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Can Marxism and Social Democracy ever be reconciled?

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Introduction

Can Marxism and Social Democracy ever be reconciled? Following the Russian Revolution of 1905, the second International, the International organisation of socialist parties which included the two great democratic socialist parties of Europe (which are the Labour party and the SPD, the Australian Labour party, the Italian PSI and the French PSF) was split between revolutionaries and the gradualists. The revolutionaries were referred to a group called 'communists' as the gradualists began to support a doctrine known as social democracy. Social democracy as a term is older than Marx himself and was originally used to summarise the differentiation between the objectives of socialism and liberal democracy. Social democracy takes the concept of equality further through applying to diverse areas of society which commits itself to means of production of both common ownership and a classless society therefore correspond to Marxist aims. Social democracy is associated with orthodox Marxism and was planned to emphasise the distinction between the narrow goals of political democracy and collectivised productive wealth. Marxist parties were created in the late 19th Century therefore often styled themselves as social democratic parties e.g. The German Social Democratic Party abbreviated as SPD. Social democracy during the 20th Century meant to lessen the abolition of capitalism through democracy but also it's 'taming' and 'humanisation' in order to serve the working class needs. It has come to mean increasingly combining a market economy with all-embracing state intervention, principally in the form of state welfare, to condense inequality and accomplish a degree of 'social justice'. ...read more.

Middle

In his early works he argued that human nature depends on the social and economic conditions therefore on the environment. These had evolved over time, therefore so did human nature. Social democracy is based on faith of human nature. Their objections to capitalism are moral not scientific. I.e. humans are sociable and joined by bonds of love and comradeship. Capitalism sets people against each other. Therefore it is immoral and we must oppose moral things. There has always been a strong religious element in social democracy. E.g. Robert Owen and his modern village, the Fabians were always drawn to socialism because it was close to morality as found in the bible. 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods'. Therefore 'Thy love thy neighbour and thy love thyself.' Marx as well had a critique of capitalism whereby, it rested on alienation. This suggests that capitalism has separated people from their original or essential natures, that is, from their ability as workers to develop skills and understanding through the experience of free productive labour. Given that, the capitalist system is based on production of exchange, it alienates humans from the product of their labour. They therefore work to produce not what they need or what is useful, but 'commodities' to be sold for profit. In addition they are alienated from the labour process, as most are forced to work under the manager's supervisation. On top of that, work is not social, so individuals are encouraged to be self-interested and are furthermore alienated from other human beings. ...read more.

Conclusion

Produce enters the world through labour therefore it is immoral to give produce its own value detached from the labour that it's produced. The 3rd objective is where socialists are attracted to a welfare state as the principle means of reforming capitalism. As mentioned before Marx believed that capitalism gives a false value arising from exploitation since capitalism sets people against each other. Capitalism is basically competition for profit in a free market. This relates to Marx's prediction since capitalism cannot contain its forces it is heading towards a final crisis which is a final mega depression from which it cannot recover. (Many thought it had come in 1929) In conclusion, both Social Democrat and Marxist ideas seem to differ enormously but unite on issues like capitalism to the extent on the effect of human nature, and economical issues down to Keynesian ideas and finally on sate ownership and intervention. But overall both hold opposing views as Social democracy emphasises ethical socialism, while Marxism stresses scientific socialism. Social democrats believe in revisionism while Marxists believe in fundamentalism. Social democrats consider evolution while Marxists, revolution. Social democrats believe to humanize capitalism, while Marxists abolish it. Democrats believe in redistribution of wealth through taxation while Marxists believe in common ownership. Social democrats highlight relative equality while Marxists, absolute equality. Social democrats support a mixed economy while Marxists, state collectivisation. Social Democrats believe in political pluralism while Marxists believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Finally Social Democrats believe in economic management and a liberal-democratic state while Marxists believe in central planning and a proletarian people/state. ...read more.

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