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Bourgeois socialism or conservative socialism was a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in various pieces, including in The Communist Manifesto. Conservative socialism was used as a rebuke by Marx for certain strains of socialism, but it has also been used by proponents of such a system. Conservative socialism and right wing socialism are also used as a descriptor, and in some cases as a pejorative, by free-market conservative and right-libertarian movements and politicians to describe more economically interventionist strands of conservatism.
The Marxian view is such that the bourgeois socialist is the sustainer of the current state of bourgeois class relations. Opinions vary as to whether this or that bourgeois socialist is intentionally excusing the current order, but the common thread is that they are in objective fact preserving it. Rather than abolishing class divisions, they wish to simply raise everyone up to be a member of the bourgeoisie to allow everyone the ability to endlessly accumulate capital without a working class. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels use philanthropists, monks ("temperance fanatics") and reformers as examples of this type of socialist that they saw as opposed to their own aims. In expressing its views on the subject, Marx explicitly referenced Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's The Philosophy of Poverty, stating the following about bourgeois socialism:
The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom.
An early proponent of conservative socialism was 19th-century Austrian politician Klemens von Metternich as early as 1847. Monarchists had begun to use socialism as an antithesis of "bourgeois laissez-faire", indicating reliance on a social conscience as opposed to pure individualism. Metternich said the aims of such a conservative socialism were "peaceful, class-harmonizing, cosmopolitan, traditional". Monarchic socialism promoted social paternalism portraying the monarch as having a fatherly duty to protect his people from the effects of free economic forces. Metternich's conservative socialism saw liberalism and nationalism as forms of middle-class dictatorship over the masses.
Johann Karl Rodbertus, a monarchist conservative landowner and lawyer who briefly served as minister of education in Prussia in 1848, promoted a form of state socialism led by an enlightened monarchy supporting state regulation of the economy. Rodbertus supported the elimination of private ownership of land, with the state in control of national capital rather than redistribution of private capital, i.e. state capitalism. In the 1880s, Rodbertus' conservative socialism was promoted as a non-revolutionary alternative to social democracy and a means to justify the acceptance of Bismarck's social policies.
Right-wing socialism is used as a pejorative term by some free-market conservative and right-libertarian movements and politicians to describe paternalistic conservatism as they see it supporting paternalism and social solidarity as opposed to commercialism, individualism and laissez-faire economics. They argue that paternalist conservatism supports state promoted social hierarchy and allows certain people and groups to hold higher status in such a hierarchy which is conservative.
Although distinct, right-wing socialism is also used more commonly to refer to moderate social democratic forms of socialism when contrasted with Marxism–Leninism and other more radical left-wing alternatives. During the post-war period in Japan, the Japan Socialist Party divided itself into two different socialist parties, usually distinguished into the Leftist Socialist Party of Japan (officially the Japanese Socialist Party in English) and the Rightist Socialist Party of Japan (officially the Social Democratic Party of Japan in English). The latter received over 10 per cent of the vote in the 1952 and 1953 general elections and was a centre-left, moderate social democratic party. In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels criticized the Philosophy of Poverty by the anarchist writer and theorist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as representing conservative or bourgeois socialism.
Agrarian socialism, Christian socialism, guild socialism, military socialism, national syndicalism, Peronism, Prussian socialism and state socialism are sometimes termed right-wing socialism by various authors. Historian Ishay Landa has described the nature of right-wing socialism as decidedly capitalist.
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