The belief behind socialism is that certain inequalities that are evident in our society are unfair, and that the lesser part of the population should now own the majority of the wealth. However there are different ways socialists believe this should change. Some feel that this change should come through the government, through a gradual process, and some believe this change should come rapidly through a revolution. Socialist beliefs have been growing for many years. It first originated when Western Europe and North America fell victim to the process of industrialization. Before that period, most of these areas dealt and traded in agriculture. But through industrialization, they became trading nations, and later industrial nations. Major changes in the lifestyle of society came with this major economic change. Many went from being self-employed, as a farmer for example, to working in a huge plant. This was how the working class was formed. All of this industrialization in the major cities, caused many of the people in the rural areas to migrate to these areas in hopes of work. This resulted in the population becoming centralized. This centralization of population led to many problems caused by over-crowding such as crime, disease, and poverty. The ones working in factories weren’t the only ones suffering of low wages caused by too much competition, and the desire to cut costs by the owners, but also independent shopkeepers suffered. The craftsmen who had their own shops were swallowed whole by these big factories who could make the same product at mass volumes for half the cost as the shopkeeper. These independent shopkeepers were put out of business.
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Without any intention at all, capitalism had developed and spread throughout Western Europe and North America. As it grew and expanded, the few owners became wealthier, and the working class became poorer. Still today in western countries exist socialist parties, who look to achieve total or partial socialism for their nation, so they do not have to worry about the problems associated with capitalism.Years later, Karl Marx and his philosophies infulenced later leaders which gave rise to Communism in the world, which then started a political war with Capitalism.
One of Marx’s main theories was his critical assault on the capitalist system. The capitalist system being based on private ownership of the means of production, which gives the power to very few. Marx himself mounted a full scale attack on the the theories, institutions, and philosophies of industrial capitalism. His main argument was that capitalism was irrational. Marx did agree that the capitalist system was unparalleled at the method of production it used. However, under that same system, the problem existed of how to distribute the products its factories have made. The fact was that under a capitalist system, production was meant to make a profit, not to satisfy the needs of the society. Marx stated that as long as those products being produced, were making a profit, they will remain being produced, no matter whether the public demanded that product, or not. Also with the capitalist system, came competition. This drove the capitalists to cut the costs as much as possible. This is done through cutting the wages of the laborers. It is then evident that the public could no longer afford even the products they themselves produce. Also with competition, came the desire of the capitalist to increase volume, in the idea of grasping a larger portion of the market. This increased volume of product lead to a viscous circle, which includes overproduction, leading to lay-offs, periods of depression and recession. With this viscous circle, that is brought by capitalism, comes economic misery for all of society.
Karl Marx also had a theory which described the workers in the capitalist system. Marx used the term alienation of labour in describing what effects are felt by the labourers under a capitalist system. He believed that laborers needed productive, gratifying work in order to remain happy.
Marx stated that under a capitalist system laborers did not have a chance to develop their mental and physical capacities, something that Marx felt was essential while working. He also believed that man should not only labour as an individual, but for society as well. However under this capitalist system, man was working for his boss, who only seeked profit, and not the well-being of his workers, or the public. Under these conditions, workers became mentally and physically drained. Marx believed that every person had a need to work. However, the capitalist system does not satisfy that need. Marx said it best when he stated that this type of work, does not satisfy the need to work, but is only a means to satisfy other needs such as food and clothes. Marx used the term alienation of labour because this work left the laborer with a feeling of discomfort and homelessness.
Marx’s solution to capitalism, was the socialist revolution by the workers against the capitalists. Marx figured that this revolution would attain several things. Firstly, it would overthrow the system of ownership of the means of production, and place the means of production in the hands of the people. Secondly, the goal of production would be to satisfy the needs of the society, and not to create a profit. Finally the socialist revolution would realize a rational way of distributing out the products it creates in accordance to need.
The resulting system; socialism, would bring a society which was based on collective ownership of the means of production, rational economic planning, equal distribution of goods and services, and lastly, production for the human need.
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