On Socialism - Dr. Charles Best Secondary School Library
Transcript On Socialism - Dr. Charles Best Secondary School Library
• Has never been a single movement
• Have the same core values but some
ideas and political tactics will vary
• Has been around for thousands of years
eg Jesus Christ, Plato’s republic
• France saw modern socialism developing in
the late 17th century.
• People getting fed-up with the traditional way
things are run.
• Start thinking of utopian ideals where
everyone looks after each other. And there’s
less capitalist greed sucking profits out of
• In Britain:
Robert Owen (1771 - 1858) A capitalist who was appalled
at the working and living conditions provided by other
capitalists. Believed healthy and happy workers were
better for society and profit. He built communities for his
Scottish workers, encouraged trade unions and fathered
the Co-operative movement, which encouraged workers
to improve their economic lot by fostering education.
• Louis-Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881) an Atheist
revolutionary who spent half his adult life in jail.
Labeled his movement as communist. He felt that
capitalism would eventually be replaced by cooperative associations and wanted to help move
things along. His organization was tight,
hierarchical and bent on seizing power for the
working class. Some argue that Lenin was not a
‘Blanquist’ then a Marxist.
• Pierre- Joseph Proudhon (1807-1865) The
father of Anarchism. Wanted to eliminate
all institutions including private property
(property was seen as theft). Opposed
political parties, as they were authoritarian.
His movement was as popular as Marxism
and remained so in Spain until the 1930’s.
• His theories had 2 basic assumptions
• 1. Economics determine how all societies
evolve. The key things to know about all
societies were who owns the means of
production and where were the production
• 2. 1.
Societies evolve. He developed
clean stages of development by studying
a. Primitive communist: No rulers, few available goods
shared. Low productivity.
b.Society based on slavery. Classes are antagonistic to
wards each other. Slaves work and have no rights.
Government is formed.
c. Feudal Society. Lords exploit and live off their peasants.
Production is higher than previous forms of society
a. Capitalist Society. There are 2 major classes.
Most of society was workers with a small
percentage of society being capitalists who profit
from the work of others. Capitalists are always
trying to increase their profits at the expense of the
workers who will be reduced to poverty and will
ultimately fight back. First will come riots and
strikes, then unionization and political parties,
finally there would be revolution.
b. Socialism. Characterized by the dictatorship of the
Proletariat, where the workers consolidate their power.
State would control the means of production until class
conflict was gone. After gaining power, the state would
have to fight a counter-revolution by the deposed
capitalists and neighbouring capitalist states.
c. Communism. With class struggle gone, there would be no
need for government. All ownership would be shared and
when an increased level of production is reached,
communism would be achieved
• Marx felt that a socialist revolution would only
happen in industrial countries, as it would be the
workers who would seize power. These ideas
were outline in his The Communist Manifesto,
which he wrote with Friedrich Engels, and Das
Capital. Marx was eventually exiled form
Germany and had to live abroad. He was buried
in London, England.
Socialism After Marx
• Not much happening around the world
• In Germany Marxists started to interpret
his teachings differently
• Believed society progressing naturally
and didn’t need to be pushed along.
• German Socialist Democratic Party
believed capitalists and socialists could
• WWI brought further division and the
Party split into the radical Sparticist
group and the KPD (German Comminist
• Some believed that Russia could skip the
step of Capitalism and build socialism on
But when Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 the
system did not collapse.
• Gregory Plekhanov who placed his faith in the
growing factory proletariat. He rejected the idea
that Russia was different and sought to bring
Russian Socialism closer to the rest of Socialism
• This theory was refined further by none other
than Vladimir Ilich Ulyanoc (1870-1924) better
known as Lenin. He believed that one small group
of professional revolutionaries was all that was
needed to lead the masses into action.
• In Russia, the Mensheviks attracted the
educated class and skilled trade workers.
The Bolsheviks attracted the less advanced
elements. After the first revolution the
Bolsheviks extended their organization to
the urban masses as well.
• By 1917, Lenin did not believe in waiting
for revolution to come. He wanted to give
history a push. He also believed that a
German Revolution would follow a Russian
• The End