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Origins and Development
The term socialism means to combine or
By the early 1830’s the followers of Robert
Owen in Britain and Saint Simon in France
has began to refer their beliefs as
• Socialism as a reaction against the social and
economic conditions in Europe by the growth of
industrial capitalism
• Socialism emerged as a criticique of liberal market
society and offered an alternative to industrial
• Early socialism influenced by the harsh and inhuman
conditions of industrial working class.
• Karl Marx as a journalist at that time developed more
complex and systematic theories and asserted that
revolutionary overthrow of capitalism was inevitable.
• In the late 20’th century the growth of trade unions,
working class political parties, sports and social clubs
provided greater economic security and integrated
working class into industrial society.
• After the Russion Revolution of 1917 revolutionary
Socialists began to be known as ‘communist’ while
reformist socialists retained the name ‘ socialist’ or
‘social democrat’.
• In 20’th century, spread of socialms into African, Asian
and Latin American countries with no experience with
industrial capitalism together with
• anti-colonial struggles rather than class struggles
• Fusion of socialism and nationalism
Central Themes of Socialism
• Different meanings of the term socialism
1. As an economic model linked to some form of
social collectivization and planning.
2. As an instrument of the labour movement, as an
alternative to capitalism represents the working class
and offers a programme through which the workers
can acquire political end economic power.
3. As a political creed, or ideology, characterised by a
particular cluster of ideas, values and theories:
community, cooperation, equality, social class,
common ownership
• Socialism has got a collectivist vision
• Socialism stresses the capacity of human beings for
collective action
• Ability to pursue goals by working together as
opposed to striving for personel self-interest.
• For socialists human nature is something changeable
by the experiences and circumstances of social life.
• In contrast to liberals for socialists human beings are
neither self-sufficient, nor self -contained individuals.
Individuals can only be understood through the
social groups to which they belong.
• Socialist believe that the natural relationship
amongst the people is cooperation rather than
• Human beings can be motivated by moral incentives
not merely by material incentives.
• Marx: “From each according to his ability and to
each according to his needs”.
• Social equality or equaltiy of outcome because
Social equality upholds justice or fairness: People are
not born identical bu they posses the same
capacities and skills.
• Social equality underpins community and
cooperation whereas social inequality fosters class
• Since all people have similar needs, distributing
wealth on the basis of need-satisfaction has an
egalitarian principle.
Social Class
• Social class refers to groups of people who share a
similar social and economic position.
• For socialists social classes rather than individuals are
the principle actors in history.
• In the Marxist tradition class is linked to economic
power, as defined by the individual’s relationship to
the means of the production.
• So, the class divisons are divisons between ‘labour’
and ‘capital’
Common Ownership
• The origins of competition and inequality lies in the
institution of private property.
• Socialists criticise private property, because:
1. Property is unjust, wealth is produced by the
collective effort of human labour and should
therefore be owned by the community.
2. Property is morally corrupting, Private property
encourages people to be materialistic.
3. Property is divisive: it fosters conflict in society..
Between owners and workers, oremployers and
employees, or rich and poor…
Marxism as a codified body of thought only came into
existence after Marx’s death in 1883.
Classical Marxism:
• It is a philosophy of history that outlines why
capitalism isdoomed and why socialism is destined to
replace it.
• Marx: ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the
world, in various ways; the point is to change it.’
• Unity of theory and practice in Marx.
• Rejecting Hegel’s idealism, materialist conception of
• Since human cannot survive without food, water,
shelter and so on, the way in which these are
produced conditions all other aspects of life
• ‘Social being determines consciousness’
• Social consciousness and ‘the legal and political
structure’ arise from the ‘economic base’.
• Driving force of historical change is the dialectic,
aprocess of interaction between competing forces
that leads to a higher stage of development.
• Marx explained historical change by reference to
internal contradictions within each mode of
production arising from the existence of private
• Human history as a long story between the
oppresser and the oppressed. , the exploiter and the
• Alienation: Capitalism has seperated people from
their genuine or essential natures, from their
capacity as workers to develop skills, talents and
understanding through the experience of free
productive labour.