Socialism 15 Markers

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 05-02-17 14:16

Socialism and collectivism

1) define collectivism: political principle giving collective groups priority over individuals

How - 2a) co-operatives: utopian small communities, reliance on each other to work together, promoting equality i.e Robert Owens

2b) trade union: reliance on each other i.e Unite

Why - 3a) human nature: humans as social animals who prefer to co-operate rather than compete; sympathy from working together promoting good behaviour leading to more stable society with less crime; Kropotkin: mutual aid

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Equality and why?

1) define equality: principle that human beings are of identical worth/entitled to be treated in the same way

2) social equality/equality of outcome

2a) social quality upholds justice/fairness - inequality comes from unjust society so for socialists, justice is the idea that people are treated equally in terms of rewards/material circumstances

2b) underpins community/co-operation; if people live in equal social circumstances, they'll work together for common benefit so equal outcomes = social solidarity/stability (criticism of equality of opportunity_

2c) need-satisfaction is basis for human fulfilment/self-realisation and have to be fulfilled; their satisfaction = freedom; since most have broadly similar needs, distribution of wealth based on need-satisfaction; implies egalitarian distribution

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Fundamentalist VS revisionist socialism

1) fundamentalist socialism (communism)

  • form seeking to abolish capitalism and replace it with v different system
  • capitalism is fundamentally corrupt + flawed due to class exploitation so anti-private property
  • violent revolution necessary bc state wants to maintain capitalism

2) revisionist socialism (social democracy) - form revised critique of capitalism seeking to recononcile social justice and capitalism (reforming/humanising it through economic/social state intervention); anti-disadvantage rather than ownership politics

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Individualism VS collectivism with implications fo

1) define individualism: belief in supreme importance of individual over any social group/collective body i.e social class
2) define collectivism: belief that collective human endaveour is of greater practical/moral value than any individual self-striving
3) implication for individualism: minimal state that intervenes only when necessary (Jefferson: the state that governs least governs best) i.e preventing breakdown of contracts
4) implication for collectivism: state affairs should be done based on what's best for the most, increasing powerful state to help social groups i.e the working classes

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Marx and need for a dictatorship of the proletaria

1) define: Marxist term denoting the transitionary phase between collapse of capitalism and establishment of full communism, characterised by establishment of proletariat state; state power wielded in interests of working class
2) prevent counter-revolutions; class tensions will continue to exist and bourgeoise might rebel against socialism
3) take responsibility for nationalisation; communism has common ownership, state can prepare for this through nationalisation of industries and products

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Why/what extent - common ownership

1) define common ownership: property to be owned by all and used for benefit of humanity
2a) property is unjust - wealth is produced through collective effort so should be owned by comminuted not individuals
2b) morally corrupting; encourages people to be materialistic (happiness = wealth); those who are wealthy want more, those without wealth want it
2c) divide; conflict in society between owners and workers/employers and employees/rich and poor
3a) Marxists - no private property whatsoever and total common ownership (USSR collectivisation)
3b) social democrats - mixed economy; key industries nationalised (post-war consensus and coal industries)
3c) revisionists - acceptance of free market due to less emphasis on class conflict (Third Way and Clause IV)

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Marx and the state withering away

1) non-communist societies are all class societies - minority will exploit working class
2) this impacts other structures in society i.e states, laws, religion; state becomes tool of ruling class
3) internal contradictions (exploitation/class consciousness) lead to revolution and communist society
4) in classless society, no state to maintain exploitation so will wither away

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Lenin's revision of the party

1) Marx - working classes would develop self-consciousness (understanding of the reality of capitalist system) through worse/frequent crises; eventually would be a spontaneous revolution; communist party required for organisation/leadership
2) Lenin: working class would develop "sub-socialist trade union consciouness"; would achieve things i.e better working conditions and would accept this as true socialism from bourgeoisie ideology; need for tightly disciplined elite party of professional revolutionaries to bring out socialist consciouness to working class (vanguard party)

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Socialist criticism of liberal view of equality

1) liberal view: foundational equality (people born equal); implies support for formal equality/equality of opportunity
2) criticisms: conceals inequalies of capitalist system/justifies social inequalities; formal equality doesn't take economic/social circumstances into account; equality of opportunity promotes rivalry/competition and implies unequal outcomes are justifiable bc they reflect unequal personal merit

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Favouring co-operation over competition

1a) define co-operation: working together; collective effort intended to achieve mutual benefit
1b) define competition: working against one another; individual effort intended to only achieve benefit for one person
2a) moral ground - humans are intrinsically social/linked through common humanity so co-operation strengths social bonds between/amongst people; competition encourages greed/selfishness which denies true nature
2b) economic ground - co-operation allows societies to harness collective energies on rational basis using reason; competition is ineffecient bc people fight against each other and waste energy

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Marx: capitalism doomed to collapse and revolution

1) Capitalism doomed to collapse bc of its own internal contradictions
2) Capitalism embodies its own antithesis (proletariat), Marx: ‘gravedigger’ of capitalism
3) Capitalism defined by creation of profit, possible by exploitation of the proletariat (extraction of surplus value from workers by bourgeoisie)
4) Marx; inherent contradictions of capitalism to cause proletariat to achieve revolutionary class consciousness; this to occur as capitalism goes through series of deepening crises, leading to immiseration of proletariat, inevitably resulting in proletarian revolution destined to overthrow capitalism.

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Collectivism and wider role for state

1) define collectivism: belief that collective human endeavour is morally/practically superior to individual self-striving, reflecting underlying beliefs about the social character of human nature.
2) why? state as mechanism through which collective action is organised, representing the wider public interest > private interests of individual citizens.
3) how? economic/social interventionism i.e redistribution of wealth, support foe welfare state, nationalisation, Keynesian economic management, comprehensive state control (collectivisation of wealth within centrally planned economy

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Democratic socialists + inevitable gradualism

1) define gradualism: achievement of political/other goals by process of gradual/peaceful change, specifically acheivement of socialism though democratic/legal reforms i.e Fabian Society
2a) spread of political democracy/universal suffrage putting power in hands of largest group in industrial societies (proletariat)
2b) working class voters will vote socialist bc socialism reflects working class interests i.e eradication of poverty/promotion of redistribution
2c) with power from working classes, socialist parties will have more power and will constitutionally reform capitalism and create equality/socially just society (lib belief that state is neutral arbiter)

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  • humans as social creatures willing/able to pursue goals by working together > striving for personal self-interest
  • plastic human nature
  • indiv. inseparable from society + understood only in context of social groups
  • positive view of human nature implies utopian society
  • early examples: Fourier's phalansteries, Owen's New Harmony, kibbutz systems in Israel
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Class politics

  • social class: social division based on economic + social factors; groups of people sharing similar socioeconomic position
  • social class as deepest + most politically significant social division
  • first expression - social class as analytical tool - social classes are principle actors in history ∴ key to understanding social/political changes (dialectical materialism)
  • second expression - political struggle + emancipation of working class
  • divided into bourgeoisie (Marxist term denoting ruling class of capitalist society - owners of productive wealth) + proletariat (Marxist term denoting class that subsists through sale of labour power)
  • social democrats: division into non-manual workers (middle class) + manual workers (working class)
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Achieving socialism

Revolutionary (Marx + Engels)

  • revolution bc 1) early stages of industrialisation + capitalism led to great injustice + working classes considered close to revolution due to multiple rebellions 2) working classes excluded from political participation - autocratic monarchies dominated by landed aristocracy + representative gov. dominated by middle class with property
  • bourgeois state biased in favour of capital

Evolutionary (Bernstein + Fabian Society)

  • state as neutral arbiter
  • process of gradualism (enfranchisement becomes political equality -> political democracy would invest power in hands of majority (working class) -> socialism as natural home for working class fighting social injustice so electoral success -> once in power socialist parties capable of carrying out socialist transformation of society through social reform

Revisionist (Swedish SDL Party + Wessi Social Democracts + Labour + Crosland)

  • mixed economy i.e Attlee nationalisation with capitalism for financing policies
  • economic management i.e Keynesianism
  • welfare state i.e prog. tax for benefits
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Criticisms of evolutionary socialism

1) contradictory

  • socialist parties have to water down beliefs to respond to electoral pressures
  • no socialist party has presided over any fundamental social transformation > expansion of welfare provision + economic management

2) working class support

  • traditionally appeal to urban manual workers but modern capitalism demands skilled technical workforce so no guaranteed vote
  • forced to broaden support for other classes or share power in coalitions with middle class parties

3) acceptance of capitalism

  • capitalism is best system for producing wealth i.e post-war consensus
  • socialist parties had to change to accommodate affluent working class
  • socialists argue bourgeois ideology prevents true consciousness and allows exploitation

4) reforms

  • impossible to carry out reforms bc gov. must respect elites + big business for funding
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Revisionist socialism

  • key thinker: Bernstein
  • capitalism as increasingly complex i.e no one industrialist owning one firm bc stockholders
  • middle class consisting of both bourgeoise + proletariat
  • reform of capitalism by nationalisation of major industries + extension of legal protection/welfare benefits for working class
  • Marxism irrelevant bc capitalism no longer characterised by class exploitation so focus on social justice > common ownership


  • reformist (not attempting to bring about socialism)
  • recession led to increased G for government support but less T to finance it from more unemployed people
  • collapse of communism led to decreased faith in left-wing ideologies
  • deindustrialisation -> no secure working class vote
  • -
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Third Way

  • more revisionist than trad. social democracy
  • Third Way: notion of alternative form of economics to both state socialism (old-style social democracy) + free-market capitalism (neo-liberalism)
  • key beliefs:
    1) top-down state intervention no longer useful (implies acceptance of capitalism + globalisation + pro-enterprise like neo-liberalism)
    2) emphasis on community + moral responsibility -> communitarian liberalism (rights + responsibilities intrinsically bounded together stressing individualism in context of interdependency + reciprocity
  • consensus > conflict view of society i.e emphasis on bonds between everyone
  • non-dualistic world view (enterprise + fairness; opportunity + security; self-reliance + interdependence)
    3) social inclusion - asset-based egalitarianism: right of access to assets/opportunities to enable potential realisation i.e Clinton: "a hand up, not a handout", modern liberal approach of "helping people to help themselves"
    4) competition state: state whose principal role is to pursue strategies for national prosperity in conditions of intensifying global competition; state should improve infrastructure + strengthen education to promote employability/benefit economy
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