Northern Arizona University/Socialism

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Northern Arizona University

POS 254 Political Ideologies

Summer 2009

I. Definition of Socialism[edit | edit source]

    Socialism is a political ideology based on a classless society and public ownership of resources.  

Socialism is based on the idea that humans are by nature cooperative, as opposed to the classical liberal belief that humans are focused on self-interest and competition. Socialists believe that instead of competition, cooperation is the only way everyone can enjoy a fair amount of liberty, justice, and prosperity. Although there are several disagreements between socialists, a common belief they all share is that private property is the reason behind the separation of classes which allows some people to rule over others. The one fundamental conviction that all socialists share is that society as a whole, not private individuals, should own and control property for the benefit of all. (Ball and Dagger, 125) Instead of having private property and a ruling class, socialists advocate programs that distribute wealth and power more evenly. Contrary to capitalism, socialism calls for everyone who participates in producing goods to be entitled to a share of those goods. However, there are disagreements between socialists over which goods society should own and control. Those on one end of the spectrum believe that most goods should be public property, while those on the other end believe that only major means of production should be publicly owned. Most socialists fall somewhere between these extremes, but all agree that anything that contributes significantly to the production, distribution, and delivery of socially necessary goods must be socially controlled for the benefit of all. (Ball and Dagger, 126) Because of this, socialism promotes the duty to work and produce social products. Another issue that socialists disagree on is the question of whether control of public property should be centralized or decentralized. Centralized control assumes that property and resources are managed by the state. (This was the stance taken by the Soviet Union) Those who argue for centralized control say it promotes efficiency by giving the state power to plan the whole economy in the interest of the public. Decentralized control of public property means control would be in the hands of groups at the local level. Those in favor of decentralized control believe this makes more sense because the public property would be in control of those who directly feel the effects of the use of that property.

    Socialism, like most ideologies, promotes freedom.  

Socialism's theory of freedom can be described in the triadic model, which, as with most other ideologies, consists of an agent, an obstacle, and a goal of said agent. According to socialists, the agent are not isolated individuals, but a community of individuals. These agents are brought together by economic ties; individuals in a socialist society are connected by their means of production, distribution, and exchange of goods. This individual is a member of the working class, who shares common goals, such as fulfilling work and receiving a fair share of the profits from that labor. Every agent must overcome certain obstacles in order to meet his or her goal. Socialists believe these obstacles to be either material or mental, for example the division of society into socio-economic classes, exploitation of laborers, and the ability of an individual to fully develop their talents. The ruling class is able to use capitalism to erect mental barriers, such as establishing a status quo where the poor are ignorant to any possible alternatives. As Marx and Engels presented it in The Communist Manifesto,

    "The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie; to centralize all instruments     
    of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive
    forces as rapidly as possible" (Marx & Engels, p. 42).
    Socialism explains social conditions through economical and class relations.  

Socialists believe that it is exploitative and unjust if one class holds a majority of the economic power. As previously discussed, Socialism stresses the need for abolishing class divisions, believing that this will improve social conditions. Socialists argue that the division of the classes is one of the main sources of problems in society. They believe that this is because class positions dramatically shape a person’s identity, more so than race or nationality. Because of this, socialism promotes a classless society. Furthermore, socialists agree on the need to use any means necessary to create this classless society.

II. Historical Background of Socialism[edit | edit source]

Socialism was developed as a critique of the liberalism of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While the name most associated with socialism may be Karl Marx, socialist views existed long before Marx. Plato presented an early version, as well as early Christians in the first and second centuries A.D. The Christian socialists believed they had a duty to share labor and worldly goods. The Catholic saint and martyr of the early sixteenth century Sir Thomas More advocated communal ownership as an antidote to the sins of pride, envy, and greed. In his book Utopia, he writes "Wherever men have private property and money is the measure of everything, there is hardly possible for the commonwealth to be governed justly or to flourish in prosperity...I am fully persuaded that no equal and just distribution of goods can be made, and that there can be no true well-being in human affairs, unless private property is outlawed and banished." (Ball and Dagger, 128) There were also many other critics of the competition and classes brought about by capitalism, including English Poet William Blake who wrote about the "dark satanic mills" that polluted the air and poisoned the workers, and novelist Charles Dickens who created the character Ebeneezer Scrooge to show the flaws of capitalism which rewards selfishness and greed. The recurring themes in the differing criticisms of capitalism were moral outrage and an appeal to science and history. These criticisms paved the way for several influential socialists.


Count Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) was a French aristocrat who attempted to give socialism a "scientific" basis. Saint-Simon believed that human history is divided into successive periods, and new forms of society arise to take place of the older form that has disappeared. The old society disappears because the beliefs that it depended on are discredited, making the social and economic system that rests upon those beliefs lose credit as well. Feudalism and its basis in religion was replaced by the Enlightenment and its emphasis on science and technology. This created a complex society dependent on the coordinated knowledge and skills of many different types of people, making it unreasonable to discuss "the individual" as liberals did. According to Saint-Simon, socialism involves the recognition of the importance and complexity of this coordination, leading to the application of "positive" scientific knowledge to social and economic planning by an elite of experts. (Ball and Dagger, 130) Unlike other socialists, Saint-Simon did not specifically call for making private property into public property. He believed that through planning experts could anticipate and meet social needs, getting rid of the gluts and waste of laissez-faire capitalism. Both Saint-Simon as well as his disciple Auguste Comte favored the centralized control of social production, described in section 1. However, other prominent socialists, including Fourier and Owen who will be discussed in this section, supported a decentralized version of socialism.

      Charles Fourier

Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was a French socialist. His vision of utopia derived from a mixture of mysticism, numerology, and a crude psychological theory. He believed that society is afflicted with over 140 specific evils, including commerce, selfishness, and deception. These evils are embodied in society's institutions, such as marriage, family, and the competitive market. They prevent the satisfaction of the 13 pleasures, which include the five senses and the pleasure of "harmony" which comes from the proper balance of the other twelve passions. Fourier captured his vision of a harmonious society in his account of the "phalanstery," which is a community of his idea of the ideal population, 1610 people, with residents who produce all they need and have all their passions fully satisfied. In this community, people will work voluntarily because they will work in areas they enjoy. With everyone's pleasures satisfied and people working freely, laws, police, courts, and prisons will not be needed. In his vision of socialism, society will be productive, prosperous, and free. (Ball and Dagger, 131)

      Robert Owen

Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a British capitalist who converted to socialism after becoming upset by the effects of early capitalism. He believed that many evils were the result of a deformed social system, caused by capitalism rewarding greed and selfishness. He felt these values were taught to children, causing a defective education which resulted in deformed character. In 1800, Owen opened a model textile factory in Scotland that was clean, had relatively safe working conditions, instituted a reduced workweek, and offered education to children under 10 at the owner's expense. He worked hard to influence other capitalists to follow his lead, as well as convince workers to share his idea of a network of small, self-sufficient communities. In 1824, he moved to a 30,000 acre parcel of land that he bought in southwest and began the socialist community of New Harmony. Within four years his society failed, causing him to lose most of his fortune. He spent the rest of his life promoting trade unionism and advocating the establishment of worker-owned cooperatives as the nucleus from which a larger and more comprehensive socialist society might grow. (Ball and Dagger, 132)

     Marx's Critique of Capitalism

Karl Marx is known as an outspoken critic of capitalism, but he did believe that capitalism was previously a progressive force. Marx believed that capitalism performed three important progressive functions. The first was in hastening the demise of feudalism by breaking down trade barriers and opening new trade routes to Africa and the Orient, as well as in the European discovery of the new world. The second was in making human beings masters over nature. The third progressive force is capitalism's need for innovation, because in order to remain profitable industries must constantly revolutionize production. Marx considers all of these to be positive progressive forces, but he also believed that capitalism should be overthrown and replaced, giving many specific reasons. First, he proposes that capitalism is no longer progressive, it is now outmoded and has paved the way for communism, which he believed is a better form of society. Second, Marx believed that capitalism created alienation, and the alienation felt by the working class will lead to the overturning of capitalism by communism. Third, he claims that capitalism is self-subverting, and it makes the capitalist cold and calculating as opposed to allowing him to be a kind and caring human being. He maintained that he was not criticizing the morality of capitalists, rather he believed that capitalists did seemingly immoral things not because they are immoral or cruel, but because the logic of the system requires it of them. Marx explained that capitalism has created its own "grave-diggers" by unleashing forces that will eventually destroy it. The bourgeoisie created the class of the proletariat, and through unfair rule brought the workers together and taught them to cooperate. According to Marx, the proletariat will eventually begin the revolution that will overthrow the bourgeoisie and lead to the creation of the classless communist society.

     Revolutionary Sequence

This is the sequence that Marx saw as the evolution of the communist society:

Economic Crises --> Immiseration of the proletariat --> Revolutionary class consciousness --> Seizure of power --> Dictatorship of the proletariat --> Withering away of the state --> Communism. (Figure 5.3, Ball and Dagger, p145)

The “economic crises” refers to the economic downturns that are periodic in a capitalist society. The immiseration of the proletariat is the process in which the bourgeoisie are better able to survive economic downturns than the poor working class, who then become even more miserable after losing their jobs. The revolutionary class consciousness happens when the workers, set off by their dire situations, realize that their misery is caused by the system rather than themselves. They realize that they need to eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie in order to escape their situation. Seizure of state power happens when revolutionary class consciousness and the immiseration of the proletariat combine to spark the revolution. Through several possible ways, the proletariat will eventually overcome the bourgeoisie and take control of the state. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the period when the working class controls the government, controls in their own interest, and uses the apparatus of the state to prevent a counter-revolution. The withering away of the state is the transition period that will take society from capitalism to communism. Competitive ways will remain for a time until the bourgeoisie eventually fade away, and the dictatorship of the proletariat will no longer be necessary. The last step, communism, is when economic production will be planned and orderly, and distribution of goods and services will be based not on privilege or wealth, but on ability and need. The rule will be "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." people of the state are "at last truly free." (Ball and Dagger, p147)

III. Conception of freedom, equality and democracy[edit | edit source]

The concept of freedom, from a socialist’s perspective, is based on the middle or working classes freedom from the oppression of the bourgeoisie. Socialists believe that there are certain rights and freedoms that society should have as a whole, and that by promoting value in capital you create a schism between the working and upper class. In a capitalistic society those who create goods are not given compensation equivalent to that of capital earned by the upper class. Freedom, According to Marx, could only be obtained if the ability to own private property was abolished. By eliminating classes based on wealth or capital, one would have effectively destroyed the class system and allowed members of the community to pursue more important personal aspirations. Socialists believe that at the core, humans are communal and social creatures and that individual property and wealth destroys that relationship amongst the different classes. According to socialist, in order for everyone to be free, no one can be allowed to make personal gains from work of others.

Freedom for socialists is not only freedom from the oppression of the ruling class but also freedom from capitalisms' effects on society. In order to be truly free one must be allowed to work towards personal goals and objectives without the stigma of personal wealth or gain. Socialist believe that if everyone is equal within the society, then no person would be able to have more political or personal power over another member. Each members' opinions and views would be equally respected and valued and everyone could decide what is best for the society as a whole. By eliminating capitalism, each member would contribute equally and society would flourish as a single unit ruled by all and not the elite. Once these aspirations have been accomplished, the parameters for a utopian society will have been created: a society in which the hard work of the individual, rather than his wealth, is man’s primary focus, and all discrepancies between the poor and upper class are abolished.

IV. The Communist Manifesto[edit | edit source]

a. Theorists[edit | edit source]

    == 1. Karl Marx ==

Karl Marx was born in Tier, Germany in May 5, 1818. Marx’s passion for politics started in his college days at Bonn University where he studied law and could be often found discussing politics in the local tavern. Karl did poor academically at Bonn and was transferred by his father to the University of Berlin where his father hoped that Marx would apply himself more strictly to his school work. In 1841 Karl Marx graduated with a doctorate in philosophy from The U of B and hoped that he would soon get a job working for a school as a philosophy teacher. The personal beliefs of Marx did not apply to the political status quo, and Marx was unable to find a school that would employ him. Marx’s failure to get hired turned him on to journalism; it was his work as a journalist that sparked Marx’s interest in the social and political importance of one’s personal wealth, prosperity, and the power of market forces. Marx felt that the system favored those with wealth above the poorer classes. After coming to terms with this personal revelation, Marx ceased to be a follower of capitalism and switched to his own radical form of politics. Marx was abhorred by the social and political realm of his time and believed that it could not be reformed from the tattered state that it was in (Ball and Dagger, pp133-134). Due to Marx’s political and radical affiliations, the police, issued a warrant for his arrest, banned his works and closed both publication offices where Karl had worked. Marx was forced to leave Germany and went into exile in 1845. Three years after his exile Marx published The Manifest of The Communist Party, commonly referred to as the Communist Manifesto. Marx died in 1883, before he could return to Germany.

      ==   2. Friedrich Engels ==

Friedrich Engels was born in Brahman, the kingdom of Prussia November 28, 1820. Engels was a high school dropout and was sent to work as a non-salaried office clerk. During his time as clerk Engels began to study the philosophy of Hegel, a prominent German philosopher at the time. In 1842, Engel was sent to one of the cotton farms his father had invested in and it was here that Engels first saw the living conditions of the working class. The experience he witness at the cotton factory inspired Engels to write “Condition of the Working Class in England” in 1844. After he began to contribute articles to the radical journal that Karl Marx was the editor of, having similar views of capitalism and politics in general, Marx and Engels soon became close friends. They started to write political works together using each others strengths. Their political jargon had them quickly exiled from Germany, Belgium, and France. By 1846 Engels and Marx had a following in England; they referred to themselves as “The Communist League”. In 1848 they co-authored the embodiment of their ideals in the Communist Manifesto which encouraged a revolution against the ruling class by the middle and working classes through unity. Engels died in London, august 1985.

b. Arguments in The Communist Manifesto[edit | edit source]

    Chapter 1: Bourgeois and Proletarians

In the first Chapter of the manifest of the communist party, Marx explains his view of history. During his middle-life he was influenced by Hegel, a German philosopher. He puts forth his neo-Helgian view of history and elaborates on mans dependence and struggles with materialism. Marx's opening line, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" (Marx and Engels, 9) captures the intentions for the book. It explains that there was and will be class struggles amongst the upper and lower class; Marx claims the proletariats will rise to power over the bourgeoisie through class struggles. According to Marx, the proletariats are the working class and the bourgeoisie are the ruling class. The bourgeoisie, using the fruits of the working classes labor, exploits the proletariat to make capital for themselves. The idea that the Working class is not being treated equally is where the struggle between the classes comes from. Marx says that ironically the proletariat's are going to use the same weapons that felled the ruling class before the bourgeoisie against them. Marx believed that workers would rise to power through a revolution against the bourgeoisie. This revolution along with destroying the ruling class would also overthrow the capitalist society.

    Chapter 2: Proletarians and Communists

Throughout the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels discuss the main points of Communism. They explain in depth how to successfully achieve a Communist society. In chapter two, regarding the main relationship between the communists and the proletarians, he begins by saying that the communist’s goals are aligned with that of the proletarians. The difference between the two is that the communists will bring forward the interests of the proletariat and will represent the objectives of the movement. Marx and Engels write, “The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others…”(Manifesto, 484).

Communists believe that the way to eliminate classes is to abolish private property or individual property. Communists feel that the proletariat needs to overthrow the oppression placed on them by the bourgeois in order to obtain political control of their society. Marx claims that the abolishment of private property is the first and most important step in eliminating capitalism. In order for communism to work, all property needs to be seized and taken away from the individual and made into social property, so that it loses its ‘class character.’ Communists believe that having accumulated labor should not help the bourgeois to enrich themselves but help enrich society and promote the existence of the laborer. “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society…” (Manifesto, 486). This is stating that the bourgeois see everything as a means of production. They want nothing more than to acquire capital and they will continue to use the work of the proletariat for their own personal gains.

Towards the end of the chapter Marx and Engels write a list of things that will help to revolutionize the modes of production. They mention that all of their suggestions might not work for everyone but, that for major industrial nations these steps should be utilized to effectively change the social structure. The list consists of these key concepts: the abolition of private property, progressive taxes, abolition of inheritance, centralization of credit and communication, and free education. The most important key to changing society is the centralization of the means of production in order to prevent any class from rising up and taking control of another. Marx and Engels conclude the chapter with an explanation of the process that the proletariat should use when overthrowing the bourgeois. They say that the proletariats need to be placed into power and become the ruling class after they must abolish all class, including their own. The last line reads, “…we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”(Manifesto, 491), meaning that decisions of the individual will now become the choices of the community as a whole.

    Chapter 3: Socialist and Communist Literature-

The third part to Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto explains the earlier forms of socialism, prior to their development of communism. Below is the chapter broken down into the three different sects of socialism that Marx and Engels deem important for our understanding of communism.

I. Reactionary Socialism -

a. Feudal Socialism – According to Marx and Engels, Feudal Socialism was a system of ideas that arose as a result of the aristocracy acting against the exploitation of the working class by the bourgeoisie. Marx and Engels criticize the Feudalists as being, “ludicrous in its effect through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history” (Marx, 35), as well as being flawed in the lacked realization that feudal practices resemble the initial formation of the “old order,” “In showing that, under their rule, the modern proletariat never existed, they forget that the modern bourgeoisie is the necessary offspring of their own form of society” (Marx, 33).

b. Petty Bourgeois Socialism - b. Petty Bourgeois Socialism – Analogous to Feudal Socialism, Petty Bourgeois Socialism is interpreted as destined to the formation of modern bourgeoisie. The idea bases the standards of the bourgeois from those of the “peasants and Petty” class and are thus more commonly found in areas where the “peasants and Petty” class make up the majority of the population – France was given as an example by Marx and Engel. Petty Bourgeois Socialism was viewed as being inconsistent and guilty of oscillating between proletariat and bourgeoisie. This form of socialism also provided proof of social follies that would become major themes of Marx and Engels' ideals, “the disastrous effects of machinery and division of labor; the concentration of capital and land in a few hands; overproduction and crisis; it pointed out the inevitable ruin of the petty bourgeois and peasant, the misery of the proletariat, the anarchy in production, the crying inequalities in the distribution of wealth, the industrial war of extermination between nations, the dissolution of old moral bonds, of the old family relations, of the old nationalities” (Marx, 34).

c. German or “True” Socialism – c. When German intellectuals looked heavily into developing Communist based ideals from those set forth by French writers it was realized that the two regions maintained major differences in sociopolitical histories. Namely, French works were heavily laden in the fight against the bourgeoisie and feudalism, conflicts not to be found in German history. In response, German intellectuals developed their own socialist theme centered on the idea of “human nature” and reason. The German synthesis, “True” socialism provided many of the necessary requirements of socialism, and after defending against the bourgeois regaining control during ‘the liberal movement,’ became a true socialist state. The failure of Germany’s “True” Socialism was that it contained the properties of being ‘reactionary,’ where Germany became too focused on maintaining the traditional state of things thus refusing to remain competitive in global industrialization: “The industrial and political supremacy of the bourgeoisie threatens it with certain destruction-on the one hand. From the concentration of capital; on the other, from the rise of a revolutionary proletariat (Marx, 37).”

II. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism - “The socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom” (Marx, 38). This form of socialism concerns itself with thwarting the negative views of the bourgeois and removing the concentration away from revolution. The general notion is not to remove the Bourgeois but to have the proletariat removed instead. According to Marx and Engel This form neglects to understand the importance of revolution as a necessity as well as the importance to adhere to definitions of bourgeois, “the bourgeois are bourgeois-for the benefit of the working class” (Marx, 39). The movements founding principles exists for the benefit of and only for the uses of the proletariat.

III. Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism – This last section identifies several historical philosophers and ascetics who maintained some of the elemental themes of socialistic ideals. Mostly due to the immaturity of the proletariat not yet backed by a long history the ideas and many look at more peaceful modes of transformational policy, “new social gospel,” where Marx and Engel argue revolution is an essential element to restore power to the proletariat. These early thinkers as well fall victim to similar fates of ‘reactionary conservative Socialists,’ where socialistic ideas are based solely on hypothetical situations and in result are deemed strictly utopian in scope thus impractical in any true form. That is not to say that these ideas are without merit; many contain similar ‘class-struggle’-type of ideals, “such as the abolition of the family, of private gain, and of the wage system; the proclamation of social harmony; the conversion of the functions of the state into a mere superintendence of production” (Marx, 41).

    Chapter 4: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposing Parties - 

“Workingmen of all countries, unite!” This concluding chapter focuses on the proper actions of communists. The main concern is to utilize existing groups that share similar ideals with Socialists and use them as catalysts: a mode to infiltrate all aspects of politics. Concentrate affiliations to groups interested in defending the working class against the exploitation by the bourgeoisie. This is exemplified by the French Social Democrats and the Switzerland Radicals. It is deemed mandatory that all adherers should profess the interests of socialism and be open and even evangelical with them. The final portion of this chapter focuses on the changing political landscape of Germany, and Marx and Engel announce their speculation of a major proletariat revolution in that region, “because that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilization and with a much more developed proletariat than what existed in England in the 17th and in France in the 18th century” (Marx, 44).

c. Development of Socialism[edit | edit source]

Marx graduated from the University of Berlin, then obtained his doctorate in philosophy in 1841. His early career was in journalism as a reporter and an editor. It was in Paris while working for a publication where he became friends with Engel, who would serve as a philosophical and political partner for the next 40 years. It was through his work in journalism that Marx was able to notice the inner workings of socio-political corruption, and had to deal with major issues in censorship that would give him the motivation for his future works dealing with radical social changes. Among these, two of the publications he worked for were closed down by the police, many of his writings were censored or confiscated, and Marx spent a good deal of the latter part of his life in exile.

Karl Marx's ideas were derived from Hegel’s philosophies, namely this idea of alienation and historical competition, that society behaves much as an individual passing in and out of various forms of struggle in the act of development. Another key element adopted by Marx was Hegel’s idea of master-slave dialectic: the metaphor of slave and master is used to describe how from such sadomasochistic relationships we come to define ourselves, the master defines himself in terms of the slave’s view and the slave in terms of the master’s. Both are dependent upon the other in order to define power. Marx would come to interpret these ideas along with many of Hegel’s within the context of “the story of human labor and struggle” (Ball, 136), the central ideas of the Communist Manifesto. Marx added the idea to communism that the upper class tends to be the minority but holds complete power over all aspects of society (cultural, religious, political, etc.) and are “ideological superstructures,” able to justify their position accordingly.

Following the death of Hegel, Hegels' ideas were split into two groups: one that maintained the philosophies were to be strictly theological, and the other, to which Marx belonged, that would favor the philosophies to contain profound meaning through interpretation, beyond what even Hegel could have known. It would become the intellectual basis for his development of the Bourgeoisie/Proletariat, class-struggle model and later to become heavily routed in The Communist Manifest.

d. A Critique of Socialism[edit | edit source]

    Critique of Socialist and Communist Literature

Marx and Engel provide a description for current conditions and outline the historical purposes they have come to be. The setup of post-revolution society is very well defined and general political control is established. What is missing is how the transformation will take place; how a society can arrive from current realities to the future socialistic establishment. The mode is vague in a description where Marx “refused to write recipes for the kitchens of the future.”” (Ball, 147). Revolution is the means of obtaining socialism but the formation of the revolution as well as the exact actions of this revolution are left unclear. Another challenge is that Marx and Engel write, “In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past,” where as the Communist Manifesto is in itself deeply rooted in defining itself through historical terms.

"Looking at market competition as the force keeping the Proletariat and Bourgeoisie ‘fettered,’ “[the Proletariat] are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market” (Ball, 15). One of the main arguments upheld by capitalist’s challenges the idea that Marxism is indicative of reductions in market competition. This reduction in market competition greatly slows the rate of progression.

V. Socialism and it's relation to the 7 Ideals of enlightenment[edit | edit source]

A. Human autonomy is the means and end of Enlightenment According to Marx and Engel one of the aspirations of socialism is to actively disassociate from all social ties and dogmas to allow the individual to pursue his own interests and to educate himself by way of his own freewill, “But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience” (Marx, 29). The Socialist’s notion of freedom according to the text, “the agent who is to be free is not the abstract or isolated individual, but “individuals in relations.”

B. The importance of reason

Marx and Engel believed the sciences to be very important and ideas should be validated off of strong empirical information. This too can be seen in the construct of the Communist Manifesto which adheres strongly to a cause-and-effect model, “Marx suggests that for purposes of ‘scientific’ social analysis, we can simplify somewhat by imagining any society to contain two antagonistic classes” (Ball, 137).

C.Enlightenment is universal

Individuality is mentioned time and time again in Marx’s works and it is evident that Marx believes the major distraction of reason is derived from a capitalistic drive. It is capital that enslaves both the bourgeois as well as proletariat from pursuing interests in knowledge. Both groups are born with the same potential for intelligence; all present differences are solely the result of social situation. Focuses on ‘Enlightenment’ ideas would be made possible if the distraction of capital could be overcome.

D. A belief in progress

Revolution is the idea of abrupt fast past transformation. Generally Socialists hold the notion that society is not static and that it is continually progressing.

E. Secularism: separating church and politics Socialism looks at separating church from not only politics but in all aspects of society where it is seen as a means of control and a distraction from reality as well as being definitively bourgeoisie. The stance of religion by socialists can be exemplified by the famous Marx quote, “religion is the opiate of the people.”

F. Concern with economics

Economics are adherently controlled by a central government where all people receive an equal share of profits in accordance with section 5 of the Manifesto, “Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and exclusive monopoly” (Marx, 30).

G.The ideal of popular government

Communism as stated by Marx and Engel is democratic to the highest degree, where political power as it exists for one class over another, “ merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another” (Marx, 31), is disintegrated, and policy is wielded strictly by the terms of the people as it relates directly to the people.

Notes[edit | edit source]

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