The central theme of socialism is that the goods produced in society should be held in common and distributed equally. This basic idea is not new. Idealized socialist concepts can be identified as early as ancient Greece in Plato's Republic, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and the millenarian movements of medieval Europe. Socialist concepts were expressed as Europe entered the modern era. They can be found in Sir Thomas More's Utopia. We also see Socialist principles present among the Levelers and other sects that emerged during the English Civil War (1640s). Socialist thought was rife among the Sans-culottes in the early period of the French Revolution, although these principles never became a main focus of the Revolution (1790s). It was not until after the Napoleonic Wars that the term "socialism" appeared and the movement began to develop as a political force. A primary factor here was the Industrial Revolution which began in Britain during the mid-18th century and spread to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. From the beginning, Socialism was closely associated with European liberalism. The term Socialism first appeared in France and was quickly adopted by English social reformers (1820s). While the Socialist movement was an outgrowth of social disparities resulting from the industrial Revolution, early Socialist leaders were wealthy men who espoused utopian concepts, especially the idea that men did not need to be motivated by material rewards and that society could be organized around cooperative societies in which workers produced for the benefit of the community as a whole and the produce was distributed equitably. Some of the prominent Socialist utopians were Robert Owen, Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Alexander Herzen and Ferdinand Lassalle. The New Lanark community was one of the early Socialist utopian communities. The English reformers were more concerned with reordering society than in seizing political power. Liberals in Germany set out to seize power and created a unified, democratic Germany in the Revolutions of 1848. They almost succeeded, but in the end failed. This defeat generated a new train of Socialist thought premised on the idea of workers seizing political power. Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow was one of the early theoreticians. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" (1848). Marx and Engels developed the foundation for what became known as scientific socialism and which has become referred to as Marxism. Mark developed his ideas in great detail in Das Kapital (1867). The book The book is the Socialist analysis of capitalism. Marx saw socialism as the stage of history and class structure following the inevitable revolution in which the urban proletariat would seize power. After this the state would "wither away" as an necessary institution. Splits developed in the Socialist movement. The main thread in Western Europe were democratic socialists who believed that power could be achieved democratically through elections. Another group believed that the capitalists would never turn over power and believed that a violent worker uprising was necessary. They became known as Communists. And even more radical offshoot was Anarchism. Socialism did not begin to have a major political impact even after the Revolution of 1848, although liberals were important in some countries. The First International (International Working Men's Association--IWA) was founded in London. Marx addressed the conference. The groups that attended the conference had little real influence, but serious organizing began--especially in France and Germany. The working class of Paris actually seized power in the city as the Paris Commune after the Franco-Prussian War (1871), although they were quickly suppressed by the mew French Republic. Cracks began to appear in the First International. Bakunin's IWA was expelled at the Hague Congress (1872) which resulted in the Jura federation. The Marxists eventually abandoned the IWA to the Anarchists, and founded the Second or Socialist International in Paris (1893). Socialist parties by this time were active in most European countries and were beginning to achieve some importance in some countries, especially those in which free elections were held. These were the most modern industrial countries (Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden). The one country in which Socialist countries had no political success was the United States.
Anarchists achieved some success within the trade union movement in some countries (France, Italy, and Spain).
The central theme of socialism is that the goods produced in society should be held in common and distributed equally. This basic idea is not new. Idealized socialist concepts can be identified as early as ancient Greece in Plato's Republic, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and the millenarian movements of medieval Europe. Socialist concepts were expressed as Europe entered the modern era. They can be found in Sir Thomas More's Utopia. We also see Socialist principles present among the Levelers and other sects that emerged during the English Civil War (1640s). Socialist thought was rife among the Sans-culottes in the early period of the French Revolution, although these principles never became a main focus of the Revolution (1790s).
No development in modern history has affected individuals more than the Industrial Revolution and the manufacture of textiles played a key role. Historians debate just where and when the Industrial Revolution began. We would set it at about the mid-18th century in the English Midlands. Some authors might take issue with this, but this would be the most widely accepted view. The first industry affected was the textile or clothing industry--one reason that the study of the clothing industry is so important. It was at this time that workers instead of weaving piece work at home, began to work in factories. Here cotton manufacture became especially important. Several inventions at this time were responsible, including the spinning jenny, flying shuttle, and a water-powered loom. This was soon followed by the key invention of our time which served as a catalyst for industrial expansion--the steam engine. John Newcomen and James Watt developed the steam engine. Watt between 1769-84 developed an efficient engine. The abundant supplies of coal in Britain combined with the technological advances by British inventors in part explain why Britain led the way in European industrial expansion. The significance was that the steam engine was an efficient source of energy that could be put to work in virtually every industry and because inexpensive energy was available, helped develop new industries. The railroad was essentially a steam engine on wheels. The railroad in turn revolutionized the world economy. Many bulk goods like grain could not be sold at any significant distance from where it was grown or produced. The railroad allowed bulk goods to be transported at great distance for limited costs, including ports where goods could be conducted around the world. At at those ports awaited steam-powered boats, floating steam engines, to efficiently move cargo at low cost around the world.
It was not until after the Napoleonic Wars that the term "socialism" appeared and the movement began to develop as a political force. A primary factor here was the Industrial Revolution which began in Britain during the mid-18th century and spread to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. From the beginning, Socialism was closely associated with European liberalism. The term Socialism first appeared in France and was quickly adopted by English social reformers (1820s). While the Socialist movement was an outgrowth of social disparities resulting from the industrial Revolution, early Socialist leaders were wealthy men who espoused utopian concepts, especially the idea that men did not need to be motivated by material rewards and that society could be organized around cooperative societies in which workers produced for the benefit of the community as a whole and the produce was distributed equitably. Some of the prominent Socialist utopians were Robert Owen, Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Alexander Herzen and Ferdinand Lassalle. The New Lanark community was one of the early Socialist utopian communities. The English reformers were more concerned with reordering society than in seizing political power.
Revolution swept Europe in 1848. The European Revolutions of 1848 were a series of revolts caused by a heady mixture of rising nationalism mixed with the economic change resulting from the Industrial Revolution and political and social repression. The rising middle class created by the Industrial Revolution were demanding liberal reforms. An economic recession further heightened tensions. The major participants in the revolutions were the Czechs, Croats, Danes, French, Germans (including the Austrians), Hungarians, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, and the Romanians. Many of these nationalities did not yet have a country. The French monarchy fell. The Austrian monarch was forced to make concessions as did the Prussians. Other German monarchies introduced liberal reforms. In Britain he Chartists failed. Why did Britain prove less succetable to Revolution? Some have argued the Victorian penchant for constructive self criticism. [Wilson] The Revolutions of 1848 did overturn some regimes, although most were soon restored. Only the French monarchy was permanently overturned. The revolutions did demonstrate that that popular unrest could overthrow monarchical government.
Liberals in Germany set out to seize power and created a unified, democratic Germany in the Revolutions of 1848. They almost succeeded, but in the end failed. This defeat generated a new train of Socialist thought premised on the idea of workers seizing political power. Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow was one of the early theoreticians. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" (1848). The single most important individual associated with Communist ideology is Karl Marx, a German Jewish philosopher who became a political firebrand. Marx hid ???? marriage although he produced an illegitimate child with the g\family maid. He experienced financial difficulties which must have influenced his thinking. Many authors contend that Marx's theories have been misinterpreted and this began at an early point with Engles. [Sperber] Marx and Engels developed the foundation for what became known as scientific socialism and which has become referred to as Marxism. Mark developed his ideas in great detail in Das Kapital (1867). The book The book is the Socialist analysis of capitalism. Marx saw socialism as the stage of history and class structure following the inevitable revolution in which the urban proletariat would seize power. After this the state would "wither away" as an unnecessary institution. Marx's vision was significantly altered by the totalitarian vision of Lenin and Stalin. A factor here is that Communism emerged first from the absolutist Russian state. This is often sited for the reason that the Communism took a totalitarian bent, but there are in fact aspects of Marxism that essentially require a totalitarian state to apply.
Splits developed in the Socialist movement. The main thread in Western Europe were democratic socialists who believed that power could be achieved democratically through elections. Another group believed that capitalists would never turn over power and believed that a violent worker uprising was necessary. They became known as Communists. And even more radical offshoot was Anarchism. Socialism did not begin to have a major political impact even after the Revolution of 1848, although liberals were important in some countries.
The First International (International Working Men's Association--IWA) was founded in London. Marx addressed the conference. The groups that attended the conference had little real influence, but serious organizing began--especially in France and Germany. The working class of Paris actually seized power in the city as the Paris Commune after the Franco-Prussian War (1871), although they were quickly suppressed by the mew French Republic. Cracks began to appear in the First International. Bakunin's IWA was expelled at the Hague Congress (1872) which resulted in the Jura federation.
Anarchism is an offshoot from the world socialist movement of the 19th century. It is essentially the belief that all government is corrupt or evil and that there should be no government or laws and coercive agents like the police and army. Rather society should be built on the free association of all people. One of the leading intellectual lights of anarchism was William Godwin who wrote and lectured in Britain during the late- 18th century. He wrote that the "euthanasia of government" could be achieved through "individual moral reformation". This was essentially a pacifist approach and for many years anarchism was seen as more of a pacifist movement than the terror image it eventually acquired. Anarchism was of little importance until the spread of socialist ideals. The trigger point seems to have been the failure of the 1848 revolutions in Europe. This convinced many that reform was not possible through constitutional means. The anarchist movement was especially prominent in Europe where authoritative monarchies (Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia) governed most of the continent providing limited opportunity for social reform, especially in absolutist Russia. Anarchists were responsible for various acts of terror during the later half of the 19th century. Their actions primarily targeted leading political figures. Not all of the revolutionary violence of the time was launched by anarchists. In fact the anarchists still had more of a pacifist image. Revolutionaries had a wide range of political motives and were responsible for most of the prominent acts of terror such as the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. At the time large numbers of Europeans were immigrating to the United States, introducing radical socialist and anarchist thought to the American labor movement and political discourse. And this included anarchism. Two early figures in the American anarchist movement were William Greene and Benjamin Tucker. They founded journals like The Word and Liberty where they published the work of important European anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin, Michael Bakunin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Leo Tolstoy. At this time anarchism still had an essentially pacifist ethos. In response to acts of terror, European monarchies became increasingly repressive, especially in Russia. This was just as large numbers of European immigrants began reaching America. Important anarchists in Europe, including Johann Most and Emma Goldman, joined the immigrant flow to the United States. Seeing the poor working conditions here and a government largely favoring moneyed interests, they both insisted that as in Europe, violence was acceptable to overthrow capitalism. Neither saw that the democratic system was a tool for change or the importance of law. (Goldman was to see first hand when she returned to Lenin's Russia after the Revolution the horrors of violence in a society without laws.) Anarchists were blamed for the Haymarket Bombing in Chicago (1886). The Chicago authorities were never able to identify the actual person who threw the bomb. They did identify an anarchist cell (Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg and George Engel) who helped organized the meeting. They were tried and sentenced to death for "conspiracy to murder". Alexander Berkman, a Russian immigrant and anarchist attempted to murder industrialist William Frick (1892). Gaetano Bresci, am Italian immigrant, returned to Italy and assassinated King Umberto. Another anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, from a Polish immigrant family assassinated President William McKinley (1901). . This resulted i the passage of the Immigrant Exclusion Act (1901). Anarchism as a political philosophy was self defeating. The very cornerstone of human society is law, the very laws anarchists wanted to destroy. And without a strong organization to control the movement, the anarchists were unable to seize power. This proved to be their demise when they were some of the first victims of Lenin's police state.
Marxist revolutionary socialism was a German creation despite its modern Russian image. Fabiam socialism was the English visions of socialism with deep English roots. Fabian socialism was influenced by the English Historical school. The Fabian Society was founded as one strand of utopianism. The people most responsible for founding Fabian Socialism was Sidney Webb and Beatrice Potter Webb. Webb published "Facts for Socialists" (1884). The ideas behind the Fabians were aired in the "Fabian Essays in Socialism" (1889) which were written by the Webbs, Georger Bernard Shaw, and others. The "Fabians" took their name from Fabius, the Roman general which had the task of fending off Hannibal while the Romans were avoiding pitched battles and wearing him down until they could "strike hard". The Fabians for their part avoiding the revolutionary tactics of orthodox Marxists. The Fabians were committed to achieving their goals by reforming rather than overthrowing the existing system and thus more interested in participating in the political system to achieve practical gains. This the Fabians were involved in the "International Labor Party", trade unions, and cooperative movements as well as other political parties, including the Liberals and Conservatives.
At the center of Fabian thinking was the Ricardian theory of rent which they applied to not only to capital and land, but also to labor.
There were two major responses of European workers to the poor living conditions and cultural oppression . The first was cooperation, organizing for political change. This was only possible in the countries with developing democratic systems that permitted workers to vote. The other response was emigration. And what occurred in the late 19th and early 20 century was one if the largest mass migrations in world history. The Irish and German migrations of the mid-19th century was followed by a much wider European emigration of the late-19th century ad early 20th century. Here both workers and agricultural laborers were involved. Much of the emigration came from countries where change was not allowed through democratic processes. They also came from empires in which many national groups were suppressed. Europeans emigrated to many different countries, but by far the most important was the United States. Some of the immigrants brought socialist political ideas with them, to an extent that socialism came to be seen by many Americans as a dangerous foreign import, increasing demands for restrictions on immigration. America was the only important industrial country that did not develop an important Socialist political party or even a labor movement largely Socialist in nature. In Europe the millions who emigrated also had an impact on the countries they left. The emigration may well have served as a kind of safety valve. Also the emigrants had an impact because a sizeable number returned. This was especially true of Italian emigrants.
The modern socialist movement developed in the same working class movement of the late-19th century in which the labor movement developed. The term "socialism" was initially used in Europe where social critics condemned both capitalism and private property. The movement was never popular in America where even the labor movement did not adopt socialist ideology. In Europe the labor movement was more strongly affected by socialist ideology, The British Labour Party was, for example, essentially a socialist party.
The Marxists eventually abandoned the First International to the Anarchists, and founded the Second or Socialist International in Paris (1893). Socialist parties by this time were active in most European countries and were beginning to achieve some importance in some countries, especially those in which free elections were held. These were the most modern industrial countries (Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden). The one country in which Socialist countries had no political success was the United States. Anarchists achieved some success within the trade union movement in some countries (France, Italy, and Spain). Gradually liberal reforms in Western Europe allowed labor to influence the political system to allow a range of social reforms such as: liberal franchise, old age and disability pensions, collective bargaining leading to higher wages, child labor laws, public education, national healthcare, etc that generally appeased workers. The ability to compete in a democratic political processes caused a break in the socialist movement. Many were convinced that social justice could be achieved within the existing social system this led to the democratic socialist system which became important throughout Western Europe.
World War I was one of the most disastrous wars of all time. The irony is that it was a War that never had to be fought. There were no deep-seated ideological issues. The countries involved were diverse, but there was a largely accepted code of values and culture throughout Europe. It wa, however, a war of such ,magnitude that it shattered the European system that has only with the end of he Cold war began to be put back together. World War I was actually a largely European war. What made the war so important were the huge casualties caused no only by the duration, but the introduction of new weapons, including poison gas and rapid advances in the lethality of weapons. A whole generation of European men was largely killed in the fighting. The consequences were enormous. Empires and ruling families fell. Long held social systems collapsed. The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. New countries based on nationality were created in Eastern Europe out of the old empires. The War gave rise to Fascism and an explosion of ethnic hatred and violence. The origins of the Middle East conflicts can also be found in aftermath of the War. The national hatreds that were spawned erupted in an even more destructive war 20 years later.
Socialism developed as a strongly anti-militarist, anti-war movement. Socialists saw war and colonialism as natural outgrowth of capitalism that would be swept away in a new socialist future. War was another way in which capitalist class divided and exploited the working class. The militarism of 19th century Europe was one of the driving forces of the emigrant outflow during the late 19th-century. Socialist leaders pointed out that most of the death and suffering was experienced by the workers who formed the bulk of the waring armies while capitalists made great fortunes selling arms. The Socialist movement was still in its infancy when the Franco-Prussian War broke out (1870). The movement by the early 20th century had become an important political force throughout Europe, especially Western Europe. As military rivalries developed among the great powers, Socialist leaders were hopeful that worker solidarity could prevent a major war in Europe. Patriotism and nationalism proved, however, to be a much stronger force than socialist worker solidarity. French socialist leader Jean Jaurès's was assassinated on the eve of war (July 31, 1914). The Second International broke down under the force of nationalist sentiment. World War I (1914-18) proved to be one of the most destructive in world history. The failure of the world socialist movement to do so has always been considered one of the great failures of the world socialist movement.
Authoritarianism and monarchical rule the dominant form of government since the birth of civilization. Civilization grew from the agricultural revolution (about 10,000 BP). Agriculture especially agriculture in the great river valleys required governmental control and direction. And the dominant governmental forms were monarchies, often buttressed by priestly supports. Monarchical regimes were by definition authoritarianism, but not truly totalitarian. The peasantry on which these regimes were based was largely uneducated and apolitical, far removed from the centers of power. The closest system to modern totalitarianism was probably the Inca in the Andes Highlands. Modern totalitarianism is solely the creation of Socialism. All modern totalitarian states were various permutations of socialism, although socialists would have you think just the opposite, attributing Fascism and the NAZIs to capitalism. Nothing could be further than the truth. While Fascism and the the NAZIs did not seize private property (except from Jews and regime opponents), they did seize control of private property through Mussolini's Corporate State and Hitler and Göring's Four Year Plan. All the various socialist forms tuned workers into the new serfdom and the result was the greatest atrocities of the modern age, including the Gulag, Ukrainian Famine, Holocaust, Maoist crimes, and the Cambodian Genocide. Liberal democracy and capitalism of course are not perfect, but do not approach the horrors inflicted on mankind by Socialism and the totalitarianism resulted from Socialist regimes. Not only did these socialist states commit terrible atrocities. but they also created war-like regimes, poverty, and societies that stifle innovation. Added to the list of Socialist failures and atrocities are most of the greatest famines of the modern age.
The Inca until the early 15th century were but one of a large number of tribes situated in the Andes and narrow coastal plain from Chile north to Colombia. The tribes shared many common cultural characteristics. The Inca were possessed with a messianic creed which taught that they were destined to dominate the world. They proceeded to conquer and assimilate neighboring tribes in southern Peru around Lake Titicaca. at the beginning of the 15th century the Inca was just one of large number of Andean and coastal tribes. Then there was an amazing explosion out of their mountain domain and within 100 years carved out an menses empire. They absorbed conquered peoples relatively benignly as long as thy accepted the Inca Sun God. The Inca had a genius for public administration, engineering, as well as military strategy. One of their most notable innovations was the construction of a road network allowing the rapid movement of armies. Runners operating rather like pony express riders moved messages with great rapidity from th most remote imperial outposts to the capital at Cuzco. Eventually this network stretched the length of South America from central Chile to southern Colombia--over 2,500 miles. Terraces were carved out of steep mountains, creating cultivatable land. These terraces were notable engineering achievements. The Inca were master weavers. The nobility wore garments woven from vicuña. The common people wore garments wove from the more course llama wool. There was no written language, but records were kept by quipus--colored and knotted strings. The most important Inca ruler was Pachacuti (He Who Shakes the Earth) who reigned from 1438-1471 and helped create the administrative structure needed for a great empire. The Inca Empire was operate on a system of state socialism. The Empire's output was the property of the Emperor or Inca and he distribute the food and clothing that was produced among his subjects as he saw fit. To the Inca, the gods resided in their native Andean mountains. The Inca placated the gods with offerings of corn, chicha, meat, and occasionally human sacrifices. The Inca were conquered and systematically plundered by Spanish conquistadors. The gold and silver treasures were smelted down and that bullion as well as the humble potato fundamentally changed European society.
The first Communist state was the Soviet Union. The problem for Marxists was that according to their "scientific" theories it was supposed to happen. The Revolution was supposed to occur in the advanced industrial countries of the West, not backward and largely rural Russia, So Marxist had begin adjusting their theories. And the Bolsheviks had to begin to begin accommodate Marxist dogma to a situation that Marx and other Socialist theorists had not addressed. Marxist theory at the time dealt with how to change an industrial state, not how to industrialize a backward country. The Revolution was a reaction to the privations of World War I (1914-18), in which the Russian people, suffered grievously. The Bolsheviks emerged victorious against a democratic Provisional Government (1917). This led led to the destructive Civil War between Reds and Whites (1918-22). The Bolsheviks proceeded found not only a socialist economy, but a repressive police state under Lenin and more importantly Stalin. It is now recognized by most authors that Stalin's ruthless policies including engineering a famine in the Ukraine resulted in more deaths that even Hitler's Holocaust and other genocidal policies. Stalin at the outbreak of World War II at first entered a partnership with Hitler, but then was invaded (1941). The Great Patriotic War waged by the Russian people was the key factor in the defeat of the German Army (1945). It also left Stalin in control of the countries of Eastern Europe. The result was the Cold War with American and the European democracies. The internal contradictions and efficiencies of the Communist system and the desire of national groups for Independence led to the unraveling of the Stalin's Soviet empire, first in Poland (1989) and finally the Soviet Union itself (1991). The Communists without a market economy are of course not noted for their fashion sense and fashion industry. There were some ideological constraints on fashion. Often clothing manufacturers just copied Western styles, but there were clothing industries in these countries and fashion developments. Some countries had specialized school fashions and uniforms and the Young Pioneers were outfiited with uniforms.
Fascism first developed in Italy during the period of economic dislocation and social unrest which followed World War I. The Fascists coined the term Totalitarian and while Mussolini may have expired toward that goal, he never created a truly totalitarian absolutist state, but rather a personal dictatorship and authoritarian state. Unlike other political movements, Fascism does not appear to have developed out of any clearly discernible 19th century tradition. The Fascists first appear after World War I in 1919 and led by Mussolini managed to seized power in 1922-25. The political orientation of Italian Fascism was initially on the Socialist left, but with a strong nationalistic strain. From the beginning the Fascists believed in using violence to achieve their goals, but their were also elements of idealism and anti-materialism at least in the ideology. Fascists supported Italian colonialism, but initially supported Communist ideals such as opposition to imperialism and racism. Mussolini as Il Duce shifted the party to the right in a series of practical and profitable compromises with the country's important institutions. Italian Fascists invented the term "totalitarian" for Fascist Italy, however, Mussolini never carried out a comprehensive Fascist revolution. Rather he ruled as an authoritarian leader in a state that some limited pluralist features. After Mussolini's elevation to power, Fascism began its development of a authoritarian form of social organization. Within a few years, representative democracy in Italy had been replaced by a centralized autocracy which at its apex was the absolute dictatorship of Mussolini in whom were concentrated all the principal functions of Government. Directly under him was the Grand Council of Fascism, constituting the political general staff of the regime and of the Fascist Party. The Fascist Party was legally identified with the state, and all other parties were outlawed.
The Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker's Party--NAZIs) became the most powerful of all Fascist parties. It was not founded by Hitler, but became dominated by him at an early point. He fashioned it an instrument for a personal totalitarian dictatorship. Mussolini and his Fascists seized power in Italy a decade before the NAZIs seized power and strongly influenced Hitler. Mussolini was a Fascist dictator, but not in possession of absolute power and Italy was a far weaker industrial country. After the NAZIs seized power they soon eclipsed Mussolini's Fascists. Hitler through the NAZIs managed to achieve absolute power of the most powerful industrial state in Europe. There were NAZIs with a range of ideas, but Hitler seized control of the Party and imposed his vision on it. He then used the Party to impose that same vision on Germany. As the world was to learn it was a terrible vision of untold horror.
The Baʿth / Baʿath Party was the Middle-Eastern version of Fascism. The full name of the movement was the Arab Socialist Baʿth Party or Arab Socialist Renaissance Party, (Ḥizb al-Baʿth al-ʿArabī al-Ishtirākī). It principal objective was the formation of a single Arab socialist nation. The socialist component was a powerful sate apparatus that involved state planning and state ownership and operation of important elements of the economy. The Baʿth proposed Communist leaning nonalignment and opposition to imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism. The anti-colonialism was based on a mere two decades of European colonial control. The four decades of Ottoman control was forgotten. An important element of Bathism was Islamic religious and cultural values. Unlike European socialism there was no deep aversion to religion. The Bath as part if its socialist orientation. The Bath attempted to end class divisions. The Party's structure and goals were to create a highly centralized, totalitarian state. Important Bathest adherents admired Mussolini and Hitler, but with the their defeat in World War II turned to the Soviet Union for their inspiration. Baathist rejected liberal democracy and capitalism, and saw socialism offering the keys to a prosperous future. The Bath had branches in many Middle Eastern countries, but the strongest support was gained in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. The Bath became the ruling power in Iraq (1968-2003) and Syria (1963- ) and produced terrible murderous dictators--Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Assad family in Syria. Michel ʿAflaq and Ṣalaḥ al-Dīn al-Bīṭār founded the The Baʿth Party in Damascus, Syria (1943) and adopted its constitution (1947). They merged with with the Syrian Socialist Party to form the Arab Socialist Baʿth (Renaissance) Party (1953). The Bath never succeeded ib=n creating a united Arab state, but did seize power in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Baʿthist branch took power (1963). Two major factions competed for power -- 'progressives' and 'nationalists'. This ended when Ḥafiz al-Assad from the 'nationalists' faction seized power (1970). The Iraqi Baʿthists seized power (1963). They regained power (1968) and Saddām Ḥussein quickly achieved absolute control of the Party and Iraqi state. The Bath never seized power in Egypt, because of the charismatic Gamal Abdel Nasser emerged out of the Young Officer's Movement to dominate the country. The Muslim Brotherhood also gained great influence.
While the Bath did not seize power in Egypt, it had a very strong impact on Egyptian political thought. Differences which emerged between the Iraqi and Syrian parties meant that the primary goal, unification of Syria and Iraq as a prelude to a united Arab nation proved unworkable. The Baʿthists in both countries formed temporary 'fronts' with smaller parties which at times included the Communists. In Syria the principal internal opposition Baʿthist hegemony came from the Muslim Brotherhood, while in Iraq Kurdish and Shīʿite opposition were major points of resistance. The Muslim Brotherhood was not important in Iraq because it was a largely Sunni movement. The Iraqi Bath was disbanded (2003). Despite the Bath's aspirations to rapidly develop Arab society, little progress occurred in wither country and this despite Iraq's vast oil wealth. Both parties, however, were responsible for terrible atrocities.
As Stalin was gaining mastery of the Soviet Union. The question of control over the Communist parties in Western democracies arose. Stalin's first step was to suspend the annual meetings of Communist International for 6 years. This was necessary to drive out the Trotskyists. Next the mantra of "permanent revolution" was changed to "socialism in one country". This by definition made the revolutionary aspirations in each country secondary to the defense of the Soviet Union. Thus the revolutionary parties were converted to instruments of Soviet foreign policy. Members would did not agree with this change were gradually weeded out, leaders expelled or disposed of. Were in not for the dreadful consequences of this process, what followed was almost comical. Socialist and liberals interested in improving the lives pf workers through legal processes were labeled "social-fascists". Germany Communists were known the cooperate with the NAZIs against reformers, such as in a Berlin tram strike. [Wells, p. 962.] The Communists by opposing moderate governments in Germany played into Hitler's hands and were a factor in the NAZI seizure of power (1933). They were the first to be arrested and incarcerated in the new concentration camps. The disastrous turn of events in Germany convinced Stalin that a new policy was needed. The result was the Stalin-Laval Pact and a shift in directives. Communist parties had for years throughout Europe preached anti-militarism and anti-imperialism. Suddenly they were ordered by the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern to begin to cooperate with the once reviled Socialists and Liberals and form Popular Fronts against Fascism (1935). They were instructed to support rearmament proposals and other policies that they had previously opposed. There were in the 1930s as a result of Stalin's control of Western European (and American) Communist Parties two political groups in virtually every country that were controlled by outside powers, the right wing pro-NAZI Fascists and the the Communists which seem irreconcilably opposed. [Wells, p. 962.] As dramatic as the swings in Communist policy were in the early and mid-1930s, even more dramatic swings would be ordered by Stalin in 1939 and 1941.
Socialist parties have helped enact wide spread social reforms in Europe. The countries of Europe which have developed social welfare systems are many of the most prosperous societies on the world where the people enjoy secure, affluent lives. One important point here is assessing the socialist reforms not only in equitably distributing wealth, but also in creating wealth. As a result, welfare states only proved feasible in developed countries that had already developed modern, productive economies. The social reforms appear to have had an important generally positive impact on people's loves. The economic impact of socialism in terms of creating wealth is much more mixed. Many countries which attempted state ownership and central planning have in recent years generally instituted policies to reintroduce private enterprise. The Soviet Union, the Eastern European countries after the imposition of Communism following World War II, China, and several other countries (Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea) adopted command economies and virtually did away with individual economic activity. Many other countries adopted a range of state involvement in the economies resulting in mixed economies. This occurred in much of Western Europe and many developing countries. The experiment with socialism was so widespread around the world that it permits an assessment of how effective socialist economics were in creating wealth, both in developed industrial economies and in developing countries.
Assessing modern socialist economies is a complicated subject. Socialism in our modern world has morphed into major variants.
First is the Communist states that retain dictatorial political systems (Cuba and North Korea). It is not unsurprising that these two countries are among the poorest in the world. Modern Cuba contrasts sharply with the relatively prosperous economy before Castro. And North Korea which was the most prosperous part of Korea before the Communists now contrasts sharply with vibrant, prosperous South Korea. It is likely that Venezuela will soon qualify to be placed on the list. One might ask, given the economic record of socialist economics, one might ask why leaders like Cesar Chavez in Venezuela have decided to impose socialist systems. The answer of course is political control. A socialist economy allows a dictator to not only control the political system, but the economy as well.
Second are the former Socialists countries which have embraced free markets (China, India, Vietnam, and the former Soviet Eastern European satellites). The countries are quite varied with different cultures and levels of economic development. The reforms have been introduced by both democratic processes and state fiat. Economic developments in these countries is an ongoing process, but an initial assessment is that the free market reforms have made an enormous impact in stimulating real economic activity and raising living standards. Not everyone in these countries is happy with reforms, but the vast majority have experienced vast improvements in their lives and support the reforms.
Third are the former capitalist industrial countries of Western Europe and North America. All have embraced varying degrees of socialist reforms and higher rates of taxation to finance those reforms. They are as a result mixed economies. All have relatively high living standards as a result of the wealth generated by the productive capitalist sector. An assessment here is not a simple matter of comparing capitalist and socialist economies. Contemporary values have developed to the point that most people in the West believe that the state should provide a safety net for every individual. The debate in the West is just where to draw that safety line. Other questions concern what functions can best be accomplished by the state and what can be better accomplished by the private sector. Here the debate is conducted around the term profit. Socialists see profit as having sinister implications while capitalist see it as the driving force behind innovation and job creation. And finally what level of taxation is appropriate. Here there are two trains of thought. One is what is called social justice. Some do not believe it is just to allow some individuals to earn a great deal mote than others. The justice of seizing other people's property is often dismissed. Another line of thought is that taxation should be designed to maximize revenue. There is a point beyond which if you raise rates that revenues will actually fall. The state of California is encountering this problem. Margaret Thatcher phrased it succinctly, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." A basic problem that welfare state socialists have yet to confront is that many states are spending on social reforms beyond what is sustainable by the economy. The United States for example faces the problem of both Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt and even so is preparing launch a major new entitlement program in healthcare.
European Socialist politicians have proved to be very successful in democratic political competition against conservatives during the 20th century. This was less true in the United States, but the same dynamic is now emerging in the United States. Economic history clearly show that capitalist economies are the most efficient and productive creating wealth that fuels high living standards. Capitalist economies are also constantly changing requiring workers to adjust and these adjustment can be unsettling and painful. The business cycle can lead to economic downturns which adversely affect peoples lives. Not sufficiently discussed is how government involvement has in many cases made these downturns worse. Thus workers in a democratic society can elect politicians that place limits on capitalism such as restricting the ability of employers to dismiss workers or invest in new technologies. While this can protect workers over the short term, over the long term it creates inflexibility in the economy that reduces inefficiencies and job growth. Most of the European countries today have high rates of unemployment and slow rates of economic growth. Another reason that Socialist politicians do well in elections is that they offer all kinds of free government benefits. Everyone like free stuff. And Socialist politicians have offered so many benefits that they have had to borrow extraordinary anoints of money to finance the government benefits. Conservatives who question government social spending are accused of being heartless and no caring for widows and orphans. They may seem simplistic, but President Obama and the Democrats actually ran political advertisements depicting just this. And this will be the mainstay of the Democratic 2012 political campaign. Now the bills for all this deficit are coming due in Europe. Several countries are bankrupt are nearly bankrupt (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain). Major countries (Britain, France, and Italy) are experiencing huge economic problems because of the massive unsustainable social spending. Now the collapse of bond markets throughout Europe is forcing major cuts in public spending. It will be interesting to see just how Socialist politicians throughout Europe will explain their failed policies now that they are unable to continue massive borrowing to finance entitlement spending. One option is higher taxes, tax the rich is a popular socialist refrain. The problem with this is that taxes on individuals and corporations are already quite high and that increasing tax rates is likely to adversely affect economic growth and job creation and thus no material increase tax revenues. Notably the American states with the highest tax rates are in almost every case the states with the largest debts.
Sperber, Jonathan. Karl Marx: A 19th Century Life (2013), 512p.
Webs, H.G. The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man (Doubleday & Company: New York, 1971), 1103p.
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