Socialism is a
political ideology created in Europe in the 19th century, emerging
as a response to the social and economic conditions brought by the growth of
the industrial capitalism, due to the industrial revolution that was taking
place in Europe and that changed the life of millions.

The
term “socialist” was first used in the London
Co-operative Magazine in 1827, which discussed that the issue was whether
the capital should be owned individually or by the community and by the 1840s
the term “socialism” was known in most of the industrialized countries, like Britain,
France or Belgium.

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As
all the political ideologies, it is not easy to define what socialism is
without minimizing the differences between the vary interpretations of it like
Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Social Democracy etc., but in all of its
different forms socialism has certain fundamental characteristics that will be
discuss and analyze in this essay. They key principles of socialism can be
identified in this five concepts which are:
Community, Cooperation,
Equality, Social
class and Common ownership (Political ideologies).

 

COMMUNITY

 

            As the English poet John Dunne said
“no man is an Island entire of itself”, Socialism believes that human as social
creatures are able to overcome social and economic problems through the power
of the community rather than individual efforts.

Human
nature can also change and it is not fixed but it is determinate by the society
where we live, which is the place where people learn skills and human behaviors,
meaning that those are not natural but instead are conditions made by the
society itself where the individual lives. Society makes people selfish and
aggressive because they live in a capitalistic system, not because of their
human nature, forcing them to seek just the profit. Capitalism concentrates the
wealth of the society in the hands of few individuals leaving the majority in
poverty, such concept is unacceptable by Socialism.

The
belief that human beings are self-sufficient is false for socialists and they
believe that it is impossible to make clear distinctions of “individual” and
“society” because “Individuals can be
just identified just through the social groups to which they are part of” Heywood
A page 108.

Socialists
are also concern on what individuals can accomplish and what they can be, which
has led to the ideas of utopian visions of society, where group of people can achieve
emancipation and equality as members of that community.

 

COOPERATION

 

            As we said before, socialist believe
in cooperation rather than competition because unable people to create bonds of
sympathy and trust which is what they believe is a natural instinct,
competition is what the capitalist system brings in the society and what makes
people selfish and self-interested.

Socialism
argues that human beings can be inspire to do their best not just through
materialistic rewards but also by moral values that will help their community
to grow and creates in them a sense of responsibility towards others. Welfare
supports for the most vulnerable individuals in society is what the socialists
seek in order to guarantee to all a fair and equal treatment.

 

EQUALITY

 

            Equality is without questions the
defining goal for Socialism, regarding it as a fundamental value to promote
equality of outcome in a society which is what makes socialists different
compare other political ideologies like Conservatism or Liberalism.

As
the book “Political Ideologies: an introduction” by Andrew Heywood says, there
are three arguments in favor of it which are social equality stands for
fairness, builds cooperation and holds “that
need-satisfaction in the basis for human fulfilment and self-realization”(Heywood
A. page 112).

Social
equality stands for fairness means that socialists believe that the inequality
between people is not created by the nature but by the society itself, where
people receive unequal treatments. That
does not mean that they believe that all people are the same, people have
different skills and competences but Socialists agree that they must be treated
in the same way without any distinctions.

Equality
builds cooperation, meaning that if people have the same outcome in society
they will be more incline to work together to reach their common goals in the
community to have the same advantages rather than competing against each other.

Without
equality socialists argue that in the society there would be conflicts between will
lead society to a conflict between different social classes like it did happen
in the French Revolution (1789-1799) and in Russia in 1917, where people fought
against the privileges that the few had.

All individuals
in a community have basic needs, like food and so on, making them fundamental,
meaning for socialists that those are essential for guarantee freedom and
equality to the community.

Socialist
believe that the concepts of freedom and equality can coexist, which is
different from what other political ideologies beliefs, like liberalism.

 

SOCIAL CLASS

 

Social
class indicates groups of people who do share similar ideas due to their
similar social and economic status.

Socialists
believe that throughout history people were more incline to associate
themselves with others who had their common interest, meaning that social
classes can cause and bring changes in society and are a key factor in human
history.

Also
social class has been define more specifically as the will of the working
class, which will lead socialism to success because they are the only class who
can and will implement it.

Different
ideas in the Socialism thought see classes has something that should be eliminate
by society (like Karl Marx said) or that they will be dramatically reduced.

 

 

 

 

COMMON OWNERSHIP

 

The
origin of the inequality in a society comes from the idea that few individuals
own majority of the wealth and that’s the reason why socialists condemn the
idea of “private property”.

This
idea is something that makes Socialism completely different from Conservatism
and Liberalism because both believe that private property is an inalienable
right.

They
condemn the idea of it because the wealth produced by the society should not be
owned by private individuals but instead should be owned by the community, also
possessing private properties or wealth makes people materialist and selfish,
forcing them to accept that the only way to achieve happiness is through wealth
and materialistic goods.

As
it has been said before, private property creates differences between
individuals in the community creating conflicts between them.

Karl
Marx believed in a classless society with the abolition of private property but
he did not specify how to implement it, meaning that throughout history people
have tried to implement it, like Lenin did after the Russian Revolution in
1917, where he did it through the naturalization of industries, without any
distinctions, meaning a direct control of the state over the national economy.

In
the last decades instead in the Western World after the Second World War,
certain governments (Labor British government in 1946-1952) chose to
nationalize just certain industries (coal,
electricity etc.) leaving certain industries in the hands of the private
but having a great influence over the national economy anyway.

 

As this essay shows, Socialism is a difficult
political ideology to define because it has so many interpretations but one belief
that all socialists agree is that capitalism causes oppression for the lower
class.

In history we have seen examples where the lower class
decided to get the power back from
the Elite who owned the majority of the wealth, as it did
happen during the French Revolution in 1789 and also in Russia in 1917.

Socialists believe that due to the competitive nature
of capitalism, the minority controls the wealth, owning industries that have
the only focus of producing more wealth for the owners.

Socialism wants to eliminate the concept of class by
eliminating the private property and making the community the owner of the
wealth in the society and when it will be accomplish, social classes will be abolish. The production will become common
property under the democratic control of all the people in the community,
meaning that Socialism has been established.

This will create a society where people work together
in order to achieve their goals rather than competing against each other and
will help the community to develop and improve in a shorter amount of time.

Socialism cannot be established by an élite, but
only by the working class, meaning that the lower classes who produce the
wealth do also own it and they can all decided how to use it to benefit the
community as all.

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