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Discussion question: What is socialism? Is socialism possible or desirable?

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Introduction

Discussion question: What is socialism? Is socialism possible or desirable? (Week 14 question, Inequality) Throughout the history of the Western world various ideologies have proven so influential as to give rise to assorted "possibilities and desires" that change society. Namely, the rise and support of socialism has been a major component to the make up of Western history in the 19th and 20th centuries. An investigation into the development of socialism will prove that its popularity, support and even criticism came as a result of certain milestones. These milestones serve as turning points in the ideology's history, and without them it could easily be presumed that the philosophy would never have produced such influential results. In addition, such an investigation will prove these milestones were joined with various interactions between the philosophers and the political reality of assorted nations. This interaction proved to be the roots that allowed socialism to bloom into its entirety. There were various events in Western history that inspired discontent with the current government structure. This discontent dated all the way back to the late 1700's when political theorists like Edmund Burke tried to promote the monarchies in the Restoration era: "In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke said that...the belief in human equality undermined the social order.... ...read more.

Middle

These philosophers rejected politics and promoted idealized governments for the good of the common person. The specific artisan uprisings of 1831 and 1834 marked the milestone that united these theories with actual political action: these revolts against the government caused the monarchy to tighten censorship and ultimately dissolve the republican organizations. The result was that these leaders were forced to form secret societies and thus "between 1835 and 1840 the French republican movement underwent a theoretical radicalization in a socialist direction" (Stott, 1999, p.77). Consequently, the philosophers noted the horrific state that workers were in, and began to criticize actual capitalistic profit as promoted by the government. This first wave of socialists wanted to alter society by promoting ideal communities in the early 1800's. They worked on understanding the new wave of industrialization, and then designing ideal structures to end the resulting injustices. The second milestone was brought about by the endorsement of the proletarian class. More specifically, this next wave dealt with Karl Marx and Marxism. In the mid 1840's, Marx argued that although the French Revolution had ended feudalism, it served only to place the Bourgeois class into power. ...read more.

Conclusion

The rise of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party, as a result of the March Revolution of 1917, marked the official incorporation of socialism into the Soviet Union. Furthermore, this revolution was more than a tie between socialist theory and political reality: through Lenin's interpretation of communist goals, the era marked the arrival of incorporating imperialism into the socialist doctrine. Lenin argued that ordinary people everywhere needed to fight the war on capitalism, and thus create a revolution across Europe. Socialism continued in Russia through the rule of Stalin, who gave the "ism" connotations of repression and cruelty through violence, intolerance, and labour camps in Siberia. Stalin focused the government on collective industrialization, controlling prices, distributions, and living standards. Ultimately, through the progression of various milestones in the development of socialism, as well as the interaction between socialist thinkers and the government, the ideology has evolved and developed to become a major philosophy in Western history (Von mises, 1981, p.198). Today, as a result of these progressions, socialism has developed into a practice and lifestyle that many have and continue to disagree with, despite its various intents throughout history to bring about an "ideal" society for the common man. ...read more.

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