History of socialism

Learn more about History of socialism

Jump to: navigation, search
Part of the Politics series on
Socialism

Currents

Christian socialism
Communism
Democratic socialism
Libertarian socialism
Revolutionary socialism
Social democracy

Influences

Anarchism
Marxism
Internationalism
Trade unionism
Utilitarianism
Utopian socialism

Ideas

Class struggle
Democracy
Egalitarianism
Equality of outcome
Proletarian revolution
Social justice

Key issues

Types of socialism
Socialist economics
History of socialism
Criticisms of socialism

People and organizations

List of socialists
First International
Second International
Socialist International

Politics Portal ·  <span class="noprint plainlinksneverexpand" style="white-space:nowrap; font-size:xx-small; {{{style|}"> |
}}v  d  e</span> 

</span>

Contents

[edit] Early socialists

The English word socialism originated from the French language in the 1820s, but the idea that goods should be held in common and that all men should be equal is much older. Quasi-socialist elements can be identified in Plato's Republic, the Sermon on the Mount, the millenarian movements of the Middle Ages and Thomas More's novel Utopia. Socialist ideas were present among the Levellers and other sects of the 1640s English Civil War, and among the more radical Sans-culottes of the 1790s French revolution, though they never achieved real influence. Socialism as a coherent body of ideas dates from the early 19th century.

The early socialists were utopians, developing visions of ideal societies based on material equality; in which humans co-operated in production for the benefit of all without the need for material incentives; and in which the state was replaced by a system of self-government or anarchism. Early socialist thinkers included: Robert Owen, Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Alexander Herzen and Ferdinand Lassalle.

The emergence of socialist ideas in Britain and France — and later in Germany and Italy — was a consequence of the industrial revolution. The development of manufacturing (and related industries such as coal-mining and railways) produced an industrial working class. Socialists called this class the proletariat; workers who had nothing to sell but their labour. The misery of industrial workers in unregulated economies of the early 19th century provoked anger among many observers. Socialist principles developed with the goal of producing wealth without crude exploitation. Socialism gained popularity among the working class, and from the mid-19th century onwards, workers formed the backbone of the socialist movement.

Many non-socialist upper and middle class people were outraged by the plight of the working class, so they developed liberalism. This involved the belief that an enlightened middle class could reform capitalism to produce social justice without infringing on the rights of property owners. English thinkers such as John Stuart Mill were at the forefront of this movement, although he considered himself a socialist. Mill he believed in private ownership of the means of production and reserved his socialism for matters of distribution. In France in 1830 (and England in 1832), liberal political ideas triumphed, reducing the appeal of the socialist movement.

[edit] Marxism and the socialist movement

Image:AlexanderplatzMarxEngels.JPG
Statue of Marx and Engels in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

In Germany, liberalism suffered a terrible defeat in the failed revolution of 1848, and this gave rise to a new strain of socialist thought, articulated by Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow and, to much wider recognition, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848). Marx and Engels developed a body of ideas which they called scientific socialism, and which is more commonly called Marxism. Marxism contained both a theory of history (historical materialism) and a theory of society.

Unlike the utopian socialists, Marx confronted the question of power, and formulated theories regarding the practical way of achieving and running a socialist system. He believed that capitalism could only be overthrown by means of a revolution, to be followed by the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", which was capitalism); Marx believed that the proletariat was the only class with both the means and the determination to carry the revolution forward; unlike the utopian socialists, who often idealised agrarian life and deplored the growth of modern industry, Marx saw the growth of capitalism and an urban proletariat as a necessary stage towards socialism.

Having developed a body of ideas, socialists naturally sought to put them into practice. Socialist political groups were formed as early as the 1830s, but in the beginning they failed to make real headway among the workers, who were more interested in forming trade unions and making immediate economic gains within the capitalist system. The socialist groups also tended to be quarrelsome and suffer frequent splits. It would not be until a few decades later that socialism began to draw mass support, and some alliances between trade unionism and socialism began to form.

In 1864, the First International, (or International Working Men's Association) was founded in London, at a conference addressed by Marx. Most of the groups represented at this meeting had little real existence, but from this time on they grew rapidly, especially in France and Germany. In the wake of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the working class of Paris (or at least a part of it) established the Paris Commune, which for a few weeks provided a glimpse of a socialist society, before being brutally suppressed when the French government regained control. The anti-authoritarian section of the IWA led by Bakunin was expulsed from the International at the 1872 Hague Congress, and they went on to form the Jura federation.

The Marxists abandoned the IWA to the anarchists, and founded the Second International (the "Socialist International") in Paris in 1893, by which time socialist parties were active in most European countries and were beginning to achieve some electoral successes in countries where elections were held and the working class was able to vote. In France, Spain and Italy, anarcho-syndicalism remained strong in the socialist movement (Fernand Pelloutier and Georges Sorel were famous French figures).

French socialism had been bleeded by the repression of the 1871 Paris Commune by Adolphe Thiers and the marquis de Galliffet. This fragilized it for at least twenty years, during the "Royalist" period during which the monarchists ruled the Third Republic and during the "Opportunist Republic" when it was governed by moderate Republicains. Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue, Marx's son-in-law, created the French Workers' Party (POF) in 1880. All socialist parties were united first in 1902 with the exception of Jean Jaurès's Parti socialiste français, which finally merged in 1905 in the SFIO, the "French Section of the Second International". On the other hand, the anarcho-syndicalist part of the socialist movement remained quite strong in France (Georges Sorel, etc.), where trade unions remained independent from the political parties, to the difference of Britain. The participation of socialist independent Alexandre Millerand in Radical Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet at the turn of the century created a debate among the French socialist movement concerning "socialist participation in a bourgeois government". The topic was extremely controversial since the marquis de Galliffet, repressor of the Commune, also took part in the cabinet. Against Jules Guesde, Jean Jaurès advocated socialist participation. The debate had echoes in the Second International.

[edit] Social Democracy to 1917

One of the first modifications of Marx's principles was made in the late 19th century, when many political theorists broke with the Marxist notion that revolution was the only way to advance beyond capitalism and that socialism was incompatible with democracy. Even Marx himself conceded late in his life that it might be possible to achieve socialism without violence in some countries. After Marx's death, Engels went further, saying that the day of the classic "street revolution" may have passed.

In Germany, where the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the 1890s became the largest and most powerful socialist party in Europe, the next generation of leaders, such as August Bebel and Eduard Bernstein, went further arguing that once full democracy had been achieved, a transition to socialism by parliamentary means was both possible and more desirable than revolutionary change. Bernstein and his supporters came to be identified as "revisionists," because they sought to revise the classic tenets of Marxism. Although the Orthodox Marxists in the party, led by Karl Kautsky, managed to retain the Marxist theory of revolution as the official doctrine of the party, in practice the SPD became more and more reformist.

Image:Ac.jaures.jpg
Jean Jaurès

Even in countries where revisionist ideas were not accepted, socialist parties soon found themselves in a dilemma, which they never satisfactorily solved. If they pursued a pure revolutionary doctrine and avoided participation in parliamentary politics and the day-to-day struggles of the trade unions, they remained isolated sects. But if they participated fully in these arenas, they were drawn deeper and deeper into reformism and lost sight of their revolutionary objective. Thus the French Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO), founded in 1905, under Jean Jaurès and later Léon Blum adhered to Marxist ideas, but became in practice a reformist party.

The strongest opposition to revisionism naturally came from socialists in countries such as the Russian Empire where parliamentary democracy did not exist and did not seem possible. They continued to argue that revolution was the only path to socialism. Chief among these was the Russian Vladimir Lenin, whose work The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky set out the views of those who rejected revisionist ideas. In 1903, there was a formal split in the Russian social democratic party into revolutionary Bolshevik and reformist Menshevik factions, but in most other socialist parties the issue was not pushed so far.

In 1914, the outbreak of World War I led to a crisis in European socialism. Contrary to the fondly held beliefs about the international solidarity of the proletariat, the working classes of the various belligerents rushed to go to war with each other, and the socialist parties of Germany, France and Britain were dragged along behind, although some leaders, like Ramsay MacDonald in Britain and Karl Liebknecht in Germany, opposed the war from the start. Lenin, in exile in Switzerland, called for revolutions in all the combatant states as the only way to end the war and achieve socialism. At first he was ignored, but by 1917 war-weariness led to splits in several socialist parties, notably the German Social Democrats.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 proved Lenin right, in the sense that a revolution turned out to be the only way to get Russia out of the war. It also seemed to prove that he was right on the question of revolution: Russia was certainly the only country in the world where socialists had taken power. This led minority factions in most of the world's socialist parties to break away and form new parties in support of the Leninist model: these came to be called Communist parties, and in 1919 Lenin organised them into a new international party, the Communist International or Comintern.

In some countries, particularly Britain and the British Dominions, labour parties were formed. These were parties formed by and controlled by the trade unions, rather than formed by groups of socialist activists who then appealed to the workers for support. The British Labour Party first elected members to the House of Commons in 1902, but was not able to detach the majority of the working class from its loyalty to the Liberal Party until after World War I. In Australia, however, the Labor party achieved rapid success, forming its first national government in 1904. Labour parties were also formed in South Africa and New Zealand but had less success.

[edit] Socialism and Communism (1917-39)

Image:Trockiy2.jpg
Leon Trotsky

The aftermath of the First World War produced an upsurge of radicalism in most of Europe and also as far afield as the United States (see Socialism in the United States) and Australia. The initial success of the Russian Revolution inspired other revolutionary parties to attempt the same thing. In the chaotic circumstances of postwar Europe, with the socialist parties divided and discredited, Communist revolutions across Europe seemed a possibility. Communist regimes briefly held power under Béla Kun in Hungary and under Kurt Eisner in Bavaria. There were several attempts at Communist revolutions in Berlin and Vienna, and also in the industrial centres of northern Italy. In the course of one attempt, the German Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were killed.

By the mid 1920s, however, the impetus had gone out of the revolutionary forces in Europe, and the national reformist socialist parties had regained their dominance over the working-class movement in most countries. The German Social Democrats held office for much of the 1920s, the British Labour Party formed its first government in 1924, and the French Socialists were also influential. But the division of the labour movement between socialists and Communists proved permanent. In the Soviet Union, Stalin came to power in 1929 and pursued a policy of "socialism in one country." Whether this approach was a shift away from Marx or Lenin, or whether it was a practical compromise fit for the times, is open to debate.

The postwar revolutionary upsurge provoked a powerful reaction from the forces of conservatism. One example was the "Red scare" in the United States, which effectively destroyed the American Socialist Party of Eugene Debs. American socialism never recovered from this blow. In Europe, fascism emerged as a movement against both socialism and liberalism. Fascism came to power in Italy in 1922 under Benito Mussolini (a former socialist), and strong fascist movements also developed in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Communist Party was busily "building socialism" in the Soviet Union. For the first time, socialism was not just a vision of a future society, but a description of an existing one. Lenin's regime brought all the means of production (except agricultural production) under state control, and implemented a system of government through workers' councils (in Russian, soviets). Within a few years, however, a bureaucracy developed as a result of the civil war, foreign invasion, and historic poverty and backwardness of Russia. They undermined the democratic and socialist ideals of the Bolshevik Party and elevated Stalin to their leadership after Lenin's death. In order to consolidate power, they needed to conduct a brutal campaign of lies and violence against the Left Opposition, an increasingly popular trend throughout the Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Party led by Leon Trotsky.

After 1929, with the Left Opposition legally banned and Trotsky exiled, Stalin led the Soviet Union into a "higher stage of socialism." Agriculture was collectivised, at the cost of a massive famine and millions of deaths among the resistant peasantry. The surplus squeezed from the peasants was spent on a program of crash industrialisation, guided by the Communist Party through the Five Year Plan. This program produced some impressive early results, though at enormous human costs. Later studies by economists, however, showed that the pace of industrialisation in the Soviet Union was no faster than it was, for example, in Japan or the United States under capitalism, and that the use of resources, material and human, in the Soviet Union was very wasteful. Some historians, however, emphasize that Stalin's industrialization policy was geared towards the development of heavy industry, an emphasis that facilitated Soviet military action during the second World War.

The Soviet achievement in the 1930s seemed hugely impressive from the outside, and convinced many people, not necessarily Communists or even socialists, of the virtues of state planning and authoritarian models of social development. This was later to have important consequences in countries like China, India and Egypt, which tried to copy some aspects of the Soviet model. It also won large sections of the western intelligentsia over to a pro-Soviet view, to the extent that many were willing to ignore or excuse such events as Stalin's Great Purge of 1936-39, in which millions of people died.

The Great Depression, which began in 1929, seemed to socialists and Communists everywhere to be the final proof of the bankruptcy, literally as well as politically, of capitalism. But socialists were unable to take advantage of the Depression to either win elections or stage revolutions. Labor governments in Britain and Australia were disastrous failures. In the United States, the liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt won mass support and deprived socialists of any chance of gaining ground. And in Germany it was the fascists of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party who successfully exploited the Depression to win power, in January 1933.

Hitler's regime swiftly destroyed both the German Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party: the worst blow the world socialist movement had ever suffered. This forced Stalin to reassess his strategy, and from 1934 the Comintern began urging a "united front against fascism." The socialist parties were at first suspicious, given the bitter hostility of the 1920s, but eventually effective Popular Fronts were formed in both France and Spain. The election of a Popular Front government in Spain in 1936 triggered a fascist military revolt and the subsequent Spanish Civil War. The crisis in Spain also brought down the Popular Front government in France under Léon Blum. Ultimately the Popular Fronts were not able to prevent the spread of fascism or the aggressive plans of the fascist powers.

When Stalin consolidated his power in the Soviet Union in the late 1920s, his principal rival, Leon Trotsky, was forced into exile, eventually residing in Mexico. He maintained active in organizing the Left Opposition internationally, which worked within the Comintern to gain new members. Many leaders of the Communist Parties sided with Trotsky, such as James P. Cannon in the United States. They found themselves expelled by the Stalinist Parties and persecuted by both GPU agents and the political police in Britain, France, the United States, China, and all over the world. Trotskyist parties had a large influence in Sri Lanka and Bolivia.

In 1938, Trotsky and his supporters founded a new international organisation of dissident communists, the Fourth International. In 1940, Trotsky was murdered on Stalin's orders, but not before he had written a large body of work that needs to be understood in order to appreciate the difficulties and strengths of the true revolutionary socialist movement. In Trotsky's works such as Results and Prospects and Permanent Revolution he developed a theory of revolution uninterrupted by the stagism of Stalinist orthodoxy. He also analysed Russia as a bureaucratically degenerated workers state in his work The Revolution Betrayed, where he predicted that if a political revolution of the working class did not overthrow Stalinism, the Stalinist bureaucracy would resurrect capitalism. And in his History of the Russian Revolution wrote perhaps the monumental history of any event of world historical importance written by a major figure in that event.

[edit] Social Democracy (1945-70)

As a result of the failure of the Popular Fronts and the inability of Britain and France to conclude a defensive alliance against Hitler, Stalin again changed his policy in August 1939 and signed a non-aggression pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, with Nazi Germany. Shortly afterwards World War II broke out, and within two years Hitler had occupied most of Europe, and by 1942 both democracy and social democracy had reached their lowest ebb. The only socialist parties of any significance able to operate freely were those in Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But the entry of the Soviet Union into the war in 1941 marked the turning of the tide against fascism, and as the German armies retreated another great upsurge in left-wing sentiment swelled up in their wake. The resistance movements against German occupation were mostly led by socialists and communists, and by the end of the war the parties of the left were greatly strengthened.

The greatest postwar victory of the democratic socialist parties was the election victory of the British Labour Party led by Clement Attlee in June 1945. Socialist (and in some places Stalinist) parties also dominated postwar governments in France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Norway and other European countries. The Social Democratic Party had been in power in Sweden since 1932, and Labour parties also held power in Australia and New Zealand. In Germany, on the other hand, the Social Democrats emerged from the war much weakened, and were defeated in Germany's first democratic elections in 1949. The united front between democrats and the Stalinist parties which had been established in the wartime resistance movements continued in the immediate postwar years. The democratic socialist parties of eastern Europe, however, were destroyed when Stalin imposed so-called "Communist" regimes in these countries.

The Second International, which had been based in Amsterdam, ceased to operate during the war. It was refounded as the Socialist International at a congress in Frankfurt in 1951. Since Stalin had dissolved the Comintern in 1943, as part of a deal with the imperialist powers, this was now the only effective international socialist organisation. The Frankfurt Declaration took a stand against both capitalism and Communism:

Socialism aims to liberate the peoples from dependence 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 whole, and to create a community in which free men work together as equals... Socialism has become a major force in world affairs. It has passed from propaganda into practice. In some countries the foundations of a Socialist society have already been laid. Here the evils of capitalism are disappearing...
Since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of socialism in many countries for decades. Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a regid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism... Wherever it has gained power it has destroyed freedom or the chance of gaining freedom...

Of course, this statement seeks to gloss over the rise of Stalinism and the defeat of Trotsky in the early years of the Soviet Union. It would be as if John Adams had declared himself emperor in the aftermath of the American revolution, and therefore democratic revolutions were pronounced as "destroying freedom". Napoleon Bonaparte's rule of France is generally disassociated from the "Rights of Man" declaration of the originators of the French revolution. While seeking to gloss over the crimes of Stalinism, these "socialists" needed to hide their own history in supporting World War I, the assassination of marxist leaders such as Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibnecht, and their own alliances with Stalin himself.

Despite this duplicitously optimistic language, the democratic socialist parties during the 20 years after World War II found themselves under siege from two directions. Many socialists expected the pattern of the 1920s to repeat itself: with financial instability leading to a renewed depression. Instead the capitalist world, now led by the United States, embarked on a prolonged boom which, although uneven, produced low unemployment and rising living standards across Europe and North America. The socialist parties found it increasingly difficult to maintain the view that capitalism inevitably led to unemployment, poverty and misery for the workers. Some parties reacted to these changes by engaging in a new round of revisionist re-assessment of socialist ideology.

At the same time, the wartime alliance between the Soviet Union and the west broke down from 1946 onwards, and relations between the Communist parties and the democratic socialist parties broke down in parallel. Once the Stalinists helped stabilize the capitalist governments in the immediate upheavals of 1945, as per the agreements betweens Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill, the capitalist politicians had no more use for them. The French, Italian and Belgian Communists withdrew or were expelled from postwar coalition governments, and civil war broke out in Greece. The imposition of Stalinist regimes in Poland, Hungary and Czechslovakia not only destroyed the socialist parties in those countries, it also produced a reaction against socialism in general. The Australian and New Zealand Labour governments were defeated in 1949, and the British Labour government in 1951. As the Cold War deepened, conservative rule in Britain, Germany and Italy became more strongly entrenched. Only in the Scandinavian countries and to some extent in France did the socialist parties retain their positions. But in 1958 Charles de Gaulle seized power in France and the French socialists (SFIO) found themselves cast into opposition.

In the 1960s and '70s new social forces began to change the political landscape in the western world. The long postwar boom and the rapid expansion of higher education produced, as well as rising living standards for the industrial working class, a mass university-educated white collar workforce, which began to break down the old socialist-versus-conservative polarity of European politics. This new white-collar workforce was less interested in traditional socialist policies such as state ownership and more interested expanded personal freedom and liberal social policies. Another factor in this change was the increasing movement of women into the paid workforce, which changed both the composition and the political outlook of the working class. Some socialist parties reacted more flexibly and successfully to these changes than others, but eventually all were forced to do so.

Another manifestation of this changing social landscape was the rise of mass discontent, including the radical student movement, both in the United States - where it was driven mainly by opposition to the Vietnam War, and in Europe. This was the first left-wing upsurge in the United States since the 1930s, but neither there nor in Europe did the traditional parties of the left lead the movement. Instead a collection of Trotskyist, Maoist and anarchist groups arose. They reached the peak of their influence in 1968, when riots amounting almost to an insurrection broke out in Paris, and there were also major disturbances in Chicago, Berlin and other cities. In the short-term these movements provoked a conservative backlash, seen in De Gaulle's 1968 election victory and the election of Richard Nixon in the United States. But in the 1970s, as the ultra-left groups continued to grow, the socialist and Communist parties again sought to channel people's anger back into safe confines, as they did in 1945.

British Labour had already returned to office under Harold Wilson in 1964, and in 1969 the German Social Democrats came to power for the first time since the 1920s under Willy Brandt. In France François Mitterrand buried the corpse of the old socialist party, the SFIO, and founded a new Socialist Party in 1971, although it would take him a decade to lead it to power. Labour governments were elected in both Australia and New Zealand in 1972, and the Austrian Socialists under Bruno Kreisky formed their first postwar government in 1970. The British Labour government carried out some nationalisations, but in general these social democratic governments confined themselves to measures of liberal social reform and wealth-redistribution through state welfare and taxation policy. Their pro-capitalist bent, their nationalism, and their dedication to the maintenance of the post-war 'order' prevented them from making any significant changes to the economy.

[edit] The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (1945-1985)

On 03-05-1946, speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., former British prime minister Winston Churchill warned that, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

President Harry S. Truman was in the audience.

In the months that followed, Josef Stalin continued to solidify a Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe. For example, Bulgaria received its new communist premier, Georgi Dimitrov, in November 1946 -- who returned home to Bulgaria after a long residence in Moscow to take the post. A Communist government under Bolesław Bierut had been established in Poland already in 1945, and by 1947, Hungary and Romania had also come under full communist rule. The last democratic government in the eastern bloc, Czechoslovakia, fell to a communist coup in 1948, and in 1949 the Soviets raised their occupation zone in Germany to become the German Democratic Republic, under Walter Ulbricht.

To coordinate their new empire, the Soviets established a number of international organizations, first the Cominform to coordinate the policies of the various Communist parties, then the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), in 1948, to control economic planning, and finally (in response to the entry of the Federal Republic of Germany into NATO) the Warsaw Pact in 1955, which served as a military alliance against the west.

Image:Tito.jpg
Josip Broz Tito during the Second World War

But one crack within that sphere of influence emerged after 1948, when Marshal Tito, a/k/a Josip Broz, (1892 - 1980) became the president of Yugoslavia. Initial disagreement was over the level of independence claimed by Tito as the only East European communist ruler commanding a strong domestic majority. Later the gap widened when Tito's government initiated a system of decentralized profit-sharing workers' councils, in effect a self-governing, somewhat market-oriented socialism, which Stalin considered dangerously revisionist.

Stalin died on 1953-03-05, presumably of a brain hemorrhage suffered shortly after dinner with several senior officials, although there are advocates of an assassination theory.

In the wake of Stalin's death, several leaders had to share power at the top of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. Nikita Khrushchev became first secretary of the Party, Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov prime minister, and Vyacheslav Molotov again became foreign minister. The powerful head of the MVD secret police, Lavrenty Beria, was soon ousted from power and killed. In the power struggle that followed, Khrushchev emerged triumphant. In 1956, at the 20th Congress of the Party, he denounced the "personality cult" that had surrounded Stalin. In the de-Stalinization campaign that followed, all buildings and towns that had been named for him were renamed, pictures and statues were destroyed. Khrushchev began work on a cult of his own by demoting rivals -- assigning Molotov, for example, the plum job of ambassador to Mongolia.

Although in some respects Khrushchev was a reformer and allowed the emergence of a certain amount of intra-party dissent, he did nothing to remove the grave constraints on productivity that economic isolationism and bureaucratic top-heaviness had imposed. The police-state measures of suppressing opposition remained in place, especially in hunting Trotskyists. His dominance coincided, though, with some remarkable technological achievements, such as the launch of Sputnik, October 1957 -- the first artificial satellite.

Furthermore, his commitment to reform was exposed as fraud with the brutal use of military force on the civilian population of Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution.

But his own time on the world stage was brief. The harvest of 1963 was especially bad, and Russia had to import a lot of wheat from the west. Also, some of Khrushchev's colleagues on the Presidium thought the installation of missiles in Cuba, which had nearly brought about a nuclear war, had been a "harebrained scheme" and a national embarrassment. In September-October 1964, they removed him from power.

The pattern of 11 years before repeated itself, after an autocrat was toppled the Soviet Union saw a brief period of collective leadership, followed by the emergence of a new autocrat. The new team included Premier Aleksey Kosygin, party chief Leonid Brezhnev, and presidium chairman Nikolay V. Podgorny. This time it was Brezhnev who became the dominant figure within two years.

By the late 1960s, the people of several eastern bloc countries had become discontented with the human and economic costs of the Soviet system, Czechoslovakia especially so.

As a result of the growing discontent, the Communist Party began to fear a Trotskyist uprising. They initiated reforms to attempt to save the regime, but eventually relied on help from the Stalinists in Russia. In January 1968, Alexander Dubček became first secretary of the Communist Party in that country. He initiated what is known as the Prague Spring, ending censorship of the press and decentralizing production decisions, so that they were to be made not by central planners but by the workers and managers of the factories. People were to be allowed to travel abroad.

Brezhnev reacted by announcing and enforcing what appropriately became known as the Brezhnev doctrine.

When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism the suppression of these counter-revolutionary forces becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.

"Socialism" in this context meant Stalinism and the dominance of the bureaucracy. In August 1968, pursuant to this announcement, Soviet troops occupied Czechoslovakia. The following year, the Russians responded to a campaign of passive disobedience on the part of the Czech populace by arranging the replacement of Dubček as first secretary. The new first secretary, Gustáv Husák, would prove more compliant. He presided over a 'cleansing' of the Czech CP and the introduction of a new constitution. Husák became state president in 1975 and remained the dominant figure in that country until 1987.

Meanwhile, the early 1970s saw some slackening in the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, a slackening known as détente. Brezhnev worked with US President Richard Nixon to negotiate and implement the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty of 1972. Brezhnev also scored some diplomatic advances with the non-aligned world, such as a 1971 friendship pact with India, and the close relations the Soviet Union enjoyed with several Arab countries after Soviet material support in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

By the late 1970s, the Kremlin policy-making apparatus seemed stuck in park, partly due to the advanced age of its leadership. The 1980s saw the final members of this "gerontocracy" take their turn at leadership and then pass away. Brezhnev died in 1982, then Yuri Andropov (1984), and Konstantin Chernenko (1985). Andropov's brief tenure as General Secretary indicated that he might have had reformist plans, and though Chernenko put them aside, Andropov had had time to groom a group of potential reformist successors, one of whom was Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was also during Andropov's tenure and this period of generational turmoil that the rule of Communists next door, in Poland, came under challenge from Solidarność, or Solidarity, a labor union under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa.

The union was sufficiently threatening to the government that on 1981-12-13, the head of state, Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law, suspended the union, and imprisoned most of its leaders. Martial law remained in place until July 1983.

[edit] Final Years for the Soviet Union 1985-91

Gorbachev (1931-), who took control in 1985, was the first Soviet leader to have been born after the October revolution. He is remembered for three initiatives: glasnost, perestroika, and the "Frank Sinatra doctrine".

Glasnost, or "openness," was Gorbachev's term for allowing public debate in the Soviet Union to an unprecedented degree.

Perestroika was his term for market-oriented economic reforms, in recognition of the stagnating effects of central planning.

The "Frank Sinatra" doctrine was his reversal of the Brezhnev doctrine. Sinatra sang "My Way", and the doctrine named for him was that each Warsaw Pact country could find its own "way" of doing things.

Gorbachev also, in 1989, withdrew Soviet troops from their desultory engagement in Afghanistan, ten years after Brezhnev had sent them there.

By August 1991, anti-reform Communists in both the Party and the military were sufficiently desperate to attempt a military coup. Coup leaders called themselves the Committee on the State of Emergency. They announced that Gorbachev had been removed from his position as president due to illness.

Although the coup rapidly collapsed and Gorbachev returned to Moscow, it was Boris Yeltsin who had played a leading role in the street resistance to that Committee, and the incident marked a shift of power away from Gorbachev toward Yeltsin. By the end of that year, Yeltsin was the leader of Russia, and the Soviet Union was no more.

[edit] Socialism in China (1945-65)

Through the Second World War, the Chinese Communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong and the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek lived in an uneasy truce in order to combat the common foe, the Japanese occupation.

Upon Japan's surrender, China's civil war immediately resumed. Another truce, negotiated by American general George C. Marshall early in 1946, collapsed after only three months.

While war raged in China, two post-occupation governments established themselves next door, in Korea. In 1948, Syngman Rhee was proclaimed president of the Republic of Korea, at Seoul, while communists in the north announced that the country was/is really the Korean People's Democratic Republic.

In January 1949, the Chinese Nationalist armies suffered a devastating defeat by the Communists at Tientsin. By spring, Chiang Kai-shek, now losing whole divisions by desertion to the Communists, began the removal of remaining forces to Formosa (Taiwan). In August, U.S. aid to the Nationalists ended. In October, Mao Zedong took office as the Chairman of the Central People's Administrative Council of the People's Republic of China in Beijing. Zhou Enlai was named premier and foreign minister of the new state.

On 1950-06-25, the forces of North Korea invaded the South. Although Mao was apparently unenthusiastic about that war, Chinese forces would enter it in November.

Meanwhile, Tibet had refused to take part in the People's Republic, and Chinese Communist forces had invaded that region in October.

After this burst of expansion, the Communist government in China settled down to the consolidation of domestic power. During the 1950s, they redistributed land and attempted mass industrialization, with technical assistance from the Soviet Union. By the mid-1950s, after an armistice in Korea and the surrender of French forces in Indochina, China's borders were secure. Mao's internal power base was likewise secured by the imprisonment of those he called "left-wing oppositionists."

As the 1950s ended, however, Mao became discontented with the status quo. On the one hand, he saw the Soviet Union attempting "peaceful co-existence" with the imperialist Western powers, and he believed China could be the center of worldwide revolution only by breaking with Moscow. On the other hand, he was dissatisfied with the economic consequences of the revolution thus far, and believed the country had to enter into a program of planned rapid industrialization known as the Great Leap Forward.

The economic planning of the Great Leap period focused on steel -- because steel was considered emblematic of industry. The government arranged to have small backyard steel furnaces built in communes, in the hope that the mobilization of the entire populace would compensate for the absence of the usual economies of scale. During this period, Mao stepped down as head of state in favor of Liu Shaoqi, but Mao remained Chairman of the Communist Party.

The rushed program of industrialization was a disaster. It diverted labor and resources from agriculture to marginally productive cottage industry and so contributed to years of famine. It also caused a loss of Mao's influence upon the Communist Party and government apparatus. Modernizers such as Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping sought to relegate him to the status of figurehead.

Mao wasn't ready to be a figurehead. In the early 1960s he gathered around himself the so-called "Shanghai Mafia" consisting of his fourth wife, Jiang Qing, as well as Lin Biao, Chen Boda, and Yao Wenyuan.

[edit] Socialism in China Since the Cultural Revolution

In 1965, Wenyuan wrote a thinly veiled attack on the deputy mayor of Beijing, Wu Han. Over the six months that followed, on behalf of ideological purity, Mao and his supporters purged many public figures, Liu Shao-chi among them. By the middle of 1966, Mao had not only put himself back into the center of things, he had initiated what is known as the Cultural Revolution, a mass (and army-supported) action against the Communist Party apparatus itself on behalf of a renovated conception of Communism.

Chaos continued throughout China for three years, particularly due to the agitations of the Red Guards until the CCP's ninth congress in 1969, when Lin Biao emerged as the primary military figure, and the presumptive heir to Mao in the party. In the months that followed, Lin Biao restored domestic order, while diplomatic efforts by Zhou Enlai cooled border tensions with the Soviet Union. Lin Biao died under mysterious circumstances in 1971.

Mao's final years saw a notable thaw in the People's Republic's relations with the United States, the period of "ping-pong diplomacy."

Mao died in 1976, and almost immediately his ideological heirs, the Gang of Four lost a power struggle to more "pragmatic" figures such as Deng Xiaoping. The term "pragmatic" is often used in media accounts of these factional struggles but should not be confused with the philosophy of pragmatism proper.

Deng launched the "Beijing Spring," allowing open criticism of the excesses and suffering that had occurred during the Cultural Revolution period. He also eliminated the class-background system, under which the communist regime had limited employment opportunities available to people deemed associated with the pre-revolutionary landlord class.

Although Deng's only official title in the early 1980s was chairman of the central military commission of the CP, he was widely regarded as the central figure in the nation's politics. In that period, Zhao Ziyang became premier and Hu Yaobang became head of the party.

Near the end of that decade, the death of Hu Yaobang sparked a mass demonstration of mourning students in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The mourning soon turned into a call for greater responsiveness and liberalization, and the demonstration was captured live on cameras to be broadcast around the world. On May 30, 1989 students erected the "Goddess of Democracy" statue, which looked a bit like Lady Liberty in New York harbor.

On 1989-06-04 under the orders of Deng Xiaoping, troops and tanks of the People's Liberation Army ended the peaceful protest. Thousands were killed in the resultant massacre.

By the start of the 21st century, though, the leadership of China was embarked upon a program of market-based reform that was more sweeping than had been Soviet leader Gorbachev's perestroika program of the late 1980s.

It is in this context that Leo Melamed, chairman emeritus and senior policy adviser to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, spoke to the 2003 Beijing Forum on China and East Asian Prospects of Financial Cooperation on September 23. He said that the CME applauds the National People’s Congress for recognizing their country’s need for additional trading in futures contracts.

[edit] The "New Left" and the Old in Academia

[edit] The radicalization of psychoanalysis

Main article: Freudo-marxism

On 1960-05-31, Norman O. Brown lectured at Columbia University about “Apocalypse: The Place of Mystery in the Life of the Mind.” He said that mind, understood as rationality, was "at the end of its tether," (a phrase he adapted from H.G. Wells) and that the way out was also the way down, into madness and its esoteric wisdom. This was a key moment in the infusion of Freudianism into left-wing thought, by the identification of political oppression with psychological suppression.

Herbert Marcuse had written Eros and Civilization in 1955, which explicitly sought to merge Marxism with Freudianism, so that bourgeois rationality was wrong not just qua its bourgeois class origin but qua rationality as well. Marcuse, though, didn't become a force to be reckoned with in the English-speaking world until 1964, with the publication of One Dimensional Man, a popularization of much the same message.

[edit] Structuralism

Structuralism, in the sense of the word popularized by Claude Lévi-Strauss, refers to a model of the social sciences that looks for a web of relationships that it refers to basic characteristics of the human mind. Furthermore, structuralists regard the mind as working generally in binary categories. One of Lévi-Strauss's works is: The Elementary Structures of Kinship 1949. As that title suggests, this school of thought has its origins in anthropology. It had two great effects on the political left in the 1960s and since. First, structuralism took the side of "nature" in the old nature/nurture debate. Most leftist thinkers had long thought of social norms as elastic, the results of "nurture" or socialization by the powers-that-be, and subject to change when those powers change. But structuralism is, at best, in tension with any such premise.

Secondly, though, structuralism in its impact upon literary criticism helped give rise to deconstruction. Structuralist premises led to the close reading of canonical texts, in an effort to show that the favored binary oppositions were present even, or especially,in unexpected ways that the authors likely did not understand.

[edit] Deconstruction

Jacques Derrida inaugurated the deconstruction movement, also often aptly called post-structuralism in 1967 with his book Of Grammatology. He, too, engaged in close readings of canonical philosophical and literary texts. His readings both illuminated and subverted binary oppositions, such as that between speech and text.

Deconstruction has come to mean the infinite regression of the meaning of any text, and so the notion that there is no text, only a community of interpreters. See Stanley Fish.

[edit] Feminism

As we have seen, 1949 saw the appearance of a key work by Lévi-Strauss on structuralism. The same year also witnessed Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex, which set the agenda for what became known in later years as the second wave of feminism.

By the 1960s, the second wave was dampening the history departments of major universities. Historians discovered to their chagrin that much of the material they taught was about men -- and white men at that. The solution was not merely to rewrite political and military history highlighting Rosa Luxembourg and Joan of Arc, it was to reconceive history so that the political-military developments lost centrality, so that the history of society, mores, and childhood gained importance. Many feminists believed this required changes in old-left Marxist formulations, to de-emphasize the struggle over the means of production and emphasize instead the struggle over the means of reproduction.

[edit] Criticism of the new left by the old

Such developments in what is considered socialism have drawn criticism from the "Old Left," those still loyal to the 19th century Marxist paradigm. One eloquent voice of the old left's dissatisfaction with its would-be supersession is Terry Eagleton, an English literary critic.

Eagleton, using the word "theory" for the above developments in general, wrote recently: "A far more devastating criticism of [theory] can be launched. Cultural theory as we have it promises to grapple with some fundamental problems, but on the whole fails to deliver. It has been shame-faced about morality and metaphysics, embarrassed about love, biology, religion and revolution, largely silent about evil, reticient about death and suffering, dogmatic about essences, universals and foundations, and superficial about truth, objectivity and disinterestedness."

[edit] Socialism in developing countries

Image:CheyFidel.jpg
Che Guevara with Fidel Castro

While the developed countries fought during the Cold War on the socialmism versus capitalism, the developing countries were rather forgotten. There have been examples of socialism in these regions, which have not been taking into account in the discussion of whether these ideologies may work.

Cuba is an example of a current communist developing country, established in 1959.

Another example is the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which has been regarded as the first modern socialist constitution. It prescribes an activist state that will ensure national autonomy and social justice, guarantees the right to organize and strike, as well as an eight-hour workday, and provides for the protection of women and minorities in the workplace. It mandates that the minimum wage "should be sufficient to satisfy the normal necessities of life of the worker". But none of this amounts to a guarantee of public or worker ownership of the means of production.

Socialism may refer to a particular brand of socialism that turns on heroic memories of the mid-twentieth century fights for decolonization, whether by the methods of Mohandas Gandhi or those of Ho Chi Minh.

Last but not least, the term may evoke a socialism of the land, centered on the demand that land ought to be taken from holders of title and given to the workers who till it, and that natural resources that can't be widely distributed ought to belong to the nation. In this sense, the Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser is a paradigmatic third-world socialist, both in his agrarian-reform legislation and in his seizure of the Suez canal

[edit] Contemporary socialism

Socialism as a self-conscious international movement has been in crisis since the demise of the Soviet Union because many people of socialist persuasion are more uncertain than ever before about their constituency -- whether the proletariat as described in traditional Marxist terms, or the peasantry in traditional Maoist terms, is the or even a plausible candidate for a revolutionary class, or who else might supersede those candidates.

Leo Panitch, for example, in Renewing Socialism (2001) wrote that it was wrong of Marx to contend that the rise of trade unions would generate schools for socialism. The association of workers for the purpose of collective bargaining has proven quite compatible with capitalism -- since such bargaining concerns the terms of wage labor, not the legitimacy of wage labor. He argues that Marxist political parties must abandon the assumption that there is anything inherently revolutionary about any class, so that they can get to work creating a self-conscious revolutionary class of wage earners, "articulating the articulation."

On the other hand, the Trotskyist movement finds its positions vindicated by the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the increasing pace of globalization. The recent international movements and demonstrations in opposition to the war in Iraq and the vagaries of global corporations could be seen as the seeds for an as yet unconscious struggle against world capitalism.

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

ja:社会主義の歴史 lt:Socialdemokratai

History of socialism

Views
Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.