History of Socialism
Socialism is an economic concept with important political implications. In context we see that it is a reaction to liberalism and conservatism moving away from the individual verses group rights and needs to an attempt at a wholistic approach that all of society is interconnected.
Socialism: a system of communal or social public ownership, established to make or keep distribution of income, wealth, opportunity and economic power as nearly as equal as possible. Redistribution of wealth is an economic concept.
Socialism is advocated by Social Democratic political parties. In western Europe it was a welfare state. Socialism was advocated in Canada by the CCF Party (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation). First led by Tom Douglas, a Baptist minister. The NDP was a mild form. Has form the government in Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and the Yukon. It is known as the Labour Party in Great Britian, the Social Democratic Party in France, Germany, Italy and in other places.
As a party it has been more inclined to cooperate than compete.
It is not enough to participate in political decision making but also to make economic decisions. Control is through the government. Capitalism gives too much power to individuals and the group. It is for the state to own industry. There is an assumption that capitalism has failed in its profit orientation and is not concerned with poverty. The people must control economics and profits won’t matter in all major industries such as hydro. Private property is regulated and limited. It is a cradle to the grave welfare state. Equality is the chief value, initially the belief was there shouldn’t be private property.
Currently, socialism adheres to the democratic system with free speech, freedom of the press [I’d like to see that again], and freedom of religion. Violence as legitimate is rejected as well as using minority for violence.
The state is a good instrument to achieve equality; eliminate poverty and squallor, mass unemployment, seeking social well being, social welfare. Industry is nationalized under the concern that industries hold a monopoly. Socialist don’t like the profit system [This sentiment played a part in the innovation of profit-sharing in the work place, diffusing the antipathy]. Competition makes cooperation difficult. Cooperation can create the classless society. There is a firm belief in national planning.
Free Unregulated Market
There is a desire to conserve resources with a moralistic dictation. The free unregulated market produces unnecessary goods. (Who decides what is unnecessary?)
Europe is anticlerical. Western Europe working class identified the church with the rich well-to-do and the powerful. Socialialism in Canada is not antiChurch. After World War II people came from the U.K. and spoke English. Industrialization and urbanization increased unforseen pressure on the provincial governments. Working class has never consistently supported socialism. The Depression in the Canadian West, drought and grasshoppers were devastating. Consequently the CCF formed in 1933 Regina, a doctrinare socialist party. They stated that no CCF government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism. It was different and therefore it could make people think. Influenced by the U.K. It ejected violence and proposes health care in Saskatchewan in the 1960s.
Victim of Its Own Success
Europe, a welfare state with unions, don’t ask for state ownership. Socialists look like reform liberals. With the advent of computers, the old style of working class is shrinking. The appeal has needed to expand to other groups thereby diluting doctrine.
Is socialism a party (unsuccessful as elected members) or a movement (successfully propose outlandish ideas and make them respectable)? Established parties have stolen the ideas in the past. Recently, I find that the Liberals have the same goals in their own right but have a broader mandate of issues to deal with and to discuss with the public. It only appears that the New Democratic Party (or the Green Party for ecology issues) are the sole bastions of their focus pieces.
As Canadians, we don’t see ourselves in class terms but in geography and in ethnic terms. Quebec was not interested in socialism. CCF dissolved and in the 1960s NDP was less socialistic. Canadians are pragmatic, not ideological (Prime Minister Harper and friends notwithstanding). Close to Reform Liberalism, the NDP are indirectly responsible for major changes. They have the advantage to focus on a few specific issues and to push them through.