THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 MARCH 2019 (Re-examining socialism (The Hindu)

Re-examining socialism (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Society
Prelims level: Not Much
Mains level: Socialism


  •  In the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. election, socialism appears to be on trial, especially as Democratic Party candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have called for policies that some would describe as being associated with a socialist paradigm. What is socialism?
  •  It requires the most productive assets are collectively owned;
  •  The major decisions regarding the use of those assets are determined by some collective choice procedure.

Standard attack on socialism

  •  The standard attack on socialism implies that only one variant exists: state ownership of productive assets with centralised control over resource allocation.

  •  Yet modern socialist models are open to a mixture of collective ownerships depending on the context, and, for example, propose democratic voting to determine how much citizenries collectively wish to save or invest.

  •  These decisions may be implemented indirectly with interest and tax rate adjustments.

  •  Most of these models also retain markets as a cheap way of getting information about consumer demand and business performance.

  •  More modest proposals to extend public capital ownership through independently managed sovereign wealth funds are likewise ignored by the standard attack.

  •  The standard line on historical experience draws attention to the flagrant human rights abuses that occurred, and still occur, under socialist regimes.

  •  Many people have opposed state socialism for this reason. But it must be acknowledged that others have come to different conclusions.

Way forward

  •  The common claim that socialism cannot match the sustained economic growth generated by capitalism is false.
  •  The Soviet economies grew rapidly for some 25 years in the post-war period. Yugoslavia performed remarkably well by many economic indicators for 30 years after 1949.
  •  An opponent of socialism might interject that even if better socialist alternatives to historical cases exist in theory, they have never been tried anywhere in the real world.
  •  That may be true, but neither were any new ways of doing things before they were adopted.
  •  The reply that the difference between technological innovation and socialist experimentation is that the latter has cost millions of lives wrongly implies that socialists have learned nothing over the last 100 years.
  •  Fundamentally, this reaction seems to come from the contestable belief that people should not take big political gambles to improve the quality of their lives and those of future generations.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following is/are correct with reference to Chit funds?
1. Chit funds are saving institutions in which members make periodical subscriptions to the fund.
2. Chit funds are included in the definition of Non- Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) by RBI.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

 Mains Questions:
Q.1) On taking a political gamble that could improve people’s lives. Comment