ownership and democratic control
of the material means of production
by the workers and the people."
wants a totally democratic society.
Socialism elevates the common good to the number one priority in all
spheres of decision-making.
The Anglo-American tradition
conceives of democracy primarily as a set of limitations on abusive government power.
The socialist critique of capitalism understands that the power that matters in
all societies is economic power-- the power to direct men and women in their
result, prudent socialism applies democracy as the universal anecdote to all abusive
power, including capitalist power. Total democracy applies democracy to the
economy-- the workplace, the
office, the bank.
broadly includes many variations, but in all its forms it means:
economic decisions, as well as political decisions,
must reflect the common good. The entire economy should operate for the good
of the entire society, with no one left behind.
private concentrations of capital or other wealth, and no other types of
private concentrations of power.
of money's domination over society. The end of the priority of property
and private greed.
Socialism will complete what democracy began-- the
sovereignty in all spheres from elites to the people.
"Communal ownership of land and capital."
--Bertrand Russell in Roads to Freedom.
Democratic socialism is centered on humanist ideals, with
the ultimate goal of allowing each individual the opportunity and means for his
or her personal development and individual satisfaction. Such
self-realization becomes possible in a cooperative, non-competitive social
Socialists understand that individuals are embedded in
their social and economic environments, and therefore believe that more often
than not the good of the individual is best achieved in what is good for the
collective as a whole.
Socialists are assured that people are predisposed to
cooperation and joint social action. Socialists set up as their
opposite the capitalist values of egotism and narcissism.
is antithetical to capitalism,
and therefore revolutionary.
Socialism elevates the common good to the number one priority in all
decision-making, instead of the good of a small ruling class. Many
democratic socialists around the world have used electoral politics as a way of
becoming accommodating to the capitalist class. Now they refuse to use
terms like "capitalist class," and reactionaries get away with
denouncing even tepid liberalism as "class warfare."
it's class warfare. The hard facts of the
domination of the capitalist class persist and become more outrageous every
year. History offers a multitude of examples to contradict the
notion that capitalists will voluntarily cede power. German capitalists
raised up Hitler in order to stop the socialists and communists.
Capitalism has staged bloody and utter illegal means in Greece, Spain, Chile,
Nicaragua, Indonesia. McCarthy-ite Conservatives in every country
in the world have slandered, persecuted, jailed and murdered leftists, union
organizers and civil liberties advocates. Socialism evolved in reaction
to the hard fact of capitalist oppression, and thus is directly antithetical to
are many ways of envisioning revolution, and it need not necessarily be a
bloody thing. In this Bergonian fantasy, the radicals use electoral
politics to score a big victory that paved the way for the subsequent
revolution, and in fact Hitler's revolution came about as a result of parliamentary
elections. Socialist electoral revolutions were violently aborted by the
Fascist Uprising and Civil War in Spain, and by Pinochet in Chile.
"social democracy" and "Fabian socialism" have not resulted
in more than a reform of capitalism. While social democrats in Europe and
other parts of the world have succeeded in obtaining pensions, health care,
hour and wage protections and the like, a capitalist class still controls the
means of production.
And what Socialism
It's not "Communism," and not necessarily Marxist.
Deriving from Engel's writings, Marxists explicitly recognize two types of
socialists: their own kind, the enlightened camp of "scientific socialism," and
the deluded and naive krypto-bourgeoisie "utopian socialists." It is true
Marx of course offered the most complete economic criticism of capitalism, and
his theories of surplus labor, money, class conflict, and alienation are useful
to Bergonians today. But Marx never adequately asserted the democratic
fundamentals of socialism. Nor did he ever realize that basic ethical
considerations (e.g. "justice," "community," and "equality") are alone
sufficient justifications for socialism. To Bergonians Marx made an
extremely simple proposition into a needlessly complex doctrine. Marxists
successfully destroyed capitalist tyranny in a number of nations, but in every
case they replaced it with an even worse tyranny, contrary to the democratic
spirit of socialism. Lenin and his spawn hijacked and betrayed socialism,
with Stalin and Mao committing the worst offenses. Thus Red Star
Communism is a mutation of socialism.
Non-Marxist Socialist Movements: Socialism--
the idea of collective ownership and economic equality--had a sunny youth before the hard-edged barnacles of
Marxism encased it. (see cooperative
socialism) This was the era of "utopian
socialism." Parallel to the development of Marxist socialism, there
have been other important tendencies that have rejected Marx:
(a) French socialism owes as much to Blanqui, Blanc and Proudhon
as it does to Marx, and its greatest leader, Jean Jaurès, was hardly an
(b) After the failed Paris Commune of 1871, many French socialists became
convinced that workers unions through direct action, culminating in the
"general strike," could do in capitalism; they became the syndicalists.
Industrial Workers of the World,
the American version.
(c) Fabian Socialism in Britain advocated a gradual,
non-revolutionary transition to socialism based on humanist foundations.
(d) Also in Britain were the guild socialists who advocated worker
control and self-government, and opposed a strong state.
(e) After World War I the left split into separate
communist and socialist movements. Most countries had socialist
parties that participated in elections and opposed an active communist
party. The split enabled the rise of Fascism, but the pattern prevailed
again after World War II.
(f) Neo-Marxists in Western Europe became repulsed
with Stalinism and realized the dangers of centralism and the importance of
individual liberty. Their theoretical reformulations earned the scorn of
(g) The New Left, having its greatest moment in
France, 1968, criticized post-war imperialism and corporate capitalism.
In many countries it was associated with, and energized by, opposition to the
(h) Anarchism shares socialism's enmity toward capitalism,
but has opposed socialism in the past, and rightfully opposed socialist statism
and all stultifying authoritarianism.
Socialism is not
though a democratic state would coordinate and
regulate socialist institutions and planning. One does speak of state
socialism sometimes in describing the Soviet-style system, but as a pejorative.
"...socialism is not statism, or the collective ownership of the means of
production. It is a judgment on the priorities of economic policy.
It is for
that reason that I believe that... the community takes precedence over the individual in
the values that legitimate economic policy. The first lien on the resources of a
society therefore should be to establish that 'social minimum' which would allow
individuals to lead a life of self-respect, to be members of the community. -- Daniel
Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, p. xii
Capitalists themselves use the state as a tool to perpetuate control over the
working class (e.g. Taft-Hartley), and also to provide regulation they find necessary or
useful, allowing Michael Harrington's famous observation of "socialism
for the rich and capitalism for the poor."
most certainly not
state tyranny-- Self
avowed "democratic socialists" have governed Western Europe without limiting press freedom
or individual rights of conscience. In fact, for socialism to really work the way it
was intended, the people must be free.
Socialism is universally hopeful
about the perfectibility of humankind.
Socialism most certainly rejects the capitalist model of man:
self-centered, greedy, anti-social, driven, obsessed with things. This
means that socialists necessarily believe in the historical
But Socialism may expect too much good
from people. Perhaps the process of revolution
itself contaminates socialism. Revolutionaries are
warriors, and warriors of every age & type harden their hearts in war. They
start feeling justified in using any
means, any method, to win the fight. War and struggle erode
every good intention, and often the ideological justifications for
the struggle become reduced to slogans.
if the substance of socialism survives the revolutionary fire, it will
remain fragile in the post-revolutionary period. No matter the
good intentions underlying a socialist society, some men
and women will develop ambition and greed. Others will use
their offices or jobs to benefit relatives and friends or punish
enemies. Socialism-- that is, true socialism-- is therefore
not inevitable. Yes, socialism may expect too much of
mankind, but then again so may Christianity and all other
Never discount the idealists, even
though conservatives of every
age have vilified them and sneered at them.
Once upon a time
slavery was assumed part of the natural order of things.
Once upon a time every state in the world was despotic, while human rights
and elected governments were at best fantasies.
Once upon a time there were no such things as trials, and torture
was the norm. Modern man breaks records for the size
and scope of human cruelty, but modern man has succeeded in moving
the norms very far toward the good.
A society free of
slavery, peonage, hereditary nobility, poorhouses and debtors prisons,
with universal public education, socialized health care for everyone, a 40
hour work week, and a popularly elected republican government, would
surely have seemed like a pie-in-the-sky utopia to someone alive in 1700.
Who even a hundred years
ago could have imagined the United Nations functioning as it does.
Anyone who thinks we haven't made progress toward the good has
not read history. Are Hitler & Stalin so
exceptional? Not when we recall Sargon, the Assyrians, the Romans, the
Mongols, the Moguls, and Ivan the Terrible. How often
did people like Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela
appear before 1600?
this respect, socialism does involve a certain belief in
progress. Marx embraced the idea of progressive historical
stages, leading to a communist society, and all socialists believe
that a better day is always possible, and that good men will not
shirk from working for that day.
heard it all before:
just too pie in the sky. Capitalism will be around
right, they said the same thing about slavery, serfdom,
monarchy, theocracy, and probably human sacrifice.
"Man is by nature
greedy, and capitalism is man's greed harnessed in the best
is Adam Smith's myth. Anthropology rebuts it by
demonstrating that humankind is capable of many different
cultures, many different motivations, and many different sets of
values. Anyone who thinks man is by nature individualistic
and selfishly motivated overlooks the many instances of
self-sacrifice: the Aztec sacrificial victim, the Samurai & Kamikaze,
the Christian martyr, the soldier on the battlefield, the hospital
volunteer, the kid who turns in the wallet he found on the
sidewalk. Human psychology is far more complex than the
Smith Myth allows.
economies are much more efficient than command economies."
efficient at what?
Mindless production? An
empty goal by itself.
quality goods cheaply? Consider how much price padding
results from advertising, packaging, sales commissions, and
Economic "growth?" The USSR in its
earlier decades grew far faster than any other economy ever has,
before or since. At no time in American history did the
economy grow faster than it did during the government-directed
effort of WWII.
Making rich people richer? Yes, capitalism does that very
socialist crap about everyone getting paid the same?"
socialists have argued "from every person according to his
abilities, to every person according to their needs."
However most socialists would allow some pay differential, but pay must relate
to the nature of a man's work, not to passive ownership of
property. Socialists wish that conservatives were as
concerned about the sufferings of the poor as they are about
protecting unearned wealth of the rich.
democratic; socialism is dictatorship."
compare the USSR with the "western democracies." But
Stalinism and Maoism were malformations, both abhorrent to true
socialists. A truly socialist society has yet to exist, but
if a society isn't democratic, then by definition it won't
be socialist. Neo-liberals take it as an article of faith
that democracy & capitalism are co-extensive. It is true
that modern capitalism is facilitated by a republican form of
government, but there have been too many prosperous capitalist
dictatorships to assume that capitalism is by nature
democratic. Many modern European democratic states have
significant socialist features. Socialists point out as well
how badly capitalist money distorts electoral processes.
promotes individualism, while socialism forces individuals into
up to a point this is true. But if one examines the full
range of cultures in the world and throughout time, one discovers
that American-style individualism is an anomaly. Americans
are detached from their communities and families, alone, and
subject to high stress. The supposedly free individual is
utterly powerless, while groups exercise power. The
supposedly free American individual is in fact very conformist and
conventional. People are social animals, not quite on the
order of cattle, more like dogs & wolves. If we as
individuals had a duty to live moral lives, we have just as much a
duty to work for a moral society. Socialists believe that
wage-labor, like slavery and feudalism, distorts social
relationships. Indeed, nowadays it is the mega-corporations
that are forcing people into artificial collectives. Socialism most certainly would demand a lot
out of an individual, but socialism would give every individual,
through collective self-government, control of her own work, freedom from poverty, and liberty to
pursue a good life-- and that's the way it should be.
Bergonia, a more complete treatment of the theoretical
justifications of socialism.
a united front of leftist groups that brought on the Revolution in
1932 and established socialism in Bergonia.
Tan Era, 1000-1500 AD, which gave Bergonia
advance clues for its own version of
details of various Economic Sectors.
Also see how workers
Religion fits in with Bergonian socialism.
Socialists Stand For, an on-line primer, courtesy the
Democratic Socialist Party of Australia.
Rescuing Socialism from Humpty-Dumpty
Socialism, by Albert Einstein
Definition of Socialism, objective, detailed, specific
varieties, criticisms, history.
brief, insightful historical critique of socialism, by Harry
Definition & sources of
Perhaps not in the past, but today any non-Marxist
socialist will tell you that human liberty, including individual
liberty, is an essential part of socialism. Any socialism
worth the name holds that abolition of capitalism will liberate
individuals and communities. In saying this, socialism has
an expanded concept of the subject of liberty, to include
freedom of conscience, expression and lifestyle, freedom from the
false free market "autonomy" of an unsupported independent entity
who has to sell his or her labor. It includes liberty from
the tyranny of the workplace boss, the freedom to retain and
control the full value of his or her work, and the power to
Unlike liberal democratic ideology that began with Locke and
prevails throughout the western world today, socialism emphasizes
the economic origins of tyranny and oppression. It is
crucial that a society free itself of jackboots, torture chambers,
show trials and caudillos, but elimination of a despotic state is not enough. Liberty is
more than the absence of tyranny, but capitalist ideology
would convince everyone that what they have is enough.
Capitalism wants an incomplete liberty, indeed a liberty crafted
explicitly for its own needs-- so "liberty" American-style gives
primacy to property rights, and gives fictional capitalist
entities-- the corporations-- more protections than it gives
individuals. It is the incomplete liberty of a "law and
order" society, open for business, and everyone either anxious or
The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself
Can Socialists Be Happy?
By George Orwell
seem that human beings are not able to describe, nor perhaps to
imagine, happiness except in terms of contrast. That is why the
conception of Heaven or Utopia varies from age to age. In
"Heaven was described as a place of endless rest, and as being
paved with gold, because the experience of the average human being
was overwork and poverty. The houris of the Muslim Paradise
reflected a polygamous society where most of the women disappeared
into the harems of the rich.
"The inability of mankind to imagine happiness except in the
form of relief, either from effort or pain, presents Socialists
with a serious problem. The Socialist objective is not a society
where everything comes right in the end, because kind old
gentlemen give away turkeys. What are we aiming at, if not a
society in which 'charity' would be unnecessary? But does that
mean we are aiming at some painless, effortless Utopia? At the
risk of saying something which the editors of Tribune may not
endorse, I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not
happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all
we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism
is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though
it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up
their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get
themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons
of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated,
air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a
world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling
and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first
step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt
to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue."
The Red Flag
The words to the UK's old Labour anthem (Tony Blair has forgotten
The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.
Look round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise,
In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung
Chicago swells the surging throng.
It waved above our infant might,
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.
It well recalls the triumphs past,
It gives the hope of peace at last;
The banner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right and human gain.
It suits today the weak and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place
To cringe before the rich man's frown,
And haul the sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeons dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.
Words: Jim Connell
Music: Tannenbaum/Oh Christmas Tree