System of government where the means of production are socially owned
Top 10 Socialism related articles
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 2.1 Early socialism
- 2.2 First International
- 2.3 Second International
- 2.4 Early 20th century
- 2.5 Mid-20th century
- 2.6 Late 20th century
- 3 Contemporary socialist politics
- 4 Social and political theory
- 5 Economics
- 6 Politics
- 7 Criticism
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
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Socialism is a political, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production. It includes the political theories and movements associated with such systems. Social ownership can be public, collective, cooperative, or of equity. While no single definition encapsulates the many types of socialism, social ownership is the one common element. The types of socialism vary based on the role of markets and planning in resource allocation, on the structure of management in organizations, and socialists disagree on whether government, particularly existing government, is the correct vehicle for change.
Socialist systems are divided into non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism substitutes factor markets and money with integrated economic planning and engineering or technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing a different economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws and dynamics than those of capitalism. A non-market socialist system eliminates the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system in capitalism. The socialist calculation debate, originated by the economic calculation problem, concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a planned socialist system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them. Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend. Anarchism and libertarian socialism oppose the use of the state as a means to establish socialism, favouring decentralisation above all, whether to establish non-market socialism or market socialism.
Socialist politics has been both internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions and at other times independent and critical of them; and present in both industrialised and developing nations. Social democracy originated within the socialist movement, supporting economic and social interventions to promote social justice. While nominally retaining socialism as a long-term goal, since the post-war period it has come to embrace a Keynesian mixed economy within a predominantly developed capitalist market economy and liberal democratic polity that expands state intervention to include income redistribution, regulation and a welfare state. Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism, with more democratic control of companies, currencies, investments and natural resources.
The socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 18th century and out of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism. By the late 19th century, after the work of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production. By the 1920s, communism and social democracy had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement, with socialism itself becoming the most influential secular movement of the 20th century. Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, many socialists have also adopted the causes of other social movements such as environmentalism, feminism and progressivism.
While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism or a non-planned administrative or command economy. Academics, political commentators and other scholars sometimes refer to Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general as democratic socialist.
Socialism Intro articles: 50
For Andrew Vincent, "[t]he word 'socialism' finds its root in the Latin sociare, which means to combine or to share. The related, more technical term in Roman and then medieval law was societas. This latter word could mean companionship and fellowship as well as the more legalistic idea of a consensual contract between freemen".
Socialism was coined by Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the founders of what would later be labelled utopian socialism. Simon contrasted it to the liberal doctrine of individualism that emphasized the moral worth of the individual whilst stressing that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another. The original utopian socialists condemned this doctrine of individualism for failing to address social concerns during the Industrial Revolution, including poverty, oppression and vast wealth inequality. They viewed their society as harming community life by basing society on competition. They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism based on the shared ownership of resources. Saint-Simon proposed economic planning, scientific administration and the application of scientific understanding to the organisation of society. By contrast, Robert Owen proposed to organise production and ownership via cooperatives. Socialism is also attributed in France to Pierre Leroux and Marie Roch Louis Reybaud while in Britain it is associated to Owen, who became one of the fathers of the cooperative movement.
The definition and usage of socialism settled by the 1860s, replacing associationist, co-operative and mutualist that had been used as synonyms while communism fell out of use during this period. An early distinction between communism and socialism was that the latter aimed to only socialise production while the former aimed to socialise both production and consumption (in the form of free access to final goods). By 1888, Marxists employed socialism in place of communism as the latter had come to be considered an old-fashioned synonym for socialism. It was not until after the Bolshevik Revolution that socialism was appropriated by Vladimir Lenin to mean a stage between capitalism and communism. He used it to defend the Bolshevik program from Marxist criticism that Russia's productive forces were not sufficiently developed for communism. The distinction between communism and socialism became salient in 1918 after the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party renamed itself to the All-Russian Communist Party, interpreting communism specifically to mean socialists who supported the politics and theories of Bolshevism, Leninism and later that of Marxism–Leninism, although communist parties continued to describe themselves as socialists dedicated to socialism. According to The Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx, "Marx used many terms to refer to a post-capitalist society—positive humanism, socialism, Communism, realm of free individuality, free association of producers, etc. He used these terms completely interchangeably. The notion that 'socialism' and 'Communism' are distinct historical stages is alien to his work and only entered the lexicon of Marxism after his death".
In Christian Europe, communists were believed to have adopted atheism. In Protestant England, communism was too close to the Roman Catholic communion rite, hence socialist was the preferred term. Engels argued that in 1848, when The Communist Manifesto was published, socialism was respectable in Europe while communism was not. The Owenites in England and the Fourierists in France were considered respectable socialists while working-class movements that "proclaimed the necessity of total social change" denoted themselves communists. This branch of socialism produced the communist work of Étienne Cabet in France and Wilhelm Weitling in Germany. British moral philosopher John Stuart Mill discussed a form of economic socialism within a liberal context that would later be known as liberal socialism. In later editions of his Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mill further argued that "as far as economic theory was concerned, there is nothing in principle in economic theory that precludes an economic order based on socialist policies" and promoted substituting capitalist businesses with worker cooperatives. While democrats looked to the Revolutions of 1848 as a democratic revolution which in the long run ensured liberty, equality and fraternity, Marxists denounced it as a betrayal of working-class ideals by a bourgeoisie indifferent to the proletariat.
Socialism Etymology articles: 46
Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity. The economy of the 3rd century BCE Mauryan Empire of India, an absolute monarchy, has been described by some scholars as "a socialized monarchy" and "a sort of state socialism" due to "nationalisation of industries". Other scholars have suggested that elements of socialist thought were present in the politics of classical Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Mazdak the Younger (died c. 524 or 528 CE), a Persian communal proto-socialist, instituted communal possessions and advocated the public good. Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a Companion of Muhammad, is credited by multiple authors as a principal antecedent of Islamic socialism. The teachings of Jesus are frequently described as socialist, especially by Christian socialists. Acts 4:35 records that in the early church in Jerusalem "[n]o one claimed that any of their possessions was their own", although the pattern soon disappears from church history except within monasticism. Christian socialism was one of the founding threads of the British Labour Party and is claimed to begin with the uprising of Wat Tyler and John Ball in the 14th century CE. After the French Revolution, activists and theorists such as François-Noël Babeuf, Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, Philippe Buonarroti and Auguste Blanqui influenced the early French labour and socialist movements. In Britain, Thomas Paine proposed a detailed plan to tax property owners to pay for the needs of the poor in Agrarian Justice while Charles Hall wrote The Effects of Civilization on the People in European States, denouncing capitalism's effects on the poor of his time. This work influenced the utopian schemes of Thomas Spence.
The first self-conscious socialist movements developed in the 1820s and 1830s. Fourierists, Owenites and Saint-Simonians and provided a series of analyses and interpretations of society. Especially the Owenites overlapped with other working-class movements such as the Chartists in the United Kingdom. The Chartists gathered significant numbers around the People's Charter of 1838 which sought democratic reforms focused on the extension of suffrage to all male adults. Leaders in the movement called for a more equitable distribution of income and better living conditions for the working classes. The first trade unions and consumer cooperative societies followed the Chartist movement. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon proposed his philosophy of mutualism in which "everyone had an equal claim, either alone or as part of a small cooperative, to possess and use land and other resources as needed to make a living". Other currents inspired Christian socialism "often in Britain and then usually coming out of left liberal politics and a romantic anti-industrialism" which produced theorists such as Edward Bellamy, Charles Kingsley and Frederick Denison Maurice.
The first advocates of socialism favoured social levelling in order to create a meritocratic or technocratic society based on individual talent. Henri de Saint-Simon was fascinated by the potential of science and technology and advocated a socialist society that would eliminate the disorderly aspects of capitalism based on equal opportunities. He sought a society in which each person was ranked according to his or her capacities and rewarded according to his or her work. His key focus was on administrative efficiency and industrialism and a belief that science was essential to progress. This was accompanied by a desire for a rationally organised economy based on planning and geared towards large-scale scientific and material progress. Other early socialist thinkers such as Charles Hall and Thomas Hodgkin based their ideas on David Ricardo's economic theories. They reasoned that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated prices charged by the producer when those commodities were in elastic supply and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labour—the cost of the labour (essentially the wages paid) that was required to produce the commodities. The Ricardian socialists viewed profit, interest and rent as deductions from this exchange-value.
West European social critics, including Louis Blanc, Charles Fourier, Charles Hall, Robert Owen, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Saint-Simon were the first modern socialists who criticised the poverty and inequality of the Industrial Revolution. They advocated reform, Owen advocating the transformation of society to small communities without private property. Owen's contribution to modern socialism was his claim that individual actions and characteristics were largely determined by their social environment. On the other hand, Fourier advocated Phalanstères (communities that respected individual desires, including sexual preferences), affinities and creativity and saw that work has to be made enjoyable for people. Owen and Fourier's ideas were practiced in intentional communities around Europe and North America in the mid-19th century.
The Paris Commune was a government that ruled Paris from 18 March (formally, from 28 March) to 28 May 1871. The Commune was the result of an uprising in Paris after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. The Commune elections were held on 26 March. They elected a Commune council of 92 members, one member for each 20,000 residents. Despite internal differences, the council began to organise public services. It reached a consensus on certain policies that tended towards a progressive, secular and highly democratic social democracy.
Because the Commune was able to meet on fewer than 60 days in total, only a few decrees were actually implemented. These included the separation of church and state; the remission of rents owed for the period of the siege (during which payment had been suspended); the abolition of night work in the hundreds of Paris bakeries; the granting of pensions to the unmarried companions and children of National Guards killed on active service; and the free return of all workmen's tools and household items valued up to 20 francs that had been pledged during the siege. The Commune was concerned that skilled workers had been forced to pawn their tools during the war; the postponement of commercial debt obligations and the abolition of interest on the debts; and the right of employees to take over and run an enterprise if it were deserted by its owner. The Commune nonetheless recognised the previous owner's right to compensation.
In 1864, the First International was founded in London. It united diverse revolutionary currents, including socialists such as the French followers of Proudhon, Blanquists, Philadelphes, English trade unionists and social democrats. In 1865 and 1866, it held a preliminary conference and had its first congress in Geneva, respectively. Due to their wide variety of philosophies, conflict immediately erupted. The first objections to Marx came from the mutualists who opposed state socialism. Shortly after Mikhail Bakunin and his followers joined in 1868, the First International became polarised into camps headed by Marx and Bakunin. The clearest differences between the groups emerged over their proposed strategies for achieving their visions. The First International became the first major international forum for the promulgation of socialist ideas.
Bakunin's followers were called collectivists and sought to collectivise ownership of the means of production while retaining payment proportional to the amount and kind of labour of each individual. Like Proudhonists, they asserted the right of each individual to the product of his labour and to be remunerated for his particular contribution to production. By contrast, anarcho-communists sought collective ownership of both the means and the products of labour. As Errico Malatesta put it, "instead of running the risk of making a confusion in trying to distinguish what you and I each do, let us all work and put everything in common. In this way each will give to society all that his strength permits until enough is produced for every one; and each will take all that he needs, limiting his needs only in those things of which there is not yet plenty for every one". Anarcho-communism as a coherent economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Malatesta, Carlo Cafiero, Emilio Covelli, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian republicans. Out of respect for Bakunin, they did not make their differences with collectivist anarchism explicit until after his death.
Syndicalism emerged in France inspired in part by Proudhon and later by Pelloutier and Georges Sorel. It developed at the end of the 19th century out of the French trade-union movement (syndicat is the French word for trade union). It was a significant force in Italy and Spain in the early 20th century until it was crushed by the fascist regimes in those countries. In the United States, syndicalism appeared in the guise of the Industrial Workers of the World, or "Wobblies", founded in 1905. Syndicalism is an economic system that organises industries into confederations (syndicates) and the economy is managed by negotiation between specialists and worker representatives of each field, comprising multiple non-competitive categorised units. Syndicalism is a form of communism and economic corporatism, but also refers to the political movement and tactics used to bring about this type of system. An influential anarchist movement based on syndicalist ideas is anarcho-syndicalism. The International Workers Association is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labour unions.
The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation established to advance socialism via gradualist and reformist means. The society laid many foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, most notably India and Singapore. Originally, the Fabian Society was committed to the establishment of a socialist economy, alongside a commitment to British imperialism as a progressive and modernising force. Later, the society functioned primarily as a think tank and is one of fifteen socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), in Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation and the now disbanded League for Social Reconstruction) and in New Zealand.
Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds "in an implied contractual relationship with the public". It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. Inspired by medieval guilds, theorists such as Samuel George Hobson and G. D. H. Cole advocated the public ownership of industries and their workforces' organisation into guilds, each of which under the democratic control of its trade union. Guild socialists were less inclined than Fabians to invest power in a state. At some point, like the American Knights of Labor, guild socialism wanted to abolish the wage system.
As the ideas of Marx and Engels gained acceptance, particularly in central Europe, socialists sought to unite in an international organisation. In 1889 (the centennial of the French Revolution), the Second International was founded, with 384 delegates from twenty countries representing about 300 labour and socialist organisations. It was termed the Socialist International and Engels was elected honorary president at the third congress in 1893. Anarchists were banned, mainly due to pressure from Marxists. It has been argued that at some point the Second International turned "into a battleground over the issue of libertarian versus authoritarian socialism. Not only did they effectively present themselves as champions of minority rights; they also provoked the German Marxists into demonstrating a dictatorial intolerance which was a factor in preventing the British labour movement from following the Marxist direction indicated by such leaders as H. M. Hyndman".
Reformism arose as an alternative to revolution. Eduard Bernstein was a leading social democrat in Germany who proposed the concept of evolutionary socialism. Revolutionary socialists quickly targeted reformism: Rosa Luxemburg condemned Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism in her 1900 essay Social Reform or Revolution? Revolutionary socialism encompasses multiple social and political movements that may define "revolution" differently. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) became the largest and most powerful socialist party in Europe, despite working illegally until the anti-socialist laws were dropped in 1890. In the 1893 elections, it gained 1,787,000 votes, a quarter of the total votes cast, according to Engels. In 1895, the year of his death, Engels emphasised The Communist Manifesto's emphasis on winning, as a first step, the "battle of democracy".
Early 20th century
In Argentina, the Socialist Party of Argentina was established in the 1890s led by Juan B. Justo and Nicolás Repetto, among others. It was the first mass party in the country and in Latin America. The party affiliated itself with the Second International. Between 1924 and 1940, it was a member of the Labour and Socialist International.
In 1904, Australians elected Chris Watson as the first Australian Labor Party Prime Minister, becoming the first democratically elected socialist. In 1909, the first Kibbutz was established in Palestine by Russian Jewish Immigrants. The Kibbutz Movement expanded through the 20th century following a doctrine of Zionist socialism. The British Labour Party first won seats in the House of Commons in 1902. The International Socialist Commission (ISC, also known as Berne International) was formed in February 1919 at a meeting in Bern by parties that wanted to resurrect the Second International.
By 1917, the patriotism of World War I changed into political radicalism in Australia, most of Europe and the United States. Other socialist parties from around the world who were beginning to gain importance in their national politics in the early 20th century included the Italian Socialist Party, the French Section of the Workers' International, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party and the Socialist Party in Argentina, the Socialist Workers' Party in Chile and the Socialist Party of America in the United States.
In February 1917, revolution exploded in Russia. Workers, soldiers and peasants established soviets (councils), the monarchy fell and a provisional government convened pending the election of a constituent assembly. In April of that year, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik faction of socialists in Russia and known for his profound and controversial expansions of Marxism, was allowed to cross Germany to return from exile in Switzerland.
Lenin had published essays on his analysis of imperialism, the monopoly and globalisation phase of capitalism, as well as analyses on social conditions. He observed that as capitalism had further developed in Europe and America, the workers remained unable to gain class consciousness so long as they were too busy working to pay their expenses. He therefore proposed that the social revolution would require the leadership of a vanguard party of class-conscious revolutionaries from the educated and politically active part of the population.
Upon arriving in Petrograd, Lenin declared that the revolution in Russia had only begun, and that the next step was for the workers' soviets to take full authority. He issued a thesis outlining the Bolshevik programme, including rejection of any legitimacy in the provisional government and advocacy for state power to be administered through the soviets. The Bolsheviks became the most influential force. On 7 November, the capitol of the provisional government was stormed by Bolshevik Red Guards in what afterwards became known as the Great October Socialist Revolution. The provisional government ended and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic—the world's first constitutionally socialist state—was established. On 25 January 1918, Lenin declared "Long live the world socialist revolution!" at the Petrograd Soviet and proposed an immediate armistice on all fronts and transferred the land of the landed proprietors, the crown and the monasteries to the peasant committees without compensation.
The day after assuming executive power on 25 January, Lenin wrote Draft Regulations on Workers' Control, which granted workers control of businesses with more than five workers and office employees and access to all books, documents and stocks and whose decisions were to be "binding upon the owners of the enterprises". Governing through the elected soviets and in alliance with the peasant-based Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Bolshevik government began nationalising banks and industry; and disavowed the national debts of the deposed Romanov royal régime. It sued for peace, withdrawing from World War I and convoked a Constituent Assembly in which the peasant Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SR) won a majority.
The Constituent Assembly elected SR leader Victor Chernov President of a Russian republic, but rejected the Bolshevik proposal that it endorse the Soviet decrees on land, peace and workers' control and acknowledge the power of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies. The next day, the Bolsheviks declared that the assembly was elected on outdated party lists and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets dissolved it. In March 1919, world communist parties formed Comintern (also known as the Third International) at a meeting in Moscow.
International Working Union of Socialist Parties
Parties which did not want to be a part of the resurrected Second International (ISC) or Comintern formed the International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP, also known as Vienna International/Vienna Union/Two-and-a-Half International) on 27 February 1921 at a conference in Vienna. The ISC and the IWUSP joined to form the Labour and Socialist International (LSI) in May 1923 at a meeting in Hamburg Left-wing groups which did not agree to the centralisation and abandonment of the soviets by the Bolshevik Party led left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks—such groups included Socialist Revolutionaries, Left Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and anarchists.
Within this left-wing discontent, the most large-scale events were the worker's Kronstadt rebellion and the anarchist led Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine uprising which controlled an area known as the Free Territory.
The Bolshevik Russian Revolution of January 1918 launched communist parties in many countries and concomitant revolutions from 1917–1923. Few communists doubted that the Russian experience depended on successful, working-class socialist revolutions in developed capitalist countries. In 1919, Lenin and Trotsky organised the world's communist parties into an international association of workers—the Communist International (Comintern), also called the Third International.
The Russian Revolution influenced uprisings in other countries. The German Revolution of 1918–1919 replaced Germany's imperial government with a republic. The revolution lasted from November 1918 until the establishment of the Weimar Republic in August 1919. It included an episode known as the Bavarian Soviet Republic and the Spartacist uprising. In Italy, the events known as the Biennio Rosso were characterised by mass strikes, worker demonstrations and self-management experiments through land and factory occupations. In Turin and Milan, workers' councils were formed and many factory occupations took place led by anarcho-syndicalists organised around the Unione Sindacale Italiana.
By 1920, the Red Army under Trotsky had largely defeated the royalist White Armies. In 1921, War Communism was ended and under the New Economic Policy (NEP) private ownership was allowed for small and medium peasant enterprises. While industry remained largely state-controlled, Lenin acknowledged that the NEP was a necessary capitalist measure for a country unready for socialism. Profiteering returned in the form of "NEP men" and rich peasants (kulaks) gained power. Trotsky's role was questioned by other socialists, including ex-Trotskyists. In the United States, Dwight Macdonald broke with Trotsky and left the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party by noting the Kronstadt rebellion, which Trotsky and the other Bolsheviks had brutally repressed. He then moved towards democratic socialism and anarchism.
A similar critique of Trotsky's role in the Kronstadt rebellion was raised by American anarchist Emma Goldman. In her essay "Trotsky Protests Too Much", she states, "I admit, the dictatorship under Stalin's rule has become monstrous. That does not, however, lessen the guilt of Leon Trotsky as one of the actors in the revolutionary drama of which Kronstadt was one of the bloodiest scenes".
4th World Congress of the Communist International
In 1922, the fourth congress of the Communist International took up the policy of the united front. It urged communists to work with rank and file social democrats while remaining critical of their leaders. They criticised those leaders for betraying the working class by supporting the capitalists' war efforts. The social democrats pointed to the dislocation caused by revolution and later the growing authoritarianism of the communist parties. The Labour Party rejected the Communist Party of Great Britain's application to affiliate to them in 1920.
On seeing the Soviet State's growing coercive power in 1923, a dying Lenin said Russia had reverted to "a bourgeois tsarist machine [...] barely varnished with socialism". After Lenin's death in January 1924, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—then increasingly under the control of Joseph Stalin—rejected the theory that socialism could not be built solely in the Soviet Union in favour of the concept of socialism in one country. Despite the marginalised Left Opposition's demand for the restoration of Soviet democracy, Stalin developed a bureaucratic, authoritarian government that was condemned by democratic socialists, anarchists and Trotskyists for undermining the Revolution's ideals.
In 1924, the Mongolian People's Republic was established and was ruled by the Mongolian People's Party. The Russian Revolution and its aftermath motivated national communist parties elsewhere that gained political and social influence, in France, the United States, Italy, China, Mexico, the Brazil, Chile and Indonesia.
Spanish Civil War
In Spain in 1936, the national anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance. Their abstention led to a right-wing election victory. In 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped return the popular front to power. Months later, the former ruling class attempted a coup, sparking the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).
In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land. The Spanish Revolution was a workers' social revolution that began with the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and more broadly libertarian socialist organisational principles in some areas for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia and parts of Levante.
Much of Spain's economy came under worker control. In anarchist strongholds like Catalonia the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party influence, which actively resisted attempts at collectivisation. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertarian communes. Anarchist historian Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or indirectly in the Spanish Revolution.
Post-World War II
Trotsky's Fourth International was established in France in 1938 when Trotskyists argued that the Comintern or Third International had become irretrievably "lost to Stalinism" and thus incapable of leading the working class to power. The rise of Nazism and the start of World War II led to the dissolution of the LSI in 1940. After the War, the Socialist International was formed in Frankfurt in July 1951 as its successor.
After World War II, social democratic governments introduced social reform and wealth redistribution via welfare and taxation. Social democratic parties dominated post-war politics in countries such as France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Norway. At one point, France claimed to be the world's most state-controlled capitalist country. It nationalised public utilities including Charbonnages de France (CDF), Électricité de France (EDF), Gaz de France (GDF), Air France, Banque de France and Régie Nationale des Usines Renault.
In 1945, the British Labour Party led by Clement Attlee was elected based on a radical socialist programme. The Labour government nationalised industries including mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel and the Bank of England. British Petroleum was officially nationalised in 1951. Anthony Crosland said that in 1956 25% of British industry was nationalised and that public employees, including those in nationalised industries, constituted a similar proportion of the country's workers. The Labour Governments of 1964–1970 and 1974–1979 intervened further. It re-nationalised British Steel (1967) after the Conservatives had denationalised it and nationalised British Leyland (1976). The National Health Service provided taxpayer-funded health care to everyone, free at the point of service. Working-class housing was provided in council housing estates and university education became available via a school grant system.
During most of the post-war era, Sweden was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party largely in cooperation with trade unions and industry. In Sweden, the Swedish Social Democratic Party held power from 1936 to 1976, 1982 to 1991, 1994 to 2006 and 2014 through 2023, most recently in a minority coalition. Tage Erlander was the first leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SSDP). He led the government from 1946 to 1969, the longest uninterrupted parliamentary government. These governments substantially expanded the welfare state. Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme identified as a "democratic socialist" and was described as a "revolutionary reformist".
The Norwegian Labour Party was established in 1887 and was largely a trade union federation. The party did not proclaim a socialist agenda, elevating universal suffrage and dissolution of the union with Sweden as its top priorities. In 1899, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions separated from the Labour Party. Around the time of the Russian Revolution, the Labour Party moved to the left and joined the Communist International from 1919 through 1923. Thereafter, the party still regarded itself as revolutionary, but the party's left-wing broke away and established the Communist Party of Norway while the Labour Party gradually adopted a reformist line around 1930. In 1935, Johan Nygaardsvold established a coalition that lasted until 1945.
From 1946 to 1962, the Norwegian Labour Party held an absolute majority in the parliament led by Einar Gerhardsen, who remained Prime Minister for seventeen years. Although the party abandoned most of its pre-war socialist ideas, the welfare state was expanded under Gerhardsen to ensure the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilise the economy. In the 1945 Norwegian parliamentary election, the Communist Party took 12% of the votes, but it largely vanished during the Cold War. In the 1950s, popular socialism emerged in Nordic countries. It placed itself between communism and social democracy. In the early 1960s, the Socialist Left Party challenged the Labour Party from the left. Also in the 1960s, Gerhardsen established a planning agency and tried to establish a planned economy. In the 1970s, a more radical socialist party, the Worker's Communist Party (AKP), broke from the Socialist Left Party and had notable influence in student associations and some trade unions. The AKP identified with Communist China and Albania rather than the Soviet Union.
In countries such as Sweden, the Rehn–Meidner model allowed capitalists owning productive and efficient firms to retain profits at the expense of the firms' workers, exacerbating inequality and causing workers to agitate for a share of the profits in the 1970s. At that time, women working in the state sector began to demand better wages. Rudolf Meidner established a study committee that came up with a 1976 proposal to transfer excess profits into worker-controlled investment funds, with the intention that firms would create jobs and pay higher wages rather than reward company owners and managers. Capitalists immediately labeled this proposal as socialism and launched an unprecedented opposition—including calling off the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement. Social democratic parties are some of the oldest such parties and operate in all Nordic countries. Countries or political systems that have long been dominated by social democratic parties are often labelled social democratic. Those countries fit the social democratic type of "high socialism" which is described as favouring "a high level of decommodification and a low degree of stratification".
The Nordic model is a form of economic-political system common to the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). It has three main ingredients, namely peaceful, institutionalised negotiation between employers and trade unions; active, predictable and measured macroeconomic policy; and universal welfare and free education. The welfare system is governmental in Norway and Sweden whereas trade unions play a greater role in Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The Nordic model is often labelled social democratic and contrasted with the conservative continental model and the liberal Anglo-American model. Major reforms in the Nordic countries are the results of consensus and compromise across the political spectrum. Key reforms were implemented under social democratic cabinets in Denmark, Norway and Sweden while centre-right parties dominated during the implementation of the model in Finland and Iceland. Since World War II, Nordic countries have largely maintained a social democratic mixed economy, characterised by labour force participation, gender equality, egalitarian and universal benefits, redistribution of wealth and expansionary fiscal policy.
In Norway, the first mandatory social insurances were introduced by conservative cabinets in 1895 (Francis Hagerups's cabinet) and 1911 (Konow's Cabinet). During the 1930s, the Labour Party adopted the conservatives' welfare state project. After World War II, all political parties agreed that the welfare state should be expanded. Universal social security (Folketrygden) was introduced by the conservative Borten's Cabinet. Norway's economy is open to the international or European market for most products and services, joining the European Union's internal market in 1994 through European Economic Area. Some of the mixed economy institutions from the post-war period were relaxed by the conservative cabinet of the 1980s and the finance market was deregulated. Within the Varieties of Capitalism-framework, Finland, Norway and Sweden are identified as coordinated market economies.
Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first spacecraft and the first astronaut. The Soviet economy was the modern world's first centrally planned economy. It adopted state ownership of industry managed through Gosplan (the State Planning Commission), Gosbank (the State Bank) and the Gossnab (State Commission for Materials and Equipment Supply).
Economic planning was conducted through serial Five-Year Plans. The emphasis was on development of heavy industry. The nation became one of the world's top manufacturers of basic and heavy industrial products, while deemphasizing light industrial production and consumer durables. Modernisation brought about a general increase in the standard of living.
The Eastern Bloc was the group of Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact, including Poland, the German Democratic Republic, the Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Albania and Yugoslavia. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Communist government, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of the excesses of Stalin's regime during the Twentieth Communist Party Congress in 1956 as well as the Hungarian revolt, produced disunity within Western European communist and socialist parties.
Asia, Africa and Latin America
In the post-war years, socialism became increasingly influential in many then-developing countries. Embracing Third World socialism, countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America often nationalised industries.
The Chinese Communist Revolution was the second stage in the Chinese Civil War, which ended with the establishment of the People's Republic of China led by the Chinese Communist Party. The then-Chinese Kuomintang Party in the 1920s incorporated Chinese socialism as part of its ideology.
The emergence of this new political entity in the frame of the Cold War was complex and painful. Several tentative efforts were made to organise newly independent states in order to establish a common front to limit the United States' and the Soviet Union's influence on them. This led to the Sino-Soviet split. The Non-Aligned Movement gathered around the figures of Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. After the 1954 Geneva Conference which ended the French war in Vietnam, the 1955 Bandung Conference gathered Nasser, Nehru, Tito, Sukarno and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. As many African countries gained independence during the 1960s, some of them rejected capitalism in favour of African socialism as defined by Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sékou Touré of Guinea.
The Cuban Revolution (1953–1959) was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement and its allies against the government of Fulgencio Batista. Castro's government eventually adopted communism, becoming the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1965.
In Indonesia, a right-wing military regime led by Suharto killed between 500,000 and one million people in 1965 and 1966, mainly to crush the growing influence of the Communist Party and other leftist groups, with support from the United States which provided kill lists containing thousands of names of suspected high-ranking Communists.
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist approach to social justice and focused mostly on labour unionisation and questions of social class. The New Left rejected involvement with the labour movement and Marxism's historical theory of class struggle.
In the United States, the New Left was associated with the Hippie movement and anti-war college campus protest movements as well as the black liberation movements such as the Black Panther Party. While initially formed in opposition to the "Old Left" Democratic Party, groups composing the New Left gradually became central players in the Democratic coalition.
Protests of 1968
The protests of 1968 represented a worldwide escalation of social conflicts, predominantly characterised by popular rebellions against military, capitalist and bureaucratic elites who responded with an escalation of political repression. These protests marked a turning point for the civil rights movement in the United States which produced revolutionary movements like the Black Panther Party. The prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. organised the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice, while personally showing sympathy with democratic socialism. In reaction to the Tet Offensive, protests also sparked a broad movement in opposition to the Vietnam War all over the United States and even into London, Paris, Berlin and Rome. In 1968, the International of Anarchist Federations was founded during an international anarchist conference held in Carrara by the three existing European federations of France, the Italian and the Iberian Anarchist Federation as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile.
Mass socialist or communist movements grew not only in the United States, but also in most European countries. The most spectacular manifestation of this were the May 1968 protests in France in which students linked up with strikes of up to ten million workers and for a few days the movement seemed capable of overthrowing the government.
In many other capitalist countries, struggles against dictatorships, state repression and colonisation were also marked by protests in 1968, such as the beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and the escalation of guerrilla warfare against the military dictatorship in Brazil. Countries governed by communist parties had protests against bureaucratic and military elites. In Eastern Europe there were widespread protests that escalated particularly in the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. In response, Soviet Union occupied Czechoslovakia, but the occupation was denounced by the Italian and French communist parties and the Communist Party of Finland. Few western European political leaders defended the occupation, among them the Portuguese communist secretary-general Álvaro Cunhal. along with the Luxembourg party and conservative factions of the Communist Party of Greece.
In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a social-political youth movement mobilised against "bourgeois" elements which were seen to be infiltrating the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. This movement motivated Maoism-inspired movements around the world in the context of the Sino-Soviet split.
Late 20th century
In the 1960s, a socialist tendency within the Latin American Catholic church appeared and was known as liberation theology It motivated the Colombian priest Camilo Torres Restrepo to enter the ELN guerrilla. In Chile, Salvador Allende, a physician and candidate for the Socialist Party of Chile, was elected president in 1970. In 1973, his government was ousted by the United States-backed military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted until the late 1980s. Pinochet's regime was a leader of Operation Condor, a U.S.-backed campaign of repression and state terrorism carried out by the intelligence services of the Southern Cone countries of Latin America to eliminate suspected Communist subversion. In Jamaica, the democratic socialist Michael Manley served as the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992. According to opinion polls, he remains one of Jamaica's most popular Prime Ministers since independence. The Nicaraguan Revolution encompassed the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the dictatorship in 1978–1979, the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990 and the socialist measures which included wide-scale agrarian reform and educational programs. The People's Revolutionary Government was proclaimed on 13 March 1979 in Grenada which was overthrown by armed forces of the United States in 1983. The Salvadoran Civil War (1979–1992) was a conflict between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or umbrella organisation of five socialist guerrilla groups. A coup on 15 October 1979 led to the killings of anti-coup protesters by the government as well as anti-disorder protesters by the guerrillas, and is widely seen as the tipping point towards the civil war.
In Italy, Autonomia Operaia was a leftist movement particularly active from 1976 to 1978. It took an important role in the autonomist movement in the 1970s, aside earlier organisations such as Potere Operaio (created after May 1968) and Lotta Continua. This experience prompted the contemporary socialist radical movement autonomism. In 1982, the newly elected French socialist government of François Mitterrand made nationalisations in a few key industries, including banks and insurance companies. Eurocommunism was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s in various Western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant for a Western European country and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Outside Western Europe, it is sometimes called neocommunism. Some communist parties with strong popular support, notably the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) adopted Eurocommunism most enthusiastically and the Communist Party of Finland was dominated by Eurocommunists. The French Communist Party (PCF) and many smaller parties strongly opposed Eurocommunism and stayed aligned with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union until the end of the Soviet Union.
In the late 1970s and in the 1980s, the Socialist International (SI) had extensive contacts and discussion with the two powers of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, about east–west relations and arms control. Since then, the SI has admitted as member parties the Nicaraguan FSLN, the left-wing Puerto Rican Independence Party, as well as former communist parties such as the Democratic Party of the Left of Italy and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO). The SI aided social democratic parties in re-establishing themselves when dictatorship gave way to democracy in Portugal (1974) and Spain (1975). Until its 1976 Geneva Congress, the SI had few members outside Europe and no formal involvement with Latin America.
After Mao Zedong's death in 1976 and the arrest of the faction known as the Gang of Four, who were blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping took power and led the People's Republic of China to significant economic reforms. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives and the communes were disbanded in favour of private land leases, thus China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy named as "socialism with Chinese characteristics" which maintained state ownership rights over land, state or cooperative ownership of much of the heavy industrial and manufacturing sectors and state influence in the banking and financial sectors. China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin, Premiers Li Peng and Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990s. Under their administration, China's economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2%. At the Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in December 1986, reformist politicians replaced the "old guard" government with new leadership. The reformers were led by 71-year-old Nguyen Van Linh, who became the party's new general secretary. Linh and the reformers implemented a series of free market reforms—known as Đổi Mới ("Renovation")—which carefully managed the transition from a planned economy to a "socialist-oriented market economy". Mikhail Gorbachev wished to move the Soviet Union towards of Nordic-style social democracy, calling it "a socialist beacon for all mankind". Prior to its dissolution in 1991, the economy of the Soviet Union was the second largest in the world after the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic integration of the Soviet republics was dissolved and overall industrial activity declined substantially. A lasting legacy remains in the physical infrastructure created during decades of combined industrial production practices, and widespread environmental destruction. The transition to capitalism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, which was accompanied by Washington Consensus-inspired "shock therapy", resulted in a steep fall in the standard of living. The region experienced rising economic inequality and poverty a surge in excess mortality and a decline in life expectancy, which was accompanied by the entrenchment of a newly established business oligarchy in the former. The average post-communist country had returned to 1989 levels of per-capita GDP by 2005, although some are still far behind that. These developments led to increased nationalist sentiment and nostalgia for the Communist era.
Many social democratic parties, particularly after the Cold War, adopted neoliberal market policies including privatisation, deregulation and financialisation. They abandoned their pursuit of moderate socialism in favour of economic liberalism. By the 1980s, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the United States, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Brian Mulroney in Canada and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the Western welfare state was attacked from within, but state support for the corporate sector was maintained. Monetarists and neoliberals attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship. In the United Kingdom, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock made a public attack against the entryist group Militant at the 1985 Labour Party conference. Labour ruled that Militant was ineligible for affiliation with the party and it gradually expelled Militant supporters. The Kinnock leadership had refused to support the 1984–1985 miner's strike over pit closures, a decision that the party's left wing and the National Union of Mineworkers blamed for the strike's eventual defeat. In 1989, the 18th Congress of the Socialist International adopted a new Declaration of Principles, stating:
Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society.
In the 1990s, the British Labour Party under Tony Blair enacted policies based on the free market economy to deliver public services via the private finance initiative. Influential in these policies was the idea of a Third Way which called for a re-evaluation of welfare state policies. In 1995, the Labour Party re-defined its stance on socialism by re-wording Clause IV of its constitution, defining socialism in ethical terms and removing all references to public, direct worker or municipal ownership of the means of production. The Labour Party stated: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few".