Socialism

A social-economic system based on the common ownership of the means of production and exchange of wealth. The name is supposed to have originated in England in 1835 during the agitation of Robert Owen. The idea of common ownership as a remedy for the inequalities of life appears in Plato's Republic, Campanella's City of the Sun, and other writmgs of ancient and modern times. The philosophic basis for common ownership as a serious policy of social management was provided by Karl Marx (1818-1883) in his economic determmism or, as it is often called, the materialistic interpretation of history. Marx's socialism is therefore called scientific. It is the inspiration of all socialism that is taken seriously in modern times, although in the stress of controversy socialists have abandoned most of the Marxian principles. The contributions made by Marx to socialism are: The Communist Manifesto (in collaboration with Engels), published in 1848 and contammg the germs of his theory; Das Kapital, the first part of which appeared in 1867; and the foundmg of the International Workingmen's Association in 1864. This International provided the means for the spread of his ideas, while Das Kapital provided the philosophy of the movement. The strength of socialism has lain rather in the criticism of existing capitalism than in the appeal of its own program of social amelioration. In its original program, socialism was revolutionary rather than parliamentarian; but in practise socialists have yielded to opportunism, forming political parties, seeking seats in parliaments, and seeking to effect their policies by parliamentary means. Hence it is rather as a political than a revolutionary movement that socialism exerts its present-day influence.

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