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Term socialism comes from the Latin verb sociare, which means to combine or share something. The first attested use of this term was registred in 1827, in the UK magazine "The Co-operative Magazine". In the thirties of the nineteenth century the followers of Robert Owen (1771-1858) in the UK and Saint Simon (1769-1825) in France began to call their views "socialism". In the forties of the nineteenth century, the term became very popular in many industrialized countries, especially in France, Belgium and Germany. The Socialists derive their intellectual heritage from "Republic" by Plato and from "Utopia" by Thomas More, however, as in the case of liberalism and conservatism, socialism origins date back to the nineteenth century.

Stages of socialism development

  • The first socialists searched radical or revolutionary alternative to industrial capitalism, some saw it in the creation of utopian communities based on cooperation (Owen, Fourier), others (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels) based their theories on the inevitability of the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution.
  • At the end of the nineteenth century socialism changed by improving the living conditions of the working class and the progress in democratization policy. Trade unions and political parties representing the interests of the working class appeared.
  • Till The first World War socialist environment split in the socialist parties that fought for power in elections and told for reforms and political parties advocating the need for a revolution (Russia).
  • The twentieth century has witnessed the spread of socialist ideas in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Socialism arose in these countries as a result of the anti-colonial struggle and not the class struggle.
  • Since 1945, the Bolshevik model of communism was imposed on the countries of Eastern Europe, also adopted in China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • At the end of the twentieth century socialism suffered some spectacular failures which led some to declare the " death of socialism." The most dramatic failure was the collapse of communism as a result of the revolution in Eastern Europe in 1989-1991.

Main ideas

Socialism was born out of protest against social and economic conditions created in Europe as a result of the development of industrial capitalism.

Of the three ideals of the French Revolution - liberty, equality and fraternity, for which all thinkers of socialism advocated, egalitarianism, namely the pursuit of equality of all members of society in terms of economic, social, legal and political, is its chief value and the guiding idea. Socialists sought to abolish social differences, motto of freedom refers to political freedom and expresses the equality of the masses in the demand for the establishment of one universal law. They were to occupy an important place in public life, to participate in the creation of power. They believed that among people of different social status will create a bond of solidarity as the basis for the Socialism.

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Author: Agnieszka Czepiec