe elites, providing for the nationalization of the basic industries ofthe countries and their direction under some minsterial control. Althoughthe socialism of the West has come to favor decentralization and a mixedeconomy, the socialism of the new states focuses on central planning, state ownership and direction of enterprises, and one-party regimes. Socialism, in effect, serves as a means of mobilizing the society forindustrial and social transformation. [SeeModernization. ]

The Middle East. No socialist movement of the Middle East calls itself, asthe Western movements did, the representative of the working class. Thesemovements, not only in fact but often in theory, are based on an allianceof the new middle class (largely salaried state employees), the peasants, and the workers, with the middle class openly taking the lead. To theextent that a theory of representation exists, it is based on anundifferen-tiated general will. In practice, the effort is being made togive nationalism a social content.

This is clearly the case with the socialism of Gamal Abdel Nasser, in the United Arab Republic. Before he came to power in 1952, there had been nolarge-scale socialist movement in Egypt. (The Egyptian Socialist party wasin fact fascist. ) Nor had Nasser and the army group he represented everespoused socialist ideas. But once he was in power, his proclaimed “SixObjectives of the Revolution,” plus his opposition to foreign business, led him increasingly to speak of his socialist faith. In 1954 he declared: “We consider that the state has tutelage over both private and publicproperty and the responsibility for the protection of the individualagainst all economic and social exploi- tation” (Halpern 1963, p. 244). In 1956, after the abortiveAnglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt, Nasser appropriated the Suez Canaland foreign banks, insurance companies, and export firms. By 1962 he hadnationalized all large Egyptian enterprises, expanded land reform, andplaced all important sectors of the economy under the control of socialistplanners. Democracy, the Egyptians were told, would come only gradually.

Egyptian socialism is not based on any mass or cadre party. Rather, it isbeing installed from the top down, through the initiative of a smalltechnocratic elite whose support is largely military. Whether it cansurvive its first, charismatic leader is a moot point, because, lacking asocial base, Egyptian socialism has not been able to institutionalize its reforms.

The other major socialist movement in the Middle East is the ArabSocialist Resurrectionist party, commonly called the Ba’ath party. Organized in Syria in 1953 as a merger of two smaller parties, it declaresitself “a national, populist, revolutionary movement fighting for Arabunity, freedom and socialism.” Its nationalism is not restricted to anyparticular Arab state, but to the Arab people as a whole, and it isagainst “all other denominational, factional, parochial, tribal orregional loyalties.” Its socialism, in the words of its programmaticstatement, seeks the “guarantee [of] the continuous growth of the nationin its spiritual and material development; and it will guarantee closebrother-liness among its individual members” (ibid. , p. 240). Full ofrhetoric about revolution and struggle, the Ba’ath party has said littleabout the concrete steps it would take to achieve socialism. Like manysuch movements, it is seeking to develop a new faith to supplant the traditional creeds. Islam is never mentioned by name; the implication, asHalpern points out, is that it belongs to an earlier era. In practice, the Ba’ath party, caught in the nationalist rivalries between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, has split accordingly.

North Africa. In north Africa the socialist creed has been fashionedlargely by French-educated native intellectuals, and it assumed arevolutionary coloration, particularly in the late 1950s, through the vigorous movements for independence from France. In Algeria, where the struggle was most bitter, the FLN (National Liberation Front) was composedmainly of Algerian trade unionists (most of whom worked in France andcontributed money to the struggle), middle-class elements, and Berbernomads. After Algeria became independent, Ahmed Ben Bella, surrounded byvarious Marxist and Trotskyite advisers, sought to introduce workers’ self-management in industry and to collectivize Algerian farms. But as a result of the flight of French technicians and agronomists, Algeria Was soon in severe economic trouble; and Ben Bella’s efforts tosolidify his personal power led to a coup by his ally, Colonel HouariBoumedienne, who controlled the army. Boumedienne pledged to continue “Algerian socialism,” but his program was the typical drab mixture ofstatist enterprises and private landholdings characteristic of so manyothe r new states. For the French left, ironically, Algeria had in the meantime become the emotional symbol of a “new awakening” of the underdeveloped world. Frantz Fanon, a Negro psychiatrist born in the French West Indies and educated in France, renounced his Frenchcitizenship during the Algerian civil war and wrote a new Communistmanifesto, The Wretched of the Earth (1961), which preached the necessityof violence as purification. Fanon also praised the noble qualities of the peasantry, still uncorrupted by bourgeois values–unlike the European working class [see the biography ofFanon]. For Jean-Paul Sartre and othe rleftist intellectuals, the Algerian war was a crisis of conscience inwhich they declared their civil disobedience against the French state. Yetthe revolution ended in tawdry factionalism and a gray, repressive regime.

A quieter path to socialism was taken in Tunisia in the 1960s by the Neo-Destour party, later renamed the Socialist-Destour party. Led by HabibBourguiba, a French-educated lawyer, Tunisia became independent in 1956, without the fierce violence of Algeria. A one-party regime was installed, and it proceeded to nationalize the major enterprises of Tunisia and todevelop a planned economy. The Socialist-Destour movement is actually amiddle-class party, and the trade unions are firmly subordinated to thestate. Bourguiba, as the charismatic leader, has imposed a vigorous cultof personality on Tunisian society–numerous streets, monuments, enterprises, and other public activities are named for him. It is still a “first-generation” country, and it remains to be seen whether it caninstitutionalize its new reforms and maintain a stable political structurewithout undue group conflict when Bourguiba is succeeded.

Sub-Saharan Africa. The 1960s have seen the mushrooming of a new doctrine, largely unknown even five years earlier, which African leaders call African socialism. The meaning of the phrase, however, is very difficultto pin down (Friedland Rosberg 1964). Few African socialists have anyidea what they mean concretely by socialism. President Leopold-Sedar Senghor of Senegal, for example, who has tried to provide a framework in his book African socialism(1959), sees socialist humanism as a combination of Marx and Engels withTeilhard de Chardin, in which the Jesuit paleontologist-philosopher’sideas of “corpusculization” and “complexity” (the effects of outer andinner gravity in creating an increasing complexity of matter) are joinedwith the dialectic to create “the general law ofcomplexity-consciousness.” Whether it is the quasi mysticism of Senghor, trying to create a new definition of man, or the tough-soundingMarxism–Leninism of President Sékou Tour6 of Guinea, seeking to join the idea of a cadre party with the “communaucratic” values of precolonial African society, the idea of African socialism is one of pure rhetoric–alanguage to impress, to inspire, to intimidate–rather than a set ofguidelines for specific action. Its usefulness is hortatory rather than instrumental.

What “African socialism” means to these countries is the effort to bedistinctive and modern, to assume some special character in thecontemporary world, and, in a more prosaic way, to deal with the problemsof social identity, economic development, and new class formations in theemerging societies.

The problem facing most of the new states in Africa–31 black Africannations gained their independence in the decade between 1955 and 1965 –isto find some unifying symbols beyond parochial and local identities inorder to instill a sense of pride and action in their people. If manycitizens of these new states have little feeling of nationality, they havenonetheless found some kinship through the idea of being African. Africansocialism has been a new myth, something to take the place of the anticolonial passions that fueled many of the independence movements. Seeking a specific content for African socialism, its ideologists havestressed the indigenous character of the communal ownership of land, the egalitarian character of the society, and the extensive network of socialobligations which ties clans together. Thus, it is argued, capitalism andprivate property are “unnatural” to Africa.

But though the indigenous elements of traditional society have beenpresent in Africa, there still remains the crucial question whether suchinstitutions can carry over into the complex, modern industrial societythat these countries want to build. By and large, most African countriescommitted to the idea of socialism see the government as exercising theprimary responsibility for accumulating capital, directing investment, andbuilding an infrastructure for the society. The immediate practical difficulty is that Africa has had no largeentrepreneurial class of its own from which modern talent can be drawn. The only large non-European commercial and manufacturing class, particularly in east Africa, has consisted of Indians; and because of their clannishness and their ties to the mother country, they are regardedas unassimilable or as aliens. Nor do most African countries, exceptperhaps Nigeria and a few others that were under British rule, have a sufficiently large number of administrators, engineers, or managers. Another dilemma is that the capital accumulation for most African countries is dependent on earnings from agricultural and other primaryproducts, and these are subject to sharp fluctuations on the world marketor are dependent on the good will of the advanced industrial countries;and good will is a notoriously frail foundation on which to build aneconomic policy.

Many countries seek a way out by industrialization. But rapidindustrialization, if at all possible, involves a large-scaletransformation of the farming class (which in most African countries isbetween 80 and 90 per cent of the population), new class distinctions, andnew social group tensions, either between different interest groups orbetween populations that have become urban and cosmopolitan and those thathave remained local and parochial.

Senghor, when he turns to practical matters, says that Senegal mustproceed slowly. As he wrote in African socialism: “We have rejectedprefabricated models . . . we have observed that formulas like ’priority forheavy industry, ’ or ’agrarian reform’ have no magic power withinthemselves; applied dogmatically, they have produced partial failures. That is why we established priorities as follows: ’infrastructure, ruraleconomy, processing industry, heavy industry, ’ in line with reasonablerequirements and our realities” (1959, p. 157). In keeping with thisordering principle, Senegal has earmarked a substantial part of its budgetfor “social development,” by which it means health and hygiene, municipaladministration and housing, and education. The economy as a whole is notsocialist, but mixed: communal in agriculture, a public-privatecombination in utilities, and private in banks, commerce, and industry.

Under Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana set out vigorously to create a socialistorganization of the economy. While private capital was invited, particularly for the construction of the Volta Dam, state enterprisespredominated in banking, manufacturing, construction, fishing, forestry, and electric power. But the ambitious schemes ran far ahead of the reality. The trade unions protested the squeeze on wages. Capital reservesand foreign exchange were squandered. Grandiose and costlyprojects–presidential residences and palaces, as well as the large-scalePan-African political headquarters–were built at enormous expense. One-party rule became more and more authoritarian: opponents were jailedor murdered, the courts were reorganized to stifle their independence, and the freedom of the university was abridged, while Nkrumah’s decrees becameincreasingly personal. In 1966, while Nkrumah was traveling abroad, arevolt by the army ended his regime.

Most African countries have found that their major problems are primarilypolitical: to maintain that fundamental stability which will allow anyplanning, economic or otherwise, to proceed. The initial glitteringpromises made by the first generation of political leaders have not beenrealized. Within the first decade of independence, military coups rackedhalf of the new nations, and in the others rigged elections and strictbans on opposition have kept the initial regimes in power. For thesecountries the tensions of social change, and the need to createinstitutional mechanisms to deal with them, constitute the major problemconfronting the societies. A Kenya White Paper of 1965 on Africansocialism and its application to planning in Kenya, said soberly thatsocialism, even the socialism of a welfare state, would be a long time incoming. The immediate need was to transform the economy from a subsistenceto a market economy; to develop land and to introduce modern agriculturalmethods. Nationalization, since it does not always lead to additionalresources for the economy as a whole, would be used only when other meansof control were ineffective. The commitment is to socialism as an ideal, not as an ideology (Harris 1965).

South and southeast Asia. In January 1953, representatives of a dozenAsian socialist parties met in Rangoon for the first Asian Socialist Conference. The principal Asian figures—Jayaprakash Narayan and AsokaMehta of India, Ba Swe and Kyaw Nien of Burma, Sutan Sjahrir of Indonesia—were internationally renowned. Leading Western figures came as fraternaldelegates: Clement Att-lee, the former Labour prime minister of England, headed the delegation from the Socialist International, and Milovan Djilas the one from Yugoslavia.

At this time, the governments of half a dozen countries—India, Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Singapore—described themselves associalist, for socialism was the predominant ideology of the area. Itseemed that socialism in Asia was making a triumphal entrance on the world historical scene.

Some dozen years later, Narayan had joined the voluntary bhoodan movement of the Gandhian Vinoba Bhave, and Asoka Mehta had left the Socialistparty; Ba Swe and Kyaw Nien were in jail; and Sjahrir, having spent sixyears in prison, died shortly after his release in 1967. The Asian Socialist Conference itself was no more. Of the socialist governments, India had increasing economic and political trouble; Burma had come undera military dictatorship; Ceylon had swung back to a nonsocialist government; Indonesia was racked by an abortive Communist-inspiredrevolution in 1966, and by a military-led counterrevolution which massacred several hundred thousand communists and finally stripped Sukarno, the first president of the regime, of all his powers; Cambodia was perched precariously between East and West, struggling to maintain itsindependence during the Vietnam war; Singapore, after first joining Malayato form the new state of Malaysia, broke away and remained a small independent enclave still proclaiming itself socialist. What had happenedto these Asian socialist parties, and what had happened to the socialist governments?

One anomaly was that in these countries, which proclaimed themselvesofficially socialist, the Socialist parties were rarely in full control ofthe governments. In Burma, the Burmese Socialist party was for many yearspart of the ruling coalition of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, and Ba Swe had at one time been premier of his country. In Indonesia, Sjahrir had been its first prime minister, in 1945, heading a coalitiongovernment. But the Burmese Socialist party was abolished in 1962, whenGeneral Ne Win seized power and proclaimed Burma a socialist state; and the Indonesian Socialist party, wiped out at the polls in 1955, wasabolished by presidential decree in 1960, when Sukarno proclaimed Resopim(Revolution, Indonesian Socialism, and National Guidance) as the officialideology. Except for the period of the independence movements and thestruggle against the colonial powers, and for a few short years after eachcountry won its independence, the socialist parties of Asia have notplayed a major role in their nations, despite the official adherence ofthe governments to a socialist ideology. The regimes called themselves “socialist” but were not based on the socialist parties.

Unlike the socialist movements of the Middle East and Africa, whichscarcely existed before World War n, the socialist parties of Asia had along history of involvement with the international socialist movement and socialist thought. Jayapra-kash Narayan, who becamea revolutionary Marxist at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1920s, founded the Bihar Socialist party in 1931, was acting general secretary ofthe Congress party during the civil disobedience movement in 1932, andfounded the Congress Socialist party in 1933, first as a wing of the Congress party and after 1939 as an independent party. The party organ inthe early 1930s, the Congress Socialist, was edited by Asoka Mehta. Likethe socialist parties of Europe, the Congress Socialist party had itsdifficulties with the communists, who stigmatized it as being “socialfascist” and a “left maneuver of the bourgeoisie.” Its experiences withthe communists led the Indian Socialist party in later years to take astrong anti-Soviet, antitotalitarian position. Sjahrir had been a leaderof the Perihimpoenan Indonesia (PI), the student association ofIndonesians studying in Holland in the 1920s, and on his return toIndonesia in 1932, he was interned by the Dutch and kept in prison for tenyears; upon his release, he organized and directed underground resistanceagainst the Japanese.

The Asian socialist and student movements had long had “tutelary” relations with the European socialist parties, particularly since most ofthe countries were under imperial rule; and freedom for the colonies hadbeen an important plank in the programs of the British Labour party, theDutch Labor party, and others. Thus the leaders of the Asian socialistparties had gone through the doctrinal viscissitudes of the Europeansocialist movements, and in most instances had themselves adopteddemocratic socialist positions. The weakness of these parties, particularly the Indonesian, was that they were primarily parties ofintellectuals, with some following among the workers but no influence orbase among the peasantry in societies that were overwhelmingly agrarian. Their orientation was largely urban, and as Marxists they regarded theindustrialization of their countries as the normal path of development. Moreover, as parties of intellectuals, with only a small hold on the tradeunions, they were peculiarly subject to the factionalism and divisivenessof intellectual groups who lack an anchorage. Individual socialists, suchas Jayaprakash Narayan, Asoka Mehta, or Sutan Sjahrir, were at timesenormously influential in their countries–but only as individuals andbecause of their individual talents, not as party leaders.

Most south Asian countries called themselves socialist even when the leading parties, such as the Congress in India or the Nationalist in Indonesia, had no doctrinal faith, simply because they assumed that statedirection of the economy and state planning were necessary for economicgrowth. And the difficulty for most of these countries was that, lackingany experience in planning, lacking the vital managerial talents, and, inmany cases, lacking the needed resources, they wasted available resourcesand made mistakes that could not be absorbed by the economies. Many of theAsian countries, mesmerized by the idea of industrialization, assumed, inthe early 1950s, that, following the Russian model, this meant a priorityfor heavy industry. Burma, for example, decided to build a steel mill, even though its main “natural resource” was the huge amount of gun scrapleft behind by the invading Japanese and the defending British troopsafter World War n. Other expensive showcases were also built, and preciouscapital and foreign exchange were wasted on large airports and other “visible” features put up to impress foreigners with the progress andmodernity of the new country.

It would be a simplification, of course, to attribute the failures andsetbacks primarily to defects in economic planning. As was indicatedearlier, southeast Asia, more than almost any part of the world, isplagued by communal conflicts, so that the regimes have been torn byinternal conflicts and by threatened and actual insurrection. Also, the secountries have been caught in the crossfire of Great Power rivalries, particularly the demand of the United States for participation in SEATO(the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) and the diplomatic and militarypressure of the Chinese, who seek to extend their influence in southeastAsia. But apart from the real political and sociological problems, acrucial fact was that each of these countries plunged ahead on a coursecalled socialist which not only was failing in practice but also wasincreasingly contradictory to the historic socialist ideals. The latterproblem was foremost in the thinking of Jayaprakash Narayan, perhaps the outstanding figure of Asian socialism in the mid-twentieth century. Speaking at the second– and last–conference of the Asian socialistparties, in 1956, Narayan declared:

All our countries, except Japan, are backward economically and many aredesperately poor. Naturally, therefore, our attention goes first of all tothe problem of economic growth. There is nothing wrong in that, but themischief starts when we begin measuring “socialist achievements” in termsof tons of steel and kilowatts of electricity. Economic growth, even rapideconomic growth, is known to have occurred both under Capitalism andFascism. Mere economic development is not a measure of socialism. I do notwish to suggest that it is not the business of Socialists to see that morewealth is produced. What I wish to emphasize is the danger of equatingsocialism with economic development, and of sacrificing the values ofsocialism at the altar of that development. . . .

The main, if not the whole, emphasis is still being placed on the controland use of the power of the State. Everywhere socialists are organized inpolitical parties which are attempting to seize power and hopingthe reafter to build a new society. . . . But as I have said before theideals of socialism remain far in the distance. The reason seems to me tobe a wrong approach to these ideals. All of us agree that socialism is away of life, an attitude of mind, a certain ethical behaviour. What is notso universally recognized is that such a way of life, attitude andbehaviour cannot be imposed from above by dictates of the Government or bymerely nationalizing industry and abolishing capitalism. Construction of asocialist society is fundamentally construction of a new type of humanbeing . . . if human reconstruction is the key to socialist reconstruction, and if that is beyond the scope of the State, the emphasis in the socialist movement must change from political action to such work ofreconstruction. (Quoted in Rose 1959, pp. 258–259)

Contemporary sociology and mature Marxism share a bias against Utopianthought. What the Marxists called objective conditions, sociologists callstructural constraints. The idea is the same: that the range ofalternatives open to any society is limited by the starting point, the kind of resources, the degree of differentiation, and the like. Certainchosen paths impose certain imperatives: industrialization requires the creation of a technical class and a new kind of educational system; the increasing structural differentiation of a complex society requires a kindof social coordination different from a simple, top-down command system. Necessarily, such a perspective tends after a while to bring out the morelimited choices of means of action, and in the process the ends are oftenforgotten or become ritualized. Socialism as a belief has been both asystem of means and a system of ends; and throughout its history the meanshave invariably tended to diminish the ends.

In his youthful writings, Marx was most vividly concerned with the ends ofhuman action. In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, a halfway house in the development of his thought, Marx speculated on whatthe phase immediately following the socialist revolution might be. Then egation of private property, he said, is not the aim of socialism, forwhat it does is to usher in a period of what he called raw or crude communism. Crude communism does not transcend private property but universalizes it; it does not over come greed but generalizes it; it does not abolish labor but extends it to all men. The aim of socialism, as a fullydeveloped naturalism, as humanism, is to go beyond communism, beyondnecessity, and therefore beyond history–which itself is a form of determinism—to a world which resolves the “strife between existence andessence, between objectification and self-confirmation . . . and betweenthe individual and the species.” It is a world in which a human being nolonger feels “divided” or alienated from what he believes his essence as asocial being, as a person free to make his own future, can be (Marx 1844, pp. 104–114 in the 1919 edition).

This is the permanent Utopian–and even religious–component of socialism, aquest, as ancient as man’s fall from grace, to unify himself with anultimate and to find a world of freedom. It remains a world beyond.

Daniel Bell

[See alsoCommunism; Economic thought, article onsocialist thought; Marxism; Marxist sociology. Related doctrines and ideas are discussed inAnarchism; Capitalism; Nationalism; Pluralism; Syndicalism; Utopianism. Other relevant materialmay be found in IDeology; Planning, economic; Planning, social; Social movements; Stratification, social; Welfare state. ]


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The difficulty of defining socialism is apparent to anyone who attempts to study this protean doctrine, not least because what socialism is or is not is usually a matter of contentious debate. However, there is a general consensus that the various schools of socialism share some common features that can be summarized as follows. Socialism is above all concerned with the relationship between the individual, state, and society. For the socialist, the individual is never alone and thus must always define himself or herself in relation to others. Socialists believe that a well-ordered society cannot exist without a state apparatus, not least because the state is seen as the most effective vehicle for coordinating and administering to the needs of all.

Socialists' views on human nature distinguish them from their principal political rivals, the liberals and conservatives. While the latter two groups tend to hold that all humans are inherently self-interested and materialistic, socialists contend that these traits are products of social conditioning under capitalism. On this view, individuals act selfishly and competitively, not because it is in their nature do so, but rather because they are encouraged and rewarded for such behavior. Socialists hold that the values and beliefs promoted in a socialist society would enhance our capacity for acting cooperatively and collectively in pursuit of mutually reinforcing material and spiritual goals.

Because they see material circumstances as being key to the well-being of individuals, socialists stress the importance of the economic system that operates in every society. It was their observations of the deleterious effects of industrial capitalism that caused socialist reformers to call for the development of new economic structures based on a completely different set of moral principles. The question of how the transition from capitalism to socialism would occur has been answered in different ways by different socialist theorists. Robert Owen (17711858), Charles Fourier (17721837), and other early socialist thinkers saw the need to reform rather than destroy capitalism, while followers of Karl Marx (18181883) and Friedrich Engels (18201895) insisted that capitalism had to be completely overturned in order for society to advance to a state of socialism. Contemporary socialists do not envisage the transition from capitalism to socialism as a sharp break, but as a process of economic reforms that takes into account the role of market forces.

So far as is known the terms socialist and socialism first appeared in print in Italian in 1803, but in a sense were entirely unconnected with any of their later meanings. No trace of the word socialist appears again until 1827, when it was used in the Owenite Co-operative Magazine to designate the followers of Robert Owen's cooperative doctrines. Across the English Channel, socialisme was adopted by the Saint-Simoniansfollowers of the French philosopher and social scientist Claude-Henri de Rouvroy (17601825), comte de Saint-Simonduring the 1830s to describe their theory, and thereafter it was increasingly used to refer to those groups aiming at some kind of new social order resting on an economic and social conception of human rights.

In these senses, socialism was used to distinguish the attitudes of those who laid stress on the social elements in human relations from those who emphasized the claims of the individual. In fact, to be a socialist was to be someone who promoted a social system in direct opposition to the highly individualistic order being advocated by the proponents of laissez faire economics.

Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Socialism

As a political ideology, socialism arose largely in response to the economic and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution. There is an abundance of literature that attests to the dramatic way in which the industrialization of Europe affected the daily lives of individuals, particularly the working classes. The reformist trend in British politics during the 1830s brought some of these harsh realities to the public's attention. In 1832, for example, a parliamentary investigation into the conditions in the textile factorieslater known as the Sadler Committee's Reportrevealed the appalling toll on human life that had resulted from unregulated industrial growth. And, even if we discount certain embellishments or exaggerations, these accounts of the general working conditions in the factories were nonetheless all too illustrative of a social climate in which practices of the most callous inhumanity were accepted as a natural order of events and, most important, were at first not thought to be the general public's concern.

It deserves mention here that, in addition to the horrors wrought by an unregulated factory system, workers were also subjected to the changes brought on by the machine age. The introduction of new technologies in the workplace invariably meant the displacement of laborers. No less important was the fact that many of the changes wrought by rapid technological advances and the consequent restructuring of the workplace (e.g., the factory system) had an alienating effect on the worker. To the minds of some, however, these evils of industrialization were not inevitable outcomes. Such was the case with the so-called Utopian socialists who emerged in England and on the Continent around this time.

Utopian Socialists: Owen, Saint-Simon, Fourier

In the beginning there were basically three groups of socialists, although there were lesser groups representing broadly similar tendencies. The three principal groups were the Fourierists and Saint-Simonians in France and the Owenites in Great Britain. There were obvious similarities between them: (1) they regarded the social question as by far the most important of all; (2) insisted that it was the duty of all good men to promote the general happiness and welfare of everyone in society; (3) regarded this task as incompatible with the continuance of a social order that was maintained strictly on the basis of a competitive struggle between individuals for the means of living; and (4) were deeply distrustful of politics and politicians, believing that the future control of social affairs ought to lie not with parliaments or ministers or kings and queens but with the "producers." They held that, if the economic and social aspects of men's lives could be properly ordered, the traditional forms of government and political organization based on conflict and competitiveness would soon be superseded by a new world order of international peace and collaboration.

On the other hand, there were wide diversities separating these three groups. The Fourierists and Owenites were community-makers. They set out to establish a network of experimental communities based on their ideas that would become the foundation stones of a new social order. The Saint-Simonians differed from these two groups in that they were strong believers in the virtues of large-scale organizations and scientific planning. Their principal aim was to transform nations into great productive corporations dominated by a sort of "technocracy" composed of scientists and technicians. Unlike the Fourierists and Owenites, who eschewed political activity, the Saint-Simonians were not opposed to using the existing political channels as a means to bring about the transformations they were advocating.

Thus, at this juncture in its historical development, socialism meant collective regulation of the affairs of people on a cooperative basis, with the happiness and welfare of all as the ultimate goal, and with the main emphasis not on "politics" per se but on the production and distribution of wealth. Enemies of individualism, the socialists sought to strengthen the socializing influences that brought people together in a harmonious whole. They therefore emphasized education as an instrument for conditioning patterns of behavior, social attitudes, and beliefs.

It deserves mention that in this description of socialism nothing is said about the proletariat or the class struggle between it and the capitalist class. This is because the members of the aforementioned socialist schools did not think in these terms. They did not see capitalists and workers as rival classes, nor did they believe that a revolutionary struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie was necessary to put their social plans into effect.

"Scientific Socialism"

In following the historical analysis of socialism offered by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the modern socialist movement dates from the publication of their Communist Manifesto in 1848. The term communism, which came into common usage in this same period, was often used in connection with the idea of socialism, though the former tended to have a more militant connotation. This is most likely why it was used by the Communist League, the group that commissioned Marx and Engels to write the Communist Manifesto. As Engels later explained, the word communism carried with it the idea of common ownership, and, above all, it helped to distinguish the ideas of Marx and Engels from those of the so-called utopian socialists in that it lent itself better to association with the idea of the class struggle and with the materialistic conception of history.

The publication of the Communist Manifesto coincided with the revolutionary tide that swept through Europe between 1848 and 1849. Marx and Engels were still correcting the proofs of their soon-to-be famous pamphlet when the first barricades of 1848 were being erected in Paris. But while it is true that the Manifesto was published during a period of political tumult, it did not have a profound impact on the revolutionaries of the period. Nevertheless, it was an important document in the history of socialism, above all because it presented in outline form the theoretical basis for modern socialism.

Perhaps the boldest and most probing argument advanced by Marx and Engels was their critique of present and past societies. According to this, society's political and cultural arrangements (superstructure) are shaped primarily by the forces of material production (base). When the productive modes and relations have developed as far as they can within the existing framework of political and economic structures of society, then the conditions arise for a thoroughgoing social revolution, a process that inevitably brings about a transmutation of these older forms into more progressive ones. In this way, societies are able to advance progressively from more primitive states (e.g., feudalism) to more sophisticated ones (e.g., capitalism).

In their discussion of the relationship between state and class, Marx and Engels identify further dimensions of their "stages" view of history that were to become cornerstones of "scientific" socialism. According to them, the state is essentially a class-based institution, expressing the will and exclusive interests of the dominant political and economic groups in society. The state and its apparatuses are thus seen as essential features of the superstructure that overlays the economic base (which itself corresponds to the stage reached in the development of the powers of production). Under capitalism, the authors go on to say, the bourgeoisie seek both to expand their basewhich is too narrow to accommodate the wealth created by themand to overcome the economic crises caused by the development of productive forces beyond the point compatible with capitalism. By so doing, they begin to dig their own graves, for the scramble for new markets inevitably creates new problems that cannot possibly be resolved within the framework of the one created by the bourgeoisie. At this point, the Manifesto explains that it is the ongoing and ceaseless dialectical struggle between the dominant and dominated classes that provides the impetus for breaking down the barriers for further social and economic development. With the advent of revolution, the control of the state and its forms passes into the hands of the new dominant class (the working classes), thus paving the way for the development of new forces of production.

Another distinguishing aspect of the doctrine outlined in the Manifesto has to do with the special historical mission that Marx and Engels assigns to the proletariat. Unlike previous insurgent classes, which developed their importance and strength within the preceding social order, Marx and Engels contend that the laboring class under capitalism is driven to revolt through its own increasing misery. Once they have wrested political power from the middle classes, the authors believe that the proletariat will be able to establish their own hegemony (construed more concretely in later writings as a dictatorship). Over time, during which the material conditions are created for the construction of socialism, their class rule would give way to a classless and stateless society, communism.

As regards the relationship between communists and the working classes, Marx and Engels assert that communists were the most advanced and politically resolute segment of the proletariat in every nation, not least because they had the advantage of seeing more clearly than others the direction in which society is moving. As revolutionaries, their role was to assist the exploited workers in three ways: (1) to raise their class consciousness so that they can realize their role in history; (2) to overthrow the bourgeoisie; and (3) to establish working-class control of the state and its ruling apparatuses (i.e., a dictatorship).

Having said all of this it is important to keep in mind that the Manifesto cannot be regarded as a full exposition of Marxist doctrine. And while Marx sketches out many of the basic tenets of his communist viewpoint, at this point in his career he had not worked out his complete system of thought, which was carefully developed over many years, culminating with the publication of his magnum opus, Das Kapital, in 1867. Nonetheless, it is significant to note that both Marx and Engels continued to endorse the views of the Manifesto even after most of them were rendered irrelevant by the course of events. The continuing relevance of this important document, then, had less to do with its predictive powers than with its potency as a clarion call for revolution. The Manifesto is full of memorable and moving phrases such as, "Workers of the World unite. You have nothing to lose but your Chains." The teleological understanding of history presented in the Manifesto was also compelling to successive generations of socialists. In their "scientific" critique of the bourgeois society with which they were acquainted, Marx and Engels managed to invest history with both a dramatic purpose and a desirable destination. History was, according to them, moving toward a higher goal that could only be obtained through class struggle and social revolution. It was thus the moral message embedded in their theory of historical materialism that made the Communist Manifesto a landmark publication in the history of modern socialism.

Socialism during its "Mature" Phase

The genesis and development of socialism paralleled the rise of liberalism in Europe. Over the course of the nineteenth century, liberalism had become the predominant ideology in Great Britain and on the Continent. However, from 1889 on, socialism increasingly challenged liberalism's supremacy in the political arena. In Europe generally there were various schools of socialist thought that came to maturity during the second half of the nineteenth century: reformist socialism, Marxism, anarchism, and syndicalism. Of these currents, Marxism tended to be the dominant socialist theory, partly because of its conceptual cogency and partly because it was embraced by the most powerful and influential social democratic parties affiliated with the Second (Socialist) International, (18891914), a confederation of socialist parties and labor organizations that was created in order to continue the work of the First International Workingmen's Association.

Why did socialism become so important at this time? One of the contributing factors was the growing influence of positivism on the general outlook of European thinkers. Following in the tradition of the French Enlightenment, intellectuals like Auguste Comte (17981857) and Herbert Spencer (18201903) promoted the idea that an understanding of both the natural and social worlds could be achieved through scientific knowledge. It was this belief that inspired socialists like Saint-Simon and Marx to develop political cosmologies that they thought could be grounded on a sound empirical basis. Marx in particular asserted in the Communist Manifesto and other major writings that his brand of socialism was distinguished from all others by its "scientific" approach to the study of economics and society. This is not to say that Marxists were the only socialists who were convinced of the scientific validity of their theories. Anarchist social views, particularly those espoused by the Russian revolutionary Pyotr Kropotkin (18421921), also owed a great deal to the positivist tradition. And, finally, the evolutionary brand of socialism known as Fabianism that developed in Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth century was shaped by the positivist beliefs of its leading theorists.

A general shift in the attitude toward the role of the state in society also contributed to the growth of socialism. The failure of laissez-faire political and economic policies, which had been long favored by liberal governments as a way to respond effectively to the problems created by the periodic crises of capitalism, the second wave of industrialization, and the emergence of a mass society caused many to see the state in a more favorable light. For example, the unexpected and occasionally jolting economic fluctuations of the 1870s and 1880s not only drove a wedge between the workers and their liberal middle-class representatives, but also alarmed industrialists and other members of the economic elite. As a result, an increasing number of all these groups started turning to the government for protection. The growing popularity of imperialism in the closing decades of the century also made the average person less opposed to the growing powers of the state.

Among the many other factors that favored the rise of socialism at this time, the most notable can be summarized as follows. (1) The increase in the number of workers in the industrializing nations was one important factor. The concentration of industries during the so-called second industrial revolution that occurred during the last two decades of the nineteenth century brought together workers in unprecedented numbers. Rapid industrialization also accelerated the tendency of the general population to move from the countryside into urban centers. Cities proved to be favorable environments for socialist organizationswhich demanded a fairly sophisticated social/cultural infrastructure in order to thrive. (2) The rise of literacy also redounded to the benefit of the socialists: as more and more workers learned to read they were able to imbibe socialist ideas in the form of pamphlets, books, and the press. (3) The "democratization" of the ballot box also helped the socialists in that the extension of the franchise brought more workers into the political arena thus making it possible to get socialist deputies elected to parliament. All of these factors created the basis for a "proletarian" mentality or consciousness. By the late 1880s workers were joining clubs and trade unions, electing their own representatives, and subscribing to their own publications. And though this is not to say that all workers were necessarily socialist, it did mean that the principal vehicles for propagating and sustaining socialism were now anchored in the framework of modern industrial society.

The Spread of Marxism during 1880s

Of all the varieties of socialism that existed during this period, Marxism proved to be the most popular doctrine among working-class parties that began to emerge in the 1870s in France, Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere where there was a large industrial proletariat. In countries where industrialization had yet to be firmly established, Marxism was a minority tendency. This was particularly evident in Spain, where anarchism was a major force among both the industrial workers and the peasantry. Anarchism also attracted a sizeable following among peasants and workers in Italy, though it never achieved the mass following it did in Spain. In Russia, Marxism became important only after the turn of the century and even then it did not represent the largest segment of the socialist movement as a whole.

Beginning in the 1880s a special effort was made by Friedrich Engels to popularize Marx's theories, particularly among the growing reading public of workers. As far as Marx's general theories were concerned, this was no easy task, for, apart from intellectuals, few people could easily grasp the meanings of his probing analysis of capitalist development. In order to make such views more accessible, Engels set himself the task of defending Marxian theories against Marx's would-be critics. In Anti-Dühring and several of his better known works, Engels attempted to expand upon the views of his lifelong collaborator by stressing that Marxism was not just a revolutionary theory but a scientific worldview that lay bare the complexities of society. By arguing in this way, Engels hoped not only to discredit rival views of socialism but also to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Marx's theories. From a doctrinal point of view, Engels's most enduring legacy to socialism, however, was his materialist conception of history. More so than Marx, Engels saw the march of socialism as an inexorable historical process that could be predicted with almost mathematical certainty by correctly reading the "objective laws" that governed the evolution of both the natural world and society. He therefore suggested a view of socialist development that linked it to a general process of change that could be measured and read by means of empirical investigations.

The certitude of the causal explanatory model sketched out in Engels' writings on historical materialism appealed especially to the generation of socialists who came of age during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a period when positivism was at its height. Karl Kautsky (18541938), Eduard Bernstein (18501932), Georgy Plekhanov (18571918), and V. I. Lenin (18701924) were all indebted to Engels's elaboration of Marxist doctrine. No less a testament to Engels's impact on the future development of socialism is the fact that his materialist conception of history became an article of faith in all the regimes that declared themselves to be Marxist in the twentieth century.

The Anarchist Alternative

The anarchists represented one of the strongest non-Marxian currents in the socialist movement and it was their ongoing rivalry with the Marxists that kept alive the doctrinal debates and organizational divisions that characterized both the First (18641876) and Second Internationals (18891914).

Anarchism was never a homogenous ideological movement. At one time or another in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries anarchists who belonged to the international socialist movement identified themselves as mutualists, collectivists, communists, and syndicalists. Yet, despite their theoretical differences, anarchists of all schools were united in their opposition to Marxism. Above all this was because of their diametrically opposed views of the role of the state. For the Marxists, the state was a necessary vehicle for governing society until full communism had been achieved. Once this stage of history had been reached, the state would, in the words of Engels, cease to be a useful instrument of rule and simply wither away. The anarchists completely rejected the notion that the state could serve any positive function. In sharp contrast to the Marxists, they believed that the working classes would overturn capitalism, not by wresting political power from the middle-classes, but by concentrating their energies in developing and organizing their own social institutions and by engaging continuously in an economic struggle against their oppressors.

Anarchists also opposed Marxism on the grounds that its communist principles were incompatible with the kind of libertarian society they envisaged. The Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (18141876) famously declared that he detested communism because, "it is the negation of liberty." He further accused Marx of promoting an authoritarian form of communism that "concentrates and absorbs all the powers of society into the state."

Since the anarchists abstained from politics and thus rejected the ballot box as a means of advancing the workers' cause, they were forced to adopt a revolutionary strategy that also placed them at odds with Marxists and reformist socialists. For this reason there are two main features of the movement that need to be mentioned: direct action tactics and violence. The former included such things as sabotage, strikes, and public demonstrationsMay Day celebrations, for example. The anarchists' reliance on a tactic known as "propaganda by the deed" gave rise to the stock image of thempopularized by writers and social scientists like Joseph Conrad (18571924), Henry James (18431916), and Cesare Lombroso (18351909)as social deviants who were bent on destroying the foundations of civilization. This overblown stereotype was reinforced by several widely publicized anarchist outrages that punctuated the last years of the nineteenth century. Apart from launching small-scale attacks against symbols of class, state, and religious rule, anarchists were responsible for the political assassinations of several heads of state. Within a span of only six years, the presidents of France (1894) and the United States (1901), the empress of Austria (1898), the prime minister of Spain (1897), and the king of Italy (1900) were murdered by anarchists. The stigma that all anarchists were now saddled with obscured the fact that these were isolated acts committed by only a handful of individuals. Most rank-and-file anarchists were strongly opposed to terrorism, and most saw education and trade unions as the main vehicles for conducting their revolutionary activity.

At the turn of the century anarchism, which had nearly died out in most areas of Europe, was revitalized by the development of yet another brand of socialism known as revolutionary syndicalism. When Arturo Labriola (18731959), Émile Pouget (18601931), José Prat (d. 1932), and other libertarian thinkers began to marry the new doctrine (which emphasized trade unionism and direct action tactics like the general strike) to old anarchist beliefs the result was anarchosyndicalism, a movement that was particularly important in France, Spain, and Italy. In fact, it was the introduction of syndicalism that brought about the phenomenal growth of anarchism in Spain. Over the course of the next two decades, anarchosyndicalism became a mass movement, with its membership peaking at over 1.5 million members during the Spanish Civil War (19361939).

Marxism Challenged

The anarchists were not the only ones to challenge the view that socialism was synonymous with Marxism. Toward the end of the nineteenth century there emerged several strands of "new" socialist thinking that developed outside the Marxist tradition. The most important of these was the brand of socialism known as Fabianism, which became an important movement in Great Britain after 1889. Originally comprised almost exclusively of upper-middle class intellectualsnotably, George Bernard Shaw (18561950), Annie Besant (18471933), and Beatrice Webb (18581943), and Sidney Webb (18591947)the Fabian Society advocated a nonrevolutionary form of socialism that was shaped more by the ideas of Herbert Spencer (18201903), Jeremy Bentham (17481832), James Mill (17731836), and John Stuart Mill (18061873) than it was by those inpired by Karl Marx. Unlike the Marxists, who saw historical progress in terms of class conflict, the Fabians conceived of society as an organism that evolved gradually over time. Socialism was, in their eyes, a natural outcome of social development, but one that needed to be guided by enlightened thinkers like themselves. Drawing upon their faith in positivist principles, the Fabians were convinced that a "scientific" approach to the study of social phenomena would produce an effective strategy for constructing incrementally a socialist society. By insisting that socialism could be achieved in a peaceful way, the Fabians set themselves against the Marxian parties of the Second International who conceptualized social change in terms of a dialectical struggle.

Revisionist Controversy on the Continent

The greatest challenge to Marxism at this time, however, came not from without but from within the Marxian current of socialism. Beginning in the late 1890s a diverse group of so-called revisionist thinkers increasingly questioned the validity of a number of fundamental Marxist tenets. They particularly objected to how rigidly Marx's doctrine was being interpreted by his epigones in the Second International. The foremost theoretical spokesman of the revisionist movement was Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein was a German social democrat whose views on socialism had been influenced by his extended sojourns in Switzerland and particularly in England, where he became familiar with the views of the early Fabian Society. While his own theory of socialism differed from theirs, Bernstein nevertheless shared many of the Fabian beliefs, including the notion that socialism could be achieved by nonrevolutionary means. In a series of articles that first appeared in Die Neue Zeit between 1896 and 1899 and later published in the book Evolutionary Socialism (1899), Bernstein laid the foundation for a revisionist challenge to Marxist ideas that had long been regarded as sacrosanct. Above all, Bernstein's writings were meant as a corrective to some of Marx's fundamental economic suppositionshis theory of surplus value, for exampleas well as to some of his a priori claims, such as his prophecy that, by virtue of its inherent contradictions, the cataclysmic end of capitalism was inevitable. From his own observations of general economic and political conditions at this time, for example, Bernstein concluded that class tensions were easing rather than intensifying. Instead of becoming increasingly poorer, Bernstein asserted that available statistical measures indicated that workers were generally enjoying higher living standards. By further arguing that the state should be used as a vehicle for abolishing all class privileges and promoting democratic rights, not just for workers, but for all groups in society, Bernstein also ran afoul of his colleagues in the Marxist-dominated sections of the German Social Democratic Party (known by the German acronym SPD) who maintained that the working classes alone should benefit from the advent of socialism.

Bernstein's intellectual assault on the reigning orthodoxy of Marxist thinking set in motion a series of debates and discussions within the Second International that did not die down until the onset of the World War I (19141918). Leading the opposition to Bernstein's revisionism were Karl Kautsky, the foremost interpreter of the writings of Marx and Engels at this time, and Georgy Plekhanov, the principal architect of the Russian Social Democratic movement. Both attempted to defend what they regarded as the core principles of Marxism by contending that Bernstein had failed to grasp Marx's basic notions about the relationship between economics and politics and that the antirevolutionary policies implied by his revisionism rendered socialism completely unnecessary. In the former case, for example, Kautsky explained that socialism would come about, not as a result of the increasing pauperization of the working classes, but as a result of sharpening class divisions, which were inevitable and therefore unavoidable features of historical development.

In reaffirming their faith in the immutable principles of Marxism, Kautsky and other antirevisionists hoped that they could prevent socialism from deviating from its revolutionary path. Yet despite their commitment to this understanding of socialism, the fact is that the majority of groups affiliated with the Second International at this time were already pursuing reformist policies. In France, Spain, Italy, and even in Germany the social democratic parties preferred the ballot box to confrontational tactics as a means of advancing their cause. In most instances this entailed working in cooperation with rather than against the middle-class parties that dominated political activity in the various Western European countries where socialism had an important following. Thus, Jules Guesde (18451922), the leading figure in the Marxist branch of the French socialist movement, was so committed to the idea of achieving socialism through peaceful means that he advocated parliamentary collaborationism. Another key French socialist in preWorld War I period, Jean Léon Jaurès (18591914), was equally convinced that theoretical concerns should be subordinated to the tactical needs of the movement. He therefore thought it possible to retain his commitment to revolutionary Marxism while at the same time promoting a democratic path to socialism.

There were other socialist thinkers around this time who did not necessarily draw reformist conclusions from their critique of Marxism. Georges Sorel (18471922) was a French socialist who had come to Marxism late in life. Within a few years of his conversion, however, Sorel was ready to reject the scientific pretensions of Marxist doctrine as well as the reformist policies of the French socialist movement in order to embrace a form of revolutionary syndicalism. In his most famous work, Reflections on Violence (19061908; English trans., 1912), Sorel set forth a philosophy of syndicalism that stressed the importance of violence (by which he meant rebellion against existing institutions) in the workers' moral and economic struggle against capitalism. According to Sorel, the revolutionary élan of the workers needs to be sustained by the "myth of the general strike" or poetic vision of the coming epic showdown between workers and their oppressors.

While Sorel himself was not directly involved in the workingclass movement, his ideas contributed to the growing body of left-wing syndicalist theories that had been developing since the late 1890s in countries like Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, and Spain and that would continue to exercise a profound influence on trade union development in those countries until the outbreak of World War II (19391945).

Socialism versus Communism

The two events in the twentieth century that had the greatest impact on the course of international socialism were the World War I and the Russian Revolution (1917). The outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1914 brought to an abrupt halt the numerous theoretical debates inside the socialist movement that had been raging up to that time. The war also dispelled the notion held by nearly all socialists that, irrespective of doctrinal differences, socialist parties everywhere were united by a common goal (the overthrow of capitalism) as well as by their internationalist outlook.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 that brought the Bolsheviks to power had even more far-reaching consequences for the development of socialism. First and foremost, it signaled an end to Marxism as it was generally understood by most socialists up to 1917. This was not least because the epicenter of Marxism was transferred from Western Europe to the east and would remain there for the greater part of the twentieth century. In its new surroundings, Marxism would be widely referred to as communism, a term that was adopted in 1919 by V. I. Lenin (18701924) and the Bolsheviks in order to distinguish their movement from the so-called infantile revisionist socialism that had come to characterize the Second International. With the founding of the Soviet Union in 1924, the division between socialism and communism was formalized and made permanent. From this point on, socialism moved along two very distinct paths. One was defined and largely controlled by the Soviet communists and the other followed a course that was defined by the pluralistic socialist traditions of Western Europe. Because the story of communism occupies a distinct chapter in the history of socialism in the twentieth century, it is not our intention here to summarize the main features of that movement. Instead, we will proceed with our survey of European socialism after the advent of communism.

Socialism in the Interwar Period, 19191939

The trauma and physical destruction that resulted from the World War I created widespread political and economic instability in Europe. Established political traditions and practices were the first to be challenged in this uncertain environment, first by the communists who sought to build upon the revolutionary experiences of Russia, and then by radical right-wing factions and fascists, who set themselves against both liberal democrats and left-wing parties. In these circumstances, socialists of the social democratic variety fared rather poorly. In most countries, socialist parties had barely recovered from their setbacks during the war when they were met with crises caused by the aforementioned groups. On one level, the communists forced socialists to adopt either the Russian Revolution as their standard or the reformist model that still prevailed in most European social democratic movements. The result was disastrous in countries like Italy and Germany, where a divided left made the socialists and communists more vulnerable to their more unified opponents on the right. The fascists were particularly adroit at playing on the weaknesses of the socialists. By the mid-1930s socialists everywhere were either in retreat in the few democratic countries that had survived the aftershocks of the war or driven completely underground by the authoritarian and totalitarian one-party states that had come into existence across Continental Europe.

Socialist participation in the communist-inspired Popular Front was an electoral strategy during the mid-1930s that was meant to check the rapid advance of facism and other antidemocratic movements that were gaining ground at this time. In both Spain and France, for example, socialists played a pivotal role in forging a political alliance that embraced a wide spectrum of left and liberal factions. However, in Spain the Popular Front government formed in February 1936 was short lived, as civil war broke out in July. In France, Léon Blum's (18721950) socialist-led Popular Front coalition also enjoyed only limited success between 1936 and 1938. In this brief period, Blum managed to push through a number of social reform measures, such as the implementation of the forty-hour work week, before his government succumbed to the pressures of its conservative and pro-appeasement rivals.

The outbreak of yet another general war in 1939 marked the beginning of a seven-year hiatus in the development of socialism. When the war ended in 1945, socialist parties found themselves struggling against a number of currents. On the one hand, they were confronted by the spread of communism throughout the greater part of East and Central Europe. The strangle-hold that Joseph Stalin (18791953) had secured over the postwar regimes that emerged in this region between 1946 and 1949 effectively smothered the development of any independent socialist movement for the next few decades. Under immense pressure from Moscow, social democratic parties were forced to disband and amalgamate with the communist parties loyal to the Soviet Union.

Except in Great Britain and the Scandinavian countrieswhere social democratic parties were in the ascendantcircumstances in much of Western Europe also conspired against a general revival of socialism. The right-wing dictatorships in Portugal (Antonio de Oliveira Salazar) and Spain (Francisco Franco) survived the war and both governments maintained their ban on left-wing parties for the next few decades. The postwar difficulties socialism faced elsewhere in Europe were compounded by the onset of the Cold War. Because the political and economic stability of the pro-capitalist nations remained in doubt in the immediate aftermath of the war, socialism was generally viewed with suspicion by the electorate. This was partly because socialists in Italy and France tended to form alliances with the Moscow-oriented communists, and partly because of the growing dependency of many European nations on the economic and military support of the United States. In fact, the United States made it clear to the newly restored postwar regimes that, because Europe was now divided into mutually hostile ideological blocs, it would not tolerate the idea of socialists and communists forming government coalitions outside the Soviet umbrella.

There were further reasons why socialism failed to make inroads into the political arena at this time. One was connected with the cultural and ideological shifts on the liberal and conservative end of the political spectrum that had taken place in Europe since the Great Depression and World War II. The economic problems thrown up by the Depression had caused many liberals to revise their views regarding the state's role in the economy. The mixed economic model for capitalism promoted by the liberal economist John Maynard Keynes (18831946) gained currency at this time, and this trend in economic thinking was generally reinforced during the war, when the collectivist practices of the state were deemed both necessary and desirable by the majority of the population. At war's end, the consensus among liberals and conservatives was, at least for the time being, the state would have to play a major role not only in bringing about the political and economic recovery of wartorn Europe but also in sustaining the social welfare of the general population during this critical period of transition.

While the socialists stood to gain much from this development, they failed to win popular backing at the polls for policies with which they had long been identified. This was due in part to their own miscalculationssuch as their insistence on forming alliances with the communistsand in part to the fact that the socialists' general political outlook was woefully out-of-date. With few exceptions, social democratic parties in Europe were reluctant to refashion the theoretical content of their political programs. For example, most still looked to the working classes (trade unions) as their main constituency and most retained a nostalgia and even reverence for the Marxist ideological underpinnings of their movement.

Despite these shortcomings, socialist parties continued to occupy an important place in the political arena. This was especially true in countries like Sweden, where the social democrats (SAP) dominated politics for the greater part of the twentieth century, and in Great Britain, where the Fabian style of pragmatic reformism of the Labour Party has won out over other forms of socialism.

The cultural ferment associated with the 1960s and early 1970s helped to inject some new life into socialist doctrine. The left-wing radicals who spearheaded protest movements in this period turned a fresh eye to the historical and ideological roots of socialism. In doing so they helped to resurrect themes that had lain dormant for many years but that now appealed to the intellectually diverse postwar generation of leftists. Perhaps the most important of these was the question of women's role in the socialist movement. From its origins, socialist thinking had been concerned with the fate of both men and women. Yet, apart from Charles Fourier, August Bebel, Friedrich Engels, Edward Carpenter (18441929), and a handful of other theorists, socialists tended to ignore specific questions relating to sexuality and gender. Indeed, all of the classical socialists who addressed the woman question, such as Engels did in his Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), regarded women as proletarians in the household and thus did not, as twenty-first-century socialist feminists do, view gender as distinct from class. Fewer still thought it necessary to transform socialist practices so that they matched the pro-feminist rhetoric of their movement. It was against this background that a new generation of socialist thinkers began their campaign to infuse socialism with feminist values and beliefs. The research of socialist feminists like Sheila Rowbotham and other historians of gender revealed that women played a much greater role in the development of socialism than had hitherto been acknowledged. Up until this point, Flora Tristan (18031844), Vera Zasulich (18511919), Rosa Luxemburg (18711919), Alexandra Kollantai (18731952), Dolores Ibárruri (18951989), Clara Zetkin (18571933), Beatrice Webb, and other notable activists had rarely received the kind of historical attention that was commensurate with the contributions they had made to socialist theory and practice. For example, it was not until the late 1960s that the prominent role that Luxemburg played in the key debates and discussions within European socialism during the first decades of the twentieth century became widely recognized by the scholarly community. Beside making her mark as a theorist during the revisionist controversy in Reform or Revolution (1899), Luxemburg became famous during World War I for leading the socialist opposition to the war in Germany. By the time of her death in 1919, the year she helped spearhead an ill-fated coup against the provisional Weimar government, Luxemburg had also established a reputation as a critic of the authoritarian policies of the Leninist brand of revolutionary vanguard Marxism. While the theoretical differences between her and Bolsheviks such as Lenin and Trotsky should not be exaggerated, Luxemburg always stood for a more open and democratic interpretation of socialism than did her Russian counterparts. No less important was the light that gender-sensitive research cast on the role that anonymous women in the past and present played not only in building socialism through their participation in grass-roots associations but also in broadening female participation in the public sphere.

Besides seeking to revise the historical record, socialist academics, writers, and activists in the women's liberation movement were also interested in changing the attitudes and perceptions that the majority of socialist men held of women. Socialist feminists pointed out that, while most men endorsed pro-feminist principles, they nevertheless tended to see women in sexist terms. For example, few concerned themselves with issueschild care, birth control, sexual expression, among othersthat directly affected their wives, sisters, mothers, and female friends. Nor were they alive to the second-class status to which women were consigned in the workplace, where gendered divisions of labor prevailed, and in society generally, where male dominance was both profound and pervasive. The degree to which socialist feminists were successful in their endeavors is hard to measure. There can be no question that their efforts to place the women's question high on the socialist agenda and their insistence that "the personal is political" contributed in a number of ways to the rejuvenation of the theory and practice of a doctrine that was increasingly out of step with the realities of late twentieth century society. Nonetheless, the legacy of socialist feminism is mixed. Though it failed to bring about the much sought after gender reorientation of a number of socialist parties, socialist feminism can be credited for greatly advancing the ongoing struggle for women's rights. Contemporary feminists are above all indebted to this movement for having raised society's awareness of the multiple ways in which gender relations affect the daily lives of everyone.

Socialism at the End of the Twentieth Century

In the closing years of the twentieth century, socialism experienced further transmutations. On a practical level, socialist parties tended to resemble each other more and more, though this was not necessarily due to a closer collaboration among the various socialist parties. Ever since the demise of the Second International in 1914, socialists had all but abandoned the idea of using an overarching body to coordinate the policies of the various national socialist parties. The largely inert bureau of the Labour and Socialist International (LSI) met for the last time in April 1940, and it was not replaced until 1946. The onset of the Cold War after 1948 forced changes within the LSI that resulted in the creation of a new organization, the Socialist International (SI), in 1951. Echoing the realities of the postwar era, the executive council of the SI made clear to all its members that it would "put an end to the equivocation of parties which want to belong to our socialist group while in fact obeying directives from Moscow." Apart from reaf-firming the European socialist parties' commitment to democratic socialism, the SI provided intellectual and moral support to the socialist parties that had been forced underground in antidemocratic regimes of Western Europe or were threatened by communist influence in the non-aligned movement countries. It was particularly successful at assisting the resurrection of socialism in Portugal (1974) and Spain (1975) when democracy returned to those countries in the late 1970s. During the 1980s, the SI continued to expand its influence in Europe and in parts of the Third World, though, in an age when nationalist feelings greatly diminishes the spirit of internationalism, its relevance to the future development of socialism remains an open question.

Partly in response to the electoral successes of their ideological opponents on the right, during the mid-1980s socialists throughout Europe began questioning their longstanding commitment to socialization policies, such as social welfare and public ownership (nationalization). And though a small core of purists refused to abandon the transformative goals of their doctrine, the vast majority of socialists elected to office in this period believed that social justice and equality could best be achieved by adopting the principles and practices of neoliberalism. As a result, the notion of what it meant to be a socialist underwent significant revision, with some critics arguing that the pre-capitalist values of "credit card" socialists made them indistinguishable from their liberal and conservative rivals.

Those who belong to the generation of socialists alluded to here are widely known in the early twenty-first century as social democrats, a label that refers to their commitment both to parliamentary democracy as well as to the principles of market socialism. According to this model of a mixed economy, the government should play a role in overseeing the ownership of certain enterprises (e.g., utilities and public transportation) but would allow market forces to determine the allocation of their goods and services. While the social democrats insist that their policies are aimed at implementing the classic socialist ideals of social justice and economic equality for all, they do not subscribe to the age-old socialist belief that holds that the state should function as the sole vehicle for achieving these much-desired goals.

The theoretical and policy shift that were identified with the social democratic movements of the 1980s greatly contributed to a reversal of the political fortunes of socialist parties in several countries. In Spain and France, for example, the socialists dominated national politics throughout the 1980s. The ascendancy of the New Labour Party movement in Great Britain during the late 1990s and early years of the twenty-first century seems to have signaled a further shift of socialist doctrine away from its historic ideological foundations.

The rightward drift of socialism in the last decade of the twentieth century was given even greater emphasis following the collapse of communist regimes in East Central Europe in 1989 and the Soviet Union in 1991. With communist ideas largely discredited the socialists' doctrinal links with Marxism were completely severed. The intellectual preoccupations and foci of the postCold War era promise to erode further the core elements of socialist ideology.

It is evident from the foregoing account that socialism has been in a state of flux over the course of the past two centuries. Socialism in the twenty-first century cannot be located on the same ideological map that it occupied as a revolutionary theory in the nineteenth and greater part of the twentieth centuries. Whether it will continue to change or cease to exist as a distinct ideology remains to be seen. But whatever its fate as a doctrine, socialist ideas and values are so integral to Western political traditions that they will no doubt continue to find expression in an ever-changing political landscape.

See also Anarchism ; Capitalism ; Communism ; Marxism .



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George Esenwein

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Socialism can be defined as a political ideology that endorses the equality of power. Socialists believe that the existence of unequal material relationships is evidence of unequal political and social power in any given society. The goals of all socialists are the same: collective living and working arrangements, equal distribution of wealth, and equality of power. The attainment of these goals would guarantee a moral human society with happiness, equality, brotherhood, and community as foundational values.

The methods used to attain these goals have differed according to unique historical circumstances. Some socialists have endorsed industrial efficiency, while others have argued for a return to a primitive, nonindustrial stage of human history. Additionally, certain socialists have valued organization, control, discipline, hierarchy, leadership by experts, compulsion, violent revolution, and messianic elitism over gradual change, democratism, and pacifism to develop a socialist society. Socialists have sometimes appealed to nationalism and patriotism to recruit supporters. Other times they have proposed a more cosmopolitan philosophy of human organization. The role of the state has often been at the heart of these contradictory approaches. Some socialist states have created dictatorial governments to destroy traditional society and replace it with a pseudosocialist one. Other socialist movements have called for the creation of a just welfare state to take the primary responsibility for providing adequate housing, health care, pensions, and unemployment benefits to all citizens. Alternately, Communists have worked to eradicate the state apparatus entirely, instead offering a purely democratic structure of power relationships.


The formulation of socialism as a political ideology occurred between 1815 (the end of the Napoleonic era) and 1848 (the publication year of Karl Marxs Communist Manifesto and a year of liberal, nationalist revolutions across Europe) as a particular response to the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. The French Revolution of 1789 began the slow destruction of the ancien régime in Western Europe and ushered in the modern period of liberal democracy and industrialization. During this process, the bourgeoisie replaced the aristocracy as the dominant social class, and as the abolition of serfdom swept across Europe during the Napoleonic Wars, European peasants left the villages and migrated to the cities to work in the new industries of the nineteenth century. The population of European cities exploded during this era of urbanization, and the new industrial working classes suffered tremendously from horrid living and working conditions.

The dual revolution, as the simultaneous liberal and industrial revolutions of the nineteenth century are called, created a social, political, and economic system that destroyed the traditional identities of Europeans, a system that had been founded on values of community, and instead legitimized an individualism that favored white, male property owners. The promotion of a minority of the European population at the expense of the workers, peasants, and women of all social classes angered socialist intellectuals, who criticized the failure of liberal democracy to extend fundamental human rights to all peoples. Though professing that liberalism would bring about progress in Europe through the destruction of legally defined social groups and the introduction of the right to vote, the right to free assembly, an end to censorship, equality before the law, social mobility, and economic freedom, socialists charged that liberal democracy merely created a new bourgeois-dominated social hierarchy that exploited the working classes for personal gain. They saw the liberal promise of economic freedom as a dangerous one because it guaranteed only workers rights to sell their labor to the highest bidder, and since wages in a capitalist system are tied to market forces, industrial society justified its exploitation of workers as being a kind of natural economic state. Socialists thus viewed liberal capitalism as an immoral system.

Liberal democracy and socialism in the nineteenth century were therefore antithetical: Whose rights should be protectedthose of the bourgeoisie to possess private property or those of the working classes against the vagrancies of capitalism? At the heart of this dispute were differing ideas of the intrinsic goodness and value of private property. Liberal capitalists viewed private property as the most sacred of all human rights, while socialists viewed it as the root of all evil in the modern world. Another controversial debate was the natural state of humanity: Is communal organization the foundation of natural law? Can and should we use some definition of natural law to judge existing social institutions? Early nineteenth-century socialists agreed with Enlightenment thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778), who argued that men are social by nature and naturally want to do and be good. Humanity therefore had the ability to return to this natural state through a process of purification. Rousseau also argued that the fall of humanity began with the introduction of private property.

Rousseau inspired the first French socialists, the egalitarians, who reacted violently to the fact that the French Revolution did not bring about social equality or abolish material wealth in the early nineteenth century. Egalitarians urged the people to seize power, do away with social hierarchy, and institute a commonwealth. They also advocated the use of terrorism to dispossess the wealthy and redistribute private property equally among all members of society. In this early stage of socialist development, the abolition of private property was not yet part of the political agenda and the goal was to end the misery of the poor. The egalitarians introduced the idea that the community was more valuable than individuals in isolation. Egalitarianism also endorses a pure democracy without party divisions. Service, devotion, and sacrifice for the sake of community were the hallmarks of egalitarianism.

Socialism took on a more organized form with the rise of utopianism in the 1830s. Charles Fourier (17721837), often referred to as the father of utopian socialism, argued that industrialization and liberal democracy did not constitute historical progress. He firmly placed the critique of bourgeois society in the greater context of the rise of the materialization of humankind. Bourgeois society, he argued, reflected a fundamental departure from the foundation of human social life. Fourier rejected the progressive function of industry and technology and instead advocated for the creation of communal organization based upon agricultural units he called phalanstères. Along with this rejection of industrial capitalism, Fourier demanded minimum public regulation of individuals and a maximum level of individual freedom. Total gender equality, guaranteed by the destruction of marriage as a social institution, was also a major component of his philosophy.

Fellow utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon (17601825) rejected Fouriers denunciation of industry and focused his critique of liberal capitalist society on increasing workers economic and political power, clearly defining socialism as an economic doctrine. Saint-Simon argued that order and efficiency were natural characteristics of humans. Since the interests of entrepreneurs and workers were identicalto increase political status through productivityhuman beings would naturally agree to a collective social and economic construction once they realized how profitable such an arrangement could be. Private property, Saint-Simonians charged, was therefore incompatible with the efficiency of the industrial system. By transferring private property to the state, which would be controlled by an association of workers, privileges of birth would disappear. Additionally, the banking system, acting as a social institution, would coordinate the economy for the entire society. Saint-Simon also advocated for female emancipation and special care for paupers and criminals, all of whom he considered to be victims of the immoral bourgeois capitalist state. These radical changes would allow for the moral regeneration of society to occur. Fouriers and Saint-Simons contradictory critiques of industrial society and visions of the future illuminated the controversial aspects of socialist thought in its early years.

The French utopian socialists greatly influenced German philosopher, historian, sociologist, and economist Karl Marx in the mid-nineteenth century. The Communist Manifesto, published by Marx and his partner Friedrich Engels in 1848, presented a theory of history in which an inevitable communist revolution led by industrial workers, the proletariat, would destroy bourgeois capitalist society. While utopian socialism in its various manifestations can loosely be defined as a worldview that promised individuals a full sense of belonging to a progressive communal society, Marxs Communist theory at this early point in his career outlined a specific path toward the attainment of this goal. Marx viewed the history of mankind as being propelled forward by class warfare. He argued that human beings identities are defined by their economic relationships to one another, not by religion or other social constructs. The dominant social class, therefore, uses its political and economic position to exploit the subordinate social classes. The struggle between social groups, and the revolutionary attempts of the subordinate classes to destroy the ruling class, is what moves history forward. He called this process dialectical materialism.

In the context of nineteenth-century European industrial society, Marx forecast that the industrial proletariat would overthrow the capitalist bourgeoisie and the revolutionary cycle would end because, for the first time in history, the revolutionary class would represent the majority of the population. The revolution, Marx predicted, would occur on a worldwide scale as members of the proletariat in every industrialized country would spontaneously revolt. Industry would quickly spread to nonindustrialized portions of the world and all societies would become one large workers paradise. In the process, nations would cease to exist as primary determiners of an individuals identity. The new communist system would guarantee total equality among all people through collective ownership of the means of production (such as land, machines, factories, tools, and animals), the abolition of private property, and collective living arrangements. The establishment of a complete democracy under such conditions would allow for the withering away of the state apparatus and the complete spiritual fulfillment of each individual.

The failure of the Paris Commune (1871) to install a socialist society in France prompted Marx to question this early assertion that a spontaneous and violent revolution was the only path toward socialism. In his later works, Marx tacitly acknowledged the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism in those societies with mature democratic political systems. This move away from the notion that the excesses of liberal capitalism would naturally produce a proletariat revolution laid the foundation for democratic socialism to emerge as a Marxist political ideology in the late nineteenth century. This inconsistency in Marxs philosophy of revolution allowed future communists and social democrats alike to claim him as the founding father of their radically different processes of revolutionary change. However divergent in their methods, atheistic socialist revolutionary movements around the world shared a common belief in Marxs materialist interpretation of the human experience, one that charged religion with being the opiate of the people in the twentieth century.


Vladimir Ilyich Lenin led the worlds first socialist revolution in Russia in 1917. Lenin compromised the democratic foundation of Marxs vision by using dictatorial revolutionary tactics to destroy the Russian autocracy and establish socialism. Because Russia lacked the large industrial proletariat needed to complete the Communist revolution, Soviet leaders created a totalitarian version of socialism. Each individual was equally submissive to the dictatorstripped of basic human rights, controlled by secret police forces and spy networks, educated by socialist propaganda, and forced to conform to a new identity as a Soviet socialist citizen. With its focus on industrialization, Marxian socialism in the Soviet Union became an ideology of modernity instead of communism.

The Soviet revolutionary model was widely adopted around the world in the 1940s and 1950s. After World War II, Stalins takeover of Eastern Europe imposed Soviet communism there. In 1949, Mao Zedong led a nationalist and anti-imperialist Communist revolution in China where the peasantry, rather than the proletariat, was considered to be the revolutionary class. Maos socialist revolution was also a political and military struggle against imperialist powers (most notably Japan) instead of a Marxist class struggle. Guerrilla warfare, therefore, drove the revolution, rather than the organization of a labor movement or a political party. This pattern of socialist revolution was repeated in North Vietnam in 1954 by Ho Chi Minh. In both the Chinese and Vietnamese cases, the Soviet Union offered heavy support to the revolutionaries in order to extend its sphere of influence across Asia.

In 1959, Cuban leader Fidel Castro established the first socialist government in Latin America. Castros revolution, however, concerned itself more with the conquest of power than ideology. After a short period of euphoric hope that Latin America might be able to throw off imperialist control through the adoption of Castros socialism, many Latin American socialists in the 1960s and 1970s rejected his dictatorial model. They also repudiated Marxs atheism and used the power of their Catholic faith to fight against unjust socioeconomic structures. Liberation theology, as the movement was called, argued that the Churchs preferential treatment of the poor be involved in political struggles.

Socialism in Africa emerged after the exit of colonial powers in the 1960s. African socialists generally condemned capitalism and worked to protect human dignity, though their goals and methods varied from region to region. Africans desire to create a postcolonial national identity free from imperialist economic exploitation accounts for this variety.

Alternatively, revisionist socialists in Eastern and Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s attempted to resurrect the social democratic foundation of Marxism. They rejected the Soviet dictatorial model of communism as well as the Western liberal capitalist model of modernity. Supporters of the New Left of the 1970s and 1980s dedicated themselves to establishing just social, economic, and political domestic and international structures. The fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s effectively destroyed the dictatorial socialist model in Europe, with most European countries working to develop liberal capitalist societies that guarantee freedoms and rights for all individuals.

SEE ALSO Capitalism; Castro, Fidel; Communism; Cuban Revolution; Egalitarianism; French Revolution; Left and Right; Lenin, Vladimir Ilitch; Liberalism; Marx, Karl; Marxism; Materialism; Minh, Ho Chi; Nationalism and Nationality; Patriotism; Peasantry; Philosophy, Political; Planning; Political Theory; Russian Revolution; Stalin, Joseph; Totalitarianism; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; Vietnam War; Welfare State


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Tracey A. Pepper

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An economic and social theory that seeks to maximize wealth and opportunity for all people through public ownership and control of industries and social services.

The general goal of socialism is to maximize wealth and opportunity, or to minimize human suffering, through public control of industry and social services. Socialism is an alternative to capitalism, where the means and profits of production are privately held. Socialism became a strong international movement in the early nineteenth century as the Industrial Revolution brought great changes to production methods and capacities and led to a decline in working conditions. Socialist writers and agitators in the United States helped fuel the labor movement but were often branded as radicals and jailed under a variety of laws that punished attempts to overthrow the government. Although government programs such as social security and welfare incorporate some socialist tenets, socialism has never posed a serious challenge to capitalism in the United States.

One of the early forms of socialism was the communitarian movement, popularized by the brothers George and Frederick Evans, who came to New York from England in 1820. Communitarianism, which was based on the ideals of the French theorists jean-jacques rousseau and François-Noël Babeuf, involved the pursuit of utopian living in small cooperative communities. Cooperative living gained greater popularity under the utopian socialists, such as the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen and the French philosopher Charles Fourier. Owen's followers established a self-sufficient utopian community in New Harmony, Indiana, in 1825 and Fourier's followers did the same in the 1830s and 1840s on the east coast. Both of these efforts failed, however.

In 1848, the German philosophers karl marx and Friedrich Engels introduced scientific socialism with their extremely influential work, the Communist Manifesto. Scientific socialism became the definitive ideology of a second, more powerful phase of socialism. Scientific socialism applied the dialectic method of the German philosopher georg hegel to the political and social spheres. Using discussion and reasoning as a form of intellectual investigation, Marx and Engels identified a historical progression in human society from slavery to feudalism and finally to capitalism.

Under capitalism—defined as a global system based on technology transcending national boundaries—society was divided into two components: the bourgeoisie, who owned the methods of production, and the proletariat, the laborers who operated the production facilities to produce goods. Marx and Engels predicted the disappearance of the middle class and ultimately a revolution as the vast proletariat wrested the methods of production from the control of the small bourgeoisie elite. This revolution would usher in an era when resources were owned by the people as a whole and markets were subject to cooperative administration.

The Communist Manifesto made less of an impact in the United States than in Europe, in part because the nation's attention was focused on the issue of slavery and the growing division between the North and South. When these tensions escalated into the Civil War, a great increase in industrialization led to the emergence of socialist labor organizations. At the same time, political refugees from Europe contributed socialist theories to labor and political movements. In 1866, socialists who had been heavily influenced by German immigrants helped create the National Labor Union. Their efforts led to an 1868 statute (15 Stat. 77) establishing the eight-hour day for federal government workers; however, it went ignored and unenforced. The National Labor Union disappeared a few years after the death of its founder, William Sylvis, in 1869, but the ties between labor and socialism remained.

As socialists across Europe and the United States debated and extrapolated on Marx's initial definitions and their application under widely varying conditions, socialism gradually divided into three major philosophies: revisionism, anarchism, and bolshevism. Revisionist socialism promoted gradual reform, compromise, and nonviolence. Initially, "reform" meant the nationalization of state and local public works and large-scale industries. Dedicated to democratic ideals, revisionists believed they could achieve civilized progress and higher consciousness through economic justice and complete equality.

Anarchic socialism, best exemplified by the Russian Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876), sought the abolition of both property and the state. Under anarchic socialism society would be composed of small collectives of producers, distributors, and consumers. Anarchism reflected the desire of the dispossessed to eliminate bourgeois institutions altogether. Like its contemporary syndicalism in France, anarchic socialism sought the immediate implementation of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Bolshevism advocated the use of a select revolutionary cadre to seize control of the state. Bolshevists asserted that this cadre was needed to raise the consciousness of the proletariat and move toward a socialist future through absolute dictatorship. Their preferred method of redistributing wealth and resources was authoritarian collectivism, commonly known as communism. Under authoritarian collectivism the state would own and distribute all goods and services. In envisioning this role for the state, the Bolshevists rejected both classical and theoretical socialism. Their only tie to classical socialism, besides the rhetorical one, was their view of the state as having a role in ameliorating the suffering brought about by industrial capitalism.

The Knights of Labor, which was formed in 1871 in Philadelphia, became the first truly national and broadly inclusive union in the United States. Revisionists worked within this union and other labor and third-party groups, often in leadership roles, to achieve definable goals that would culminate in a socialist state. Preaching reform, education, and cooperation, the union grew in numbers until 1886. In May of that year, during a strike sanctioned by the Knights against the McCormick Harvester plant in Chicago, an unknown person threw a bomb into the ranks of police sent to disperse a public gathering organized by anarchist socialists. The haymarket riot, as it became known, set the stage for the first red scare in U.S. history. Eight anarchist leaders were charged with murder on the basis of speech defined as conspiracy. The use of a judge-selected jury and his instructions to them led to the conviction of the anarchists, four of whom were sentenced to death and hanged. The U.S. Supreme Court could find no principle of federal law to review the case.

The reaction that followed the riot signaled the end of anarchism as a force in U.S. politics. It was also the end of the first phase of inclusive, or industrial unionism, as opposed to trade unions. Under the pressure of economic downturns, factionalization, and the stigma of being affiliated with anarchists, the Knights of Labor declined into a negligible force.

Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, the revisionists attempted to unionize various companies, including Andrew Carnegie's Homestead Steel in 1892. Private armies and the Pennsylvania state militia were used to break up the strike. In 1894, eugene v. debs (1855–1926), head of the American Railway Union (ARU), organized a strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company. The sherman anti-trust act of 1890, ostensibly passed to curb the accelerating trend of monopolization, was used to stop the ARU strike. When the ARU ignored the injunction granted under authority of the act, Debs was sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court. On appeal the sentence was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 15 S. Ct. 900, 39 L. Ed. 1092 (1895).

Despite this setback, Debs had proven himself to be a significant leader and orator. As such, he took a key role in the U.S. socialist movement. In 1897, he formed the Social Democratic Party. In 1905, Debs moved more to the left, and with william d. "big bill" haywood and Mary Harris "Mother" Jones he co-founded the industrial workers of the world. The "Wobblies," as they were called, represented the legacy of direct action advocated by the earlier anarchists.

In the early twentieth century, socialists called for changes to currency and taxation, an eight-hour day, an end to adulteration of food, more attention to product safety, improved working conditions, urban sanitation, and relief for the poor and homeless. Congress took notice of these demands and passed various laws granting the government the authority to regulate industry. Socialism peaked in 1912, when Debs garnered six percent of the popular vote in the presidential election.

The Supreme Court, however, was slow to recognize workers' rights and government regulation of industry. The Court repeatedly struck down state laws restricting the number of hours that women and children could work on the ground that the laws violated the doctrine of liberty of contract. In 1910, the first real antitrust victory came when the Court forced Standard Oil to divest itself of some of its operations. The ruling, however, was limited in scope (Standard Oil v. United States, 221 U.S. 1, 31 S. Ct. 502).

During world war i (1914–1918) socialism faced new setbacks in the United States as federal legislation was passed outlawing any acts of disloyalty toward U.S. war efforts. The espionage act of 1917 (codified in scattered sections of 22 and 50 U.S.C.A.) imposed sentences of up to 20 years in prison for anyone found guilty of aiding the enemy, interfering with the recruitment of soldiers, or in any way encouraging disloyalty. The act was also used to prevent socialist literature from being sent through the mail. Many socialists were imprisoned for anti-war activities and the Wobblies, in particular, were main targets. Debs was jailed again, this time for interfering with military recruitment in violation of the Espionage Act. Again the Supreme Court upheld the conviction (Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211, 39 S. Ct. 252, 63 L. Ed. 566 [1919]).

After World War I democratic socialists came into power, alone or as part of coalition governments, in Germany, France, Great Britain, and Sweden. They all faced the problem of how to make socialist principles viable within a capitalist system. Only in Sweden, and only after a lengthy conflict, were labor and capital able to cooperate to establish a socialist system without abandoning socialism's philosophic foundation.

In the United States, socialists faced another wave of repression during the strikes that erupted after the war. The Russian Revolution of 1917 had aroused new fears of Bolshevism, which led to greater intolerance. Under the auspices of the justice department, Attorney General A. mitchell palmer conducted raids against individuals and organizations considered a threat to U.S. institutions. The nationwide arrest of dissidents ultimately prompted the Supreme Court to reconsider federal protection of individual rights. Justices oliver wendell holmes jr. and louis d. brandeis argued for greater protection of the right to voice unpopular ideas.

The Great Depression marked another turning point for socialism. Overproduction, under-consumption, and speculation led to an implosion of markets, a result predicted by Marx. One response was powerful centralized governments in the form of totalitarian regimes such as those of adolf hitler in Germany and joseph stalin in the Soviet Union. Socialism was revived by the British economist John Maynard Keynes who advocated that the government stimulate consumption and investment during economic downturns. Previously used only on a limited scale, deficit financing, as it came to be called, was now used by socialists in Europe and liberals in the United States to revive capitalism. Many countries still use Keynesian economics to provide a bridge between capitalism and socialism.

As the Depression deepened from 1929 to 1933, U.S. socialism attracted more adherents, but its influence was still relatively slight. In the 1932 presidential elections, Socialist Party candidate Norman M. Thomas won only 267,000 votes. Increasingly made up of middle-class intellectuals, socialists became isolated from the needs and demands of workers. Socialism's greatest achievement during this period was President franklin d. roosevelt's new deal program, which expanded government services to help the poor and stimulate economic growth. The Supreme Court, however, struck down much of the New Deal legislation, most notably, the national industrial recovery act (48 Stat. 195) in 1935 (schechter poultry corp. v. united states, 295 U.S. 495, 55 S. Ct. 837, 79 L. Ed. 1570). Only when Roosevelt threatened to enlarge the Court to include justices with his perspective did the Court begin to uphold New Deal legislation.

The year 1935 was marked by success, however, with the passage of the wagner act, also known as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 151 et seq.). The act, which was the first national recognition of labor's right to organize, was the culmination of 80 years of socialist-labor efforts. Ironically, the socialists' message lost its urgency with the broadening of workers' rights and regulatory reform.

Following world war ii, and with the coming of the cold war, politicians and the public began to equate socialism with communism. People with socialist backgrounds, who had been part of the Roosevelt administration, were denied employment, fired, and blacklisted during the late 1940s and 1950s. In 1951, in Dennis v. United States (341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137), the Supreme Court upheld the smith act (18 U.S.C.A. § 2385), which had been passed in 1940. The decision established the legality of anti-subversive legislation under the theory that a vast underground horde of communists was working for the violent overthrow of the government.

At the helm of the anti-communist movement was Senator joseph r. mccarthy of Wisconsin, who proclaimed that communists had infiltrated U.S. politics on a broad scale. Meanwhile the House Un-American Activities Committee tried suspects in the popular media, destroying numerous careers in the arts, entertainment, and politics. Only when McCarthy charged that the U.S. Army had been infiltrated by communists and then failed to prove his allegations did his power decline.

By the time the civil rights act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 2000a et seq.) was passed, socialist precepts had again become acceptable topics of conversation. The remedies that politicians and scholars proposed for urban blight, poverty, and inequitable distribution of wealth drew heavily on the traditional socialist tenet that the state should play a role in alleviating suffering and directing society toward desirable ends. The socialist perspective on the treatment of third-world nations in the transnational capitalist system also influenced protests against the vietnam war.

After the McCarthy era, however, the organized socialist movement in the United States was in disarray, with membership down and leaders splintering off into various factions. The two major socialist groups to emerge were the right wing Socialist Party USA and the more left-leaning Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). In 1976, the Socialist Party USA ran a candidate in the presidential elections for the first time in 20 years. The party has included a candidate in almost every presidential election since then.

further readings

Bernstein, Carl. 1989. Loyalties: A Son's Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Burns, James M. 1985. The Workshop of Democracy. New York: Random House.

Cannon, James P., Les Evans, and George Breitman, eds. 2001. The Socialist Workers Party in World War II: Writings and Speeches, 1940–43. New York: Pathfinder Press.

Clark, Steve, ed. 2002. The Changing Face of U.S. Politics: Working-Class Politics and the Trade Unions. 3d ed. New York: Pathfinder.

Ely, Richard T. 1969. The Labor Movement in America. New York: Arno.

Fried, Albert, and Ronals Sanders, eds. 1992. Socialist Thought. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Haynes, Fred E. 1970. Social Politics in the United States. New York: AMS Press.

Jezer, Marty. 1992. Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.

Mullender, Richard. 2000. "Theorizing the Third Way: Qualified Consequentialism, the Proportionality Principle, and the New Social Democracy." Journal of Law and Society 27 (December).

O'Connell, Jeffrey, and Thomas E. O'Connell. 2003. "Karl Marx and Michael Harrington: Two Law School Dropouts… And What Happened Next, East and West." Journal of Law & Politics 19 (winter).


Kunstler, William Moses; Labor Law; Labor Union; Socialist Party of the United States of America.

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socialism, general term for the political and economic theory that advocates a system of collective or government ownership and management of the means of production and distribution of goods. Because of the collective nature of socialism, it is to be contrasted to the doctrine of the sanctity of private property that characterizes capitalism. Where capitalism stresses competition and profit, socialism calls for cooperation and social service.

In a broader sense, the term socialism is often used loosely to describe economic theories ranging from those that hold that only certain public utilities and natural resources should be owned by the state to those holding that the state should assume responsibility for all economic planning and direction. In the past 150 years there have been innumerable differing socialist programs. For this reason socialism as a doctrine is ill defined, although its main purpose, the establishment of cooperation in place of competition remains fixed.

The Early Theorists

Socialism arose in the late 18th and early 19th cent. as a reaction to the economic and social changes associated with the Industrial Revolution. While rapid wealth came to the factory owners, the workers became increasingly impoverished. As this capitalist industrial system spread, reactions in the form of socialist thought increased proportionately. Although many thinkers in the past expressed ideas that were similar to later socialism, the first theorist who may properly be called socialist was François Noël Babeuf, who came to prominence during the French Revolution. Babeuf propounded the doctrine of class war between capital and labor later to be seen in Marxism.

Socialist writers who followed Babeuf, however, were more moderate. Known as "utopian socialists," they included the comte de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen. Saint-Simon proposed that production and distribution be carried out by the state. The leaders of society would be industrialists who would found a national community based upon cooperation and who would eliminate the poverty of the lowest classes. Fourier and Owen, though differing in many respects, both believed that social organization should be based on small local collective communities rather than the large centralist state of Saint-Simon. All these men agreed, however, that there should be cooperation rather than competition, and they implicitly rejected class struggle. In the early 19th cent. numerous utopian communistic settlements founded on the principles of Fourier and Owen sprang up in Europe and the United States; New Harmony and Brook Farm were notable examples.

Following the utopians came thinkers such as Louis Blanc who were more political in their socialist formulations. Blanc put forward a system of social workshops (1840) that would be controlled by the workers themselves with the support of the state. Capitalists would be welcome in this venture, and each person would receive goods in proportion to his or her needs. Blanc became a member of the French provisional government of 1848 and attempted to put some of his proposals into effect, but his efforts were sabotaged by his opponents. The anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon and the insurrectionist Auguste Blanqui were also influential socialist leaders of the early and mid-19th cent.

Marxists and Gradualists

In the 1840s the term communism came into use to denote loosely a militant leftist form of socialism; it was associated with the writings of Étienne Cabet and his theories of common ownership. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels later used it to describe the movement that advocated class struggle and revolution to establish a society of cooperation.

In 1848, Marx and Engels wrote the famous Communist Manifesto, in which they set forth the principles of what Marx called "scientific socialism," arguing the historical inevitability of revolutionary conflict between capital and labor. In all of his works Marx attacked the socialists as theoretical utopian dreamers who disregarded the necessity of revolutionary struggle to implement their doctrines. In the atmosphere of disillusionment and bitterness that increasingly pervaded European socialism, Marxism later became the theoretical basis for most socialist thought. But the failure of the revolutions of 1848 caused a decline in socialist action in the following two decades, and it was not until the late 1860s that socialism once more emerged as a powerful social force.

Other varieties of socialism continued to exist alongside Marxism, such as Christian socialism, led in England by Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley; they advocated the establishment of cooperative workshops based on Christian principles. Ferdinand Lassalle, founder of the first workers' party in Germany (1863), promoted the idea of achieving socialism through state action in individual nations, as opposed to the Marxian emphasis on international revolution. Through the efforts of Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel, Lassalle's group was brought into the mainstream of Marxian socialism. By the 1870s Socialist parties sprang up in many European countries, and they eventually formed the Second International. With the increasing improvement of labor conditions, however, and the apparent failure of the capitalist state to weaken, a major schism began to develop over the issue of revolution.

While nearly all socialists condemned the bourgeois capitalist state, a large number apparently felt it more expedient or more efficient to adapt to and reform the state structure, rather than overthrow it. Opposed to these gradualists were the orthodox Marxists and the advocates of anarchism and syndicalism, all of whom believed in the absolute necessity of violent struggle. In 1898, Eduard Bernstein denied the inevitability of class conflict; he called for a revision of Marxism that would allow an evolutionary socialism.

The struggle between evolutionists and revolutionists affected the socialist movement throughout the world. In Germany, Bernstein's chief opponent, Karl Kautsky, insisted that the Social Democratic party adhere strictly to orthodox Marxist principles. In other countries, however, revisionism made more progress. In Great Britain, where orthodox Marxism had never been a powerful force, the Fabian Society, founded in 1884, set forth basic principles of evolutionary socialism that later became the theoretical basis of the British Labour party. The principles of William Morris, dictated by aesthetic and ethical aims, and the small but able group that forwarded guild socialism also had influence on British thought, but the Labour party, with its policy of gradualism, represented the mainstream of British socialism. In the United States, the ideological issue led to a split in the Socialist Labor party, founded in 1876 under strong German influence, and the formation (1901) of the revisionist Socialist party, which soon became the largest socialist group.

The most momentous split, however, took place in the Russian Social Democratic Labor party, which divided into the rival camps of Bolshevism and Menshevism. Again, gradualism was the chief issue. It was the revolutionary opponents of gradualism, the Bolsheviks, who seized power in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became the Communist party of the USSR. World War I had already split the socialist movement over whether to support their national governments in the war effort (most did); the Russian Revolution divided it irrevocably. The Russian Communists founded the Comintern in order to seize leadership of the international socialist movement and to foment world revolution, but most European Socialist parties, including the mainstream of the powerful German party, repudiated the Bolsheviks. Despite the Germans' espousal of Marxist orthodoxy, they had been notably nonrevolutionary in practical politics. Thereafter, revolutionary socialism, or communism, and evolutionary, or democratic, socialism were two separate and frequently mutually antagonistic movements.

Democratic Socialism

Democratic socialism took firm root in European politics after World War I. Socialist democratic parties actively participated in government in Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and other nations. Socialism also became a powerful force in parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. To the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of independence movements, it was attractive as an alternative to the systems of private enterprise and exploitation established by their foreign rulers.

After World War II, socialist parties came to power in many nations throughout the world, and much private industry was nationalized. In Africa and Asia where the workers are peasants, not industrial laborers, socialist programs stressed land reform and other agrarian measures. These nations, until recently, have also emphasized government planning for rapid economic development. African socialism has also included the revival of precolonial values and institutions, while modernizing through the centralized apparatus of the one-party state. Recently, the collapse of Eastern European and Soviet Communist states has led socialists throughout the world to discard much of their doctrines regarding centralized planning and nationalization of enterprises.


See G. D. H. Cole, A History of Socialist Thought (5 vol., 1953–60); J. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (3d ed. 1950, repr. 1962); G. Lichtheim, A Short History of Socialism (1970); M. Harrington, Socialism (1972); W. Lerner, A History of Socialism and Communism in Modern Times (1982); A. S. Linemann, A History of European Socialism (1984); H. Davis and R. Scase, Western Capitalism and State Socialism (1985); D. Sassoon, One Hundred Years of Socialism (1997).

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Broadly speaking, socialism is the ideology of collective ownership of the means of production and the joint distribution of goods. There were two principal currents in Russian socialism. One held that the peasants, who comprised more than 80 percent of the population, would be the driving force in the creation of the new society; and the other assigned that role to the industrial proletariat. The first current was initially advocated by Alexander Herzen (18121870), who had been a supporter of the Decembrists and left Russia for the West in 1847 to escape persecution. The failure of the Revolutions of 1848, which he attributed to the conservatism and attachment to private property of most Europeans, disappointed him deeply. He concluded that the chances for socialism were much better in his native country because the peasant commune had accustomed the Russian people to communal life and egalitarianism. The Russian peasant, Herzen contended, "has no morality save that which flows instinctively, naturally, from his communism." These ideas came to be known as narodnichestvo, which literally means "populism" but is perhaps better translated as "Russian socialism." Taken up by such thinkers and activists as Mikhail A. Bakunin (a radical anarchist), Nikolai K. Mikhailovsky, and Nikolai G. Chernyshevsky, the populists gained a substantial following among the intelligentsia by the 1860s and 1870s. Although all populists agreed that Russia could by-pass capitalism in its evolution toward socialism, there was considerable disagreement over the means to achieve the final goal. Toward the end of his life, Herzen believed that socialism could be attained by peaceful means. Peter I. Lavrov was another strong advocate of peaceful methods; from the 1860s until his death in 1900 he argued that it was the obligation of intellectuals to educate the people politically and thus prepare them to undertake their own liberation. Chernyshevsky, on the other hand, did not believe that force could be avoided.

The failed attempt by the populist Dmitry V. Karakozov to assassinate Alexander II in 1866 and the ensuring repression prompted many revolutionary intellectuals to opt for peaceful tactics. Early in the 1870s, idealistic young narodniki launched the Go to the People movement; hundreds of them moved to the countryside and lived with the peasants in order to teach them to read and write as well as the rudiments of modern technology. But the ultimate goal of the populists was to prepare the masses for the revolution. Many peasants were baffled by the visitors and feared they were trying to lead them astray. Some peasants even turned them in to the police, who in the mid-1870s arrested many of the populists, bringing the well-intentioned project to a close. But the ideas of the populists remained alive and were incorporated by the largest socialist movement in Russia, the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRs), founded in 1902. The SRs advocated the transfer of all land to peasant communes or local associations, which in turn would assign it on an egalitarian basis to all who wished to earn their living by farming. Industry would be similarly socialized. Although the Socialist Revolutionaries insisted that the final goal, socialism, must be achieved by means of persuasion, they tolerated the "Combat Organization," an independent organ of the party that carried out dozens of political assassinations. Political terror, many believed, was necessary to bring about the dismantling of the autocratic regime.

In the meantime, in the late 1870s, a small group of intellectuals led by Georgy V. Plekhanov founded a Marxist movement in the name of the industrial working class, and this represented the second major current in Russian socialism. The Marxists contended that Russia's development would be similar to trends in Central and Western Europe. The country would be industrialized, and would undergo a bourgeois revolution during which the autocratic system would be replaced by a constitutional order dominated by a middle class committed to capitalism. Eventually, when industrialization had reached maturity and the proletariat had become a powerful force, it would stage a second, socialist revolution. In 1898, the Russian Marxists founded the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party, which five years later split into two factions.

The split occurred over the seemingly minor question of how to define a party member, but it soon turned out that the differences between the Bolsheviks (majoritarians) led by Vladimir I. Lenin and the Mensheviks (minoritarians) led by Yuli O. Martov and Paul B. Axelrod touched on fundamental issues. Lenin, in keeping with views he had expressed in 1902 in What Is to Be Done?, favored a highly centralized, elitist, hierarchically organized political party, whereas the Mensheviks stressed the necessity and desirability of broad working-class participation in the movement's affairs and in the coming revolutionary events. In short order, it also became evident that while both factions subscribed to a revolutionary course, the Mensheviks tended to adopt more moderate tactics than did the Bolsheviks.

On November 7, 1917, after the country had endured three years of war that caused untold devastation and loss of life and eight months of revolutionary turbulence, the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government, which consisted of moderates committed to democracy and had been formed when the tsarist regime collapsed earlier that year, in March. Then, on November 8, one day after the Bolsheviks had formed a new government, Lenin sought to placate the peasants, still the vast majority of the population, by adopting the SR land program. He ordered the abrogation of the property rights of the nobility and placed land in the rural regions at the disposal of land committees and district soviets of peasants' deputies for distribution to the peasants. But the Bolsheviks also remained faithful to their own program by introducing workers' control in industry and in commercial and agricultural enterprises, abolishing distinctions and special privileges based on class, eliminating titles in the army, and outlawing inequality in wages. Lenin was convinced that the economically more advanced countries of Europe with large proletarian populations would soon follow Russia's example in adopting socialism.

When this did not happen, his successor, Josef V. Stalin, in 1924 formulated the doctrine of "socialism in one country," according to which Russia was strong enough economically to reach the final goal of socialism by itself. Four years later, the Soviet government launched a second revolution by forcing the peasants into collectives and speeding up the process of industrialization. Much more so than ever before, the major economic decisions were now made by officials in Moscow. Then, in 1936, Stalin formally declared that the goal of socialism had in fact been attained. This claim was disputed by Leon D. Trotsky, the man he had defeated in the struggle over the leadership of the country after Lenin's death in 1924. Trotsky maintained that socialism could triumph only on a worldwide basis. Stalinist socialism remained the regnant ideology of the country until 1991, although many Stalinist methods of rule were gradually abandoned following Stalin's death in 1953.

See also: bolsheviks; herzen, alexander ivanovich; lenin, vladimir illich; marxism; mensheviks; populism; social democratic workers party; socialism in one country; socialist revolutionaries; stalin, joseph vissarionovich; trotsky, leon davidovich


Baron, Samuel H. (1963). Plekhanov: The Father of Russian Marxism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Haimson, Leopold H. (1955). The Russian Marxists and the Origins of Bolshevism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lampert, Evgenii. (1965). Sons against Fathers: Studies in Russian Radicalism and Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Malia, Martin. (1961). Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 18121855. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Venturi, Franco. (1960). Roots of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Walicki, Andrzej. (1995). Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: The Rise and Fall of the Communist Utopia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Woehrlin, William F. (1971). Chernishevskii: The Man and the Journalist. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wolfe, Bertram D. (1948). Three Who Made a Revolution: A Biographical Study. New York: Dial Press.

Abraham Ascher

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socialism An economic and political system based on collective or state ownership of the means of production and distribution–although, like capitalism, the system takes many and diverse forms.

After almost two hundred years of socialist thought the collapse of Soviet communism has broken the grip of the Marxist-Leninist imprimatur on the provenance of this concept. However, the concerns that have been addressed by those who espoused or eschewed the cause still remain. The dichotomies of freedom and equality, individual and collective rights, and even the nature of the historical process (with its voluntaristic and deterministic connotations) all remain very much to the fore. To some extent these problems are now raised afresh since the system of ‘actually existing socialism’ or real socialism as it was called tended to put into suspended animation many of the processes which addressed these questions. Capitalism resurgent in Eastern Europe once again raises the questions of the limit to individual rights, the nature of the common good, and liberalism versus communitarianism (see COLLECTIVISM). Ethnic and national minorities, with their historically defined differences and animosities for so long cryogenically preserved, have starkly raised the question of collective rights and seeming historical inevitability.

Socialism as a doctrine, or some would say a utopia, is generally agreed to have been spawned as a reaction to capitalism. The Durkheimian version was rooted in the desire simply to bring the state closer to the economy, society closer to the realm of individual activity, and sentient parts to each other: in this way the pathologies of capitalism (including anomie) would be mitigated and eventually relieved. Socialism was a cry of pain which did not demand equality of condition but simply a genuine equality of opportunity. The imposition of the former, Durkheim argued, would destroy the very conditions for a healthy society, and society could not demand that which was against its interests for survival.

Max Weber, on the other hand, saw in socialism an accentuation of the process of rationalization commenced under capitalism. He derided the intellectuals who wanted to marry formal to substantive rationality in the socialist state, or as he put it ‘bureaucracy in the state and in the economy’, which would simply create the ‘cage of future bondage’.

The English tradition of so-called ethical socialism argues for forceful government intervention in market processes, state control of the conditions of labour, a collectivist social policy and strong welfare state, as represented in the non-revolutionary and pragmatic gradualism of the Fabians. This vision of socialism emphasizes the values of liberty, fraternity (particularly the importance of citizenship as a counter to the inequalities of social class), and equality, and is most explicitly spelled out in A. H. Halsey and Norman Dennis's English Ethical Socialism (1988). It is opposed to historicism and places moral motivation at the centre of human conduct and social organization. It is also opposed to Marxism-Leninism. The writings of T. H. Marshall and R. H. Tawney are typical of the tradition.

This particular philosophy of socialism has had a strong influence on British empirical sociology, obvious for example in the ‘political arithmetic’ approach to the sociology of education, which has been concerned with comparing the chances of children from different social backgrounds reaching successive stages in the education process. The work of Halsey himself is typical. Halsey's early studies of inequalities in access to education and educational attainment set much of the research agenda of the sociology of education in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s, and were influential in formulating the social policies of comprehensive and compensatory education, while his later work has continued to draw attention to the importance of schools (rather than academic ability) as a determinant of educational achievements (see Social Class and Educational Opportunity, 1961, and Origins and Destinations, 1980

However, Karl Marx's views on the socialist future and the advent of communism have been the most pervasive in their influence on the definition of the letter, if not the spirit, of socialism. For Marx, socialism implied the abolition of markets, capital, and labour as a commodity. In fact, second economies, black markets, and other forms of private activity were never eradicated in state socialist societies, even under Stalinism. Very soon, ‘market socialism’ came to the rescue of the distributive as well as production shortcomings of the planned, command economy. Free labour was in fact dragooned and disciplined by subservient trade unions, and self-management only surfaced at times of crisis or in managerial forms, as in Poland and Yugoslavia. Shortage, rather than the surplus promised by the abolition of the anarchy of capitalist production, was testified to by food queues and price riots. Accumulation within the heavy industrial sector continued, as the bureaucratic state maintained its power by any means, including importing foreign technology rather than provide autonomy to any segment of society. If socialism meant anything it was the creation of social justice and the transition from the labour standard to the needs standard. In fact, socialism did not even create a working meritocracy, but only a political class of the nomenklatura, and despite its commitment to a leading role for the working class, it rewarded workers simply by promoting them into political and white-collar positions in an obvious process of inclusion.

The absence of key civil rights (freedom of speech, person, conscience, movement, property ownership) and political rights (assembly and franchise)–obviated, it was claimed, by the victory of the vanguard Party–was in no way compensated for by the socialist ‘welfare state’ or the satisfaction of need away from the realm of exchange value. Environmental despoliation characteristic of socialist industrialization, mortality and morbidity rates so bad as not to be publishable, gender divisions disguised by the common impoverishment, subsidies to housing and food consumption which provided an extra dimension to the cumulative inequality generated by the socialist system of redistribution–all of these factors and more provided a sorry summary of the achievements of actually existing socialism. Until the very end, ideologists within the Party clung to their socialist rhetoric and slogans, despite the fact that any generation which might have believed in them was by now in a minority.

The overnight collapse of the mass parties in Eastern Europe, and their almost total rejection even in the face of massive impoverishment, is perhaps the major indictment of socialism as it was practised in the Soviet bloc. How it affects the credibility of the doctrine, and what emerges to fill the value vacuum left by its demise, remains to be seen. Nationalism, populism, and varieties of neocorporatist solutions have already sought to take over the constituency of the political left as socialism still dares not to speak its name. See also ANARCHISM; BERNSTEIN, EDUARD; PLURALISM; SAINT-SIMON; SOREL, GEORGES.

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Socialism in One Country


The question of whether socialism could be built in the USSR provoked a great ideological and political debate in the Soviet Union that lasted from 1924 to 1927. In response to Leon Trotsky, who, on the basis of his theory of "permanent revolution," believed that "the genuine rise of socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the most important countries of Europe," Josef Stalin first propounded his doctrine of "socialism in one country" in a newspaper article of December 1922. The difference between the two theories was based on a distinction between the processes of making a socialist revolution and a socialist economy. Every Bolshevik believed that the revolution that had proved victorious in October 1917 was a socialist revolution, but according to party doctrine it was impossible to build a socialist economy in a lone backward country, even though it was now clear that the foundations of a socialist economy were being laid. Stalin did not deny the importance of the international revolution or its likelihood in the near future because of the crisis in capitalism. But seizing on a few scattered passages of Lenin, including, from the last speech Lenin ever made, the quote, "NEP [New Economic Policy] Russia will become socialist Russia," Stalin argued that because the "dictatorship of the proletariat" had been established in Russia through the peculiar conditions of the 1917 revolutionthe alliance of the proletariat and the peasantrythe complete organization of a socialist economy in the USSR was possible, as part of the process of building socialism. He qualified this by saying that "for the final victory of socialism, for the organization of Socialist production, the efforts of one country, particularly of a peasant country like Russia, are insufficient" (Problems of Leninism, 1926), and, moreover, that the victory of socialism could not be considered secure while the USSR was encircled by hostile capitalist powers.

Stalin developed the theory over the next two years, particularly in Problems of Leninism (1926). It was a very effective formula. Politically it was used as a stick with which to beat Trotsky, the Left, Leningrad, and United Oppositions: Stalin condemned his critics for lack of faith in the possibility of building socialism in the Soviet Union. Economically it was used as a basis for the industrialization of the USSR through the Five-Year Plans and the collectivization of agriculture, and it came to mean the opposite of NEP. It provided a slogan expressive of Bolshevik self-confidence after victory in the civil war and the establishment of the new regime, and in contrast to "permanent revolution" held out the prospect of stability. Its appeal lay partly in its reawakening of national pride in the self-sufficiency of the Russian revolution of 1917 and in the potential and destiny of the Russian people to become the progenitor of a new civilization. Through "socialism in one country" Stalin established himself as an ideologue, and the theory became the supreme test of loyalty in the Stalinist party and state.

See also: new economic policy; stalin, josef vissar ionovich; trotsky, leon davidovich


Carr, Edward Hallett. (1970). A History of Soviet Russia: Socialism in One Country, 19241926, Vol. 2. Harmondsworth, UK: Pelican.

Deutscher, Isaac. (1966). Stalin: A Political Biography. Harmondsworth, UK: Pelican.

Stalin, Josef Vissarionovich. (1959). Works, Vol. 8: 1926, JanuaryNovember. Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House.

Derek Watson

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socialism. The word first appeared in 1827 as a description of the doctrines of Robert Owen. Socialists emphasized a social, as opposed to an individualist, approach to life, especially economic organization. Owenite socialism (also known as co-operative, utopian, or communitarian socialism) aimed to change society by the establishment of experimental communities, in which property was held in common and social and economic activity was organized on a co-operative basis. Between 1825 and 1847, seven Owenite communities were founded in Britain. None of them flourished long; but from the co-operative trading stores, established by working men to accumulate funds for starting a community, came the modern Co-operative movement. Owenism provided a critique of capitalism and an alternative political economy based on a general labour theory of value. It did not survive as a movement beyond the later 1840s. The idea of co-operative socialism was continued by the middle-class Christian socialists of 1848–54. Throughout the 1860s and 1870s little was heard of socialism.

In 1884 came a revival, beginning with the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), founded in 1881 as the Democratic Federation from various radical clubs in London. It was basically Marxist and most of the leading socialists were for a short time in its ranks. The Socialist League, under the leadership of William Morris, split off from the SDF in 1884; and in the same year the Fabian Society was formed by a group of middle-class intellectuals who derived their socialism not from Marx but from utilitarianism. In 1893 the Independent Labour Party was founded in Bradford, and despite its title was committed to socialism.

Membership of most socialist organizations signified a commitment to certain principles (of which some version of ‘the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange’ was the most important), followed by a list of ‘immediate’ reforms such as the eight-hour day, state pensions, and free, secular education to 16. There were also other expectations and motivations. For some, the revolt against Victorian society was paramount; some were appalled by the waste and inefficiency of capitalism and wished to replace it by a more rational system; others found in socialism a new religion; and a few believed in class struggle and revolution.

Numerically the socialists were only a small body—probably no more than 2,000 in the 1880s and perhaps 20,000–30,000 by 1900. The failure to build a mass socialist party (as in Germany or France) in the 1890s encouraged socialists to look to the trade union movement for wider support, with the result that in 1900 a Labour Representation Committee based on an alliance of socialist societies and trade unions was formed, and in 1906 this became the Labour Party. It did not adopt a specifically socialist programme until 1918. Thereafter the Labour Party was the main vehicle for an empirical, reformist, welfare-statist type of socialism in Britain, which reached its apogee in the Labour victory of 1945 with its ensuing programme of nationalization and welfare legislation. For many ardent socialists the Labour Party was inadequate, and their sectarian inclinations encouraged the formation of numerous minority movements, including the Communist Party, from 1920 to the present. Their differences were mainly about the means by which socialism could be attained, especially the issue of revolutionary action (variously defined) versus constitutional, reformist measures.

John F. C. Harrison

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socialism System of social and economic organization in which the means of production are owned not by private individuals but by the community, in order that all may share more fairly in the wealth produced. Modern socialism dates from the late 18th–early 19th centuries. With the Revolutions of 1848, socialism became a significant political doctrine in Europe. Karl Marx, whose Communist Manifesto was published in that year, believed that socialism was to be achieved only through the class struggle. Thereafter, a division appeared between the revolutionary socialism of Marx and his followers, later called communism or Marxism-Leninism, and more moderate doctrines that argued socialism could be achieved through education and the democratic process. In Russia, the revolutionary tradition culminated in the Russian Revolution of 1917. From the moderate wing, social democratic parties, such as the British Labour Party, emerged. They were largely instrumental in mitigating the effects of the market economy in w Europe through political measures and for securing social justice and welfare.

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The word socialism was coined in 1832 by Pierre Leroux, editor of the Parisian journal, Le Globe. The doctrine of socialism took on many different meanings as it grew and expanded from western Europe to Russia, the United States, Asia, and Australia. In the days of the Soviet Union, it was a common popular misconception that Russians invented both socialism and communism and exported them, when in fact they borrowed these creeds from western Europe and developed their own versions.

All socialist theories are critical of wealth and the concentration of wealth in private hands; all of them advocate the elimination of poverty by equalizing the distribution of wealth, most often by some degree of collective (i.e., public) ownership. The most extreme socialist creeds have advocated the total elimination of private property. Because socialism also advocates some form of collective action, it can be defined not only as a theory but also as a movement.

The many varieties of socialism evolved in part from the disagreement on the means by which a more equitable distribution of wealth in society is to be achieved. Marxist socialism proposes the forceful establishment of a workers' dictatorship; conservative social democrats advocate parliamentary reform and trade unions; syndicalists favor a general strike of the workers; Christian socialists advocate a stringent application of the principles of the Bible.

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so·cial·ism / ˈsōshəˌlizəm/ • n. a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. ∎  policy or practice based on this theory. ∎  (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism. DERIVATIVES: so·cial·ist n. & adj. so·cial·is·tic / ˌsōshəˈlistik/ adj. so·cial·is·ti·cal·ly / ˌsōshəˈlistik(ə)lē/ adv.

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socialism a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. The first use of French socialisme appears to have been in the Globe of 13 February 1832, where it was used in contrast to personnalité; in its modern sense it has been variously attributed to Leroux or Reybaud, writing a few years after this. An alternative theory is that the word was coined in 1835 in the discussions of a society founded by the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen (1771–1858).

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