History of socialism

History of socialism

The history of socialism, sometimes termed 'modern socialism', [Encyclopedia Australia entry on socialism] finds its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, although it has precedents in earlier movements and ideas. Like the concept of capitalism, it embraces a wide range of views. [Oxford University Press Politics Dictionary, entry on socialism]

The term 'socialism' is variously attributed to Pierre Leroux in 1834, who called socialism "the doctrine which would not give up any of the principles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" of the French Revolution of 1789 [Lerux, Pierre, "Individualism and socialism" (1834) ] or to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud in France, or else in England to Robert Owen, who is considered the father of the cooperative movement. [Oxford English Dictionary, etymology of socialism]

Most socialists of that period opposed the dislocations brought by the Industrial Revolution. They criticized what they conceived to be the injustice, inequalities and suffering which the Industrial Revolution brought into being and the "laissez faire" free market on which it rested. [Encyclopedia Britannica, entry on socialism]


Saint Simon, who is called the founder of French socialism, argued that a brotherhood of man that must accompany the scientific organization of industry and society. [Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Saint Simon"] Proudhon pronounced that "Property is theft" and that socialism was "every aspiration towards the amelioration of society". Proudhon termed himself an anarchist, as did Bakunin, the father of modern anarchism, who is also termed a libertarian socialist, a theory by which the workers would directly manage the means of production through their own productive associations. There would be "equal means of subsistence, support, education, and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity, and equal resources and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor." "Catechism of a Revolutionary", Mikhail Bakunin, 1866]

The Communist Manifesto, was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848 just before the Revolutions of 1848 swept Europe, expressing what they termed 'scientific socialism'. In the last third of the 19th century in Europe social democratic parties arose in Europe drawing mainly from Marxism.

In first half of the twentieth century the Soviet Union and the Communist parties of the Third International around the world mainly came to represent socialism in terms of the Soviet model of economic development, the creation of centrally planned economies directed by a state that owns all the means of production, although other trends condemned what they saw as the lack of democracy.

Communists in Yugoslavia in the 1960s and Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s, Chinese Communists since the reform era, and some Western economists, have proposed various forms of market socialism, reconciling the cooperative or state ownership of the means of production with market forces, letting the market guide production and exchange rather than central planners. ["Market socialism", "Dictionary of the Social Sciences". Craig Calhoun, ed. Oxford University Press 2002; and "Market socialism" "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics". Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003. See also Joseph Stiglitz, "Whither Socialism?" Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995 for a recent analysis of the market socialism model of mid-20th century economists Oskar R. Lange, Abba P. Lerner, and Fred M. Taylor.]

In 1945 European Socialist Parties in power were considered socialist administrations by some. In the UK Herbert Morrison said "Socialism is what the Labour government does", whereas Aneurin Bevan argued that socialism requires that the "main streams of economic activity are brought under public direction", with an economic plan and workers' democracy. [Bevan, Aneurin, "In Place of Fear", p50, p126-8. MacGibbon and Kee, (1961).] Some argued that capitalism had been abolished. [Anthony Crossland stated: "to the question 'Is this still capitalism?' I would answer 'No'." In "The Future of Socialism" p46. Constable (2006)] Socialist governments established the 'mixed economy' with partial nationalisations and social welfare.

By 1968 the prolonged Vietnam War (1959-1975), gave rise to the New Left, socialists who tended to be critical of the Soviet Union and social democracy. Anarcho-syndicalists and some elements of the New Left and others favored decentralized collective ownership in the form of cooperatives or workers' councils.

In recent decades Socialist Parties in Europe have redefined their aims. [ Since 1995 the UK Labour Party aims are: "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. Where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe. And where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect"] and reversed their policy on nationalisations.

At the turn of the 21st century, in Latin America Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez championed what he termed 'Socialism of the 21st Century', which included a policy of nationalisation of national assets such as Oil, anti-imperialism, and termed himself a Trotskyist supporting 'permanent revolution'. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6246219.stm] Chavez accelerates on path to socialism, BBC news, 10 January 2007 accessed July 8, 2007]

Origins of socialism

The appearance of the term "socialism" is variously attributed to Pierre Leroux in 1834, [ Leroux called socialism "the doctrine which would not give up any of the principles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" of the French Revolution of 1789. "Individualism and socialism" (1834)] or to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud in France, or else in England to Robert Owen, who is considered the father of the cooperative movement. [Oxford English Dictionary, etymology of socialism]

The first modern socialists were early 19th century Western European social critics. In this period, socialism emerged from a diverse array of doctrines and social experiments associated primarily with British and French thinkers—especially Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Blanc, and Saint-Simon. These social critics criticised the excesses of poverty and inequality of the Industrial Revolution, and advocated reforms such as the egalitarian distribution of wealth and the transformation of society into small communities in which private property was to be abolished. Outlining principles for the reorganization of society along collectivist lines, Saint-Simon and Owen sought to build socialism on the foundations of planned, utopian communities.

According to some accounts, the use of the words "socialism" or "communism" was related to the perceived attitude toward religion in a given culture. In Europe, "communism" was considered to be the more atheistic of the two. In England, however, that sounded too close to communion with Catholic overtones; hence atheists preferred to call themselves socialists. [cite book
authorlink=Raymond Williams
] By 1847, according to Frederick Engels, "Socialism" was "respectable" on the continent of Europe, while "Communism" was the opposite; the Owenites in England and the Fourierists in France were considered Socialists, while working class movements which "proclaimed the necessity of total social change" termed themselves "Communists". This latter was "powerful enough" to produce the communism of Étienne Cabet in France and Wilhelm Weitling in Germany. [Engels, Frederick, "Preface to the 1888 English Edition of the Communist Manifesto, p202. Penguin (2002)]

Henri de Saint-Simon

Henri de Saint-Simon, who is called the founder of French socialism, argued that a brotherhood of man must accompany the scientific organization of industry and society. He proposed that production and distribution be carried out by the state, and that allowing everyone to have equal opportunity to develop their talents would lead to social harmony, and the state could be virtually eliminated. "Rule over men would be replaced by the administration of things." [Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Saint Simon"; "Socialism"]

Robert Owen

Robert Owen advocated the transformation of society into small, local collectives without such elaborate systems of social organization. Owen was a mill manager from 1800-1825. He transformed life in the village of New Lanark with ideas and opportunities which were at least a hundred years ahead of their time. Child labor and corporal punishment were abolished, and villagers were provided with decent homes, schools and evening classes, free health care, and affordable food. [ [http://www.newlanark.org/index2.shtml New Lanark World Heritage Site] accessed 8 July, 2007]

The UK government's Factory Act of 1833 attempted to reduce the hours adults and children worked in the textile industry. A fifteen hour working day was to start at 5.30 a.m. and cease at 8.30 p.m. Children of nine to thirteen years could be worked no more than 9 hours, and those of a younger age were prohibited. There were, however, only four factory inspectors, and this law was broken by the factory owners. [http://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/snapshots/snapshot13/snapshot13.htm The National Archives (UK government records and information management) "The 1833 Factory Act: did it solve the problems of children in factories?"] accessed 7 July, 2007] In the same year Owen stated:

In a "Paper Dedicated to the Governments of Great Britain, Austria, Russia, France, Prussia and the United States of America" written in 1841, Owen wrote: "The lowest stage of humanity is experienced when the individual must labor for a small pittance of wages from others." [Owen, Robert, "Paper Dedicated to the Governments of Great Britain, Austria, Russia, France, Prussia and the United States of America" London 1841]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon pronounced that "Property is theft" and that socialism was "every aspiration towards the amelioration of society". Proudhon termed himself an anarchist and proposed that free association of individuals should replace the coercive state. [Kropotkin, P.A., 1910, "Anarchism", in the "Encyclopedia Britannica" 11th-13th editions.] [Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph, 1851, "General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century", studies 6 & 7.] Proudhon, Benjamin Tucker, and others developed these ideas in a free-market direction, while Mikhail Bakunin, Piotr Kropotkin, and others adapted Proudhon's ideas in a more conventionally socialist direction.

In a letter to Marx in 1846, Proudhon wrote:

Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Bakunin, the father of modern anarchism, was a libertarian socialist, a theory by which the workers would directly manage the means of production through their own productive associations. There would be "equal means of subsistence, support, education, and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity, and equal resources and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor."

While many socialists emphasized the gradual transformation of society, most notably through the foundation of small, utopian communities, a growing number of socialists became disillusioned with the viability of this approach and instead emphasized direct political action. Early socialists were united, however, in their desire for a society based on cooperation rather than competition.

Marxism and the socialist movement

, and his "Conspiracy of Equals", who is credited with providing a model for left-wing and communist movements of the 19th century.

Marx and Engels drew from these socialist or communist ideas born in the French revolution, as well as from the German philosophy of GWF Hegel, and English political economy, particularly that of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Marx and Engels developed a body of ideas which they called scientific socialism, more commonly called Marxism. Marxism comprised a theory of history (historical materialism) as well as a political, economic and philosophical theory.

In the "Manifesto of the Communist Party", written in 1848 just days before the outbreak of the revolutions of 1848, Marx and Engels wrote, "The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property." Unlike those Marx described as utopian socialists, Marx determined that, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". While utopian socialists believed it was possible to work within or reform capitalist society, Marx confronted the question of the economic and political power of the capitalist class, expressed in their ownership of the means of producing wealth (factories, banks, commerce - in a word, 'Capital'). Marx and Engels formulated theories regarding the practical way of achieving and running a socialist system, which they saw as only being achieved by those who produce the wealth in society, the toilers, workers or "proletariat", gaining common ownership of their workplaces, the means of producing wealth.

Marx believed that capitalism could only be overthrown by means of a revolution carried out by the working class: "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority." [ Marx and Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party", p14, Oxford University Press, (1998)] Marx believed that the proletariat was the only class with both the cohesion, 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.

For Marxists, socialism or, as Marx termed it, the first phase of communist society, can be viewed as a transitional stage characterized by common or state ownership of the means of production under democratic workers' control and management, which Engels argued was beginning to be realised in the Paris Commune of 1871, before it was overthrown. [Engels' 1891 postscript to "The Civil War In France" by Karl Marx, [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/postscript.htm Marx, Engels, "Selected works in one volume", p257] , Lawrence and Wishart (1968)] Socialism to them is simply the transitional phase between capitalism and "higher phase of communist society". Because this society has characteristics of both its capitalist ancestor and is beginning to show the properties of communism, it will hold the means of production collectively but distributes commodities according to individual contribution. [Marx, Karl, "Critique of the Gotha Programme", p320-1, Selected Works, Lawrence and Wishart, (1968)] When the socialist state (the dictatorship of the proletariat) naturally withers away, what will remain is a society in which human beings no longer suffer from alienation and "all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly." Here "society inscribe [s] on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" [Marx, Karl, "Critique of the Gotha Programme", p320-1, Selected Works, Lawrence and Wishart, (1968)] For Marx, a communist society entails the absence of differing social classes and thus the end of class warfare. According to Marx and Engels, once a socialist society had been ushered in, the state would begin to "wither away", [ [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/index.htm Engels, Frederick, "Anti-Dühring", 1877] ] and humanity would be in control of its own destiny for the first time.

While the various socialist groups championed many different socialist ideas, Marxism appeared to offer a coherent strategy which, within a few decades, began to draw mass support, and some alliances between trade unionism and socialism began to form.

International Workingmen's Association (First International)

The International Workingmen's Association (IWA), also known as the First International, was founded in London in 1864. Victor Le Lubez, a French radical republican living in London, invited Karl Marx to come to London as a representative of German workers. [ [http://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/f/i.htm#iwma MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations, "First International (International Workingmen’s Association)", accessed 5 July, 2007] ] The IWA held a preliminary conference in 1865, and had its first congress at Geneva in 1866. Marx was appointed a member of the committee, and according to Saul Padover, Marx and Johann Georg Eccarius, a tailor living in London, became "the two mainstays of the International from its inception to its end". [ [http://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/f/i.htm#iwma MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations, "First International (International Workingmen’s Association)", accessed 5 July, 2007] ] The First International became the first major international forum for the promulgation of socialist ideas.

The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was founded in 1869 under the influence of Marx and Engels. In 1875, it merged with the General German Workers' Association of Ferdinand Lassalle to become what is known today as the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Socialism became increasingly associated with newly-formed trade unions. In Germany, the SPD founded unions. In Austria, France and other European countries, socialist parties and anarchists played a prominent role in forming and building up trade unions, especially from the 1870s onwards. This stood in contrast to the British experience, where moderate New Model Unions dominated the union movement from the mid-nineteenth century, and where trade unionism was stronger than the political labour movement until the formation and growth of the Labour Party in the early twentieth century.

Socialist groups supported diverse views of socialism, from the gradualism of many trade unionists to the radical, revolutionary theory of Marx and Engels. Anarchists and proponents of other alternative visions of socialism, who emphasized the potential of small-scale communities and agrarianism, coexisted with the more influential currents of Marxism and social democracy. The anarchists, led by the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, believed that capitalism and the state were inseparable, and that one could not be abolished without the other.

Paris Commune

In 1871, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, an uprising in Paris established the Paris Commune. According to Marx and Engels, for a few weeks the Paris Commune provided a glimpse of a socialist society, before it was brutally suppressed by the French government.

In Paris Commune, large-scale industry was to be "based on the association of the workers" joined into "one great union", all posts in government were elected by universal franchise, elected officials took only the average worker's wage and were subject to recall. For Engels, this was what the dictatorship of the proletariat looked like (as opposed to the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", which was capitalism). Engels goes on to state: "In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy; and at best an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy", and a new generation of socialists, "reared in new and free social conditions, will be able to throw the entire lumber of the state on the scrap-heap". [Engels' 1891 Preface to Marx, "Civil War in France", Selected Works in one volume, Lawrence and Wishart, (1968), p256, p259]

After the Paris Commune, the differences between supporters of Marx and Engels and those of Bakunin were too great to bridge. The anarchist section of the First International was expelled from the International at the 1872 Hague Congress and they went on to form the Jura federation. The First International was disbanded in 1876.

The Second International

As the ideas of Marx and Engels took on flesh, particularly in central Europe, socialists sought to unite in an international organisation. In 1889, on the centennial of the French Revolution of 1789, the Second International was founded, with 384 delegates from 20 countries representing about 300 labour and socialist organizations. [ [http://www.marxisthistory.org/subject/usa/eam/secondinternational.html "The Second (Socialist) International 1889-1923"] accessed 12 July, 2007] It was termed the "Socialist International" and Engels was elected honorary president at the third congress in 1893.

Just before his death in 1895, Engels argued that there was now a "single generally recognised, crystal clear theory of Marx" and a "single great international army of socialists". Despite its illegality due to the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1878, the Social Democratic Party of Germany's use of the limited universal male suffrage were "potent" new methods of struggle which demonstrated their growing strength and forced the dropping of the Anti-Socialist legislation in 1890, Engels argued. [Engels, 1895 Introduction to Marx's "Class Struggles in France 1848-1850"] In 1893, the German SPD obtained 1,787,000 votes, a quarter of votes cast. However before the leadership of the SPD published Engels' 1895 Introduction to Marx's "Class Struggles in France 1848-1850", they removed certain phrases they felt were too revolutionary. [cf Footnote 449 in "Marx Engels Collected Works" on Engels' 1895 Introduction to Marx's "Class Struggles in France 1848-1850"]

Marx believed that it was possible to have a peaceful socialist transformation in England, although the British ruling class would then revolt against such a victory. [In England, "Insurrection would be madness where peaceful agitation would more swiftly and surely do the work... But, mark me, as soon as it finds itself outvoted on what it considers vital questions, we shall see here a new slaveowners's war." [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/bio/media/marx/71_07_18.htm "Interview with Karl Marx, Head of L'Internationale, by R. Landor"] New York World, July 18, 1871.] America and Holland might also have a peaceful transformation, but not in France, where Marx believed there had been "perfected... an enormous bureaucratic and military organisation, with its ingenious state machinery" which must be forcibly overthrown. However, eight years after Marx's death, Engels argued that it was possible to achieve a peaceful socialist revolution in France, too. [Fischer, Ernst, "Marx in his own words", p135, quoting from Marx, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"]


The SPD was by far the most powerful of the social democratic parties. Its votes reached 4.5 million, it had 90 daily newspapers, together with trade unions and co-ops, sports clubs, a youth organisation, a women's organisation and hundreds of full time officials. Under the pressure of this growing party, Bismarck introduced limited welfare provision and working hours were reduced. Germany experienced sustained economic growth for more than forty years. Commentators suggest that this expansion, together with the concessions won, gave rise to illusions amongst the leadership of the SPD that capitalism would evolve into socialism gradually.

Beginning in 1896, in a series of articles published under the title "Problems of socialism", Eduard Bernstein argued that an evolutionary transition to socialism 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, retained the Marxist theory of revolution as the official doctrine of the party, and it was repeatedly endorsed by SPD conferences, in practice the SPD leadership became increasingly reformist.


Bernstein coined the aphorism: "The movement is everything, the final goal nothing". But the path of reform appeared blocked to the Russian Marxists while Russia remained the bulwark of reaction. In the preface to the 1882 Russian edition to the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels had saluted the Russian Marxists who, they said, "formed the vanguard of revolutionary action in Europe". But the working class, although many were organised in vast modern western-owned enterprises, comprised no more than a small percentage of the population and "more than half the land is owned in common by the peasants". Marx and Engels posed the question: How was Russia to progress to socialism? Could Russia "pass directly" to socialism or "must it first pass through the same process" of capitalist development as the West? They replied: "If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development." [Marx, Engels, "Preface to the Russian Edition of 1882", Communist Manifesto, p196, Penguin Classics, 2002]

In 1903, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party began to split on ideological and organizational questions into Bolshevik ('Majority') and Menshevik ('Minority') factions, with Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin leading the more radical Bolsheviks. Both wings accepted that Russia was an economically backward country unripe for socialism. The Mensheviks awaited the capitalist revolution in Russia. But Lenin argued that a revolution of the workers and peasants would achieve this task. After the Russian revolution of 1905, Leon Trotsky argued that unlike the French revolution of 1789 and the European Revolutions of 1848 against absolutism, the capitalist class would never organise a revolution in Russia to overthrow absolutism, and that this task fell to the working class who, liberating the peasantry from their feudal yoke, would then immediately pass on to the socialist tasks and seek a "permanent revolution" to achieve international socialism. [Trotsky, Leon, "The Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects", p169ff. New Park, (1962)] Assyrian nationalist Freydun Atturaya tried to create regional self-government for the Assyrian people with the socialism ideology. He even wrote the Urmia Manifesto of the United Free Assyria. However, his attempt was put to an end by Russia.

United States

In 1877, the Socialist Labor Party of America was founded. This party, which advocated Marxism and still exists today, was a confederation of small Marxist parties and came under the leadership of Daniel De Leon. In 1901, a merger between opponents of De Leon and the younger Social Democratic Party joined with Eugene V. Debs to form the Socialist Party of America.In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World formed from several independent labor unions. The IWW opposed the political means of Debs and De Leon, as well as the craft unionism of Samuel Gompers. In 1910, the Sewer Socialists, the main group of American socialists, elected Victor Berger as a socialist Congressman and Emil Seidel as a socialist mayor of Milwaukee, WI, most of the other elected city officials being socialist as well. This Socialist Party of America grew to 150,000 in 1912 and polled 897,000 votes in the presidential campaign of that year, 6 percent of the total vote. Socialist mayor Daniel Hoan, was elected in 1916 and stayed in office until 1940. The final Socialist mayor, Frank P. Zeidler, was elected in 1948 and served three terms, ending in 1960. Milwaukee remained the hub of Socialism during these years. The Socialist Party declined after the First World War.


French socialism was beheaded by the suppression of the Paris commune (1871), its leaders killed or exiled. But in 1879, at the Marseille Congress, workers' associations created the Federation of the Socialist Workers of France. Three years later, Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue, the son-in-law of Karl Marx, left the federation and founded the French Workers' Party.

The Federation of the Socialist Workers of France was termed "possibilist" because it advocated gradual reforms, whereas the French Workers' Party promoted Marxism. In 1905 these two trends merged to form the French Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO), led by Jean Jaurès and later Léon Blum. In 1906 it won 56 seats in Parliament. The SFIO adhered to Marxist ideas but became, in practice, a reformist party. By 1914 it had more than 100 members in the Chamber of Deputies.

World War I

When World War I began in 1914, many European socialist leaders supported their respective governments' war aims. The social democratic parties in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany supported their respective state's wartime military and economic planning, discarding their commitment to internationalism and solidarity.

Lenin, however, denounced the war as an imperialist conflict, and urged workers worldwide to use it as an occasion for proletarian revolution. The Second International dissolved during the war, while Lenin, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, together with a small number of other Marxists opposed to the war, came together in the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915.

ocial democracy to 1917

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany 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". [Marx, Engels, "Communist Manifesto", Selected Works, p52] Since the 1866 introduction of universal male franchise the SPD had proved that old methods of, "surprise attacks, of revolutions carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of masses lacking consciousness is past". Marxists, Engels emphasised, must "win over the great mass of the people" before initiating a revolution. [Engels, Frederick, 1895 Introduction to Marx’ Class Struggles in France 1848-1850]

Marx believed that it was possible to have a peaceful socialist revolution in England, America and Holland, but not in France, where he believed there had been "perfected ... an enormous bureaucratic and military organisation, with its ingenious state machinery" which must be forcibly overthrown. However, eight years after Marx's death, Engels regarded it possible to achieve a peaceful socialist revolution in France, too. [Fischer, Ernst, "Marx in his own words", p135, quoting from Marx, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"]

In 1896, Eduard Bernstein argued that once full democracy had been achieved, a transition to socialism by gradual 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, retained the Marxist theory of revolution as the official doctrine of the party, and it was repeatedly endorsed by SPD conferences, in practice the SPD leadership became more and more reformist.

In Europe most Social Democratic parties participated in parliamentary politics and the day-to-day struggles of the trade unions. In the UK, however, many trade unionists who were members of the Social Democratic Federation, which included at various times future trade union leaders such as Will Thorne, John Burns and Tom Mann, felt that the Federation neglected the industrial struggle. Along with Engels, who refused to support the SDF, many felt that dogmatic approach of the SDF, particularly of its leader, Henry Hyndman, meant that it remained an isolated sect. The mass parties of the working class under social democratic leadership became more reformist and lost sight of their revolutionary objective. Thus the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), founded in 1905, under Jean Jaurès and later Léon Blum adhered to Marxist ideas, but became in practice a reformist party.

In some countries, particularly Britain and the British dominions, labour parties were formed. These were parties largely formed by and controlled by the trade unions, rather than formed by groups of socialist activists who then appealed to the workers for support. In Britain, the Labour Party, (at first the Labour Representation Committee) was established by representatives of trade unions together with affiliated socialist parties, principally the Independent Labour Party but also for a time the avowedly Marxist Social Democratic Federation and other groups, such as the Fabians. On 1 December, 1899 Anderson Dawson of the Australian Labor Party became the Premier of Queensland, Australia, forming the world's first parliamentary socialist government . The Dawson government, however, lasted only one week, being defeated at the first sitting of parliament.

The British Labour Party first won seats in the House of Commons in 1902. It won the majority of the working class away from the Liberal Party after World War I. In Australia, 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. The British Labour Party adopted a specifically socialist constitution (‘Clause four, Part four’) in 1918.

The strongest opposition to revisionism came from socialists in countries such as the Russian Empire where parliamentary democracy did not exist. Chief among these was the Russian Vladimir Lenin, whose works such as "Our Programme" (1899) set out the views of those who rejected revisionist ideas. In 1903, there was the beginnings of what eventually became a formal split in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into revolutionary Bolshevik and reformist Menshevik factions.

In 1914, the outbreak of World War I led to a crisis in European socialism. The parliamentary leaderships of the socialist parties of Germany, France, Belgium and Britain each voted to support the war aims of their country's governments, 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. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, together with a small number of other Marxists opposed to the war, came together in the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915. This conference saw the beginning of the end of the uneasy coexistence of revolutionary socialists with the social democrats, and by 1917 war-weariness led to splits in several socialist parties, notably the German Social Democrats.

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 led to a withdrawal from World War I, one of the principal demands of the Russian revolution, as the Soviet government immediately sued for peace. Germany and the former allies invaded the new Soviet Russia, which had repudiated the former Romanov regime's national debts and nationalised the banks and major industry. Russia was the only country in the world where socialists had taken power, and it appeared to many socialists to confirm the ideas, strategy and tactics of Lenin and Trotsky.

The inter-war era and World War II

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 brought about the definitive ideological division between Communists as denoted with a capital "C" on the one hand and other communist and socialist trends such as anarcho-communists and social democrats, on the other. The Left Opposition in the Soviet Union gave rise to Trotskyism which was to remain isolated and insignificant for another fifty years, except in Sri Lanka where Trotskyism gained the majority and the pro-Moscow wing was expelled from the Communist Party.

In 1922, the fourth congress of the Communist International took up the policy of the United Front, urging Communists to work with rank and file Social Democrats while remaining critical of their leaders, who they criticised for "betraying" the working class by supporting the war efforts of their respective capitalist classes. For their part, the social democrats pointed to the dislocation caused by revolution, and later, the growing authoritarianism of the Communist Parties. When the Communist Party of Great Britain applied to affiliate to the Labour Party in 1920 it was turned down.

Revolutionary socialism and the Soviet Union (1917-39)

After three years, the First World War, at first greeted with enthusiastic patriotism, 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. In the Russian revolution of February 1917, workers' councils (in Russian, "soviets") had been formed, and Lenin and the Bolsheviks called for "All power to the Soviets". After the October 1917 Russian revolution, led by Lenin and Trotsky, consolidated power in the Soviets, Lenin declared "Long live the world socialist revolution!" [Lenin, "Meeting of the Petrograd Soviet of workers and soldiers' deputies October 25, 1917", Collected works, Vol 26, p239. Lawrence and Wishart, (1964)] Briefly in Soviet Russia socialism was not just a vision of a future society, but a description of an existing one. The Soviet regime began to bring all the means of production (except agricultural production) under state control, and implemented a system of government through the workers' councils or soviets.

The initial success of the Russian Revolution inspired other revolutionary parties to attempt the same thing unleashing the Revolutions of 1917-23. In the chaotic circumstances of postwar Europe, with the socialist parties divided and discredited, Communist revolutions across Europe seemed a possibility. Communist parties were formed, often from minority or majority factions in most of the world's socialist parties, which broke away in support of the Leninist model.

The German Revolution of 1918 overthrew the old absolutism and, like Russia, set up Workers' and Soldiers' Councils almost entirely made up of SPD and Independent Social Democrats (USPD) members. The Weimar republic was established and placed the SPD in power, under the leadership of Friedrich Ebert. Ebert agreed with Max von Baden that a social revolution was to be prevented and the state order must be upheld at any cost. In 1919 the Spartacist uprising challenged the power of the SPD government, but it was put down in blood and the German Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were assassinated. Communist regimes briefly held power under Béla Kun in Hungary and under Kurt Eisner in Bavaria. There were further revolutionary movements in Germany until 1923, as well as in Vienna, and also in the industrial centres of northern Italy.

In this period few Communists doubted, least of all Lenin and Trotsky, that successful socialist revolutions carried out by the working classes of the most developed capitalist counties were essential to the success of the socialism, and therefore to the success of socialism in Russia in particular. [Bertil, Hessel, Introduction, "Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the first four congresses of the Third International", pxiii, Ink Links (1980)] In March 1918, Lenin said, "we are doomed if the German revolution does not break out". [Lenin, "Speech To The Seventh Congress Of The Russian Communist Party On The Brest-Litovsk Peace" 7 March, 1918, Works, third edition, vol 22, p. 322] In 1919, the Communist Parties came together to form a 'Third International', termed the Communist International or Comintern. But the prolonged revolutionary period in Germany did not bring a socialist revolution.

Within a few years a bureaucracy developed in Russia as a result of the Russian Civil War, foreign invasion, and Russia's historic poverty and backwardness. The bureaucracy 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, the bureaucracy conducted a brutal campaign of lies and violence against the Left Opposition led by Trotsky.

By the mid 1920s, 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. In the Soviet Union, from 1924 Stalin pursued a policy of "socialism in one country". Trotsky argued that this approach was a shift away from the theory of Marx and Lenin, while others argued that it was a practical compromise fit for the times.

The postwar revolutionary upsurge provoked a powerful reaction from the forces of conservatism. Winston Churchill declared that Bolshevism must be "strangled in its cradle". [ [http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=282 Cover Story: Churchill's Greatness.] Interview with Jeffrey Wallin. (The Churchill Centre)] The invasion of Russia by the Allies, their trade embargo and backing for the White forces fighting against the Red Army in the civil war in the Soviet Union was cited by Aneurin Bevan, the leader of the left-wing in the Labour Party, as one of the causes of the Russian revolution's degeneration into dictatorship. [Bevan also cites the economic backwardness of the region. Aneurin Bevan, "In Place of Fear", p62-3. MacGibbon and Kee, (1961)] A "Red scare" in the United States was raised against the American Socialist Party of Eugene V. Debs and the Communist Party of America which arose after the Russian revolution from members who had broken from Debs' party. In Europe, fascist movements received significant funding, particularly from industrialists in heavy industry, [De Grand, Alexander, "Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany", p20, Routledge, (1995)] [Guerin, Daniel, "Fascism and big business", p22 ff] and came to power in Italy in 1922 under Benito Mussolini, and later in Germany in 1933, in Spain (1937) and Portugal, while strong fascist movements also developed in Hungary and Romania.

After 1929, with the Left Opposition legally banned and Trotsky exiled, Stalin led the Soviet Union into a what he termed a "higher stage of socialism." Agriculture was forcibly 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 results, [According to Trotsky there was a 250% growth in industrial production between 1929 and 1935, compared to an increase of 40% in Japan and a decline of approximately 25% in the USA (the years of the Great Depression). Heavy industry increasing by 1000% in the ten years to 1935. cf Trotsky, "Revolution Betrayed", p15. Pathfinder, (1972)] though at enormous human costs. Russia raised itself from an economically backward country to that of a superpower. Later Soviet development, however, particularly after the Second World War, was no faster than it was in Japan or the United States under capitalism. The use of resources, material and human, in the Soviet Union became very wasteful. Stalin's industrialization policy was geared towards the development of heavy industry, an emphasis that facilitated Soviet military action in its defence against Hitler's invasion during the Second World War in which the USSR stood on the side of the Allies of World War II.

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 1936-38, 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 President Franklin D. 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 1935 the Comintern began urging a Popular 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. After the election of a Popular Front government in Spain in 1936 a fascist military revolt led to the 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. Trotskyists considered Popular Fronts a "strike breaking conspiracy" [ [http://marxists.catbull.com/archive/trotsky/1936/whitherfrance/ch03a.htm Trotsky, Leon, "France at a Turning Point", (1936) in "Wither France", p105. New Park, 1974] and considered them a impediment to successful resistance to fascism.

When Stalin consolidated his power in the Soviet Union in the late 1920s, 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. Some 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 his "Results and Prospects" and "Permanent Revolution" Trotsky developed a theory of revolution uninterrupted by the stagism of Stalinist orthodoxy. He argued that Russia was 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. Trotsky's monumental "History of the Russian Revolution" is considered a work of primary importance by Trotsky's followers.


Once the world's most powerful nation, Britain avoided a revolution during the period of 1917-1923 but was significantly affected by revolt. The Prime Minister, Lloyd George, had promised the troops in the 1918 election that his Conservative-led coalition would make post-war Britain "a fit land for heroes to live in". But many demobbed troops complained of chronic unemployment and suffered low pay, disease and poor housing. [ [http://www.aftermathww1.com/landfit.asp "A Land Fit For Heroes?"]

In 1918, the Labour Party adopted as its aim to secure for the workers, "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange". In 1919, the Miners Federation, whose Members of Parliament pre-dated the formation of the Labour Party and were since 1906 a part of that body, demanded the withdrawal of British troops from Soviet Russia. The 1919 Labour Party conference voted to discuss the question of affiliation to the Third (Communist) International, "to the distress of its leaders". [Cole and Postgate, "The Common People", p551] A vote was won committing the Labour Party committee of the Trades Union Congress to arrange "direct industrial action" to "stop capitalist attacks upon the Socialist Republics of Russia and Hungary." [ [http://www.marxists.org/archive/pankhurst-sylvia/1919/british-workers.htm Sylvia Pankhurst, 'The British Workers and Soviet Russia'] , published in "The Revolutionary Age", August 9, 1919] The threat of immediate strike action forced the Conservative-led coalition government to abandon its intervention in Russia. [ Sylvia Pankhurst reported that, "The London district committee of the dockers has decided to declare a strike on July 20 and 21, but it goes further, it had decided to advise its members to abstain from working on any ships bound for Russia or assisting in any way the overthrow of the Russian proletariat". [http://www.marxists.org/archive/pankhurst-sylvia/1919/british-workers.htm Sylvia Pankhurst, 'The British Workers and Soviet Russia'] , published in "The Revolutionary Age", August 9, 1919.]

In 1914 the unions of the transport workers, the mine workers and the railway workers had formed a Triple Alliance. In 1919, Lloyd George sent for the leaders of the Triple Alliance, one of whom was miner's leader Robert Smillie, a founder member of the Independent Labour Party in 1889 who was to become a Labour Party MP in the first 1924 Labour government. According to Smillie, Lloyd George said:

cquote2|Gentlemen, you have fashioned, in the Triple Alliance of the unions represented by you, a most powerful instrument. I feel bound to tell you that in our opinion we are at your mercy. The Army is disaffected and cannot be relied upon. Trouble has occurred already in a number of camps. We have just emerged from a great war and the people are eager for the reward of their sacrifices, and we are in no position to satisfy them. In these circumstances, if you carry out your threat and strike, then you will defeat us.

But if you do so, have you weighed the consequences? The strike will be in defiance of the government of the country and by its very success will precipitate a constitutional crisis of the first importance. For, if a force arises in the state which is stronger than the state itself, then it must be ready to take on the functions of the state, or withdraw and accept the authority of the state. Gentlemen, have you considered, and if you have, are you ready?|Aneurin Bevan, "In Place of Fear" [Bevan, Aneurin, "In Place of Fear" p40. MacGibbon and Kee, (1961). Bevan reports verbatim what Robert Smillie told him of his meeting with Lloyd George.]

"From that moment on", Smillie conceded to Aneurin Bevan, "we were beaten and we knew we were". When the UK General Strike of 1926 broke out, the trade union leaders, "had never worked out the revolutionary implications of direct action on such a scale", Bevan says. [Bevan, Aneurin, "In Place of Fear" p40. MacGibbon and Kee, (1961)] Bevan was a member of the Independent Labour Party and one of the leaders of the South Wales miners during the strike. The TUC called off the strike after nine days. In the North East of England and elsewhere, "councils of action" were set up, with many rank and file Communist Party members often playing a critical role. The councils of action took control of essential transport and other duties. [For instance, cf Mason, Anthony, "The General strike in the North-East", University of Hull Publications (1970)] When the strike ended, the miners were locked out and remained locked out for six months. Bevan became a Labour MP in 1929.

In January 1924, the Labour Party formed a minority government for the first time with Ramsay MacDonald as prime minister. The Labour Party intended to ratify an Anglo-Russian trade agreement, which would break the trade embargo on Russia. This was attacked by the Conservatives and new elections took place in October 1924. Four days before polling day the "Daily Mail" published the Zinoviev letter, a forgery that claimed the Labour Party had links with Soviet Communists and was secretly fomenting revolution. The fears instilled by the press of a Labour Party in secret Communist manoeuvres, together with the half-hearted "respectable" policies pursued by MacDonald, led to Labour losing the October 1924 general election. The victorious Conservatives repudiated the Anglo-Soviet treaty.

The leadership of the Labour Party, like social democratic parties almost everywhere, (with the exception of Sweden and Belgium), tried to pursue a policy of moderation and economic orthodoxy. At times of depression this policy was not popular with the Labour Party's working class supporters. The influence of Marxism grew in the Labour Party during the inter-war years. Anthony Crosland argued in 1956 that under the impact of the 1931 slump and the growth of fascism, the younger generation of left-wing intellectuals for the most part "took to Marxism" including the "best-known leaders" of the Fabian tradition, Sidney and Beatrice Webb. The Marxist Professor Harold Laski, who was to be chairman of the Labour Party in 1945-6, was the "outstanding influence" in the political field. [Crosland, Anthony, "The Future of Socialism", p4 and note 2]

The Marxists within the Labour Party differed in their attitude to the Communists. Some were uncitical and some were expelled as "fellow travellers", while in the 1930s others were Trotskyists and sympathisers working inside the Labour Party, especially in its youth wing where they were influential.

In the general election of 1929 the Labour Party won 288 seats out of 615 and formed another minority government. The depression of that period brought high unemployment and Prime Minister MacDonald sought to make cuts in order to balance the budget. The trade unions opposed MacDonald's proposed cuts and he split the Labour government to form the National Government of 1931. This experience moved the Labour Party leftward, and at the start of the Second World War an official Labour Party pamphlet written by Harold Laski argued that, "the rise of Hitler and the methods by which he seeks to maintain and expand his power are deeply rooted in the economic and social system of Europe... economic nationalism, the fight for markets, the destruction of political democracy, the use of war as an instrument of national policy":

cquote2|The war will leave its meed [Meed - literally, 'Reward', here used sardonically] of great problems, problems of internal social organisation... Business men and aristocrats, the old ruling classes of Europe, had their chance from 1919 to 1939; they failed to take advantage of it. They rebuilt the world in the image of their own vested interests... The ruling class has failed; this war is the proof of it. The time has come to give the common people the right to become the master of their own destiny... Capitalism has been tried; the results of its power are before us today. Imperialism has been tried; it is the foster-parent of this great agony.

Given power [the Labour Party] will seek, as no other Party will seek, the basic transformation of our society. It will replace the profit-seeking motive by the motive of public service... there is now no prospect of domestic well-being or of international peace except in Socialism.|Harold Laski, "The Labour Party, the War and the Future" (1939) [Published by the Labour Party in November 1939]

United States

In the United States, the Communist Party USA was formed in 1919 from former adherents of the Socialist Party of America. One of the founders, James Cannon, later became the leader of Trotskyist forces outside the Soviet Union. The Great Depression began in the US on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929. Unemployment rates passed 25%, prices and incomes fell 20–50%, but the debts remained at the same dollar amount. 9,000 banks failed during the decade of the 30s. By 1933, depositors saw $140 billion of their deposits disappear due to uninsured bank failures. [ [http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/money_08.html Bank Failures during the 1930s Great Depression ] ]

Workers organized against their deteriorating conditions and socialists played a critical role. In 1934 the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike led by the Trotskyist Communist League of America, the West Coast Longshore Strike led by the Communist Party USA, and the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike led by the American Workers Party, played an important role in the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the USA.

In Minnesota, the General Drivers Local 574 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters struck, despite an attempt to block the vote by AFL officials, demanding union recognition, increased wages, shorter hours, overtime rates, improved working conditions and job protection through seniority. In the battles that followed, which captured country-wide media attention, three strikes took place, martial law was declared and the National Guard was sent in. Two strikers were killed. Protest rallies of 40,000 were held. Farrell Dobbs, who became the leader of the local, had at the outset joined the "small and poverty-stricken" Communist League of America, founded by James P. Cannon and others in 1928 after their expulsion from the Communist Party USA for Trotskyism. [Dobbs, Farrell, "Teamster Rebellion", Monad Press, New York, (1972), p21ff, p34, p92]

Success for the CIO quickly followed its formation. In 1937, one of the founding unions of the CIO, the United Auto Workers, won union recognition at General Motors Corporation after a tumultuous forty-four day sit-down strike, while the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, which was formed by the CIO, won a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel. The CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955 becoming the AFL-CIO.


In 1928, the Communist International, now fully under the leadership of Stalin, turned from the united front policy to an ultra-left policy of the Third Period, a policy of aggressive confrontation of social democracy. This divided the working class at a critical time.

Like the Labour Party in the UK, the Social Democratic Party in Germany, which was in power in 1928, followed an orthodox deflationary policy and pressed for reductions in unemployment benefits in order to save taxes and reduce budget deficits. These policies did not halt the recession and the government resigned.

The Communists described the Social Democratic leaders as "social fascists" and in the Prussian Landtag they voted with the Nazis to bring down the Social Democratic government. Fascism continued to grow, with powerful backing from industrialists, especially in heavy industry, and Hitler was invited into power in 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 1935 the Comintern began urging the formation of Popular Fronts, which were to include not just the Social Democratic parties but critically also "progressive capitalist" parties which were wedded to a capitalist policy.

After the election of a Popular Front government in Spain in 1936 a fascist military revolt led to the Spanish Civil War. The crisis in Spain 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. Trotskyists considered Popular Fronts a "strike breaking conspiracy", an impediment to successful resistance to fascism due to their inclusion of pro-capitalist parties which demanded policies of opposition to strikes and workers’ actions against the capitalist class. [ [http://marxists.catbull.com/archive/trotsky/1936/whitherfrance/ch03a.htm Trotsky, Leon, "France at a Turning Point", (1936) in "Wither France", p105. New Park, 1974]


The Swedish Socialists formed a government in 1932. They broke with economic orthodoxy during the depression and carried out extensive public works financed from government borrowing. They emphasised large-scale intervention and the high unemployment they had inherited was eliminated by 1938. Their success encouraged the adoption of Keynesian policies of deficit financing pursued by almost all Western countries after World War II.

ocial democracy (1945-85)

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 in central Europe fell under the threat of fascism. 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.

One of the great postwar victories of democratic socialism 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 the Communism of Stalin:

cquote2|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 rigid 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...|The Frankfurt Declaration, 1951

The first socialist government in a North American country

The first socialist government of North America and one of the most influential came to power in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in 1944. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation of Tommy Douglas won an overwhelming victory toppling the age old Liberal regime which had dominated Saskatchewan politics since the founding of the province in 1905. Douglas and the CCF won five consecutive electoral victories. During his time in office he created the Saskatchewan Power Corp. which extended electricity services to the many rural villages and farms who before did without, created Canada's first public automobile insurance agency, created a substantial number of Crown Corporations (government and public owned businesses) many of which still exist today in Saskatchewan, allowed the unionization of the public service, created the first system of Universal Health Care in Canada (which would later be adopted nationally in 1965 becoming something Canadians identify with proudly), and created Saskatchewan's Bill of Rights, the first such charter in Canada. This preceded the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the previous Canadian Bill of Rights.

The New Democratic Party (as the CCF became known in 1962) went on to dominate the politics of Saskatchewan and form governments in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and the Yukon Territory. Nationally the NDP would become very influential during four minority governments, and is today by far Canada's most successful left-wing political party.In 2004 Canadians voted Tommy Douglas in as "The Greatest Canadian" as part of a nation-wide contest organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

ocial democracy in government

The social democratic governments in the post war period introduced measures of social reform and wealth redistribution through state welfare and taxation policy. For instance the newly elected UK Labour government carried out nationalisations of major utilities such as mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron and steel, and the Bank of England. [British Petroleum, privatised in 1987, was officially nationalised in 1951 according to government archives [http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Nationalisation_of_Anglo-Iranian_Oil_Company%2C_1951] with further government intervention during the 1974-79 Labour Government, cf 'The New Commanding Height: Labour Party Policy on North Sea Oil and Gas, 1964-74' in "Contemporary British History", Volume 16, Issue 1 Spring 2002, pages 89 - 118. Some elements of some of these entities were already in public hands. Later Labour renationalised steel (1967, British Steel) after it was denationalised by the Conservatives, and nationalised car production (1976, British Leyland), [http://www.uksteel.org.uk/history.htm] . In 1977, major aircraft companies and shipbuilding were nationalised] France claimed to be the most state controlled capitalist country in the world, carrying through many nationalisations. [The nationalisation of public utilities included the CDF - Charbonnages de France; EDF - Électricité de France; GDF - Gaz de France, airlines (Air France), banks (Banque de France) and many other private companies like the Renault car factory (Régie Nationale des Usines Renault) [http://www.sund.ac.uk/~os0tmc/contem/trente1.htm] . ] In the UK the National Health Service was established bringing free health care to all for the first time. Social housing for working class families was provided in council housing estates and university education was made available for working class people through a grant system.

However the parliamentary leadership of the social democracies in general had no intention of ending capitalism, and their national outlook and their dedication to the maintenance of the post-war 'order' prevented the social democracies from making any significant changes to the economy. They were termed 'socialist' by all in 1945, but in the UK, for instance, where Social Democracy had a large majority in Parliament, "The government had not the smallest intention of bringing in the 'common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange'" as written in Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution. [Beckett, Francis, "Clem Attlee", Politico, 2007, p243] In Germany, the Social Democratic Party of Germany adopted the Godesberg Program in 1959, which rejected class struggle and Marxism.

In the UK, cabinet minister Herbert Morrison famously argued that, "Socialism is what the Labour government does", [Beckett, Francis, "Clem Attlee", Politico, 2007, p243] and Anthony Crosland argued that capitalism had been ended. ["To the question ’Is this still capitalism?’ I would answer ‘No’." Crosland, Anthony, "The Future of Socialism" p46. Constable (2006)] However many socialists within the social democracy, at rank and file level as well as in a minority in the leadership such as Aneurin Bevan, feared the 'return of the 1930s' unless capitalism was ended, either directly or over a definite period of time. They criticised the government for not going further to take over the commanding heights of the economy. Bevan demanded that the "main streams of economic activity are brought under public direction" with economic planning, and criticised the Labour Party's implementation of nationalisation for not empowering the workers in the nationalised industries with democratic control over their operation. [Bevan, Aneurin, "In Place of Fear" p50, p126-128, MacGibbon and Kee, second edition (1961)] In the post war period, many Trotskyists expected at first the pattern of financial instability and recession to return. Instead the capitalist world, now led by the United States, embarked on a prolonged boom which lasted until 1973. Rising living standards across Europe and North America alongside low unemployment, was achieved, in the view of the socialists, by the efforts of trade union struggle, social reform by social democracy, and the ushering in of what was termed a "mixed economy". [Beckett, Francis, "Clem Attlee", Politico, 2007, p243]

Social democracy at first took the view that they had begun a "serious assault" on the five "Giant Evils" afflicting the working class, identified for instance by the British social reformer William Beveridge: "Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness". [ cf Beckett, Francis, "Clem Attlee", Politico, 2007, p243. "Idleness" meant unemployment, and hence the starvation of the worker and his/her family. It was not then a pejorative term. Unemployment benefit, as well as national insurance and hence state pensions, were introduced by the 1945 Labour government.]

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 post-war coalition governments, and civil war broke out in Greece. The imposition of Stalinist regimes in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia 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 1970s the new social forces, introduced, the social democrats argued, by their 'mixed economy' and their many reforms of capitalism, 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, nevertheless began to break down the old socialist-versus-conservative polarity of European politics. This new white-collar workforce, some claimed, was less interested in traditional socialist policies such as state ownership and more interested expanded personal freedom and liberal social policies. The proportion of women in the paid workforce increased and many supported the struggle for equal pay, which, some argued, 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 the leaderships of all social democracies in Europe moved to an explicitly pro-capitalist stance. Symbolically in the UK, the socialist clause, Clause four, was removed from the Labour Party constitution, in 1995. A similar change took place in the German SDP.

However, particularly after the coming to power of British Premier Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many social democratic party leaders were won to the ideological offensive which argued that capitalism had "won" and that, in the words of Francis Fukuyama's essay, capitalism had reached "the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.". [Fukuyama, "The End of History?", 1989] Some parties reacted to these changes by engaging in a new round of revisionist re-assessment of socialist ideology, and adopting a neo-liberal outlook. Some critics argue that in practice the Social Democractic parties, and the Labour Party in particular, can no longer be described as socialist. [ AH Hasley writes that Blair's "collaboration with [US President] George W. Bush has shown him to be an American liberal/conservative rather than a British socialist." Hasley, AH, "Democracy in Crisis: Ethical Socialism for a Prosperous Country", p77. Politicos (2007)] On Prime Minister Tony Blair's departure in June 2007, left wing trade union leader Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT), argued that Blair will be remembered for "seamlessly continuing the neo-liberal economic and social policies of Margaret Thatcher". ["Daily Telegraph", June 27, 2007, p10]

Mass discontent

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. Aside from the Civil Rights Movement, in which socialists participated, the anti-war movement 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 Trotskyist, Maoist and anarchist groups arose. They became particularly influential in 1968, when riots amounting almost to an insurrection broke out in Paris in May 1968. Between eight and ten million workers struck, challenging the view becoming popular amongst socialists at the time that the working class were no longer a force for change. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/24/newsid_2988000/2988263.stm BBC, 1968: De Gaulle: 'Back me or sack me'] There were also major disturbances in Chicago namely the Columbia University protests of 1968, Berlin by the embryonic Red Army Faction and in 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 particularly the far left Trotskyist 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.

The British Labour Party 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 post-war government in 1970.

The early 1970s were a particularly stormy period for socialists, as capitalism had its first world wide slump of 1973-4, suffered from rising oil prices, and a crisis in confidence. In southern Europe, for example, the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 1974 threatened the existence of capitalism for a while due to the insurrection and the occupations which followed. A "New York Times" editorial on February 17, 1975, stated "a communist takeover of Portugal might encourage a similar trend in Italy and France, create problems in Greece and Turkey, affect the succession in Spain and Yugoslavia and send tremors throughout Western Europe." The Greek military dictatorship fell in Greece, PASOK arose at first with a strong socialist outlook, and in Spain, the Franco dictatorship fell in a period of rising struggle. In Italy there was continual unrest, and governments fell almost annually. The Italian workers won and defended the "scala mobile", the sliding scale of wages linked to inflation. However, as before, neither the Communists nor the social democracy had any plans to abolish capitalism, and the occupations in Portugal, variously estimated to have taken between 70 - 90% of the economy, were gradually rolled back. The UK saw a state of emergency and the three day week, with 22 million days lost in strike action in 1972, leading to the fall of the Heath government and appearance of the Trotskyist Militant tendency in the Labour Party, which became the "fifth most important political party" for a period in the mid 1980s. [Crick, Michael, "The March of Militant" p2; "Financial Times", 12 June 2007, 'Working days lost to strike action soars'; Office of National Statistics.]

The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (1945-1985)

Immediately after the Second World War, a period known as the Cold War began. It represented a period of conflict, tension and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. Throughout the period, the rivalry between the two superpowers was played out in multiple arenas: military coalitions; ideology, psychology, and espionage; military, industrial, and technological developments, including the space race; costly defense spending; a massive conventional and nuclear arms race; and many proxy wars.

The term "Cold War" was introduced in 1947 by Americans Bernard Baruch and Walter Lippmann to describe emerging tensions between the two former wartime allies. [Fred Halliday, "Cold War" The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, 2e. Joel Krieger, ed. Oxford University Press Inc. 2001.] There never was a direct military engagement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but there was a half-century of military buildup, and political battles for support around the world, including significant involvement of allied and satellite nations. Although the U.S. and the Soviet Union had been allied against Nazi Germany, the two sides differed on how to reconstruct the postwar world even before the end of the World War II. Over the following decades, the Cold War spread outside Europe to every region of the world, as the U.S. sought the "containment" of communism and forged numerous alliances to this end, particularly in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

In 1946, speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, 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."

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, 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 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) the Warsaw Pact in 1955, which served as a military alliance against the west.

But one crack within that sphere of influence emerged after 1948, when Marshal Tito 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 in 1953. In the power struggle that followed Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev emerged triumphant. In 1956, at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he denounced the "personality cult" that had surrounded Stalin in a speech entitled On the Personality Cult and its Consequences. In the de-Stalinization campaign that followed, all buildings and towns that had been named for him were renamed, pictures and statues were destroyed. Although in some respects Khrushchev was a reformer and allowed the emergence of a certain amount of intra-party dissent, his commitment to reform was thrown into doubt with the brutal use of military force on the civilian population of Hungary in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution and the March 9 massacre in Tbilisi, 1956.

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 popular uprising. They initiated reforms to attempt to save the regime, but eventually relied on help from the Stalinists in Russia. In 1968, Alexander Dubček 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 became known as the Brezhnev doctrine:

"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 Communist Party and the introduction of a new constitution.

The early 1970s saw a period of détente. The arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union slackened. 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. After his death in 1982, Brezhnev was succeeded by Yuri Andropov, who died in 1984, and then Konstantin Chernenko, who died in 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 13 December 1981, the head of state, Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law, suspended the union, and imprisoned most of its leaders.

Final years for the Soviet Union 1985-91

Mikhail 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 engagement in Afghanistan, ten years after Brezhnev had sent them there. They had been fighting the anti-government Mujahideen forces which since 1979 as part of its cold war strategy had been covertly funded and trained by the United States government through the Pakistani secret service known as Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

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.

China (1945-65)

Through the Second World War, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 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 the Surrender of Japan, the Chinese 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 the Communist Workers Party of North Korea in the north proclaimed the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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 25 June 1950, the forces of North Korea invaded the South unleashing the Korean War. 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 leading to the signing of the Seventeen Point Agreement.

After this burst of expansion, the Communist government in China settled down to the consolidation of domestic power . During the 1950s, they redistributed land, established the Anti-Rightist Movement, 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 steelndash 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 of China.

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, unleashing the Cultural Revolution.

ocialism 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 4 June 1989 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, which is tracable to Deng's Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

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.

ocialism in developing countries

While the developed countries fought during the Cold War on the socialism versus capitalism, the developing countries were rather forgotten.Fact|date=June 2007 There have been examples of socialism in these regions.

Cuba is an example of a Communist state in the Third World, established in 1959 and led by Fidel Castro.

Another example is the Mexican Constitution of 1917, established during the Mexican Revolution, which has been regardedFact|date=June 2007 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.

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

Contemporary socialism

The demise of the Soviet Union led to a period of triumphalism by capitalists world wide, and a shattering of the confidence of those who looked to the Soviet Union for an example of a counter to the capitalist system. Others however saw the Soviet Union as an obstacle to the development of a wider socialist consciousness. Nevertheless socialists continue to differ about whether the working class is the class which must lead a socialist revolution, as described in traditional Marxist terms, or whether the peasantry can carry out this task, as expressed in traditional Maoist terms, or whether this approach is mistaken altogether.

Leo Panitch, for example, in "Renewing Socialism" (2001) wrote that Marx was wrong 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 capitalismndash 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, such as the Anti-globalization protests, 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.

21st century democratic socialism in Latin America

Since the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez as President in Venezuela and the beginnings of his "Bolivarian Revolution" aimed at creating greater equality, Latin American nations have seen a tidal wave of democratically elected socialist and centre-left governments emerge. They have been elected in increasing numbers as the poor and middle classes of many countries have become increasingly disillusioned with the neo-liberal economic policies still encouraged by the United States and as a very large gap continues to exist between rich and poor, denying millions of people basic opportunities and necessities.

A long and controversial history of U.S. military and political intervention in the region dating back to the 19th century and as recent as the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 has severely tarnished the image of the United States in the eyes of many Latin Americans and shapes governments' policies to this day. A recent example of the influence of the aforementioned sentiment was The Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with the Independence of Puerto Rico, an international summit held at Panama City, Panama, in which fifteen incumbent political parties (in government) requested that the United States "relinquish its colonial rule over said island-nation and recognize Puerto Rico's independence".

Chavez is joined by the democratic socialist president of Bolivia, Evo Morales (that nation's first indigenous leader), who has adopted strong reformist agendas and attracted overwhelming majority electoral victories. The democratically elected president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa is also an ally of Chavez. Correa describes himself as a humanist, Christian of the left and proponent of socialism of the 21st century.

A number of centre-left/social democratic presidents have also come to power in Latin American countries recently promosing a greater redistribution of wealth within the framework of the free market. They include Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay, Alan García of Peru, Alvaro Colom in Guatemala and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. The majority of these governments are still enjoying high approval ratings in their nation's public opinion polls. In Nicaragua's 2006 elections the former Sandinista President Daniel Ortega was re-elected President after having been out of office since 1990.

In Colombia's previous presidential elections, Carlos Gaviria Díaz of the socialist Alternative Democratic Pole came in second place to Alvaro Uribe of Colombia First, a conservative party. While in Peru's previous presidential election Alan Garcia's main challenger was Ollanta Humala of the Union for Peru, a leftwing Peruvian nationalist with close ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The results of the 2006 Peruvian election were close. In El Salvador, the FMLN a former leftwing guerrilla group which once fought against a military dictatorship is now the official opposition to the Salvadoran government.

Other parts of the Developing world have also seen a rise in radical socialist parties and movements. In Nepal following the end of the Nepalese Civil War, the formerly militant Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the more moderate Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) have emerged as the two most powerful opposition parties in the country. In Nepal's 2008 Constituent Assembly elections the Maoists emerged as the largest party allowing them to form an interim government. Their leader, Prachanda has vowed to respect multiparty democracy.

In some of the poorest parts of India, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has also been fighting a violent insurgency against the Indian government, a similar rebellion is being waged by the Maoist, New People's Army in the Philippines.

The emergence of a "New Left" in the developed world

In many developed nations the adoption of Third Way policies by social democratic parties has led to the rise of many new socialist parties running on solid left-wing agendas. They include Sinn Féin in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (they also represent the Nationalist constituency of Northern Ireland), the The Left of Germany, Left Party of Sweden, New Zealand Progressive Party, Socialist Party of Ireland, Socialist Party of the Netherlands, Respect Party of the United Kingdom, Scottish Socialist Party and Quebec Solidaire in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Notes and references

ee also

* List of socialist parties
* Anarcho-syndicalism
* Anti-communism
* Conservatism
* Contributions to socialist thought
* Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
* History of the Left in France
* History of socialism in Great Britain
* History of Socialism in Canada
* List of socialists
* Libertarian socialism
* Neosocialism
* Post-Communism
* Socialism
* Socialism in the United States
* Socialist International
* Trotskyism
* Welfare State

Further reading

* James Weinstein, "Long Detour: The History and Future of the American Left", [http://www.westviewpress.com/about.html Westview Press] , 2003, hardcover, 272 pages, ISBN 0-8133-4104-3
* Leo Panitch, "Renewing Socialism: Democracy, Strategy, and Imagination", ISBN 0-8133-9821-5
* [http://www.libcom.org/library Libertarian Communist Library Archive]
* [http://www.libcom.org/history libcom.org peoples history]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • History of socialism in Great Britain — The History of socialism in Great Britain is generally thought to stretch back to the 19th century. Starting to arise in the aftermath of the English Civil War notions of socialism in Great Britain have taken many different forms from the utopian …   Wikipedia

  • Socialism in Pakistan — Socialism …   Wikipedia

  • Socialism in India — Socialism …   Wikipedia

  • Socialism — • A system of social and economic organization that would substitute state monopoly for private ownership of the sources of production and means of distribution Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Socialism     Socialism …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Socialism (book) — Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis   Author(s) Ludwig von Mises …   Wikipedia

  • Socialism — So cial*ism, n. [Cf. F. socialisme.] A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often employed to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Socialism of the chair — Socialism So cial*ism, n. [Cf. F. socialisme.] A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Socialism — This article is about socialism as an economic system and political philosophy. For socialism as a specific stage of socioeconomic development in Marxist theory, see Socialism (Marxism) …   Wikipedia

  • socialism — /soh sheuh liz euhm/, n. 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. 2. procedure or… …   Universalium

  • Socialism and social democracy in Canada — Democratic socialism and Social democracy have been, along with liberalism and conservatism, a political force in Canada. Contents 1 The radical years 2 CCF to Victory , the rise of democratic socialism 3 Radical versions …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”