Portal:Socialism

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Socialism is a political, social and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management of enterprises. It includes the political theories and movements associated with such systems. Social ownership can be public, collective, cooperative or of equity. While no single definition encapsulates many types of socialism, social ownership is the one common element.

Socialist systems are divided into non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism substitutes factor markets and money with integrated economic planning and engineering or technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing a different economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws and dynamics than those of capitalism. A non-market socialist system eliminates the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system in capitalism. The socialist calculation debate, originated by the economic calculation problem, concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a planned socialist system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them. Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend.

Socialist politics has been both internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions and at other times independent and critical of them; and present in both industrialised and developing nations. Social democracy originated within the socialist movement, supporting economic and social interventions to promote social justice. While retaining socialism as a long-term goal, since the post-war period it has come to embrace a Keynesian mixed economy within a predominantly developed capitalist market economy and liberal democratic polity that expands state intervention to include income redistribution, regulation and a welfare state. Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism, with more democratic control of companies, currencies, investments and natural resources.

The socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 18th century and out of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism. By the late 19th century, after the work of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production. By the 1920s, communism and social democracy had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement, with socialism itself becoming the most influential secular movement of the 20th century. Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, many socialists have also adopted the causes of other social movements such as environmentalism, feminism and progressivism.

While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism or a non-planned administrative or command economy. Academics, political commentators and other scholars tend to distinguish between authoritarian socialist and democratic socialist states, with the first representing the Soviet Bloc and the latter representing Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general, among others.

Selected article

Louis Auguste Blanqui.JPG
Blanquism refers to a conception of revolution generally attributed to Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805–1881) which holds that socialist revolution should be carried out by a relatively small group of highly organised and secretive conspirators. Having seized power, the revolutionaries would then use the power of the state to introduce socialism. It is considered a particular sort of 'putschism' – that is, the view that political revolution should take the form of a putsch or coup d'état.

Blanquism is distinguished from other socialist currents (especially Marxist ones) in various ways; on the one hand, contrary to Marx, Blanqui did not believe in the predominant role of the working class, nor did he believe in popular movements. Instead he believed that revolution should be carried out by a small group of professional, dedicated revolutionaries, who would establish a temporary dictatorship by force. This dictatorship would permit the implementation of the basis of a new order, after which power would then be handed to the people. In another respect, Blanqui was more concerned with the revolution itself rather than the future society that would result from it; if his thought was based on precise socialist principles, it rarely goes so far as to imagine a purely socialist society. For Blanquists, the overturning of the bourgeois social order and the revolution are ends sufficient in themselves, at least for their immediate purposes. He was one of the non-Marxist socialists of his day.


Selected biography

Hugo Chávez portrait
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (born 28 July 1954 – 5 March 2013) was the 56th President of Venezuela, serving for 14 years from 1999 until his death in 2013. Following his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and "Socialism for the 21st Century", he focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution, which saw the implementation of a new constitution, participatory democracy and the nationalisation of several key industries.

Formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997, in 2007 he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). He was elected President four times: in 1998, 2000, 2006 and finally—one year before his death—in 2012.

A firm anti-imperialist and vocal critic of neoliberalism and capitalism more generally, Chávez was a prominent opponent of United States foreign policy. Allying himself strongly with the socialist governments of Fidel and then Raúl Castro in Cuba, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, his presidency was seen in the Western world as a part of the so-called socialist "pink tide" sweeping Latin America. Chávez supported Latin American and Caribbean cooperation and was instrumental in setting up the pan-regional Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, the Bank of the South, and the regional television network TeleSur. A highly controversial and divisive figure both at home and abroad, his political influence in Latin America led Time magazine to include him among their list of the world's 100 most influential people in both 2005 and 2006.

He died in Caracas on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58.


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