Old Cold Warriors see in 19th-Century socialism the seeds of the Stalinist terror, and Marxists see in it the hope for a better world. My own biases are somewhat more mixed: My goal in this essay is to convey to the reader something of the background which led many intelligent, sensitive people to convert to socialism and advocate its implementation—without disregarding the often deplorable consequences. One of the features of the Enlightenment was the exaltation of property rights to the status of a bulwark of liberty by philosophers such as John Locke.
In this period, socialism emerged from a diverse array of doctrines and social experiments associated primarily with British and French thinkers—particularly Robert OwenCharles FourierPierre-Joseph ProudhonLouis Blancand Saint-Simon. These social critics saw themselves as reacting to the excesses of poverty and inequality in the period, and advocated reforms such as the egalitarian distribution of wealth and the transformation of society into small communities in which private property was to be abolished.
Outlining principles for the reorganization of society along collectivist lines, Saint-Simon or Owen sought to build socialism on the foundations of planned, utopian communities. The words socialism and communism were used almost interchangeably in the beginnings of the socialist movement, prior to the formation of communism as a distinct movement.
People chose to use one or the other on the basis of perceived attitude to religion. In Europe, communism was considered to be the more atheistic of the two.
In England, however, that sounded too close to communion with Catholic overtones; hence atheists preferred to call themselves socialists. Moreover, while many emphasized the gradual transformation of society, most notably through the foundation of small, utopian communities, a growing number of socialists became disillusioned with the viability of this approach and instead emphasized direct political action.
Marx and Engels regarded themselves as " scientific socialists " and distinguished themselves from the " utopian socialists " of earlier generations. For Marxistssocialism is viewed as a transitional stage characterized by state ownership of the means of production.
They see this stage in history as a transition between capitalism and communismthe final stage of history. For Marx, a communist society entails the absence of differing social classes and thus the end of class warfare.
According to Marx, once private property had been abolished, the state would then "wither away" and humanity would move on to a higher stage of society, communism. This distinction continues to be used by Marxists, and is the cause of much confusion.
The Soviet Unionfor example, never claimed that it was a communist society, even though it was ruled by a Communist party for more than seven decades. For communists, the name of the party is not meant to reflect the name of the social system but rather the party's ultimate goal.
The First International was the first major international forum for the promulgation of socialist doctrine. However, socialists often disagreed on the proper strategy for achievement of their goals.
Diversity and conflict between socialist thinkers was proliferating. Despite the rhetoric about socialism as an international force, socialists increasingly focused on the politics of the nation-state in the late 19th century.
As universal male suffrage was introduced throughout the Western world in the first decades of the twentieth century, socialism became increasingly associated with newly formed trade unions and political parties aimed at mobilizing working class voters.
These groups supported diverse views of socialism, from the gradualism of many trade unionists to the radical, revolutionary agendas of Marx and Engels. Nevertheless, although the orthodox Marxists of the party, which were led by Karl Kautskymanaged to retain the Marxist theory of revolution as the party's official doctrine, in practice the SPD became more and more reformist.
As socialists gained more power and began to experience governmental authority first-hand, the focus of socialism shifted from theory to practice.Marshall I. Goldman is Professor of Economics at Wellesley College, Associate Director of the Russian Research Center, Harvard University and author of Gorbachev s Challenge: Economic Reform in the Age of High Technology.
Merle Goldman is Professor of Chinese History at Boston University and is. Ab Imperio, 1/ Seymour BECKER PROJECTS FOR POLITICAL REFORM IN RUSSIA IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY Introduction The transformation of feudal into absolute monarchies on the European. Feb 05, · This period encompassed events in the USSR and Eastern Europe that transformed the postwar world and much of the 20th century's geopolitical landscape.
The last great drama of the Cold War--the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the end of the four-decade-old East-West conflict--unfolded in three. During a quarter of banks in Russia left the market, the expenses of Russian bank guarantee fund reached 1 trillion roubles plus additional government funds for .
Russian Reform and Economics: The Last Quarter of the 20th Century Outline Thesis: As the reformation of the USSR was becoming a reality, Russia's economy was crumbling beneath it.
Russian Reform and Economics: The Last Quarter of the 20th Century Outline Thesis: As the reformation of the USSR was becoming a reality, Russia's economy was crumbling beneath it. Russia began its economic challenge of perestroika in the 's.