Socialism and Communism in Europe during the Industrial Revolution
Socialism and communism are two sets of therories which inspire movements for social, political as well as economic change, and whose ideas significantly overlap. Communism came before socialism and the two terms have been used interchangibly on many ocassions (McCormick, 2009). The main difference between socialism and communism is that while the central idea of communism is the doing away with the private ownership so as to result in equitable distribution, the main focus of socialism is both conscious and rational designing of economic activity as a foundatuon for abundance which in effect transcends the aspect of distribution (Mason, 2005). Thus communism centers on distribution while socialism dwells on production aspects. The discussion in this paper shall analyze the role of both socialism and communism ideologies during the industrial revolution of early nineteenth century.
Socialism refers to a political theory relating to social organization which was first developed in the early nineteenth centurym with the purpose of serving as a counter model to capitalism. As such, the central idea of socialism was organization of society in respect to the principles of social equality together with social justice. The word was also popularly used in reference of the political movement that was established to strive for realization of such goals. In simple terms, socialism perceives a society that is characterized by social solidarity (Sperber, 2005).
The Socialism theory advocates that private ownership of the means of production which has led to social inequality deserve to be substituted by a system of community control. In this respect, it is advocated that all means of production ought to be kept free from private ownership but instead controlled by regulations that have been established through political means (Shepherd, 2003). While pre-socialist communism favored more fair distribution on ethical grounds, socialism elevates inequalities in its advocation against capitalism but holds that the issue will grow redundant the moment industry is designed in a such a rational manner as to meet people’s (unequal) needs. In other words, socialism as an idea focuses on the very potential of industry to not only address the problems of poverty, but also the needs of the people themselves.
Socialism makes an assumption about a certain level of market exchanges along wuth industrial production: for their respective discontents but, just as significantly, their perceived potential. A great deal of considered opininon of entire political hues in Europe during the early years of the nineteenth century (including liberal, conservative, radical and religious) was centered in the discontent. It was widely termed as the great social question: that the abject poverty that was seen to come from the very production of much wealth. Matters were made worse by the apparent alienation of vast percentage of the productive population from society together with the sense of hopelessness ot those without work. This period in Europe was also characterized by the apparent self-centeredness of people across the board which was fostered by the market seemingly threaning each and every social bond. These factors among other related factors is what inspired the rise of socialism in industrializing countries such as England, Germany and France during those early part of the historic nineteenth century (Mason, 2005).
The socialism concept thereafter spread fast from England in the late 1820s across Europe, and to the rest of the world is reaction to the range of critiques as well political movements that seemed to put society at the core of their field on concern and vision. Prescriptions of socialism were first presented as logical elongations of industrialism, as being of advantage to all players involved in industrialism such as owners, workers and scientists (regarged jointly as “the productive”). As opposed to the initial state of affairs in the idle aristocracy, the socialism prescriptions were perceived as being overly attractive because of their justice element (McCormick, 2009).
The change in society inspired by the rise of socialism associated to the increasing embracing of economic activity set free from its more stringent and significant role in controlling the household while becoming a desired end in itself. This was achieved when they was a greater challenge and change to the initial moral restraint (holding that indeed individual greed was for the general good). The net result of this “commodification” of goods was the bringing of all activity into the marketplace and making everything for sale (Pride et al, 2006). There was creation of a society that knew the price of everything except its value.
Communism is pre-socialist theory based on the idea of common ownership of goods. It is an ideology that has its roots in to the theories and ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels as well as their successors. According communists, the abandonment of the private ownership of property and goods effectively gives rise to social harmony. This is because people stop putting their individual interest above those of othere or for the collective good. Communism in itself features greatly in varied forms of productive system. The theory does not build much reliance on the hopes that abundance will satisfy the community, rather it is believed that the voluntary cutting of appetiteds along with wants to realize equal distribution of the available resources (Mason, 2005). During the period of industrial revolution in Europe during at the start of the nineteenth century, communists regarded the appeals to the better naures of peole as being ineffectual. In response therefore, the communists championed for the strucking out of private property as opposed to its organization, with their base being on those that faced worst effects of the emerging industrialization phenomenon. Communism was thus a radical wing of socialism.
Communism is synonymous with Russia, formerly USSR, where it aimed to abolished capitalism (Grant, 2005). In Russia, the individualized ownership of the means of production together with private profit was fought both peacefully and by force. Following the successful communist revolution in Russia, successive leaders such as Vladimir Leon and Leon Trotsku carried on the development of the tenets of communism (Seaton-Wats, 2009).
Socialism and communism played a significant role in Europe during the Industrial Revolution that started at the end of the 18th century and picked up at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Blei, 2002). Socialism as a political and economic approach was in response to failure of liberal parties to attend to the desperate needs of the working people. While classical liberalism see poverty as a personal choice or failure and not as a result of social structures, socialism emerged to give a different understanding of both individual responsibility and of government. The communist revolution strive to create a system in which no man will bear the power to exploit another man (Berdiaev, 1960).
Berdiaev, Nikolai. (1960). The Origin of Russian Communism. Michigan, University of Michigan Press.
Blei, Karel. (2002). Freedom of Religion and Belief: Europe’s Story. Netherlands, Uitgeverij Van Gorcum.
Grant, G. R. (2005). Communism. UK, Evans Brothers.
Mason, Stewart, David. (2005). Revolutionary Europe, 1789-1989: Liberty, Equality, Solidarity. Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield.
McCormick, John. (2009). Comparative Politics in Transition. Connecticut, Cengage Learning.
Pride, M. William, Hughes, J. Robert, & Kapoor R. Jack. (2006). Business. Connecticut, Cengage Learning.
Seaton-Wats, Hugh. (nd). The pattern of communist revolution. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis.
Shepherd, John. (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 1. New York City, Continuum International Publishing Group.
Sperber, Jonathan. (2005). The European Revolutions, 1848-1851. London, Cambridge University Press.
Steves, Rick, Openshaw, Gene. (2007). Rick Steves’ Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler. California, Avalon Travel.
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