Socialists no Longer Seek to Fundamentally Change Society
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Many Socialists have believed that Socialism could only be introduced by overthrowing the current political system. Blanqui proposed to do it through a small band of conspirators. Marx and Engels however, saw a proletarian revolution in which the masses of the working class would overthrow the bourgeoisie. This view arose from a growing dislike of Capitalism; industrialization having produced an injustice geared towards the working classes with widespread poverty and unemployment. Moreover, the proletariat did not have a political voice to represent them, as the majority of workers could not vote.
These socialists saw that the state in an effort to act in the favour of capital and negated the needs of the Labour. Thus, people like Marx said that revolution was unavoidable to instate Socialism. The context of these theories was unsettled with many discontent in the lower classes during the 19th century. Lenin saw Parliamentary democracy in an even dimmer light and called it a faï¿½ade ‘concealing the reality of class rule’. The view that the system was against the proletariat was also supported by the fact ‘concealing the reality of class rule’. The view that the system was against the proletariat was also supported by the fact that all personnel of state came from a privileged social background.
Marx believed the condition of the proletariat would continue to deteriorate, and more and more people would fall into poverty as the wealth fell into fewer hands… until it was intolerable and the only way change could ensue was through a revolutionary overthrow of the old system. Although Marx adhered to the idea, that human nature would change for the better; his idea of change was linked to sudden rather than gradual change.
The gradualists who favored the evolutionary way of change believed that conditions especially amongst Industrial countries was getting better and moving towards a socialist conclusion. Bernstein was one writer on this concept and argued this case by suggesting that the Capitalist Bourgeoisie’s new adherence to democracy would open the door to socialist influence. He noted the appearance of new factory legislation, the freeing of trade unions and co-operative trading as well as standard conditions for Labour in the work place. He saw these as characteristics of change that would lead to continued evolution.
The biggest problem with the socialist link to democracy was quite broadly; should socialists participate in Bourgeoisie governments and in doing so is it not giving a form of approval. Revolutionists tend to answer that it would. Early on there was no question; the Bourgeoisie was the enemy, however now evolutionary socialists are more often considered as being pragmatic in pressing forward their ideas. Literally, what ever ever works approach as opposed to a steadfast revolutionary option. The Marxist revolution would mean bloodshed, especially today. There is more of a shift these days from the goal being the focus to the method being the focal element, as long as humanity is traversing towards it, sort of thing. The Marx vision was social collapse…a period of armies and abyss before the desired socialist goal. Gradualism these days seem a more promising concept as modern governments and super national institutions have brought in many socialist aims. In Britain the Health care and education is free; and there are many influential unions and constitutional human rights that protect against exploitation. Everyone has the vote if over eighteen except in exceptional circumstances, so the proletariat have a voice. The socialist party, albeit in a new form exists as the Labour Party as well.
Although not perfect in the socialist view, as the world seems to be dominated by capitalism, at least people are being increasingly looked after. One element of Socialism also not in existence is ‘collective ownership’ as socialists are against private property because it stems from and towards selfishness and individualism, which is quite prevalent in modern industry. Now, although not all socialists would agree, a lot are happy to play the system especially as the majority of concepts have been recognized as good and incorporated into the modern systems.
The Socialist fight today is less war and violent revolt for the majority of socialists but a fight against the exceptional advance of capitalism. In modern times, the global market has come together and multi-national super companies have emerged. Socialists who are into direct action might protest against figureheads of this new super capitalism like the world trade organization or huge companies. Others, who are willing to use the democratic systems, might try to reduce it through pressure groups, Microsoft is currently being challenged and is an example of governments not destroying the huge companies but keeping them in check.
A socialist today will still have strong arguments for change but maybe the majority will agree that no earth shattering change through revolt is needed in any real of immediacy, especially concerning countries in the E.U.