Ideas of freedom, justice and equality appear in early recorded history but became identified with ‘socialism’ only at the beginning of the 18th century. As currently expressed, socialism is the belief that the capitalist system is inherently unjust, alienates the working class, limits and deforms human nature, denies the expression of full human potential, and is doomed by its internal contradictions and the finite limits of the world’s natural resources. For socialists, their defining position is the abolition of the capitalists system.
The values and characteristics of a socialist society are generally agreed to include:
Socialists are prepared to consider the means and the consequences of capitalism’s demise and the nature of the society that will (could) emerge from it.
The political structures needed to deliver socialist values, and the way in which such a society can be achieved, are the subject of socialist debate. Some socialists (the evolutionary reformists) recognise the potential for socialist values in the emerging global economic and social structures. Others (the revolutionary socialists) believe that the socio-economic structures of capitalism are too monolithic to evolve and must be removed by a political singularity – revolution.
Currently, the neo-liberal social democrats seek to defuse the socialist-capitalist conflict by equating concern with freedom and democracy, with capitalism and the market. Politics, for them has become a matter of economic management.
© Lusion 2005