Saturday, October 25, 2008

Socialism - Part 4

Socialism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chinese socialism

In 1949, the Chinese Revolution established a Communist state in China. Criticizing the invasion and trade embargo of the young Soviet state, Bevan wrote "At the moment it looks as though the United States is going to repeat the same folly in China... You cannot starve a national revolution into submission. You can starve it into a repressive dictatorship; you can starve it to the point where the hellish logic of the police state takes charge."

Elsewhere

In 1951, the Socialist International was refounded by the European social democratic parties. It declared: "Communism has split the International Labour Movement and has set back the realisation of Socialism in many countries for decades... Communism falsely claims a share in the Socialist tradition. In fact it has distorted that tradition beyond recognition. It has built up a rigid theology which is incompatible with the critical spirit of Marxism." In the postwar years, socialism became increasingly influential throughout the so-called Third World. Countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America frequently adopted socialist economic programs. In many instances, these nations nationalized industries held by foreign owners. The Soviet Union had become a superpower through its adoption of a planned economy, albeit at enormous human cost. This achievement seemed hugely impressive from the outside, and convinced many nationalists in the former colonies, not necessarily communists or even socialists, of the virtues of state planning and state-guided models of social development. This was later to have important consequences in countries like China, India and Egypt, which tried to import some aspects of the Soviet model.

The last quarter of the twentieth century marked a period of major crisis for Communists in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, where the growing shortages of housing and consumer goods, combined with the lack of individual rights to assembly and speech, began to disillusion more and more Communist party members. With the rapid collapse of Communist party rule in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe between 1989 and 1991, the Soviet version of socialism has effectively disappeared as a worldwide political force.

Social Democracy in power

In 1945, the British Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee, was elected to office based upon a radical, socialist program. Socialist and Communist parties dominated the post-war French, Italian, Czehchoslovak, Belgian, Norwegian, and other, governments. In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party had held power since 1932; Labour parties governed Australia and New Zealand. In Germany, the Social Democrats lost in 1949. In Eastern Europe, the war-resistance unity, between Social Democrats and Communists, continued in the immediate postwar years, until Stalin imposed "Communist" r├ęgimes.

At first, Social Democracy held the view of having begun a serious assault against Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness, the five Giant Evils afflicting the working class, identified by the British social reformer William Beveridge; however, from the Labour Party's left wing, Aneurin Bevan, who had introduced the Labour Party’s National Health Service in 1948, criticised the Attlee Government for not progressing further, demanding that the main streams of economic activity are brought under public direction with economic planning, criticising the implementation of nationalization for not empowering the workers, in the nationalised industries, with democratic control of operations.

In Place of Fear, the most widely read socialist book of the period, Bevan begins: A young miner in a South Wales colliery, my concern was with one practical question: Where does the power lie in this particular state of Great Britain, and how can it be attained by the workers?

The Frankfurt Declaration of the re-founded Socialist International stated:

"1. From the nineteenth century onwards, Capitalism has developed immense productive forces. It has done so at the cost of excluding the great majority of citizens from influence over production. It put the rights of ownership before the rights of Man. It created a new class of wage-earners without property or social rights. It sharpened the struggle between the classes.

Although the world contains resources, which could be made to provide a decent life for everyone, Capitalism has been incapable of satisfying the elementary needs of the world’s population. It proved unable to function without devastating crises and mass unemployment. It produced social insecurity and glaring contrasts between rich and poor. It resorted to imperialist expansion and colonial exploitation, thus making conflicts, between nations and races, more bitter. In some countries, powerful capitalist groups helped the barbarism of the past to raise its head again in the form of Fascism and Nazism."

— The Frankfurt Declaration 1951

The post-war social democrat governments introduced social reform and wealth redistribution via state welfare and taxation. The new U.K. Labour Government effected the nationalizations of major public utilities such as mines, gas, coal, electricity, rail, iron, steel, and the Bank of England. To wit, France claimed to be the world's most State-controlled, capitalist country.

In the U.K., the National Health Service provided free health care to all of the British population. Working-class housing was provided in council housing estates, and university education available via a school grant system. Ellen Wilkinson, Minister for Education, introduced free milk in schools, sayining, in a 1946 Labor Party conference: Free milk will be provided in Hoxton and Shoreditch, in Eton and Harrow. What more social equality can you have than that? To wit, Clement Attlee's biographer says this contributed enormously to the defeat of childhood illnesses resulting from bad diet. Generations of poor children grew up stronger and healthier, because of this one, small, and inexpensive act of generosity, by the Attlee government.

In 1956, Anthony Crosland said that 25 per cent of British industry was nationalized, and that public employees, including those in nationalised industries, constituted a like percentage of the country's total employed population.[42] Yet the Social Democrats did not seek ending capitalism; national outlook and dedication to the “post-war order” prevented nationalization of the industrial commanding heights, as Lenin put it. In 1945, they were denominated socialist, but, in the U.K., Social Democrats were the parliamentary majority, The government had not the smallest intention of bringing in the ‘common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange’ as written in Clause 4 of the Labor Party Constitution;
nevertheless, Crosland said Capitalism had ended: To the question, ‘Is this still capitalism?’, I would answer ‘No’. In 1959, the German Social Democratic Party adopted the Godesberg Program, rejecting class struggle and Marxism.

In 1980, with the rise of conservative neoliberal politicians such as Ronald Reagan, in the U.S., Margaret Thatcher, in Britain, and Brian Mulroney, in Canada, the Western, socialist welfare state was attacked from within. As Education Secretary of the Conservative Government, 1970–1974, Margaret Thatcher abolished free milk for school children; thus, monetarists and neoliberals attacked social welfare systems as impediments to private entrepreneurship at public expense.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Western European Socialists were pressured to reconcile their collectivist economic programmes with a free-market-based communal European economy. In the U.K., the Labour Party struggled much; its epitome is Neil Kinnock’s passionate and public attack against the Party's Militant Tendency at a Labour Party conference, and his repudiation of the demands of the defeated striking miners after a year-long strike against pit closures. In the 1990s, released from the Left's progressive pressure, the Labour Party, under Tony Blair, posited policies based upon the free market economy to deliver public services via private contractors.

In 1989, at Stockholm, the 18th Congress of the Socialist International adopted a Declaration of Principles, saying that Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society.

The objectives of the Party of European Socialists, the European Parliament's Socialist Bloc, are to pursue international aims in respect of the principles on which the European Union is based, namely principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy, respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and respect for the Rule of Law. Today, the rallying cry of the French Revolution – Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity – now constitute essential socialist values.

In 1995, the British Labour Party revised its political aims: The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that, by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create, for each of us, the means to realise our true potential, and, for all of us, a community in which power, wealth, and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few; famously, Cabinet minister Herbert Morrison said, Socialism is what the Labour Government does.

find it here
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I thought a few lessons on Socialism would be a good thing. The above is copied directly from the Wikipedia page on Socialism. I did remove the footnote indicators. The links provided on Wikipedia did not translate (of course), and there are a lot of them! So I elected to not spend an hour or more adding all the links. I suggest you go to Wikipedia (link provided) and read it yourself.

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