The debate about the nature of socialism

How should a socialist society come about?

In socialism, the major debate is over the process and method of achieving a socialist society. This debate divides socialists into two camps: revolutionary and violent, and parliamentary and peaceful. Revolutionary socialists, like Lenin and Mao Zedong, advocated for a forceful overthrow of the capitalist class to establish a socialist government. They view trade unions as perpetuating capitalism by only addressing symptoms like low wages, rather than the fundamental issues of inequality and exploitation. On the other hand, peaceful socialists advocate for gradual change through parliamentary means, aiming to achieve fairness and equality within the existing system. They see tools like the welfare state as a means of redistributing wealth and promoting social equality.

Socialist debate whether socialism can coexist with capitalism

The compatibility of socialism with capitalism and private ownership is a major point of contention in socialist discourse. Two main camps in this debate are fundamentalist socialism and revisionist socialism. Fundamentalist socialists, like Marx, Engels, and Rosa Luxemburg, believed that socialism and capitalism could never coexist due to the inherent inequality and exploitation generated by private property. They argued that public or state ownership was the only way to ensure fairness as capitalism was unchangeable. On the other hand, revisionist socialists such as Anthony Crosland and Anthony Giddens proposed that justice and fairness could be achieved within a capitalist system through increased public spending and welfare funded by taxation. They emphasized that directing tax revenues towards essential services rather than public ownership was key to a just society. This pragmatic approach acknowledges the dominance of capitalism in a globalized economy and advocates for collaboration with capitalism while keeping socialist ideals in mind. Hence, in certain circumstances, capitalism and socialism can coexist.