What is socialism?

We explain what socialism is and on what this system of economic and social organization is based. Its origins and contributions of Karl Marx.

  1. What is socialism?

Socialism is defined as a system of economic and social organization , whose basis is that the means of production are part of the collective heritage and are the same people who administer them.

The socialist order proposes as main objectives the fair distribution of goods and a rational organization of the economy . For this, it proposes the elimination of private property and the extinction of social classes.

Socialism is a term that has been widely used throughout the twentieth century and even today. However, it is a term that had already been used by Plato himself and was resumed again in the mid-19th century. In this case the word socialism was used to counteract the term individualism . However, its definition has changed greatly over time . Since the industrial revolution, this concept became very important thanks to thinkers of the time such as Marx and Engels.

  1. The contributions of Karl Marx

Karl Marx
Marx affirms that the State is a bourgeois tool to dominate the proletariat.

According to the theory of Karl Marx the communism is an overcoming stage capitalist regime . Through the study of history, Marx affirms that societies are in constant struggle between classes , where a new stage is always reached, for example of a feudal regime , a capitalist one is reached and then a socialist order should be reached. As a method of study to achieve this result, he uses dialectics , that is, he proposes a thesis , an antithesis and a resolution in a third plane called synthesis.

Marx defines capitalism as a regime where man is exploited by man . It determines that there are two antagonistic classes in it, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, that is, those that own the means of production and the workers respectively. He also states that there are contradictions within capitalism that will lead to its self-destruction of the system.

On the other hand Marx affirms that the State is a tool that the bourgeois class uses to be able to dominate the proletariat. That is why the oppressed class must take control of the state , which Marx calls “the dictatorship of the proletariat”, and use it to eliminate social classes .

In this way, the state entity would lose its purpose, dominate a class, extinguishing itself practically naturally . Once the state is extinguished, according to the theory, a planned organization must be implemented at the economic, social and political levels, in order to obtain the common good.

Some of the countries that have inspired their policies in Marxist theory are Cuba, with Fidel Castro and Ernesto “el che” Guevara, the Soviet Union of Lenin Stalin and Trotsky, the People’s Republic of China with Mao Tse-Tung, among many other examples that could be mentioned.

There are in turn two major currents that find their origin in the same theory, on the one hand:

  • Social Democratic current. Also known as reformists, who seek to access the socialist order through democratic elections and progressive changes in the system, not from a revolution, as would the case of Allende in Chile.
  • Anarchist current. In the antipodes it is possible to mention anarchism , defined as the social movement that seeks to eliminate not only the State, but also any form of power, authority or control of society . Throughout recent history there are a large number of movements and groups that have adhered to this doctrine.
  1. Origins of socialism

Socialism - Robert Owen
Utopian socialists like Robert Owen longed for the stability of the Middle Ages.

We can trace its origins far back in time. The first socialists were the so-called utopian socialists , since they were based on the work of Tomás Moro, Utopia, which saw private property and the accumulation of wealth by private individuals one of the great evils of society . Within the utopian socialists we can find Sant Simon and Robert Owen. It is important to clarify that due to their context ( French Revolution , fall of the old order) these intellectuals longed for the stability of the Middle Ages.

On the other hand, the most important and interesting socialism was developed by Karl Marx and Engels . Their context was completely different, since they were witnessing the full development of capitalism in its wildest way and the contradictions characteristic of the system (a small part of the very rich population and a large very poor wage mass).

The abolition of private property, the control of the State by the working class , and a future without social classes were the flags of Marx’s communism / socialism.

However, the Stalinist regime during the Second Great War used this theory to exert terror and persecution. With the defeat and fall of the USSR, socialist ideas declined and were associated with the lack of freedom of expression and dictatorial regimes.

Although this is a subject of intense debate among intellectuals , they all agree on the role of the State and the active and direct participation of the working class, as opposed to the capitalist regime, which they consider the source of the great current problems .

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