Types of Socialism

Primitive & Utopian Socialism

  • Pre dates capitalism with More’s Utopia and his vision for a simple rural lifestyle with greater consideration of others.
  • Gerard Winstanley and the Levellers before they were destroyed by Cromwell believed in greater equality and the levelling of society.
  • Both ideas looking for equality no private property and no greed but were out of fashion with the contemporary beliefs of the day.
  • Followed by Utopian Socialism laid out by Charles Fourier Robert Owen and William Morris
  • Fourier created communism before Marx with his ideas on cooperation and his phalanxes, which were groups of society put together for the greatest good.
  • Owen created a commune of his own although he was an industrialist realising the importance of the workers efforts.
  • Morris felt that workers were just machines and ordered that mass production be stopped and the value of a product be according the amount of skilled work put in.

Fabianism and Evolutionary Socialism

  • Unlike revolutionary socialism in Cuba or North Korea these ideas were much slower
  • Fabianism so called after Roman general Fabius and his theory of warfare, which was constructed around the theory of inevitability of gradualism.
  • Fabian society ensured that Labour party has been a non-revolutionary party
  • Evolutionary Socialists believed that Lenin was wrong and that capitalism was not going to collapse, therefore there needed to be an appreciation as to how the workers were going to be best represented in the democratic system.
  • Eduard Bernstein called for political work in government economic and social improvements through Trade Unions and nationalisation of industry.
  • RH Tawney believed in the importance of education if there was ever to be a fairer society, this was also combined with his strong religious beliefs.

Democratic Socialism

British Socialism has never been as extreme as that found in Europe, usually attempted to work with business rather than against it. Redistribution of wealth was the obvious area in which capitalism can be harnessed by the state for greater equality. However they shifted from just being the party for the workers.

  • 1945-79 Labour based its socialism around a number of key areas
  • Equal rights and equality of opportunity but no attempt to stifle individuals and their efforts to create wealth.
  • Nationalisation – for the good of the people the state had an expectation to provide jobs.
  • Welfare State with compulsory contributions through wealth redistribution.
  • Trade Unions to remain strong, as it was essential that the working man was represented.

New Labour

Social Democracy through this new party in contrast to the collapse of old socialism

What changed?

  • Less state control, for example we saw devolution and the proposals for regional assemblies and mayors.
  • Trade Unions sidelined, this was controversial at the time as many felt Blair should have overturned Thatcher’s anti Trade Unions legislation. However this did not sit well with his donors and the new voters he gained in 1997.
  • Accepting inequality while still looking after those at the bottom. Similar in a way to Thatcher in terms of seeing inequality as a positive, however still believed in helping the least well off.
  • Taxation not increased – stealth taxes? 40% tax band was retained
  • Social security aimed at those who really need it
  • No longer associated with a class struggle, as they had brought in the middle classes in 1997.
  • Followed writings of Anthony Crossland who argued that nationalisation was not the best way to run the economy – Future of Socialism 1959
  • Capitalism had to be harnessed in order to spread wealth
  • For him socialism was about greater equality and social justice capitalism could be used to pursue these goals.
  • Ideas of Anthony Giddens central to the creation of the Third Way
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