A2 Government and Politics: Socialism Part One

Revision summary for EDEXCEL A2 Government and Politics: Socialism Part One.

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Give the first two key features + examples of a So





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Give the first two key features + examples of a So

1. Fraternity (Social Creatures) - Humans are tied together by a collective bond of common humanity or fraternity. Other humans are not competitors but viewed as brothers, sisters or comrades - bound together by bonds of sympathy and comradeship. The individual is inseperable from society: individuals can only understand themselves through the groups to which they belong. Drawing on the power of the community.

Example: John Donne 'No man is an island' - 'Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main: any mans death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind'.

2. Co-operative - Humans are naturally a co-operative species. Humans have the ability and are willing to pursue goals by working together as opposed to striving for personal interest. They reject the Social Darwinist view of 'survival of the fittest', humanity has only evolved and survived due to the capacity for mutual aid and ability to work together.

Example: Peter Kropotkin 'Humanity has survived because of its capacity for mutual aid' - Kropotkin advocated a communist society free from central government based on volunteering.

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Give the other two key features + examples of a So





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1. Malleable/ flexible view of Human Nature - A malleable view of human nature, there is no such thing as a single universal human nature. An individuals nature is not fixed at birth but is a product of the environment in which they have been brought up. They consequently emphasise nurture over nature. All skills learnt from society.

Example: Karl Marx - 'Its not man's consciousness that determines his existence, on the contrary, it is his existence that determines his consciousness'.

2. Optimistic/ developmental - They do not believe that humans are perfect but believe in the perfectability of Human Nature. They are optimistic that if the right conditions are created in society than humans will be good natured, altruistic and motivated by moral incentives.

Example: Robert Owen - General characteristics from the best to the worst, from the ignorant to the most enlightened, may be given to any community.

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Outline the three different Socialist groups thoug


Social Democracy/ Revisionism


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1. Marxism - Has a more positive view of Human Nature believing that material incentives can be removed all together. Karl Marx believed that a future communist society should be run on the principle of 'from each according to his ability to each according to his need'. This could mean that you would be working harder than someone and getting less reward.

2. Social Democracy/ Revisionism - Social Democrats or Revisionists have taken a less extreme view insisting on the need for balance between moral and material incentives. For example, Social Democrats accept the need to give people material incentives and allow them to earn more money. They would argue that this produces economic growth which through progressive taxation, helps to finance the provision of the welfare state. E.g. Old Labour.

3. Neo-Revisionism - Neo-revisionists have adopted a Neo-Liberal view of the economy which rules out only the most minor re-distribution of wealth through taxation. The priority for the governments is to provide tax breaks and incentives to big business and entrepreuners to earn more money in the hope that wealth trickles down through society. This policy is more neo-liberal to individual in which each person is an egotistical utility maximiser motivated by material incentives.

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Give the positive and negative definition of utopi



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Positive Meaning - Heywood argues that all socialists are utopians since they develop visions of a better society in which human beings can achieve greater emancipation and fulfilment as members of a community.

Negative Meaning - Geoghegan in his utopianism and Marxism declares himself 'in praise of utopianism although he conceeds that utopians have often been 'unrealistic, irrational, naive, self indulgent'. Liberals and Conservatives regard it as an irresponsible idealism that doesnt match the hard facts of reality.

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Give four reasons why Marxism considers itself a f

A theory....





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1. A theory of class conflict - In a class divided society there are incompatible social interests that lead to exploitation. This is why class is an economic and political reality since between the classes there is inevitable war that cannot be reconciled. Socialism comes as a product of class conflict. Utopians - Socialism comes through rationalism and justice.

2. A theory of revolutionary social change - Change can only come through revolution. Marx's later position was that revolution can be peaceful, even constitutional, but violent if necessary. Because classes are political aswell as economic entities the ruling classes control the state, thus the state has a class character and cannot be used to bring about socialism. Utopian socialists invariably see the state as part of the socialism solution rather than part of the problem.

3. A theory of history - All societies are moulded by the conflict between economic forces of production (the means of producing economic wealth) and relations of production (the relationship and structure that exists between classes in each society). The growth of the proletariat would ultimately lead to socialism.

4. Historical necessity and inevitability - Socialism has to be built upon capitalism and without advanced capitalism true socialism was impossible. Socialism for Marx, unlike the utopian socialists, was not a utopian goal but a necessary and inevitable scientific process of human development... i.e. it will happen whether we like it or not. If socialism is viable it needs to be both a view of a good society and realistic and practical.

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Outline the Key theorist of Scientific and utopian


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Engels- Socialism Utopian and Scientific - Friedrich Engels distinguished between two types of socialism in his pamphlet 'Socialism; utopian and scientific'. Engels characterised Marxism as a scientific doctrine as opposed to the utopian views of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier. Engels argued that utopians merely painted 'fantastic pictures of a future society without any hard analysis'. On the other hand Marx and Engels regarded their ideas as scientific because of their detailed analysis of capitalist society and their historical theory of how a socialist society would come about.

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Give one main feature of a Socialists view of soci


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Collectivist (Socialists view society as collective and communal based around co-operation) - Rejection of Liberal atomicism as ineffective and unnatural. Collectivism is natural- humans are social animals, individuals work best, socially consequently collectivism is more efficient. Action taken by people in organised groups is likely to be more effective than the sum of many individual actions ruled by self interest.

Example: John Donne 'No Man is an Island' - Collectivism is broadly the belief that collective human endevour is of greater moral and practical value than individual self striving. It thus reflects the idea that human nature has a social core 'human beings do not thrive when isolated from others, social groups meaningful entities.


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Give a second main feature of a Socialists view of

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Fraternity (Society is unified by bonds of fraternity) - Socialists reject Conservative belief in a hierachy and organicism. Humans naturally behave socially and are united  by a common humanity. Socialism is considered to be ethically superior and promotes compassion and educates people to counter the selfish  and aggressive nature of capitalism.

Example: Robert Owen 'There is but one mode by which man can possess in perpetuity all the happiness which his nature is capable of enjoying, that is by the union and cooperation of all for the benefit of each'. We are all part of a larger family which forms a universal brother / sisterhood.

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Give the third main feature of a socialist view of

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Social Class (the main division within current society) - Socialists analyse society in terms of ownership of productive wealth. Class refers to groups in a similar socio-economic position and common interests- class consciousness. Class divisions are temporary and removable and socialists reject other artificial divisions such as nationality, which is designed to divide the working people of the world.

Karl Marx: 'The working men of the world have no country'. Socialists view international solidarity as important to reduce war and unite socialist forces against the international nature of capitalism.

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Outline the differences in socialist views of coll


Social Democracy/ Revisionism

Neo Revisionism

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Marxism (Fundamentalist socialists) - All societies are based on conflict between unequal classes. They claim that our current capitalist society is split into two classes- the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. For Marx the relationship between these two classes is one of exploitation due to the fact that the proletariat is paid less wealth than his/her labour produces. Capitalism will inevitably be based on class conflict, this will be overcome when the national resources of society are distributed to need.

Social Democracy/Revisionism - Believe that class conflict and exploitation are inevitable. They argue that capitalism must be modified and controlled to make it less exploitative. They view their jobs as representing the workers through trade unions in their struggle against owners of businesses who have wealth and power on their side. Believe it is possible for a Social Democratic state to overlook levels of class conflict by mediating between trade unions and managers.

Neo-Revisionism - Tend to ignore class as a major social cleavage as class structures are so fluid. They have distanced themselves from trade unions as they are seen as outdated and old fashioned remanant of industrial society. Neo-Revisionists claim that we now live in a classless society in which policies should be aimed at the emerging socially excluded underclass giving them the opportunity to better themselves and enter the workforce.

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Give three different types of collectivism + examp




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Economic - A belief in varying degrees of common ownership and control of economic wealth and production. For example: Collectivisation of Agriculture and industry under Stalin in the USSR in 1930's. Key example: Labour party: Clause 4 of the 1918 constitution and the nationalisation of the 'commanding heights of the economy' after world war two and use of keynesianism to manage economy for common good. Small scale workers/co-operatives in Spain and Italy.

Social - The building of social organisations that encourage cooperation and common interaction. Karl Marx: Communist society based on 'from each according to his ability to each according to his need'. Key example: Kibbutzism- small households run on the basis of people co-operating together in which property is owned in common. Working men's clubs- social organisations run for the benefit of members.

Political - The use of collective power to run and make political decisions. Trade Unions collective bargaining ensures that individual workers are not isolated. Democratic political parties where ultimate power held by members. Key example: Labour Party before 1980's: policy decisions made by party conference often against wishes of leadership as with opposition to nuclear weapons in 1983. Tony Benn attempted to introduce mandatory re-selection which would allow labour to de-select their MP if unhappy.

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Provide a definition of egalitarianism.

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Egalitarianism argues that people should be treated as equal in areas such as religion, politics, economics, social status and culture. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are morally equal. Socialism can be regarded as an egalitarian ideology as it promotes greater equality and a response to rising levels of inequality.

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Give three reasons why socialists believe in equal

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1. Just and Fair - Inequality of wealth does not reflect differences in peoples innate abilities it reflects the unequal structures of society and unequal treatment people recieve. Rich people able to send their children to best schools etc. Liberal beliefs in equality are inadequate, equality of opportunity alone does not legitimise inequality as the creation of a meritocratic society perpetuates myth of innate inequality. Justice and fairness demands people are treated equally in favour of material rewards.

2. Enhances community and cooperation - In an equal society people will be more likely to identify each other and work together for the common beneift. It strengthens social solidarity. Equality of opportunity breeds a survival of the fittest mentality. Social inequality leads to a conflict and instability (class conflict and class war). RH Tawney - a tadpole philosophy.

3. Satisfies need (social equality ensures that this is met) - A need is a necessity, it demands satisfaction. It is different from a want or a desire. Need satisfaction is the basis for human fulfilment and self realisation. Basic needs such as the need for food/ water/ shelter etc are necessary freedoms. Socialists distribute goods on basis of need. Marx: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'.

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Explain the differences within socialism over the

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Marxism - Absolute social equality. Abolition of Private Property. Communal ownership of means of production. Needs based distribution of wealth. Marx: 'From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs'. Eg: USSR, Stalinist Russia in the 1930's Collectivisation of Agriculture.

Social Democracy (Revisionism) - Relative social equality. Mixed economy, public and private industry. Nationalisation of major industries. Re-distribution of wealth through progressive taxation and extensive welfare state. Acceptance of some form of material incentive. Eg: Atlee Government of 1945.

Neo-Revisionism - Little social equality. Acceptance of classical liberal assumptions behind free market economics, the need for extensive material incentives. Focus on providing equality of opportunity, targeting social welfare provision at the socially excluded. Eg: New Labour - Focus on education as enhancing opportunity and the New Deal as a way of giving people the incentive to enter employment.

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Give three features of a socialists view of freedo

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Opposition to individual freedom - For socialists it is not the atomistic individual that should be the focus of freedom but the social individual, the individual who is connected to and dependant upon other people in various ways, they believe individuals are by nature social or communal creatures. The true agent of freedom is the producer and the overthrow of obstacles in their path: capitalism.

Social Freedom - To be truly free is to be free from material or mental obstacles, free to pursue ones aims and aspirations so long as they are not detrimental or harmful to others. A form of positive freedom taken to the extreme, everyone should live under the conditions to act as free social beings. Either all are free or all are not. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels made this point in the Communist Manifesto.

Extreme Positive freedom - One should not be free to make a private profit off the Labour of another, so you can view a socialist view as a form of positive freedom taken to the extreme in order to be truly free people need to live under the conditions under which everyone can act as free social beings. This is because we are social or communal creatures.

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Outline the differences within Socialism concernin

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Revisionists and social democrats have adopted a more conventional modern liberal interpretation of positive freedom- in terms of providing the conditions for the realisation of human potential. The conception of freedom has provided justification for social welfare. The welfare state enlarges freedom by empowering individuals and freeing them from social evils. Could be argued New Labour have incorporated Classical Liberal notion of negative liberty, lack of state intervention etc.

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Give the three main features of a socialists view

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1. Unjust - In the first place Private Property is unjust, wealth is produced by collective effort of human labour and should therefore be owned by the community not by private individuals.

2. Promotes greed and selfishness - Socialists believe that property breeds acquistiveness and so is morally corrupting. Private property encourages people to be materialistic, to believe that human happiness or fulfilment can be gained through the pursuit of wealth. Those who can own property wish to accumulate more, while those who have little or no wealth wish to acquire it.

3. Divisive - Private property is divisive, it fosters conflict in society. For example: between owners and workers, employers and employees or simply the rich and the poor. Socialists have therefore proposed that the institution of private property be abolished and replaced by common ownership of productive wealth, and the right to property be balanced against the interests of the community.

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Provide a definition of common ownership

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Common ownership - In political theory common ownership means of production refers to joint or collective ownership by all individuals in society. It is closely related to the socialist belief in fraternal collectivism and the belief in social and co-operative core of human nature. It is oldest socialist idea, pre-dates capitalism, mostly through the poor peasantry who demanded seizure of land. The development of capitalism brought about a more complex set of ideas relating to evils of private property.

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What are the differences within socialism over the

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Marxism/ Soviet communism - Ultimately a communist society would invite for Marx the abolition of Private Property. Marx clearly believed that property should be owned collectively and used for the benefit of all humanity. However, he said little about how this could be achieved in practice. Example: Lenin and the Bolsheviks through nationalisation built their own version of socialism. Common ownership came to mean state ownership or what the Soviet Constitution described as socialist state property, thus the Soviet Union developed as highly centralised state socialism.

Social Democracy/Revisionism - Social Democrats have also applied rationalisation. However, this has been done more selectively than communists, aiming for a measure of common ownership in a mixed economy. 'To secure for workers the full fruits of their labour' - Labour Party Clause 4. Example: Atlee 1945 - Nationalised what it called 'the commanding heights of the economy', starting with the Bank of England 1946, National Coal Board, telecommunications. Common ownership ran into problems in the 1970's and the 1980's.

Neo-revisionism - Neo-revisionists have tended to modify their attitude towards common ownership seeing it as a compliment to private property rather than a replacement for it. This has meant the acceptance of an essentially privately owned economy, sometimes support for privatisation. Example: New Labour - The clearest change in New Right attitude towards common ownership can be seen in the third way ideas of New Labour. After becoming leader he put forward a case for defining socialism in terms of a set of values which were constant, abandoned rationalisation.

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Define: Scientific socialism, Dialectic and Materi

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Scientific socialism - Engels characterised Marxism as a scientific doctrine opposed to the utopian views of theorists such as Robert Owen and Charles Fourier. Marx and Engels regarded their ideas as scientific because of their detailed analysis of capitalist society and their historical theory of how a socialist society would come about.

Dialectic - Marx was heavily influenced by the ideas of German philosopher Georg Hegel, whose views were associated with the dialectic. The dialectic was a method for explaining how change occurs in society out of a conflict between competing forces. A thesis gives rise to an antithesis which contradicts the thesis. The conflict is resolved by a synthesis. Marx argued that his dialectic emphasised that existence determines consciousness and felt that materialism was superior to ideas 'Not man's consciousness that determines existence'.

Materialism - Marx turned Hegel's idealistic ideas on their head and developed a materialistic version of the dialectic which he called historical materialism. For Marx, economic production or labour is the most crucial of all human activities. Humans cannot do without food etc the way in which these are produced conditions all other aspects of human life.

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Explain what is meant by: Base and superstructure

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Base and superstructure - According to Marx economic production is so important that whoever controls the means of production controls society as a whole, explained useing a building metaphor 'base and superstructure'. By economic base Marx was referring to the means of production, by ideological and political superstructure Marx referred to the political structure of society and the dominant ideas of society: morality, religion etc. Example: The state in a capitalist society is 'but a committee for managing the common affairs of the bourgeoisie'.

Historical Stages - 1. Primitive communism: Basic society where people were forced to work together in order to survive. Only able to produce enough to survive, no classes. 2. Slave society: Conflict between slave owner and slave. 3. Feudal society: Conflict between landowner and peasant. 4. Capitalist society: Conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat. 5: Communist society: Classless society in which everyones needs were met. These are also called epochs.

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Explain what is meant by Class conflict as a motor

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Class conflict as motor of history - According to Marx the relationship between classes in society 'the relations of production' is based upon exploitation. Subordinate classes are exploited which is inevitable, when these contradictions can no longer be maintained revolution will occur. This conflict produces a change in the social, economic and political structures of society- history progresses to a new type of society based on different social, economic and political structures. Example: Marx and Engels: 'The history of every hitherto society is a history of class conflict'.

Inevitability - Capitalism is based on economic exploitation which will eventually result in class conflict between proletariat and bourgeoisie. Capitalism is doomed to failure because it is based on class conflict which will lead to revolution. Example: Marx and Engels (The Communist Manifesto) - 'There is a spectre haunting Europe- it is the spectre of communism'.

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Give two criticisms made by Marx of capitalism

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1. Exploitation - Exploitation is based on the fact that the worker does not get paid appropriately for the work they do. The Labour 'theory of value': Labour generates value and the surplus value goes to the capitalist in the form of profit. Because the capitalist controls business the capitalist can buy labour cheaply in exchange for providing the worker with just enough wages to live on. The capitalist is nothing more than a parasite to the process.

2. Alienation - Alienates humans from the products of their labour, we work not to produce what we need or what is useful but commodities to be sold for profit. Alienates humans from the process of their labour, forced to work under supervision. Alienated from fellow human beings as our work is not social and alienated from ourselves, labour reduced to commodity.

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Explain Marx's theory of the inevitable collapse o





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1. Based on exploitation - Competition compels capitalists to cut costs making savings whenever possible getting more and more from individual labour and employing as few workers as they can.

2. Monopolies due to competition - Wealth will be held by a very few rich capitalists so more and more people will join the ranks of the proletariat causing social polarisation.

3. Cyclical crises caused by overproduction - Worsening cyclical economic crises caused by overproduction (the goods cannot be afforded by the working class) leads to further job losses etc. Each crisis would be more serious than the last because capitalists would be making less profit.

4. Immiseration (working class getting poorer and revolutionary class consciousness) - This produces an exploited mass united by common economic interest, aware of their exploitation- which will lead to revolution, a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift and joins the revolutionary class.

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Give three reasons why Marx justified a temporary

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1. Secure Revolution - To preserve the revolution and prevent counter revolution. To stop the dispossessed bourgeoisie taking back control.

2. Preparation for Communism - To prepare the way for the ultimate stage in society, the setting up of a classless, stateless society. Money and classes would still exist but wages would reflect labour time (no surplus value). The state and its instruments would still be means by which the proletariat would rule.

3. Nature- what would it look like - As class antagonisms would begin to fade the state would wither away. Communist society = classless and stateless society. Once the class system had been abolished there would be no need for the state. The capitalist system would be replaced by one geared to the satisfaction of human need. Human beings would realise their full potential.

Later communist abuse - Lenin and Stalin. Marx's original idea that the state would wither away turned out to be the opposite of the truth. The power of the state would continue to grow. It is debateable whether Lenin ever saw the end of the state calling such dreams 'utopian'. Stalin accepted the idea of an almost permanent stage of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat- becoming a totalitarian dictatorship.

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