Socialism Key Thinkers


Key Thinkers:

  • Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto (1848)
  • Rosa Luxemburg: The Accumulation of Capital (1913)
  • Beatrice Webb: The Minority Report of the poor law commission (1909)
  • Anthony Crossland: The Future of Socialism (1956)
  • Anthony Giddens: Beyond Left & Right (1994), The Third Way renewal of social democracy (1998)

Socialism is a critique of capitalism 

Key Ideas:

  • Common Humanity, Collectivism, Equality, Social class, Worker's control

Strands of Socialism:

  • Revolutionary Socialism, Evoultionary Socialism (democratic socialism, social democracy, The Third way)
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Marx & Engels:

  • influenced by the industrial revolution
  • radical reinterpretation of history and a revolutionary model for a utopian society - Theory that predicts the future based on an analysis of the past

Key Ideas:

  • History has a final destination - communism because it is inevitable
  • dialectic - clash of ideas/perceptions between each stage of history 
  • Class conscious - moment the proletariat realises capitalism is exploiting them
  • socialist values cannot exist in a capitalist society
  • capitalism will leave a small group, the bourgeoisie, and the proletariat will achive class conscious
  • liberal democracy is a democratic swindle. The state uses religion, patriotism, the vote and social reforms to weaken class consciousness.
  • the proletariat will overthrow capitalism in a transnational phase - dictatorship of the proletariat, from that a communist society would emerge
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Beatrice Webb:

  • influenced by the enfranchisement of the working class and can be considered an evolutionary socialist and democratic socialist

Key Ideas:

  • Socialism will evolve naturally, organically without a revolution
  • the 'inevitability of gradualness' - overtime the electorate will vote in a socialist government
  • Overthrow capitalism at the ballot box. Universal suffrage will naturally lead to socialst state
  • Most negative view of human anture of all socialist thinkers - working class naturally inferior
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Rosa Luxemburg:

  • in response to evolutionary socialism of Webb et al. To reaffirm the need for a revolution

Key Ideas:

  • Capitalism can't be reformed but can be overthrown
  • there had been no industrial revolution - peasant based society
  • there must be democracy after a revolution
  • WW1 caused by capitalism, it exploited working class people - Marx said that you had to wait for class conscious only once industrial revolution took place
  • educate the masses as they industrialised
  • class consciousness could be achieved through mass strike action (which is wrong!)
  • democracy after any election such as freedom of speech
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Anthony Crossland:

  • writing during the post war consensus, can be considered a social democrat - a revision of Webb's democratic socialism

Key Ideas:

  • Marx's critique of capitalism is not true, instead he argues that historical materialism required by Marx as the driver of social change - economic factors driving change is not present in post war capitalism such as the welfare state
  • Because both the conservatives & labour party accept the post war consensus, capitalism has been reformed becuase of its exploitative tendencies - there is no dialectic and class struggle anymore. Therefore, socialism can occur in a managed capitalism economy (mixed economy)
  • In favour of state managed society
  • Socialism is best served by state managed capitalism (mixed economy) rather than the public ownership of Marx within threatened individual liberty.
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