Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit
Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Socialism)
Socialism in a wider sense is used to describe all those
thought systems which believe in the social ownership of means of production.
Therefore in this sense there are various forms of socialism like utopian
socialism, scientific socialism or Marxism and democratic socialism.
But, socialism word is used in many other sense also. In the words of C.E.M.
Zoad “Socialism is hat which has lost its shape because everybody wears it.”
According to Lenin – Socialism means dictatorship of proletariat whereas
communism is ideal communist society.
According to some philosophers, Socialism is a trend or perspective whereas
Marsixm is an ideology.
But today, most of philosophers use the word socialism to
denote democratic socialism whereas Marxism denotes scientific socialism.
Marsixm and communism 2 terms used interchangeably but Lenin considered ideal
communist society for word communism.
Democratic socialism is the fusion of Marxism and democracy. In democratic
socialism goals of socialism like equality, justice are accepted but these goals
are to be attained through democratic means.
Evolutionary socialism is also sometimes used similar to democratic
Main Principles of Democratic Socialism
(Accepts end – rejects means).
1) Democratic socialism believes in evolutionary change therefore it supports
gradual and reformative change. But, Marxism supports revolutionary change.
2) They also differs as far as means of change are concerned Democratic
socialism supports periodic elections, planning, progressive parliamentary
legislature. But Marxism supports violent change.
3) Democratic socialism and Marxism differ regarding nature
of state. According to Marxism, state is a class instrument but democratic
socialism considers state as positive notion. According to democratic socialism
state is an important means to bring social justice in the society.
4) They also differ on the issue of class struggle. According
to Marxism class struggle is the main fact of society because interest of the
classes are antagonistic but democratic socialism does not support class
struggle. According to democratic socialist, interest of different can be
reconcile hence class harmony is possible.
5) Marxism believes in economic determinism according to
which, substructure determines superstructure, therefore economic power is the
only source of power. But democratic socialism does not believe in economic
determinism though it considers economic source as important but it is not the
only source of power.
6) They also differ in their views of nationalism. According
to Marxism, nationalism is a bourgeois concept which fulfills class interest of
capitalist Marx believed that nationalism is against notion of class struggle.
But democratic socialism supports nationalism and hence national development.
7) Their views also differ on religion. Marx compared religion with opium of
people but democratic socialism does not oppose religion. Instead it supports
religious freedom of individual to accept god in any form.
1) Democratic socialism has been attacked by both Marxist and liberals.
According to Marxist, democratic socialism is form of
religionism in which Marxism has been amended therefore it has sacrificed
revolutionary gene of Marxism. It is unable to see true nature of capitalism.
Capitalism can not be reformed, it can only be replaced.
2) According to liberals, democratic socialism like Marxism
gives more importance to collectivity in comparison to individual therefore
freedom of individual may be curtailed. It gives much emphasis on state as means
of social change but increase in power of state practically means enhancement of
powers of administration.
3) It gives much emphasis to planning but planning has its own short coming.
It kills private initiative.
But, still democratic socialism is the most important of
socialism today the relevance of Marxism is questioned today & dictatorship of
proletariat in USSR and China are criticized but democratic socialism is still
important in many European countries also.
The main reason why democratic socialism has become more relevant than
Marxism because it become practical version of Marxism. It accepts the merit of
both capitalist and Marxism.
Fabian Socialism has been supported by G.B. Shaw, Sydney Webb.
1) Fabianism supports peaceful change.
2) It supports class harmony instead of struggle
3) It emphasizes equality of opportunities
4) It supports equality of men and women
5) Also emphasizes on universal education to fulfill goal of socialism.
Supporter – G.D.H. Cole – It emphasizes on the role of ‘Guild’ Guild has been
defined as a group of people in same profession to take care of their common
Guild socialism accepts the main tenets of democratic socialism like class
harmony peaceful change etc.
But they formulate some new things also.
- They criticize wage system instead of wage system they support
distribution based on need.
- They also support functional representation. (In India based on
Functional representation means people pursuing one profession should be
represented through those who belong to same profession (former can only
understand problem of farmer).
It was developed by labour party of Britain.
British democracy, function on the theory of parliamentary
sovereignty. Therefore, parliamentary socialism believes that parliament will
become means to bring socialism through its progressive legislation parliament
will help working class. It also accepts principle of democratic socialism.
Principles of revisionism formed by leader of social
democratic party of Germany. Edward Bernstein. It opposes class struggle,
violence, economic determinism. It accepts principle of democratic socialism.
(Marxist theory 1st revised by).
George Sorel formulated principles of syndicalism.
Technically it can not be defined as a version of democratic socialism as it
supports violence and abolition of state. Emphasizes role of syndicate (trade
union). It wants to take away powers of state these powers of state should be
assigned to syndicate.
They support direct action like general strike and rampage in industry. It
wants to abolish the state therefore sometimes it is described as version of