The socialism It is a social and economic concept that is used to define those economies in which the property and administration of goods is collective or state. Some examples of socialist countries are China, North Korea, and Cuba.
This ideology aims to achieve the common good and promote the equality of citizens without class stratification. The socialist mode of production does not consider people as sellers of their strength, so it goes against the capitalist idea of private ownership of the means of production and distribution (which for socialism contributes to the promotion of the accumulation of wealth by a minority).
Throughout history there have been different ways of applying socialism in the societies and economies of the countries and on very few occasions was socialism in its pure form. In almost all cases the governments installed a mixed type socialism with the existence of a free market.
Characteristics of socialism
Some of the main characteristics of the socialist ideology are:
- Look for social equality.
- It seeks social property and not private property of the means of production.
- It seeks the elimination of social classes and a fair distribution of wealth.
- He pursues the end of capitalism, an ideology that he classifies as unfair.
- It involves the control, by the State or by society as a whole, of the means of production and distribution.
Origin of socialism
Although the idea of socialism has its origin in earlier stages, the modern notion of socialism emerged in the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, in countries such as France and England. It arose, above all, among the followers of Robert Owen, Charles Fourier and Henri de Saint-Simon, thinkers who advocated a social reorganization with the elimination of private property and the redistribution of wealth. This type of socialism is known as utopian socialism and encompasses all thinkers prior to Karl Marx.
The theoretical contributions of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (both German philosophers), for their part, constituted the so-called scientific socialism (or Marxism) that sought to propose a methodology to end capitalism through class struggle and then arrive at the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Throughout his work, Karl Marx, characterized the capitalist mode of production by explaining the separation that this system produced between people and the product of their work. It was as a result of this that Marx proposed the collectivization of all the means of production, which implied the elimination of the capitalist mode of production.
The first government that tried to put Marxist ideas into practice occurred in Russia in 1917, after the Bolshevik revolution and the assumption of power by Vladimir Lenin. From 1922 to 1991 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed, which was made up of 15 Eurasian countries that had belonged to the Russian Empire.
Socialism in the 20th century
Most of the attempts at purely socialist governments that were made throughout the 20th century were limited to a few countries, without acquiring the indispensable global character that Marx established. Many of these socialisms incorporated the idea of social justice, but within a democratic framework, such as social democracy.
The countries that opted for socialism throughout the 20th and 21st centuries had characteristics that differed from each other. Some led to authoritarian and repressive political regimes that canceled free elections and many others maintained socialist bases, but with some economic policies closer to liberalism.
Socialism and communism
The concepts of socialism and of communism as synonyms, because both movements have the same ideological base and some thinkers, such as Karl Marx, used the two terms interchangeably.
However, nowadays (and especially since Leninism), the idea that socialism is the previous step to communism has been incorporated because, while socialism has as one of its main objectives to regulate the class struggle, communism It seeks the total elimination of these social classes and the collectivization of the means of production. Communism is understood, from this perspective, as the most revolutionary socialist phase.
Another difference that is usually established between these two terms is that socialism is related to different types of government and a more open market. On the contrary, communism advocates the total elimination of the State and maintains that until that happens the State will be in charge of regulating the entire administration.
Examples of socialist countries
- China. It is an Asian country in which a single-party socialism, the Chinese Communist Party, has ruled since 1949 (the year in which this party triumphed over the Chinese Nationalist Party after a civil war). Since then, the political, social and economic life of China has varied according to each government until it reaches what is known today as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Among its particularities are the opening of the market, the one-party system, state control and the lack of freedom of the press.
- Vietnam. It is an Asian country with a socialist-type government led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, which has functioned as a single party since 1976 with Marxist-Leninist bases, and with an open economy since 1986.
- Cuba. It is a socialist country with a single party, the Communist Party of Cuba, since 1959. It adheres to Marxist-Leninist ideas and has mutated over time. Some of the current characteristics of the Cuban political and economic organization are one-party system, state control of the administration and the economy, control of the press and the media, and a controlled opening of the economy.
- Laos. It is an Asian country with a single-party socialist government (Lao People’s Revolutionary Party) since 1975. Its characteristics include: one-party system, state control, the lack of individual freedoms and the prohibition of press freedom.
- North Korea. It is an Asian country with a socialist government in the form of a dictatorship since 1945. One-partyism, nationalization and control over the economy and administration prevail.