Socialism was one of the important effects of the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smith in his work, ‘Wealth of Nations’ stressed that the state should not interfere in the nation’s economy. Socialism developed as a reaction against the theory propounded by Adam Smith. Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are not controlled by individuals but by the state or by a community of people. Socialism believes in the fair distribution of wealth among the people.
Principals of Socialism
- It is opposed to private capitalism.
- Socialism reflects the voice of all workers and the working classes.
- It aims at equal distribution of wealth.
In the early twentieth century, many political thinkers favored the rise of the social system in which the means of production are not owned by private individuals but by the State. Some first socialists were Babeuf, Saint Simon, and Robert Owen. Robert Owen owned a cotton mill in Scotland. He reduced the working hours of the laborers and paid them good wages.
Causes Leading to the Rise of Socialism
Reaction against Capitalism:
Socialism developed as a reaction against capitalism. The Industrial Revolution divided society into capitalists and socialists. The capitalists exploited the laborers by forcing them to work for longer hours and by paying them extremely low wages. This made rich people richer and poor people poorer. The socialists fought for the rights of the workers.
Trade Union Movement:
The trade union developed after the Industrial Revolution to fight for the rights of the workers. Systematic protests by the members of the Trade Union forced the British government to recognize the basic rights of workers.
The Chartist Movement:
The condition of workers in Britain between 1836 and 1848 deteriorated. The workers wanted social and political freedom. Their leaders put forward their demands before the Parliament in the form of a charter. This movement came to be known as ‘The Chartist Movement’.
- Karl Marx was a German political philosopher and an economist. Along with Frederick Engels, he wrote the ‘Communist Manifesto’ which was published in 1848. Karl Marx wrote another famous book ‘Das Capital’.
- Marx believed that the capitalist society is divided into two classes—the working class, which toils and does all the work, and the capitalist class, which owns all the resources. He said that the capitalists exploit the working class.
- This results in conflict between the two classes. This class struggle leads to a crisis resulting in the collapse of the capitalist system. The means of production will then pass into the hands of the working class. The working class would own all the resources, and profits would be equally divided among the people. This system came to be known as ‘Marxist Socialism’.
- In socialism, when production takes place not for earning profits but for satisfying human wants, it establishes a communist society.
- Bernstein, another socialist, advocated that socialist objectives should be achieved through democratic means.
Socialism in the World
- The Russian Revolution in 1917 aimed at the establishment of socialism in the state. Russia became a socialist country in 1917. Lenin and Trotsky were the chief architects of the Russian Revolution.
- China became a communist nation on 1 October 1949 under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung.
- Many socialist parties emerged in India too. In 1934, the Socialist Party was established under the leadership of Narendra Dev, A. Patwardhan, Jayaprakash Narayan, and Dr. Rammanohar Lohiya.
- Currently, socialism implies that governments should work for the upliftment of the working and depressed classes in society and should aim at promoting a just and welfare state.
- India has adopted the word, ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble of the Constitution and aims at the welfare of undeveloped and underdeveloped sections of society.
Also, Read Modern age in Europe – Industrial Revolution