Does Socialism Really Differ That Much From Liberalism Politics Essay (2023)

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The issue of organization and distribution of power within the society has preoccupied political and social researches since early history. During the bourgeois revolutions as in the post revolution times the European societies have confronted different socio-political beliefs. Each socio-political scientist was concerned about defining best ways of conduction and development of each country. However, since the rise of political ideologies in the nineteenth century, the implementation for the most efficient political system is still discussed. According to Heywood (2007:5), the study of a certain political ideology means, nevertheless, to decide which political thought or set of idea can be defined as political ideology. Socialism and liberalism are two different political ideologies with the common aim of human evolution. Socialism is the political ideology that promotes the abolishment of classes within a society attempting the recognition of the community and the development of the country as a whole whilst liberalism is aiming to construct a hierarchical society in which every individual has the right to a profit of its own work. This essay will give the definition of socialism and liberalism, will present a historical background of both ideologies and will discuss the differences between the above mentioned.

By the early nineteenth century, the most important political ideologies have appeared. Socialism, liberalism and conservatism have developed as contrasting responses to the process of modernization. Even though socialism and liberalism emerged as a result to the Enlightenment, liberalism encouraged the growth of industrial capitalism and socialism believed that capitalism is a form of injustice.

In other instance, socialism is the political ideology which consists in empowering the policies and strategies that promote the idea that wealth within a country should be uniformly distributed based on the concept that every individual within the community has equal access to resources. The history of socialism starts in the nineteenth century with the development of industrial capitalism and the evolution of urban industrial society. Consequently, socialism appeared as a moral protest contra the bourgeoisie idea.

According to Hall (1949:55), socialism differs from liberalism with the simple fact that the first is an ideology totally based on scientific grounds.

Thereby, the concept of socialism is strongly linked to the name of Karl Marx, German philosopher and economist who wrote the theory of the Scientific Socialism with Friedrich Engels in the book “The Communist Manifesto” written in 1848.

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In this book, Marx argued that the Capitalism is a failing system and that Socialism should replace it in order to create a classless society of pure communism which in his opinion was:

” only possible as the act of dominant people “all at once” and simultaneously which presupposes the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bounded with communism” Marx and Engels(1967:27)”.

During the history, socialism has been perceived in different ways and later generations of Marxists have showed greater interest in this ideology than Karl Marx himself. Consequently, Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov (Lenin) the first Soviet Union leader, has said in his book “What is to be done “([1902]1961) that the ideas of proletariat are a “socialist ideology”, this phrase coming in total contradiction to the concepts of Karl Marx.

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Even though the concept of socialism has been perceived differently by each generation it has promoted the same idea that a Socialist State represents the workers class interest based on the idea that the economical system of a country should be operated with a plan of productions so that the bourgeoisie and personal profit is abolished. The best example of socialism can be represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics existent from 1922 to 1991. The Soviet Union foundation started with the Russian Civil War in 1917 when the Transcaucasia, Byelorussian and Ukrainian territories were unified. The Soviet countries were imposed to a socialist system while fighting for the dream of pure communism in which the resources within the country would be accessible equally to each individual and the nation would progress as a whole. On the other hand, socialism meant for these countries a social and intellectual comedown. According to Heywood (2007:5) political ideas and ideologies form the social element that incidentally creates social groups or entire societies with common beliefs and values. In this case, socialism has formed groups and societies in which individuals did not have the right and opportunity to create their own values and beliefs. However, the only concepts that unified them as a society was persuading the ideas imposed by the government, by the authorities.

In socialist countries as China, Cuba, USSR, people with innovatory ideas wanting to bring the change were persecuted making the nation to desist from a personal view and to homogenate people into a silent and complied society. The socialism has had sizeable negative impact on the populations involved both during its active existence as after its fall. People of the generation of socialism were dramatically used to the “equality” idea so that after their release from the socialist system individuals had no definition of self-determined life, how to incept, organize and work for a quality of their condition, for a profit of the own work and of social contribution. All countries on a socialist political system have a dictatorship, a form of government in which the nation is ruled by a leader, a dictator. Dictatorships may take the form of government in which the leader has the power to lead without needing the consent from those being lead.

Examples of dictatorships are: Fidel Castro in Cuba, Francisco Franco in Spain, Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and Josip Tito in Yugoslavia. In other instances the dictatorship becomes totalitarianism, where the government rules almost every aspect of the people’s life and behavior.

An overview on liberalism

Many attempts have been made in order to classify political ideas and ideologies and to find the common points between them. However, the traditional way to do so, remains the left-right political spectrum. This is being used in order to express the political belief of a person. Furthermore, in the left-right political spectrum, people refer to left wing, right wing or center. On an imaginary scale, communism would be placed in the far left followed by socialism consequently, fascism in the far right and liberalism in the center. The political spectrum and the imaginary scale aim to outline the contrasts between these ideologies. Thereby, left-wingers are concerned with equality and right-wingers believe in wealth and property.

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Liberalism, the centre in the political spectrum, is the ideology based on the concept that each individual has the right to property and personal profit of wealth. In what concerns the function of a state, Liberalism supports and promotes the idea of democracy, fair elections and capitalism. However, the concept of liberalism divides in two subcategories: classical liberalism and social liberalism. The term of classical liberalism is meant to define the liberalism that appeared before the eighteenth century. This concept promoted the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and free market. Regarding the state, liberalism defined the belief in economic primacy and minimal government. The adepts of liberalism believed that the capitalism is the most efficient social and economic form of function of a state. The above mentioned, believed that, the society consists of individuals and each individual has the freedom to act in his personal interest and be motivated by the profit in order to produce the required products at the most appropriate cost-efficient standards. In consequence, the market and the worker would receive an expected reward and the economic system would be organized efficiently and meet consumer´s needs.

Socialism and Liberalism: the tangency

The only tangency between socialism and liberalism is that both defend the mixed economy and government regulation. However, liberalism and Socialism differ in any other aspects. The most important difference is that Liberalism has proved to be an efficient system whilst political doctrine has proved over time the total contraire about Socialism.

Not only the Socialism and Liberalism differ so much, they also fought one contra the other during history. United States and the Soviet Union continue to be in a tremendous conflict of opinions and wish of domination. Therefore, this wish of domination as the parallel critics has lead to an imaginary world division between West and East. Moreover, the conflict between these major powers of the world represented by violent attacks and competition had consequences in non-adept, neutral countries all over the globe. In consequence, countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan were unwillingly involved and suffered violent attacks due to the conflict between the Soviet Union and United States. The result of this continuous Cold War has nevertheless a colossal impact on these major powers´ capital and society.

Marxists argue that capitalism is a threat to liberty. On the contrary, there is no negation that capitalism and liberalism are strongly linked with each other and this is due to the fact that liberalism has considered capitalism an efficient way of achieving its own ends (Hall 1949:36) and the fact that liberalism finds a considerable connection between the commerce and the liberty. In addition, Marxists argue that the official freedoms of a liberal society mean to mask the hidden exploitation that can end by abolishing capitalism and creating substantive freedom.


Socialism appeared to be an illusionist ideology with impalpable motives and disappointing results as stated by O’Sullivan (1995:28) “what the socialist mid refuses to accept is that all socialism is based upon coercion”.

However, the social history and the political doctrine leave no space for doubts in what regards the differences between socialism and liberalism. For this reason, no nation or political leader can affirm the extreme right or wrong between this two. However, the history, the consequences and the impact of socialism and liberalism made nations throughout the world understand the importance of the human evolution and the matter of life as part of an entire or as individuals. In present, the fear of coercion has made nations and societies stronger and more self determined in fighting for their own freedom. But is Socialism still alive in countries that have long ago been released or is it that we are relegating ourselves in a new kind of socialism? Is the European Union a safe oasis in which European countries can maintain their freedom whilst developing at large scale or are we hiding ourselves in the strongest socialism? If it is so, what is the duration of this new retouched ideology?

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Does socialism support liberalism? ›

While some socialists have been hostile to liberalism, accused of "providing an ideological cover for the depredation of capitalism", it has been pointed out that "the goals of liberalism are not so different from those of the socialists", although this similarity in goals has been described as being deceptive due to ...

What is the main argument against socialism? ›

One criticism of socialism is 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.

What are the flaws you can see in socialism? ›

Some of the primary criticisms of socialism are claims that it creates distorted or absent price signals, results in reduced incentives, causes reduced prosperity, has low feasibility, and that it has negative social and political effects.

What is the difference between capitalism and socialism essay? ›

Capitalism is based on individual initiative and favors market mechanisms over government intervention, while socialism is based on government planning and limitations on private control of resources. Left to themselves, economies tend to combine elements of both systems.

What is the main argument of liberalism? ›

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law. Liberals espouse various views depending on their understanding of these principles.

What is the main belief of socialism? ›

Socialism is a political philosophy and movement encompassing a range of economic and social systems, which are characterised by social ownership of the means of production, with an emphasis on democratic control, such as workers' self-management, as opposed to private ownership.

What are the 3 main goals of socialism? ›

Socialist Theory

Below are some of the key tenets of socialism: Public or collective ownership of the means of production. Central planning of the economy. Emphasis on equality and economic security.

What are 3 good things about socialism? ›

Pros of socialism
  • Reduction of relative poverty. ...
  • Free health care. ...
  • Diminishing marginal utility of income. ...
  • A more equal society is more cohesive. ...
  • Socialist values encourage selflessness rather than selfishness. ...
  • Benefits of public ownership. ...
  • Environment. ...
  • Reduced hidden taxes.
Sep 13, 2019

What is the biggest advantage of socialism? ›

Advantages of Socialism

The government treats the citizens as equals, and the wealth generated by employees is distributed equally to everyone. The government manages the means of production, which ensures that there is fairness in resource utilization and distribution.

What are 5 Socialist disadvantages? ›

Disadvantages of Socialism
  • Absence of alternative choice.
  • It reduces individual initiative as citizens depend on the government for everything.
  • It creates room for laziness.
  • It slows down economic development.
  • There is lack of specialisation because it does not encourage division of labour.
  • Absence of competition.

What are 5 advantages of socialism? ›

Additional benefits of Socialism: Nationalization of key industries, redistribution of wealth, social security schemes, minimum wages, employmentprotection and trade union recognition rights.

Why socialism is better than capitalism? ›

Greater social welfare - In a socialist economy there is less inequality of income because of the absence of private ownership of means of production. Absence of monopolistic practices.

What are three major differences between capitalism and socialism? ›

Competition between multiple businesses is an integral part of a Capitalist Economy. In a Socialist Economy, there is no competitor to the government. The distribution of income is unequal in a Capitalist Economy. The distribution of income is more or less equal in a Socialist Economy.

What is the most important core value of liberalism quizlet? ›

The central value for all liberals. The right to participate freely in the political process, choose and remove public officials to be governed under a rule of law.

What are the 5 main characteristics of socialism? ›

The characteristics of social democracy include state-owned enterprises, centralized economic planning, a classless society, equal opportunity for all individuals, and a government-controlled price system.

Which countries practice socialism? ›

Marxist–Leninist states
People's Republic of China1 October 1949Communist Party of China
Republic of Cuba24 February 1976Communist Party of Cuba
Lao People's Democratic Republic2 December 1975Lao People's Revolutionary Party
Socialist Republic of Vietnam2 September 1945Communist Party of Vietnam

Why is socialism good for society? ›

Advantages of Socialism

According to the socialistic system, each person is guaranteed access to basic goods, even those who are not able to contribute. As a result, the system helps to minimize poverty levels in the society.

Is China a socialist? ›

The CPC maintains that despite the co-existence of private capitalists and entrepreneurs with public and collective enterprise, China is not a capitalist country because the party retains control over the direction of the country, maintaining its course of socialist development.

Does socialism improve quality of life? ›

The data indicated that the socialist countries generally have achieved better PQL outcomes than the capitalist countries at equivalent levels of economic development.

Does Canada have socialism? ›

The New Democratic Party, (NDP) is a federal political party which officially adheres to social democracy while still being one of the most left-wing of Canada's mainstream parties. However, a minority faction are committed to democratic socialism, including, but not restricted to, the radical Socialist Caucus.

Does socialism benefit everyone? ›

In a socialist economy no one is allowed to accumulate wealth. This reduced the gap between the poor and the rich. Every person is given equal opportunity to education, jobs, healthcare. There is no discrimination between people.

Are public schools a socialist program? ›

Perhaps the most socialistic endeavor of the US is its K-12 public school system; in fact, US public schools are necessary for democracy to thrive and to create an educated and well-informed populace.

Are socialist OK with private property? ›

In a purely socialist economy, the collective owns and controls the means of production; personal property is allowed, but in the form of consumer goods.

Is there class struggle in socialism? ›

The aggravation of the class struggle along with the development of socialism is a component of the theory of Stalinism. The theory was one of the cornerstones of Stalinism in the internal politics of the Soviet Union.

What is a good example for socialism? ›

Examples of socialism include public infrastructure, social security, public transportation, and fire protection services among others. The socialist ideology is widely visible in the US, even if we don't think about it every day, and even if we tend to think of the nation as being a bastion of capitalism.

Do Socialists agree on the economy? ›

Socialists do agree that capitalism is deeply flawed and damaging to human nature and society. Therefore the agreement is more significant than the disagreement, which focuses on the alternatives. clearly comes down on the side of agreement.

What are the advantages of socialist economy? ›

Ans: A socialist economy does have certain advantages like, Promotes the equitable distribution of wealth and social justice. It minimizes unemployment. Ensures that all citizens have the means to achieve a minimum living standard.

Is there a real difference between socialism and communism? ›

The main difference is that under communism, most property and economic resources are owned and controlled by the state (rather than individual citizens); under socialism, all citizens share equally in economic resources as allocated by a democratically-elected government.

What is socialism in simple terms? ›

Socialism is an economic and political system where the workers or the government own the buildings and tools that make goods and services like farms and factories. This can be achieved through decentralized and direct worker-ownership, or through centralized state-ownership of the means of production.

Does libertarianism come from socialism? ›

Libertarianism originated as a form of left-wing politics such as anti-authoritarian and anti-state socialists like anarchists, especially social anarchists, but more generally libertarian communists/Marxists and libertarian socialists.

Who supported the concept of socialism? ›

The Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1847-48 just before the Revolutions of 1848 swept Europe, expressing what they termed scientific socialism.

Is socialism the same as being a Libertarian? ›

In the context of the European socialist movement, the term libertarian has been conventionally used to describe socialists who opposed authoritarianism and state socialism, such as Mikhail Bakunin.

Does libertarianism believe in free will? ›

Libertarianism about free will, which is completely distinct from libertarianism as a political doctrine, is the view that people do have free will, but that this freedom is incompatible with determinism. Thus, libertarians are incompatibilists who think that free will exists.

What is the opposite of a libertarian? ›

Bottom left – Statism. The opposite of libertarianism, corresponding with those supporting low economic and personal freedom.

Who owned everything under socialism? ›

Socialism is, broadly speaking, a political and economic system in which property and the means of production are owned in common, typically controlled by the state or government.

Does socialism exist today? ›

Several past and present states have declared themselves socialist states or in the process of building socialism. The majority of self-declared socialist countries have been Marxist–Leninist or inspired by it, following the model of the Soviet Union or some form of people's or national democracy.


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