• Socialism is also known as collectivism which opposes individualism. Socialism is a modern ideology and the term socialist derived from latin sociare, which means combine or share.
  • Socialism is a modern ideology which believe in reason, progress,equality and liberty but it is against the capitalist form of economy and the egoist and selfish nature of human being.

Origin of socialism

  • Socialism originated in modern west in response to the exploitative system which emerged because of capitalism. Socialism is primarily an economic doctrine.
  • They believe that modern industrial societies, need not to be based on capitalist mode of production. Which denotes private ownership. They suggest ‘social ownership’ over the means of production.
  • If core value of liberalism is liberty, socialism stands for equality.

Basic Tenets of Socialism

  • Community is more important: individual is not an atom but he or she is a part of community. Individual cant live in isolation and therefore, human beings are social animals.
  • Fraternity or cooperation: human being is willing to contribute for common good. Human being is having sympathy or sense of responsibility for fellow human being. Competition is not the basic quality of human being.
  • Equality: each and every individual is born free therefore having equal moral worth and entitled to equal rights and respect. Natural resources and production is also social and cooperative. Therefore, each and everyone should be treated as equal member of a political community. Without equality liberty will only be enjoyed by a few.
  • Stratification of society: socialist believe in reason and progress and therefore reject social stratification on the basis of caste, race and religion. Society can be divided in terms of economic status, therefore socialist try to explain the society in terms of capitalist and proletariat.
  • Common ownership over means of production: property is the result of common effort of community. No production is possible alone by an individual. Therefore, the profit of economy must be shared by the entire community collectively. Economic disparity in society is the root cause of all the conflict in the society.

Types of Socialism

  • C.E.M Joad rightly said that socialism has lost its shape because it is wear by so many people. Objective or goal of socialism is same which is mentioned above. But tools and technique of obtaining socialist goals are different therefore, we can classify socialism in the various parts:

Utopian Socialism(Early Socialism):

  • Maxey said that Plato was the first Utopian thinker. Plato in his book ‘Republic’ presented an ideal communist society. Where there is no conflict will exist in the society and there is no place of punishment neither any law in the society.
  • In present era, Thomas Moore propounded the idea of Utopian thought.
  • Marx and Angels, in his book Communist Manifesto said that St. Simon(1760-1825), Robert Owen(1771- 1858) and Charles Fourier(1772-1837) were the utopian socialist. They said that:-
    • Human beings are national and moral, but due to industrialization and urbanization, the inequality, hate selfishness emerged in society.
    • Therefore Laski said that Marx is not the propounder of Socialism but Marx made socialism more systematic and scientific.

Revolutionary Socialism

  • It is known as Communism or Scientific Socialism (Marxism).
  • They want to change the society radically.
  • Destruction of capitalism is main aim of Marxism.
  • They believe in class struggle.
  • There will be classless society, stateless society, familyless society and there is no need of religion.
  • Community:
    • For Marxist, capitalist society is divided into two opposite classes in which the exploitation, inequality is logical outcome of capitalist society.
    • The interest of two classes are opposite with each other. Therefore harmony and cooperation is not possible between the class. But destruction of classes is inevitable. In German
    • Ideology Marx identified the four phases of historical development and in Communist Manifesto he said that ‘the history of all hitherto existing societies is history of class struggle’.
  • State:
    • Marxist never accepted that state is a neutral and impartial agency. According to Marxist state can’t be welfare at all but it is an instrument of exploitation which is an executive community of bourgeoisie class by whom the proletariat class is exploited. Therefore, destruction of state is inevitable.
    • In Communist Manifesto Marx said that ‘the executive of modern state is the committee for managing the common affairs of Bourgeoisie’.
  • The primacy of economy:
    • In a Contribution to critic of political economy(Das capital), he said that economy determined the base of entire society, economy shapes the nature of state, religion and culture.
    • Therefore Marx change the ideas of Hegel. Economy is basic element of civil society too.
  • Human Nature:
    • For Marxist, human being is primary a part of community and human being are moral and good. But due to capitalist mode of economic system, human being are divided into the classes and Marx wanted to free human being from this class division and supports the liberation of human being.
  • Revolutionary:
    • In thesis on Feuerbach, Marx and Engels said that the philosopher have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point however is to change it.
    • Lenin brought about communist revolution in October 1970 in Russia. Lenin had ultimate faith and commitment in Marxism but he incorporated following element in Marxism for bringing about communist revolution-
      • Party
      • Imperialism
      • Extension of class
      • The weakest link of imperialism.
    • Therefore, Marxism is known as Marxism-Leninism
  • Scientific Socialism:
    • In Communist Manifesto, Marx and Lenin said that they are scientific socialist and different from the utopian socialist.
    • Marx said that material factors determine the society therefore rejected realism and metaphysical world.
    • Utilizing dialectical materialism for interpreting history and society proves that his analysis is scientific.
    • Although critics is of the view that the idea of communism appears romantic than scientific.


  • Frankfurt school:
    • Frankfurt school is infact an institute for social research based in Frankfurt. The scholars associated that the Frankfurt school-social psychologist Horkheimer, economist Pollock, philosopher, sociologist, musicologist Adorno, social psychologist Fromm, philosopher Marcuse, and Habermas.
    • Kolakowski identified the following features of Frankfurt school:
      • It did not treat Marxism as sacrosanct but as a starting point and a helpful tool in analysing and criticising existing culture.
      • Its programme was strictly non party in orientation. It never identified itself with any political movement either of communism or of social democracy.
      • It was profoundly influenced by the interpretation of Marxism developed by Luk’acs and Korsch in the 1920’s.
      • Though they were influenced by the concept of reification developed by Luk’acs they opposed to the concept of praxis for they wished to emphasise the independence and autonomy of theory.
      • Inspite of their divergences with Luk’acs they accepted the Marxist position on exploitation and alienation of the proletariat.
      • The school was a revisionist one revising orthodox Marxism but remained a revolutionary intellectual movement.
Basic Features of Neo-Marxism
  • Relative autonomy of state:
    • Neo-marxists rejected theory of economic determinism propounded by orthodox marxists but they have also criticized welfare state and the pluralist state.
    • Ralph Miliband’s the State in Capitalist Society (1969). He emphasized over understanding of bureaucracy, army and judiciary. In short, he focuses over the managerial class for understanding the state.
    • Miliband is not focusing over the economic factors. Managerial class is a new instrument of exploitation.
    • Nicos Poulantzss’ Political Power and Social Classes(1973). He is focusing over the structures of society. It is comprised of political structure, ideological structure, legal and technical structure too. Therefore, state is not only dependent over the economic structures.
  • Alienation:
    • Neo-marxists are focusing over the psychological problems of capitalism rather than economic outcome of the capitalism.
    • Marcuse depicted psychological problems of capitalism in his book One Dimensional Man (1964).
    • Habermas also pointed out that technological advancement is changing human being in machine. Therefore, alienation simply means losing freedom and acting like an atom.
  • Democracy:
    • Neo-marxists did not accepted the dictatorship of proletariat because it suppress the liberty and maintain one party rule.
    • Habermas is also disappointed by liberal democracy too because it is functioning for protecting the capitalism. Thus, neomarxists support holistic concept of democracy.
  • Humanism:
    • Neo-marxists don’t believe in the positivistic scientific theory of orthodox marxists. For them human ideas and consciousness is more important. Culture and religion are equally important for understanding the society. For them, liberation of human being is most important.
  • Rejection of class:
    • For neo-marxists society is not divided only in two opposing classes. And proletariat is no longer ready for bringing about communist revolution. Therefore, the minorities, students, lesbians are the new torch bearers of marxism.

Evolutionary Socialism

  • Evolutionary socialism is also known as democratic socialism, Fabianism too. There basic assumptions are same which can be described in the following way:
  • Socialism by state:
    • Edward Bernstein wrote a book socialism and task of social democracy said that state is an instrument for bringing about socialism they are not supporting the abolition of state.
    • Therefore Bernstein revised the marxist thought.
  • Socialism by Peacemeal change:
    • Socialist don’t believe in class struggle or revolution. They said that democratic and legislative are best suited for bringing about socialism. Due to peacemeal change it is also known as evolutionary socialism.
  • Society is comprised of various groups:
    • Socialist reject the division of society into opposite classes. For socialist society is comprised of various groups and interest
  • Reform in capitalism:
    • Socialist said that capitalism can be humanised. And they believe in regulation of market economy through state controlled economy and mix form of economic system. Progressive taxation is essential for abolition of disparity and poverty in society.
    • Anthony Crossland in his book Future of Socialism and James Burnham in his book Managerial revolution said that capitalism of 19th century is different from modern capitalism.
  • Harmony between equality and liberty:
    • The Fabian society in England is comprised of Gorge Bernard Shaw, Graham Wallas, Sydney Webb. They published fabian Essays in socialism 1889.
    • G.D.H Cole also wrote fabianism in the encyclopedia of social sciences.
    • They believe that democratic constitutional method is best way to attain the objective of socialism.
    • For them liberty can’t be suppressed in the name of equality.

Libralism and Marxism

Dignity of individual is primaryCommunity is more important
Capitalist economy is betterDestruction of capitalism
Limited constitutional government Dictatorship of proletariat
Society is comprise of various interest groups and state resolve the conflictAbolition of root cause of
conflict- that is capitalism
Incremental changeRevolutionary.
State and democracy are important tool for changeEconomic change is the base of all changes

Socialism and Marxism

Reform in capitalism.Destruction of capitalism.
Socialism with the help of stateWithering away of state.
Society is comprised of multiple groups.Society is divided in two classes
Peace meal reform and constitutional method.Class struggle is tool for attaining socialism
State is helpful for economic equalityA classless and stateless society.
Morality, religion, culture is important.Economic factors are more important
Believe in democratic form of government.Democracy serves interest of bourgeoisie

Marxism and Neo-Marxism

Economic determinism. Idea, consciousness , psychology and economy is important.
Positivistic and scientific.Humanistic.
Dictatorship of proletariat.Democracy.
Economic impact of capitalismPsychological problem of capitalism.
State is an instrument of exploitation and coercion.Ideological dimension of state is more important
Emphasis over structure.Super-structure is primary

Contemporary status of Socialism

  • Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. China adopted a market socialism way back in 1979. Neo-liberalism expanded across the world in form of globalisation.
  • Therefore, people are raising the doubt over the future of capitalism, but Anthony Giddens discovered a third way which combines some elements of capitalism and few elements of socialism. Therefore, capitalism and socialism can be combined and we can discover the neo-revisionism which is comprised of the following features:
    1. Third way or neo-revisionist accepted that market economy is a dynamic and more suitable for managing the economy.
    2. but they also realised that market economy leads to the principle of survival of the fittest. Therefore, market economy should be combined with the need of the community and moral responsibility of individuals towards community.
    3. self-reliance, liberty and autonomy of individual is important but basic welfare facilities should also be available for the people. Although they invented workfare state rather than welfare state. It means individual should be given the basic facility for life but hard work of individuals and initiatives of individuals is must.
    4. for Anthony Giddens providing values skill and knowledge is more important than distribution of social goods. Therefore, competition is essential for strengthening the economy but fraternity is equally important for running the society.

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