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Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, worker or public ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation. Contrary to popular belief, socialism is not a political system; it is an economic system distinct from capitalism.

Socialism —in a few words— requires that the means of production are owned and controlled by the state (government), and not by the bourgeiosie. Socialism is not the same as communism, as descibed in this section.

Goals

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Economics

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Social theory

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Marxism

Utopian versus scientific

Reform versus revolution

Politics

The major socialist political movements are described below. Independent socialist theorists, utopian socialist authors, and academic supporters of socialism may not be represented in these movements. Some political groups have called themselves socialist while holding views that some consider antithetical to socialism. The term socialist has also been used by some politicians on the political right as an epithet against certain individuals who do not consider themselves to be socialists, and against policies that are not considered socialist by their proponents.

Communism

Communists aim for a stateless and classless society. Therefore, communism is very different from socialism, since socialism requires the existence of such state, so that it can control the means of production. However, some communists view (state) socialism as a transitional stage from capitalism to the stateless communist society; while others, e.g, anarchists, advocate a direct transition from capitalism to anarchism-communism.

Anarchism

Anarchism features the belief that the state cannot be used to establish a socialist economy and proposes a political alternative based on federated decentralized autonomous communities. It includes proponents of both individualist anarchism and social anarchism. Mutualists advocate free-market socialism, collectivist anarchists workers cooperatives and salaries based on the amount of time contributed to production, anarcho-communists advocate a direct transition from capitalism to libertarian communism and anarcho-syndicalists worker's direct action and the General strike.

Democratic socialism

Modern democratic socialism is a broad political movement that seeks to propagate the ideals of socialism within the context of a democratic system. Many democratic socialists support social democracy as a road to reform of the current system, but others support more revolutionary tactics to establish socialist goals. Conversely, modern social democracy emphasises a program of gradual legislative reform of capitalism in order to make it more equitable and humane, while the theoretical end goal of building a socialist society is either completely forgotten or redefined in a pro-capitalist way. The two movements are widely similar both in terminology and in ideology, although there are a few key differences.

Democratic socialism generally refers to any political movement that seeks to establish an economy based on economic democracy by and for the working class. Democratic socialists oppose democratic centralism and the revolutionary vanguard party of Leninism. Democratic socialism is difficult to define, and groups of scholars have radically different definitions for the term. Some definitions simply refer to all forms of socialism that follow an electoral, reformist or evolutionary path to socialism, rather than a revolutionary one.[1]

Leninism

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

Libertarian socialism

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

Social democracy

Traditional social democrats advocated the creation of socialism through political reforms by operating within the existing political system of capitalism. The social democratic movement sought to elect socialists to political office to implement reforms. The modern social democratic movement has abandoned the goal of achieving a socialist economy, and instead advocates for social reforms to improve capitalism, such as a welfare state and unemployment benefits. It is best demonstrated by the economic format which has been used in Sweden, Denmark, Norway & Finland in the past few decades.[2]

Syndicalism

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

History

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First International and Second International=

Revolutions of 1917–1936

After World War II

Early 2000s

References

  1. This definition is captured in this statement: Anthony Crosland "argued that the socialisms of the pre-war world (not just that of the Marxists, but of the democratic socialists too) were now increasingly irrelevant." (Chris Pierson, "Lost property: What the Third Way lacks", Journal of Political Ideologies (June 2005), 10(2), 145–163 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569310500097265). Other texts which use the terms "democratic socialism" in this way include Malcolm Hamilton Democratic Socialism in Britain and Sweden (St Martin’s Press 1989).
  2. http://sanders.senate.gov/legislation/issue/?id=55d57772-424b-409b-bf07-fc4895cb0455

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