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To what extent have socialists been committed to equality of outcome?

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Introduction

13/12/14 To what extent have socialists been committed to equality of outcome? To a large but not full extent socialists have been committed to equality of outcome. This can be interpreted as ?absolute?, in Marxist terms where all rewards are distributed equality irrespective of labour. Alternatively, ?relative? equality, as endorsed by social democrats, involves the redistribution of wealth through the welfare state and a system of progressive taxation. However in recent years social equality has been substituted by social inclusion in Blair?s Third Way. Here the focus was on ?hand ups, not hand outs?, as highlighted by Bill Clinton. Marxists support the principle of absolute equality, arguing that rewards should be distributed equally across society. Social equality underpins community and cooperation. Therefore social equality would come from working together for a common benefit. This would bring about solidarity consequently overriding issues of instability and class conflict. Absolute equality calls for the means of production to be owned by the community under common ownership. This would reduce the inequalities reflected in the unequal structure of society, therefore upholding justice and fairness. ...read more.

Middle

This is achieved via a system of progressive taxation - wealth is then distributed thorough the welfare state within programmes such as the National Health Service (NHS) created in 1948. Whilst Social Democrats believe in a form of equality of outcome, they don?t believe in absolute equality. This is because, as revisionists they don?t wish to abolish capitalism, conversely to fundamentalists, they believe in a free market with a managed economy. However, Labour?s 1918 Clause IV emphasised a ?most equitable distribution? of the ?fruits of...industry?. This supports the Marxist principle of absolute equality. On the other hand, Labour goes on to recognise that full equality, although perhaps desirable, could only be realised via a communist revolution by the proletariat; such as the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. Be that as it may, Labour was never a communist party - reflected as such in the same 1918 Clause IV that supported absolute equality - but instead saw to see equality of outcome persuaded only as far as "that may be possible" in a Parliamentarian context. ...read more.

Conclusion

between the rich and the poor may have increased under New Labour, but it is justifiable as the poor became richer during the same period. Welfare was instead targeted on the 'socially excluded' when in 2006 Tony Blair issued his "work is good for you" message. This was a Modern Liberal approach of helping people to help themselves, the rebranding of Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance was part of this new ethos. Overall then, the remarkable history of socialism over three century's has not been without its changes and controversies. The socialist commitment to equality has however suffered a 'rebranding' in recent, Third Way, times that it cannot recover from. The Marxist principle of absolute equality can still be seen to survive relatively unadapted in the 1918 Labour constitution, but no mention of it is made in the 1995 one - in short social inclusion has been substituted in for the traditional socialist commitment to equality in modern times. The modern socialist commitment to equality, dragged through the mud by the Third Way, is now not a commitment to true equality at all. Page ...read more.

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