Socialism: great in theory, but in practice the CIA just bombs your parliament building

Some fun highlights I came across recently when looking at and reading about the Wikileaks diplomatic cable leaks. I read each one with “Venezuela just shows, once again, that socialism doesn’t work” ringing in my ears.

First, the intro: the latest “5 point strategy” for “meddling” in Venezuelan politics, adopted by the US

In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

Next, here’s us “meddling” in not only elections (that’s already well-documented, no need for me to add to the mountain of documentation on that) but the so-called “popular protests” against Chavez:

Fernandez said that “the streets are hot,” referring to growing protests against Chavez’s efforts to consolidate power, and “all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees.

Here’s a gem, from a cable literally entitled “A SOUTHERN CONE PERSPECTIVE ON COUNTERING CHAVEZ AND REASSERTING U.S. LEADERSHIP”. Among the “six main areas of action for the USG as it seeks to limit Chavez’s influence” is

Enhance military relationships: We should continue to strengthen ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over Chavez;

Now is precisely the time we need to be increasing our pol-mil engagement and programs vice decreasing and limiting them.

Hence the package of measures we propose: A more muscular USG presence in the region

In other fun Venezuela facts, former US President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center now sends election monitors to oversee dozens of elections around the world, said

As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.

Fun fact #2: you know how if you live in the US you hear that Chavez “dictatorially” controls the media, in order to brainwash the populace? Check out this study of TV viewership in Venezuela — it turns out that FIVE POINT FOUR (5.4) PERCENT of Venezuelans regularly watch the state-owned TV channel, compared to the SIXTY-ONE POINT FOUR (61.4) PERCENT who watch the privately-funded opposition media channels….



Someone please let me know if I’m just being an asshole or missing something here. But I feel like it’s important that we don’t say “I Ran 4 Experiments!!” when we actually just mean hey I tried like 4 different things and here’s what I liked, folks… especially when it’s in something that a ton of insufferable read like the “Harvard Business Review”. So for the next 10 years we can now look forward to Harvard Business Industry CEOs publishing essays on their “experiments” in gym routines, brunch orders, vacation spots, etc… real motherfucking science hours

Introduction to the Early History of Marxism

During a bout of googling recently I found this series of posts that I think does a great job of summarizing the early conflicts, strands, and ideas of Marxism, up to about WWII. So I’m reposting it here since that website feels a bit sketchy and I want to preserve these posts. Plus I’ve condensed it into one post rather than five. I would cite the author but I don’t see any listed on that page.

Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism (Part 1)


  • Socialism is a social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. Socialism is characterised by social ownership and/or social control of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system. â€œSocial ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these.
  • According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members. This conviction puts socialism in opposition to capitalism, which is based on private ownership of the means of production and allows individual choices in a free market to determine how goods and services are distributed.
  • A socialist economy is based on the principle of production for use, to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs, and objects are valued by their use-value, as opposed to the principle of production for profit and accumulation of capital.

Criticism of Capitalism

  • Socialists complain that capitalism necessarily leads to unfair and exploitative concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the relative few who emerge victorious from free-market competition—people who then use their wealth and power to reinforce their dominance in society. Because such people are rich, they may choose where and how to live, and their choices in turn limit the options of the poor.  As a result, terms such as individual freedom and equality of opportunity may be meaningful for capitalists but can only ring hollow for working people, who must do the capitalists’ bidding if they are to survive. As socialists see it, true freedom and true equality require social control of the resources that provide the basis for prosperity in any society.
  • Socialists argue that capitalism consists of irrational activity, such as the purchasing of commodities only to sell at a later time when their price appreciates, rather than for consumption, even if the commodity cannot be sold at a profit to individuals in need; therefore, a crucial criticism often made by socialists is that making money, or accumulation of capital, does not correspond to the satisfaction of demand.
  • The fundamental criterion for economic activity in capitalism is the accumulation of capital for reinvestment in production; this spurs the development of new, non-productive industries that don’t produce use-value and only exist to keep the accumulation process afloat, such as the spread of the financial industry, contributing to the formation of economic bubbles
  • Socialists argue that the accumulation of capital generates waste through externalities that require costly corrective regulatory measures. For Example: Excessive disparities in income distribution lead to social instability and require costly corrective measures in the form of redistributive taxation, which incurs heavy administrative costs while weakening the incentive to work, inviting dishonesty and increasing the likelihood of tax evasion while the corrective measures reduce the overall efficiency of the market economy.

Criticism of Socialism

  • Economic liberals view private enterprise, private ownership of the means of production, and the market exchange as central to conceptions of freedom and liberty. Socialism impedes technological progress due to stifled competition.
  • The more even distribution of wealth through the nationalization of the means of production advocated by certain socialists cannot be achieved without a loss of political, economic, and human rights. To achieve control over means of production and distribution of wealth, it is necessary for such socialists to acquire significant powers of coercion. It is argued that the road to socialism leads society to totalitarianism. The absence of voluntary economic activity makes it too easy for repressive political leaders to grant themselves coercive powers.
  • Some critics of socialism argue that income sharing reduces individual incentives to work; incomes should be individualized as much as possible. Critics of socialism have argued that in any society where everyone holds equal wealth there can be no material incentive to work because one does not receive rewards for a work well done.
  • Socialist systems based on economic planning are unfeasible because they lack the information to perform economic calculations in the first place, due to a lack of price signals and a free-price system, which are required for rational economic calculation.

Origin of Socialism

  • The origins of socialism as a political movement has its origins in the French Revolution of 1789 and the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, although it has precedents in earlier movements and ideas.
  • Socialist or communist ideas certainly play an important part in the ideas of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, whose Republic depicts an austere society in which men and women of the “guardian” class share with each other not only their few material goods but also their spouses and children.
  • The French Revolution was preceded and influenced by the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose Social Contract famously began, “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” Rousseau is credited with influencing socialist thought, but it was Babeuf, and his Conspiracy of Equals, who is credited with providing a model for left-wing and communist movements of the 19th century.
  • In the period right after the French Revolution, activists and theorists like Francois Babeuf influenced the early French labour and socialist movements.  His newspaper “the tribune of the people” was best known for his advocacy for the poor and calling for a popular revolt against the Directory, the government of France. He was a leading advocate for democracy, the abolition of private property and the equality of results. Babeuf was executed for his role in the Conspiracy of the Equals. He is also called father of socialism.
  • In Britain, Thomas Paine proposed a detailed plan to tax property owners to pay for the needs of the poor in Agrarian Justice while Charles Hall wrote The Effects of Civilization on the People in European States, denouncing capitalism´s effects on the poor of his time.

Growth of Socialist Movement

Early or Utopian Socialism

  • Utopian socialism is a label used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen.
  • Utopian socialism is often described as the presentation of visions and outlines for imaginary or futuristic ideal societies, with positive ideals being the main reason for moving society in such a direction.
  • One key difference between “utopian socialists” and other socialists is that utopian socialists generally don’t believe any form of class struggle or political revolution is necessary for socialism to emerge. Utopians believe that people of all classes can voluntarily adopt their plan for society if it is presented convincingly. They feel their form of cooperative socialism can be established among like-minded people within the existing society.
  • Later socialists and critics of utopian socialism viewed “utopian socialism” as not being grounded in actual material conditions of existing society.
  • Utopian socialists never actually used this name to describe themselves; the term “Utopian socialism” was introduced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto in 1848, referring to all socialist ideas that simply presented a vision and distant goal of an ethically just society as utopian.

Saint Simon

  • One of the first utopian socialists was the French aristocrat Saint-Simon (born 1760, Paris). Saint-Simon did not call for public ownership of productive property, but he did advocate public control of property through central planning, in which scientists, industrialists, and engineers would anticipate social needs and direct the energies of society to meet them. According to Saint-Simon, such a system would be more efficient than capitalism.
  • Saint-Simon believed that history moves through a series of stages, each of which is marked by a particular arrangement of social classes and a set of dominant beliefs. Thus, feudalism, with its landed nobility and monotheistic religion, was giving way to industrialism, a complex form of society characterized by its reliance on science, reason, and the division of labour. In such circumstances, Saint-Simon argued, it makes sense to put the economic arrangements of society in the hands of its most knowledgeable and productive members, so that they may direct economic production for the benefit of all.
  • In his last years and in the period after his death, Saint-Simon’s ideas, which gave prominence to art as a prized aspect of work, interested numerous artists and musicians

Robert Owen

  • Another early socialist, Robert Owen, was himself an industrialist. Owen first attracted attention by operating textile mills in New Lanark, Scot., that were both highly profitable and, by the standards of the day, remarkably humane. Child labor and corporal punishment were abolished, and villagers were provided with decent homes, schools and evening classes, free health care, and affordable food.
  • He wrote about his ideas in his book A New View of Society, which was published in 1813
  • Owen’s fundamental belief was that human nature is not fixed but formed. If people are selfish, depraved, or vicious, it is because social conditions have made them so. Change the conditions, he argued, and people will change; teach them to live and work together in harmony, and they will do so. Thus, Owen set out in 1825 to establish a model of social organization, New Harmony, on land he had purchased in the U.S. state of Indiana. This was to be a self-sufficient, cooperative community in which property was commonly owned.
  • New Harmony failed within a few years, taking most of Owen’s fortune with it, but he soon turned his attention to other efforts to promote social cooperation—trade unions and cooperative businesses, in particular.
  • Owen’s main contribution to socialist thought was the view that human social behavior is not fixed or absolute, and that human beings have the free will to organize themselves into any kind of society they wished.

Charles Fourier

  • François-Marie-Charles Fourier (1772 â€“ 1837), a French clerk whose imagination, if not his fortune, was as extravagant as Owen’s. Modern society breeds selfishness, deception, and other evils, Fourier charged, because institutions such as marriage, the male-dominated family, and the competitive market confine people to repetitive labour or a limited role in life and thus frustrate the need for variety. By setting people at odds with each other in the competition for profits the market in particular frustrates the desire for harmony.
  • Accordingly, Fourier envisioned a form of society that would be more in keeping with human needs and desires. Such a “phalanstery,” as he called it, would be a largely self-sufficient community of about 1,600 people organized according to the principle of “attractive labour,” which holds that people will work voluntarily and happily if their work engages their talents and interests.
  • All tasks become tiresome at some point, however, so each member of the phalanstery would have several occupations, moving from one to another as his interest waned and waxed. Fourier left room for private investment in his utopian community, but every member was to share in ownership, and inequality of wealth, though permitted, was to be limited.
  • He had no money to embark upon such ventures as Owen did. He kept onn waiting for a person who would give him money for putting idea into practice but n one came.
  • Fourierism manifested itself in the middle of the 19th century where literally hundreds of communes (phalansteries) were founded on fourierist principles in France, N. America, Mexico, S. America, Algeria, Yugoslavia, etc.” Fourier inspired the founding of the communist community called La Reunion near present-day Dallas, Texas as well as several other communities within the United States of America.

Other Early Socialists

  • Other socialists in France began to agitate and organize in the 1830s and ’40s; they included Louis Blanc, Louis-Auguste Blanqui, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
  • Blanc, the author of The Organization of Labour, 1839, promoted a scheme of state-financed but worker-controlled “social workshops” that would guarantee work for everyone and lead gradually to a socialist society.
  • Blanqui, by contrast, was a revolutionary who spent more than 33 years in prison for his insurrectionary activities. Socialism cannot be achieved without the conquest of state power, he argued, and this conquest must be the work of a small group of conspirators. Once in power, the revolutionaries would form a temporary dictatorship that would confiscate the property of the wealthy and establish state control of major industries.
  • Proudhon in What Is Property?, 1840,  memorably declared, “Property is theft!” This assertion was not quite as bold as it appears, however, since Proudhon had in mind not property in general but property that is worked by anyone other than its owner. In contrast to a society dominated by capitalists and absentee landlords, Proudhon’s ideal was a society in which everyone had an equal claim, either alone or as part of a small cooperative, to possess and use land and other resources as needed to make a living. Such a society would operate on the principle of mutualism, according to which individuals and groups would exchange products with one another on the basis of mutually satisfactory contracts. All this would be accomplished, ideally, without the interference of the state, for Proudhon was an anarchist who regarded the state as an essentially coercive institution. Yet his anarchism did not prevent him from urging Napoleon III to make free bank credit available to workers for the establishment of mutualist cooperatives—a proposal the emperor declined to adopt.

Note: Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies, often defined as self-governed, voluntary institution. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful.

  • Mikhail Bakunin, the father of modern anarchism, was a libertarian socialist, a theory by which the workers would directly manage the means of production through their own productive associations. There would be “equal means of subsistence, support, education, and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity, and equal resources and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor.”
  • While many socialists emphasized the gradual transformation of society, most notably through the foundation of small, utopian communities, a growing number of socialists became disillusioned with the viability of this approach and instead emphasized direct political action. Early socialists were united, however, in their desire for a society based on cooperation rather than competition.

Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); Spread of Marxian Socialism (Part 2)

Marxian socialism

In contrast to Utopian

  • Despite their imagination and dedication to the cause of the workers, none of the early socialists met with the full approval of Karl Marx, who is unquestionably the most important theorist of socialism. In fact, Marx and his longtime friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels were largely responsible for attaching the label “utopian,” which they intended to be derogatory, to Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen, whose “fantastic pictures of future society” they contrasted to their own “scientific” approach to socialism.
  • While utopian socialists believed it was possible to work within or reform capitalist society, Marx confronted the question of the economic and political power of the capitalist class, expressed in their ownership of the means of producing wealth (factories, banks, commerce â€“ in a word, ‘Capital’).
  • The path to socialism proceeds not through the establishment of model communities that set examples of harmonious cooperation to the world, according to Marx and Engels, but through the clash of social classes. “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” they proclaimed in the Manifesto of the Communist Party. A scientific understanding of history shows that these struggles will culminate in the triumph of the working class and the establishment of socialism.

Influence on Marx Theory

  • According to Engels, the basic elements of Marx’s theory are to be found in German philosophy, French socialism, and British economics. Of these, German philosophy was surely the formative influence on Marx’s thinking.
  • Born in Trier in the German Rhineland, Marx was a philosophy student at the University of Berlin when the idealism of G.W.F. Hegel dominated German philosophy. Hegel maintained that history is the story of the unfolding or realization of “spirit”—a process that requires struggle, agony, and the overcoming of obstacles to the attainment of self-knowledge. Individuals and even nations are characters in a drama that proceeds through the clash of opposing ideas and interests to a greater self-awareness and appreciation of freedom. Slavery, for example, was long taken for granted as a natural and acceptable practice, but the slave’s struggle to be recognized as a person was bringing an end to slavery as master and slave came to recognize their common humanity—and thus to liberate themselves, and spirit, from a false sense of the master’s superiority.

Marxist Philosophy

  • Like Hegel, Marx understood history as the story of human labour and struggle. However, whereas for Hegel history was the story of spirit’s self-realization through human conflict, for Marx it was the story of struggles between classes over material or economic interests and resources. In place of Hegel’s philosophical idealism, in other words, Marx developed a materialist or economic theory of history. Before people can do anything else, he held, they must first produce what they need to survive, which is to say that they are subject to necessity. Freedom for Marx is largely a matter of overcoming necessity. Necessity compels people to labour so that they may survive, and only those who are free from this compulsion will be free to develop their talents and potential. This is why, throughout history, freedom has usually been restricted to members of the ruling class, who use their control of the land and other means of production to exploit the labour of the poor and subservient. The masters in slaveholding societies, the landowning aristocracy in feudal times, and the bourgeoisie who control the wealth in capitalist societies have all enjoyed various degrees of freedom, but they have done so at the expense of the slaves, serfs, and industrial workers, or proletarians, who have provided the necessary labour.
  • For Marx, capitalism is both a progressive force in history and an exploitative system that alienates capitalists and workers alike from their true humanity. It is progressive because it has made possible the industrial transformation of the world, thereby unleashing the productive power to free everyone from necessity. Yet it is exploitative in that capitalism condemns the proletarians, who own nothing but their labour power, to lives of grinding labour while enabling the capitalists to reap the profits. This is a volatile situation, according to Marx, and its inevitable result will be a war that will end all class divisions. Under the pressure of depressions, recessions, and competition for jobs, the workers will become conscious that they form a class, the proletariat, that is oppressed and exploited by their class enemy, the bourgeoisie. Armed with this awareness, they will overthrow the bourgeoisie in a series of spontaneous uprisings, seizing control of factories, mines, railroads, and other means of production, until they have gained control of the government and converted it into a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • Under socialism or communism—Marx and Engels drew no clear distinction between the two—government itself will eventually wither away as people gradually lose the selfish attitudes inculcated by private ownership of the means of production. Freed from necessity and exploitation, people will finally live in a true community that gives “each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions.” Marx and Engels wrote, “The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property.”
  • Marx maintained that the revolution by which socialism would be achieved was ordained by the logic of capitalism itself, as the capitalists’ competition for profits led them to create their own “grave diggers” in the proletariat. Even the role of the revolutionary, such as Marx, was confined to that of “midwife,” for revolutionaries could do no more than speed along the inevitable revolution and ease its birth.
  • This, at least, was Marx’s more or less “official” doctrine. In his writings and political activities, however, he added several qualifications. He acknowledged, for example, that socialism might supplant capitalism peacefully in England, the United States, and other countries where the proletariat was gaining the franchise; he also said that it might be possible for a semifeudal country such as Russia to become socialist without first passing through capitalist industrialism.

Works of Marx

  • Marx and Engels developed a body of ideas which they called scientific socialism, more commonly called Marxism. Marxism comprised a theory of history (Historical Materialism) as well as a political, economic and philosophical theory. His philosophy of “Scientific Socialism” is developed in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (written in 1848 just days before the outbreak of the revolutions of 1848), the Critique of political economy and the Das Kapital (Considered as Bible of Socialism).

The Communist Manifesto

  • The first section of the Manifesto, “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, elucidates the materialist conception of history, that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It surveyed that history from the age of feudalism down to 19th-century capitalism, which was destined, they declared, to be overthrown and replaced by a workers’ society.”
  • The Communist Manifesto  (1848; “Manifesto of the Communist Party”), pamphlet written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to serve as the platform of the Communist League. It became one of the principal programmatic statements of the European socialist and communist parties in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • “Proletarians and Communists”, the second section, starts by stating the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class. The communists’ party will not oppose other working-class parties, but unlike them, it will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world’s proletariat as a whole, independent of all nationalities. The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands— also known as the ten planks:
  1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralisation of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to labor.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production
  • The third section, “Socialist and Communist Literature”, distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time.
  • The Manifesto opens with the dramatic words “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism” and ends by stating, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite.”

Historical Materialism

  • Marx’s theory, which he called “historical materialism” or the “materialist conception of history” is based on Hegel’s claim that history occurs through a dialectic, or clash, of opposing forces.
  • Marx’s analysis of history is based on his distinction between the means of production, literally those things, like land and natural resources, and technology, that are necessary for the production of material goods, and the social relations of production, in other words, the social relationships people enter into as they acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the mode of production; Marx observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and that European societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of production.
  • Marx considered socio-economic conflicts as the driving force of human history. He designates human history as encompassing four stages of development in relations of production.
  1. Primitive Communism: as in co-operative tribal societies.
  2. Slave Society: a development of tribal to city-state; aristocracy is born.
  3. Feudalism: aristocrats are the ruling class; merchants evolve into capitalists.
  4. Capitalism: capitalists are the ruling class, who create and employ the proletariat.
  • Marx considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly revolutionized the means of production. In general, Marx believed that the means of production change more rapidly than the relations of production. For Marx this mismatch is a major source of social disruption and conflict.
  • Under capitalism people sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they do in a given period of time. In return for selling their labor power they receive money, which allows them to survive. Those who must sell their labor power to live are “proletarians.” The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a “capitalist” or “bourgeois.”
  • Marx, however, believed that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor. Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors of the economy would collapse. During such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.
  • Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the proletariat.
  • Marx thought that peaceful negotiation of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive, well-organized and violent revolution was required. Finally, he theorized that to maintain the socialist system, a proletarian dictatorship must be established and maintained.
  • Hence, in his analysis of the movement of history, Marx predicted the breakdown of capitalism, and the establishment in time of a communist society in which class-based human conflict would be overcome. The means of production would be held in the common ownership and used for the common good.

Das Kapital

  • Das Kapital, (3 vol., 1867, 1885, 1894) one of the major works of Karl Marx (1818–83), in which he expounded his theory of the capitalist system, its dynamism, and its tendencies toward self-destruction. He described his purpose as to lay bare “the economic law of motion of modern society.”  The second and third volumes were published posthumously, edited by his collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–95).
  • Much of Das Kapital spells out Marx’s concept of the “surplus value” of labour and its consequences for capitalism. According to Marx, it was not the pressure of population that drove wages to the subsistence level but rather the existence of a large army of unemployed, which he blamed on the capitalists. He maintained that within the capitalist system, labour was a mere commodity that could gain only subsistence wages. Capitalists, however, could force workers to spend more time on the job than was necessary to earn their subsistence and then appropriate the excess product, or surplus value, created by the workers.
  • Because all profit results from an “exploitation of labour,” the rate of profit—the amount per unit of total capital outlay—depends largely on the number of workers employed. Because machines cannot be “exploited,” they cannot contribute to total profits, though they help labour produce more useful products.
  • However, as outlay for machinery grows in relation to outlay for wages, profit declines in relation to total capital outlay. Thus, for each additional capital outlay, the capitalist will receive less and less return and can attempt to postpone his bankruptcy only by applying pressure on the workers. Ultimately, according to Das Kapital, the “capitalist class becomes unfit to rule, because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery.” Consequently, the capitalist system collapses, and the working class inherits economic and political power.

Criticisms of Marxism

Socialist critiques

  • Democratic socialists and social democrats reject the idea that socialism can be accomplished only through extra-legal class conflict and a proletarian revolution.
  • The relationship between Marx and other socialist thinkers and organizations, rooted in Marxism’s “scientific” and anti-utopian socialism, among other factors, has divided Marxists from other socialists since Marx’s life.
  • After Marx’s death, and with the emergence of Marxism, there have additionally been dissensions within Marxism itself- the splitting of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks a notable example.

Anarchist and libertarian critiques

  • Anarchism has had a strained relationship with Marxism since Marx’s life. Anarchists and libertarian socialists reject the need for a transitory state phase, claiming that socialism can only be established through decentralized, non-coercive organization.
  • Individualist anarchists, who are often neither socialists nor capitalists, reject Marxism as a statist ideology. Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin criticized Marx for his authoritarian bent. The phrase “barracks socialism” became a shorthand for this critique, evoking the image of citizens’ lives being as regimented as the lives of conscripts in a barracks.

Economic critiques

  • Critics of marxist have argued that in any society where everyone holds equal wealth there can be no material incentive to work, because one does not receive rewards for a work well done. They further argue that incentives increase productivity for all people and that the loss of those effects would lead to stagnation.
  • His conclusion that aggregate price and profit are determined by, and equal to, aggregate value and surplus value no longer holds true. This result calls into question his theory that the exploitation of workers is the sole source of profit.

Other criticism:

  • The Marxist stages of history, class analysis, and theory of social evolution have been criticised. Many said that “class” was not a homogenous entity and could never mount a revolution. Marx himself admitted that his theory could not explain the internal development of the “Asiatic” social system, where much of the world’s population lived for thousands of years.
  • Many of Marx’s predictions have failed. Marx predicted that wages would tend to depreciate and that capitalist economies would suffer worsening economic crises leading to the ultimate overthrow of the capitalist system. The socialist revolution would occur first in the most advanced capitalist nations and once collective ownership had been established then all sources of class conflict would disappear. But in reality, first socialist revolution occurred in feudal Russia and not in most advanced capitalist country like Britain.

Q. ‘Marxist Communism is primarily the offspring of German Hegelianism and French Socialism.’ Comment.


Marxian Communism as the offspring of German Hegelianism

‘Hegelian dialectic’ and ‘Marxian dialectical materialism’

Hegel was a great German thinker. His view on historical changes taking place in the society can be understood through the Hegelian dialectic, which is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.

Hegelian dialectic is characterized as a three-step process:

(a) The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
(b) The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.
(c) The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths and forming a ‘new thesis’, starting the process over.

Hegelian formulae: Thesis+antithesis=synthesis


Hegelian dialectic

Examples: (a) “thesis” (e.g. the French Revolution) would cause the creation of its “antithesis” (e.g. the Reign of Terror that followed), and would eventually result in a “synthesis” (e.g. the constitutional state of free citizens).
(b) Progressive + Conservative = Consensus
(c) Capitalism + Communism = New world order in form of UN, Global governance.

Marx’s view of history called ‘dialectical materialism’ can be considered as the offspring of Hegelian dialectic, but in modified form with different reasoning.

Marxian dialectical materialism sees the dialectical process being driven forward not by abstract forces, as Hegel did, but rather by solid material conditions, and particularly by economic factors. In other words, while Hegel’s description of history rests on the idea that new ideas cause us to change the way we live (our thoughts change, and the world changes in response), Marx’s description states that when new economic relationships change the way we live, we develop new ideas (the world changes, and our thoughts change in response).


Marxian dialectical materialism

Marxian Communism as the offspring of French Socialism

(1) French philosopher, Rousseau is considered as  forebear of socialism. His views about society was egalitarian and he was among first thinkers to attack the institution of private property. These influnced Marxian Communism.

(2) Early French socialism was born in form of utopian socialism by philosophers like Charles Fourier and Saint Simon. Fourier wanted to replace modern cities with utopian communities. Saint-Simon gave idea that the needs of the working class needed to be recognized and fulfilled to have an effective society and an efficient economy.

Although these French Socialist ideas didn’t have much support and was not based on scientific theory like marxism, they did gave a start which later expanded in the form of many other more socialist ideas including Marxian Communism.

Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); Spread of Marxian Socialism (Part 3)

Some other forms of Socialism


  • Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, who held that religion, capitalism, and the state are forms of oppression that must be smashed if people are ever to be free. As he stated in an early essay, “The Reaction in Germany” (1842), “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.” This belief led Bakunin into one uprising or conspiracy after another throughout his life. It also led him into a controversy with Marx that contributed to disintegration of the International Working Men’s Association in the 1870s.
  • As a communist, Bakunin shared Marx’s vision of a classless, stateless community in which the means of production would be under community control; as an anarchist, however, he vehemently rejected Marx’s claim that the dictatorship of the proletariat was a necessary step on the way to communism. To the contrary, Bakunin argued, the dictatorship of the proletariat threatened to become even more oppressive than the bourgeois state, which at least had a militant and organized working class to check its growth.

Fabian socialism

  • A milder and markedly centralist version of socialism, Fabianism, emerged in Britain. Fabian Socialism was so called because the members of the Fabian Society admired the tactics of the Roman general Fabius Cunctator, who avoided pitched battles and gradually wore down Hannibal’s forces.
  • Instead of revolution, the Fabians favoured “gradualism” as the way to bring about socialism. Their notion of socialism, like Saint-Simon’s, entailed social control of property through an effectively and impartially administered state—a government of enlightened experts.
  • The Fabians themselves were mostly middle-class intellectuals—including George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas, and H.G. Wells—who thought that persuasion and education were more likely to lead to socialism, however gradually, than violent class warfare.
  • Rather than form their own political party or work through trade unions, moreover, the Fabians aimed at gaining influence within existing parties. They eventually exercised considerable influence within Britain’s Labour Party, though they had little to do with its formation in the early 1900s.


  • Near the anarcho-communists on the decentralist side of socialism were the syndicalists. Inspired in part by Proudhon’s ideas, syndicalism developed at the end of the 19th century out of the French trade-union movement—syndicat being the French word for trade union. It was a significant force in Italy and Spain in the early 20th century until it was crushed by the fascist regimes in those countries. In the United States, syndicalism appeared in the guise of the Industrial Workers of the World, or “Wobblies,” founded in 1905.
  • The hallmarks of syndicalism were workers’ control and “direct action.” Syndicalists such as distrusted both the state, which they regarded as an agent of capitalism, and political parties, which they thought were incapable of achieving radical change. Their aim was to replace capitalism and the state with a loose federation of local workers’ groups, which they meant to bring about through direct action—especially a general strike of workers that would bring down the government as it brought the economy to a halt.

Guild socialism

  • Related to syndicalism but nearer to Fabianism in its reformist tactics, Guild Socialism was an English movement that attracted a modest following in the first two decades of the 20th century.
  • Inspired by the medieval guild, an association of craftsmen who determined their own working conditions and activities, theorists such as Samuel G. Hobson and G.D.H. Cole advocated the public ownership of industries and their organization into guilds, each of which would be under the democratic control of its trade union.
  • The role of the state was less clear: some guild socialists envisioned it as a coordinator of the guilds’ activities, while others held that its functions should be limited to protection or policing. In general, however, the guild socialists were less inclined to invest power in the state than were their Fabian compatriots.

Q. “France was more fertile than Britain in producing new Socialist theories and movements, though they bore less concrete results in France than in Britain.” Comment.

Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); Spread of Marxian Socialism (Part 4)

First International

  • The International Workingmen’s Association (1864–1876), often called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class and class struggle. It was founded in 1864 in a workmen’s meeting held in Saint Martin’s Hall, London. Its founders were among the most powerful British and French trade-union leaders of the time. Though Karl Marx had no part in organizing the meeting, he was elected one of the 32 members of the provisional General Council and at once assumed its leadership.
  • The International Workingmen’s Association, described by Engels as “the first international movement of the working class” was persuaded by Engels to change its motto from “all men are brothers” to “working men of all countries, unite!”. It reflected Marx’s and Engels’ view of proletarian internationalism.
  • The International came to assume the character of a highly centralized party, based primarily on individual members, organized in local groups, which were integrated in national federations, though some trade unions and associations were affiliated to it. Its supreme body was the Congress, which met in a different city each year and formulated principles and policies.
  • Its first congress was held in 1866 in Geneva. The Congress was attended by delegates from five countries. The Geneva Congress is best remembered for its watershed decision to make universal establishment of the 8-hour working day a main goal of the International Socialist movement.
  • For six years, it held annual congresses  in different European towns. It was persecuted and declared illegal i many countries. It exercised influence on workers movements in Europe and North America.
  • From its beginnings, the First International was riven by conflicting schools of socialist though—Marxism, Proudhonism (after Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who advocated only the reform of capitalism), Blanquism (after Auguste Blanqui, who advocated radical methods and a sweeping revolution), and Mikhail Bakunin’s version of anarchism.
  • When Mikhail Bakunin and his followers joined in 1868, the First International became polarised into two camps, with Marx and Bakunin as their respective figureheads. Perhaps the clearest differences between the groups emerged over their proposed strategies for achieving their visions of socialism. The anarchists grouped around Bakunin favoured “direct economical struggle against capitalism, without interfering in the political parliamentary agitation.” Marxist thinking, at that time, focused on parliamentary activity. For example, when the new German Empire of 1871 introduced male suffrage, many German socialists became active in the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany.
  • After the Paris Commune (1871), Bakunin characterised Marx’s ideas as authoritarian, and argued that if a Marxist party came to power its leaders would end up as bad as the ruling class they had fought against. In 1872, the conflict in the First International climaxed with a final split between the two groups at the Hague Congress. This clash is often cited as the origin of the long-running conflict between anarchists and Marxists.
  • This split is sometimes called the “red” and “black” divide, red referring to the Marxists and black referring to the anarchists. Bismarck remarked, upon hearing of the split at the First International, “Crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the Black and Red unite!“
  • It should be noted that the International’s renown at the time as a formidable power with millions of members and almost unlimited resources was out of proportion with the association’s actual strength; the hard core of its individual members probably seldom exceeded 20,000. Although so accused, it did not organize the wave of strikes that swept France, Belgium, and Switzerland in 1868, but its support and rumoured support of such strikes was very influential.

Paris Commune, 1871

  • Paris Commune was insurrection of Paris against the French government from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It occurred in the wake of France’s defeat in the Franco-German War and the collapse of Napoleon III’s Empire (1852–70).
  • The National Assembly, which was elected in February 1871 to conclude a peace with Germany, had a royalist majority, reflecting the conservative attitude of the provinces. The republican Parisians feared that the National Assembly meeting in Versailles would restore the monarchy.
  • To ensure order in Paris, Adolphe Thiers, executive head of the provisional national government, decided to disarm the National Guard (composed largely of workers who fought during the siege of Paris). On March 18 resistance broke out in Paris in response to an attempt to remove the cannons of the guard overlooking the city.
  • Then, on March 26, municipal elections, organized by the central committee of the guard, resulted in victory for the revolutionaries, who formed the Commune government. Among those in the new government were the so-called Jacobins, who followed in the French Revolutionary tradition of 1793 and wanted the Paris Commune to control the Revolution; the Proudhonists, socialists who supported a federation of communes throughout the country; and the Blanquistes, socialists who demanded violent action. The program that the Commune adopted, despite its internal divisions, called for measures reminiscent of 1793 (end of support for religion, use of the Revolutionary calendar) and a limited number of social measures (10-hour workday, end of work at night for bakers).
  • With the quick suppression of communes that arose at Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Marseille, and Toulouse, the Commune of Paris alone faced the opposition of the Versailles government. But the Federes, as the insurgents were called, were unable to organize themselves militarily and take the offensive, and, on May 21, government troops entered an undefended section of Paris.
  • During “bloody week,” that followed, the regular troops crushed the opposition of the Communards, who in their defense set up barricades in the streets and burned public buildings. About 20,000 insurrectionists were killed, along with about 750 government troops. In the aftermath of the Commune, the government took harsh repressive action: about 38,000 were arrested and more than 7,000 were deported.
  • Following the 1871 Paris Commune, the socialist movement, as the whole of the workers’ movement, was decapitated and deeply affected for years.

Second International

  • Second International, also called Socialist International,  federation of socialist parties and trade unions that greatly influenced the ideology, policy, and methods of the European labour movement from the last decade of the 19th century to the beginning of World War I.
  • The Second International was founded at a congress in Paris in 1889. Unlike the First International, it was based on the membership of national parties and trade unions only. It was not a centralized organization, like the first, but rather a loose federation that did not set up an executive body, the International Socialist Bureau, until 11 years after its foundation. Its headquarters was in Brussels, where the second congress of the International met in 1891.
  • The congresses met in a number of cities at various intervals, not on a yearly basis. By 1912 the Second International represented the socialist and social democratic parties of all European countries, the United States, Canada, and Japan, with a voting strength of nearly nine million. Although it had no mandatory power, it was recognized by its member parties as their highest moral authority.
  • The Second International stood for parliamentary democracy and finally, at its London Congress in 1896, expelled from its ranks the anarchists, who opposed it. Yet, after much debate, the Second International rejected the theory of the gradual achievement of socialism and cooperation with nonsocialist parties in office, and it reaffirmed the Marxist doctrine of the class struggle and the inevitability of revolution.
  • Its main concern, however, was the prevention of a general European war. After extended debate it rejected the use of a general strike to ward off the imminent danger of a general European war. It demanded the introduction of compulsory courts of arbitration for the settlement of disputes between nations; and the reduction of armaments with total disarmament as the ultimate aim.
  • In a resolution drafted by Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and L. Martov and adopted by its Stuttgart Congress in 1907, however, the International pledged its member parties in belligerent countries to use the social and economic crisis brought about by war to promote social revolution.
  • The power groupings in World War I confronted the socialist parties in the belligerent countries with a dilemma. With the exception of the Serbian and Russian socialists, all such parties supported the war efforts of their respective countries. This situation split the International: a growing minority within these parties rebuked the majority for its desertion of the antiwar principles of the Second International. At a conference held in Zimmerwald, Switz., in 1915, these “Internationalists” called for an immediate cessation of the war and for peace negotiations based on the principle of “no annexations, no indemnities.”
  • The minority socialists opposed to the war were themselves divided, however; a “left” group led by Lenin urged an effort to transform the imperialist war into a transnational class war and opposed a revival of the Second International, which had by then ceased to function.
  • In an attempt to reconstruct the Second International after the war, a commission of socialist leaders in the Allied countries convened a congress of the International at Geneva in 1920. When this congress met, however, only a small fraction of the prewar membership of the Second International attended. The rift in the international socialist movement, produced by dissensions over the war policy pursued by the majority of the socialist parties, and their hostility to the Bolshevik Revolution, which had aroused the sympathy of many workers, had destroyed the common ground for the reinstitution of the Second International.
  • In 1923 those who had remained loyal to the Second International joined with several national socialist parties to form the Labour and Socialist International. This union of socialists opposed to the Soviet-dominated Third International (or Comintern) never attained the power and influence of the Second International, however, and Adolf Hitler’s conquests in 1940 destroyed most of its basis in Europe.


  • The International Socialist Congress, Amsterdam 1904 was the Sixth Congress of the Second International It was held from 14 to 18 August 1904. In this meeting Dadabhai Naoroji of India demanded, for the first time, ‘self – government’ for people of India i.e. freedom from British colonial rule.

Third International (Comintern)

  • Third International, also called Communist International, byname Comintern,  association of national communist parties founded in 1919. Though its stated purpose was the promotion of world revolution, the Comintern functioned chiefly as an organ of Soviet control over the international communist movement.
  • The Comintern emerged from the three-way split in the socialist Second International over the issue of World War I. A majority of socialist parties, comprising the International’s “right” wing, chose to support the war efforts of their respective national governments against enemies that they saw as far more hostile to socialist aims. The “centre” faction of the International decried the nationalism of the right and sought the reunification of the Second International under the banner of world peace. The “left” group, led by Vladimir Lenin, rejected both nationalism and pacifism, urging instead a socialist drive to transform the war of nations into a transnational class war.
  • In 1915 Lenin proposed the creation of a new International to promote “civil war, not civil peace” through propaganda directed at soldiers and workers. Two years later Lenin led the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, and in 1919 he called the first congress of the Comintern, in Moscow, specifically to undermine ongoing centrist efforts to revive the Second International. Only 19 delegations and a few non-Russian communists who happened to be in Moscow attended this first congress; but the second, meeting in Moscow in 1920, was attended by delegates from 37 countries. There Lenin established the Twenty-one Points, the conditions of admission to the Communist International. These prerequisites for Comintern membership required all parties to model their structure on disciplined lines in conformity with the Soviet pattern and to expel moderate socialists and pacifists.
  • The administrative structure of the Comintern resembled that of the Soviet Communist Party: an executive committee acted when congresses were not in session, and a smaller presidium served as chief executive body. Gradually, power came to be concentrated in these top organs, the decisions of which were binding on all member parties of the International.
  • Moreover, Soviet domination of the Comintern was established early. The International had been founded by Soviet initiative, its headquarters was in Moscow, the Soviet party enjoyed disproportionate representation in the administrative bodies, and most foreign communists felt loyal to the world’s first socialist state.
  • The realization that world revolution was not imminent led in 1921 to a new Comintern policy in order to gain broad working-class support. “United fronts” of workers were to be formed for making “transitional demands” on the existing regimes. This policy was abandoned in 1923, when the Comintern’s left wing gained temporary control.
  • Joseph Stalin’s assault on the left group of his party, however, brought the expulsion of the Comintern’s first president, Grigory Y. Zinovyev, in 1926 and a further rapprochement with moderate socialism. Then Stalin’s move against the right wing of his party led to another turn in Comintern policy. In 1928 the sixth congress adopted a policy of “extreme leftism” set forth by Stalin: once again, moderate socialists and social democrats were branded as the chief enemies of the working class. The dangers of the rising fascist movement were ignored. In Germany in the early 1930s, the communists focused their attacks on the social democrats and even cooperated with the Nazis, whom they claimed to fear less, in destroying the Weimar Republic. World revolution was once more to be considered imminent, despite Stalin’s own concentration on “building socialism in one country.”
  • At the Comintern’s seventh and last congress in 1935, Soviet national interests dictated a new policy shift: in order to gain the favour of potential allies against Germany, revolutionary ardour was dampened, and the defeat of fascism was declared the primary goal of the Comintern. Now communists were to join with moderate socialist and liberal groups in “popular fronts” against fascism.
  • By now the Comintern was being used as a tool of Soviet foreign policy. The program of popular fronts ended with the signing of Stalin’s pact with Adolf Hitler in 1939. Soon, however, Germany and the Soviet Union were at war, and in 1943 Stalin officially dissolved the Comintern in order to allay fears of communist subversion among his allies. From the Soviet point of view, Moscow was confident of its ability to control the foreign communist parties; and, in any case, much of the Comintern organization was preserved intact within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • In 1947 Stalin set up a new centre of international control called the Cominform, which lasted until 1956. The international communist movement broke down after 1956 owing to a developing split between the Soviet Union and China, among other factors.

Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); Spread of Marxian Socialism (Part 5)

Spread of  Marxian Socialism


  • The Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany became the largest and most powerful socialist party in Europe, despite working illegally until the anti-socialist laws were dropped in 1890. Its votes reached 4.5 million, it had 90 daily newspapers, together with trade unions and co-ops, sports clubs, a youth organization, a women’s organization and hundreds of full-time officials.
  • Under the pressure of this growing party, Bismarck introduced limited welfare provision and working hours were reduced. Germany experienced sustained economic growth for more than forty years. Commentators suggest that this expansion, together with the concessions won, gave rise to illusions amongst the leadership of the SPD that capitalism would evolve into socialism gradually.
  • Beginning in 1896, in a series of articles published under the title “Problems of socialism”, Eduard Bernstein argued that an evolutionary transition to socialism was both possible and more desirable than revolutionary change. Bernstein and his supporters came to be identified as “revisionists” because they sought to revise the classic tenets of Marxism.
  • Although the orthodox Marxists in the party, led by Karl Kautsky, retained the Marxist theory of revolution as the official doctrine of the party, and it was repeatedly endorsed by SPD conferences, in practice the SPD leadership became increasingly reformist.


  • The path of reform appeared blocked to the Russian Marxists while Russia remained the bulwark of reaction. In the preface to the 1882 Russian edition to the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels had saluted the Russian Marxists who, they said, “formed the vanguard of revolutionary action in Europe”. But the working class, although many were organised in vast modern western-owned enterprises, comprised no more than a small percentage of the population and “more than half the land is owned in common by the peasants”.
  • Marx and Engels posed the question: How was Russia to progress to socialism? Could Russia “pass directly” to socialism or “must it first pass through the same process” of capitalist development as the West? They replied: “If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.”
  • In 1903, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party began to split on ideological and organizational questions into Bolshevik (‘Majority’) and Menshevik (‘Minority’) factions, with Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin leading the more radical Bolsheviks. Both wings accepted that Russia was an economically backward country unripe for socialism. The Mensheviks awaited the capitalist revolution in Russia. But Lenin argued that a revolution of the workers and peasants would achieve this task.
  • After the Russian revolution of 1905, Leon Trotsky argued that unlike the French revolution of 1789 and the European Revolutions of 1848 against absolutism, the capitalist class would never organise a revolution in Russia to overthrow absolutism, and that this task fell to the working class who, liberating the peasantry from their feudal yoke, would then immediately pass on to the socialist tasks and seek a “permanent revolution” to achieve international socialism.

United States

  • In 1877, the Socialist Labor Party of America was founded. This party, which advocated Marxism, was a confederation of small Marxist parties and came under the leadership of Daniel De Leon.
  • In 1901, a merger between opponents of De Leon and the younger Social Democratic Party joined with Eugene V. Debs to form the Socialist Party of America.
  • In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World formed from several independent labor unions. The IWW opposed the political means of Debs and De Leon, as well as the craft unionism of Samuel Gompers.
  • In 1910, the Sewer Socialists, the main group of American socialists, elected Victor Berger as a socialist Congressman and Emil Seidel as a socialist mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, most of the other elected city officials being socialist as well. This Socialist Party of America grew to 150,000 in 1912 and polled 897,000 votes in the presidential campaign of that year, 6 percent of the total vote. The Socialist Party declined after the First World War.
  • By the 1880s anarcho-communism was already present in the United States as can be seen in the publication of the journal Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly.


  • French socialism was beheaded by the suppression of the Paris commune (1871), its leaders killed or exiled. But in 1879, at the Marseilles Congress, workers’ associations created the Federation of the Socialist Workers of France.
  • Three years later, Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue, the son-in-law of Karl Marx, left the federation and founded the French Workers’ Party.
  • The Federation of the Socialist Workers of France was termed “possibilist” because it advocated gradual reforms, whereas the French Workers’ Party promoted Marxism. In 1905 these two trends merged to form the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO), led by Jean Jaures. In 1906 it won 56 seats in Parliament. The SFIO adhered to Marxist ideas but became, in practice, a reformist party. By 1914 it had more than 100 members in the Chamber of Deputies.


  • In Europe most Social Democratic parties participated in parliamentary politics and the day-to-day struggles of the trade unions.
  • The Social Democratic Federation (SDF) was established as Britain’s first organised socialist political party by H. M. Hyndman, and had its first meeting on 7 June 1881. Many trade unionists who were members of the Social Democratic Federation, which included at various times future trade union leaders such as Will Thorne, John Burns and Tom Mann, felt that the Federation neglected the industrial struggle. Along with Engels, who refused to support the SDF, many felt that dogmatic approach of the SDF, particularly of its leader, Henry Hyndman, meant that it remained an isolated sect.
  • In Britain and the British dominions, labour parties were formed. These were parties largely formed by and controlled by the trade unions, rather than formed by groups of socialist activists who then appealed to the workers for support. In Britain, in 1900, the Labour Party, (at first the Labour Representation Committee) was established by representatives of trade unions together with affiliated socialist parties, principally the Independent Labour Party but also for a time the avowedly Marxist Social Democratic Federation and other groups, such as the Fabians.
  • The British Labour Party first won seats in the House of Commons in 1902. It won the majority of the working class away from the Liberal Party after World War I.


  • On 1 December 1899 Anderson Dawson of the Australian Labor Party became the Premier of Queensland, Australia, forming the world’s first parliamentary socialist government . Australian Labor Party achieved rapid success, forming its first national government in 1904.

World War I

  • When World War I began in 1914, many European socialist leaders supported their respective governments’ war aims. The social democratic parties in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany supported their respective state’s wartime military and economic planning, discarding their commitment to internationalism and solidarity.
  • Lenin, in his April Theses, denounced the war as an imperialist conflict, and urged workers worldwide to use it as an occasion for proletarian revolution. The Second International dissolved during the war, while Lenin, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, together with a small number of other Marxists opposed to the war, came together in the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915. ( Zimmerwald Conference was held in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, from 5 to 8 September 1915. It was the first of three international socialist conferences convened by anti-militarist socialist parties from countries that were originally neutral during World War I.)

Q. What are the positive and negative contributions of Socialism?

How to Win the Bancroft Prize

In a procrastination fit last night, I was looking at the list of Bancroft Prize-winning books and realized “huh, a lot of history books have titles like Catchy Hook: A History of [Subject], [Start Year]-[End Year]“. So then my computery brain popped in and exclaimed, “semi-structured data!”. So I compiled a dataset of all Bancroft winners with explicit or implied dates in their titles, with start and end years plus indicator variables for whether the dates were explicit or implied.

I originally thought it was going to be easy to find out which date range was “most important” to Bancroft Prize-winning historians, in the sense that it lay inside the date ranges of the most prize-winning books. However, it turns out that this problem doesn’t fit all that neatly into the “standard” algorithmic analysis of intersection problems, since that domain is mostly concerned with efficient ways to check whether a specific date/point is within a range or set of ranges (for example, by using an Interval Tree).

The good news is, I was finally able to find the key to my problem via this Engineering Stack Exchange post on job scheduling algorithms — the domain I should have been looking at instead of intersection problems!

And the main finding is this: if you want to win a Bancroft Prize, write about the years 1816 to 1818! The following 29 Bancroft Prize-winning books all analyze this period, and no other date range has as many books whose date ranges contain it:

  • Merrell, James H. The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal. Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1989. [1,2]
  • Bolster, W. Jeffrey. The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2012. [3]
  • Tomlins, Christopher. Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865. Cambridge, Eng., and New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Bullock, Henry Allen. A History of Negro Education in the South from 1619 to the Present. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 1967.
  • Fogel, Robert William and Stanley L. Engerman. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery and Time on the Cross: Evidence and Methods. Boston : Atlantic, Little, Brown, 1974.
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present. New York : Basic Books, 1985.
  • Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 1998.
  • Hahn, Steven. A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.
  • Brooke, John L. The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644â??1844. Cambridge, Eng. : Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Smith, Page. John Adams. New York : Doubleday, 1962.
  • Sellers, Charles. Charles Willson Peale. New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969.
  • Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams. New York : Free Press, 2009.
  • Davis, David Brion. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823. Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 1975.
  • Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776–1995. Lawrence, KS : University of Kansas Press, 1996.
  • Horwitz, Morton J. The Transformation of American Law, 1780–1860. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 1977.
  • Lebsock, Suzanne. The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860. New York : Norton, 1984.
  • Ryan, Mary P. Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790–1865. Cambridge, Eng. : Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • Ely, Melvin Patrick. Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.
  • Young, James Sterling. The Washington Community, 1800â??1828. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 1966.
  • Hyde, Anne. Empires, Nations and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800–1860. Lincoln, NE : University of Nebraska, 2011.
  • Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York : W. W. Norton, 2005.
  • Thomas, John L. The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison. New York : Little, Brown, 1963.
  • Duberman, Martin B. Charles Francis Adams, 1807â??1866. New York : Houghton Mifflin, 1961.
  • Higman, Barry W. Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica, 1807â??1834. Cambridge, Eng. : Cambridge University Press, 1976.
  • O’Brien, Michael. Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810–1860. Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812–1823. Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, 1964.
  • Dangerfield, George. The Era of Good Feelings. New York : Harcourt, Brace, 1952.
  • Freehling, William W. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836. New York : Harper & Row, 1966.
  • Rosen, Deborah. Border Law: The First Seminole War and American Nationhood. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2015.



  1. Assuming that “European contact” refers to the beginning of the Spanish colonization of the Americas in 1492.
  2. Assuming that the era of removal culminated in the Cherokee removal from 1836 to 1839.
  3. Using Wikipedia’s definition of the “Age of Sail” as 1571–1862.

The Ignorance of BDS Supporters!!!!!111

All you BDSers are completely misguided and ignorant. Don’t you know that BDS will harm PALESTINIANS the most?!? o shit wrong folder lol my bad


Don’t you know that our Palestinian enemies want to DRIVE US INTO THE SEA?!? o golly gosh i did it again yikes


Also, how could it be an apartheid state if Palestinians are ENROLLED IN ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES HUH?!?! man my mouse keeps slipping


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