The Metamorphosis Of Socialism To Populist Statism

by Mohammed Walji - Date: 2007-04-02 - Word Count: 1209 Share This!

As welfare demands, reforms and expectations have grown so too has government's ability to recast political ideology and terms in its own self interested favour. Especially poignant has been government's reordering of economic, moral and spatial values in the left vs. right terminology. Government reform of its economic philosophy to become more liberal and egalitarian has also instigated a redefinition of socialism's attitude towards its own populist configuration.

Socialist mutation has centred on three key aspects in imbuing liberal principles to update and support tenets such as controlling political democracy, expanding the claim of rights by individuals and forcing society to abandon capitalism and free market ideology.

The first key 'reform' allowing socialism to mutate into state managed populism is the mass education of society. The industrial revolution, which created a mass of disenfranchised and politically powerless workers, supplied the impetus to socialistic energy and reform. Before mass education wide spread suffrage was problematic since the majority of the population was unschooled. As general education increased and literacy developed these fears became more muted though not stilled.

With educational reform, and public demands for equal access, the voting structure of society had to evolve to reflect mass democratic and representative resolve. Statist ideals bearing the concepts of democracy, though ill understood, have been used to grant governments widespread rights of taxation and re-distribution, in part to fund the socialisation of the 'mass' through public education programs.

The second major 'reform' or trend has been the expansion of rights claims by individuals. Entitlement claims are made from other individuals or from the state . These constitute moral and legal claims. Rights are usually about protection of freedoms, properties, lives, living standards, health insurance and the like. They are an important and ongoing process within the current statist framework. Freedoms, liberty and equality are all important tenets in this extension of Rights. Governments reference these terms and ideals in their appropriation of wealth to create huge statist redistribution schemes premised upon equality and national cohesion.

The third major element has been the creation of corporatist welfare and the abandonment of laissez faire. Liberal economists have long argued that the economic growth provided by capitalism would raise the general welfare of all individuals. Socialist dogma has persuaded voters that this is simply not the case . It promised conditions that would benefit the under privileged without deranging greatly the productive capacity of a market society.

Government propaganda, which blames depressions or economic cycles on 'merciless' capitalism are at best a rewriting of economic and political history. The Great Depression of the 1930s was caused directly by government politics, ineptitude and interference in the markets, the inadequate supply of money and liquidity and the absurd policy of increasing interest rates and allowing banks to fail. It had nothing to do with the supposed vagaries of liberal economics.

Governments have recast political ideology to convince voters that liberal economics and capitalism create devastating business cycles, depressions, the monopolies of the 'robber barons', and the usurpation of common interests by private speculators. Capitalism in short is re-modeled as a system that is iniquitous to national health and morality and is populated by men who have no regard for society's well being.

Such historical revisioning has further clouded the true picture of left vs. right in both practice and in reality and the benefits or demerits of increased socialization and the role of government support, involvement and influence in these historical business scandals. This intensive rewriting of history has certainly aided government regimes to increase their power if in fact obscuring party and ideological affiliation and veracity.

These ideals and misconceptions permeate our modern statist structure and the so-called 'Third Way', which has existed in the IPE since at least the 1951 Frankfurt declaration if not before. It is now embraced by mainstream politicians in Europe and the United States as a bridge between classical liberalism and coercive 'national-socialism'. The 1951 Frankfurt declaration reflects almost exactly the democratic socialism now prevalent in the West (summarized here only):

1. Socialism does not require a rigid approach. The means are flexible to achieve social justice, freedom and world peace.
2. Socialism must be democratic and democracy is reflected best through socialism.
3. The immediate aims of socialism are full employment, social security and higher productivity.
4. A fair distribution of income and property must replace capitalism.
5. Public ownership may include nationalization, creation of new public enterprises, or producers and consumers cooperatives.
6. Economic decision-making should be decentralized whenever this is compatible with centralized planning.
7. Trade unions and cooperatives are necessary elements of democratic socialism.
8. Socialism seeks to abolish legal, political, and economic discrimination, based on sex, regionalism, or racial and ethnic groupings

Most governments have followed these 8 precepts. There is not one society within the OECD's ranks that does not have multifarious programs designed to more or less achieve what the Frankfurt convention set out to promote. These concepts today, combined with liberal-inter-governmentalism, liberal economics and realist policy define the 'new' socialism, or for media consumption what is termed the 'Third Way Ideal'.

The modern variant of the Frankfurt declaration still defines its politics as a liberating movement that is class neutral, and appeals to justice and fairness. The modern socialist and statist mandate rejects the class nature of socialism and appeals to a moral and Christian doctrine, namely the striving to build public goods while enforcing charity and love of fellow men. To achieve such aims it relies far more on regulation and redistribution than its predecessors, which followed nationalization policies. Modern social democracy and its statist form attempts not the overthrow of capitalism but its metamorphosis into an egalitarian state managed entity.

As with all organising philosophies, modern socialism or statism is a context driven belief system. Socialism has accepted the Weberian notion of legal-rational institutional authority where authority rests on justice and democracy and has fused it with vote gaining policies of redistribution and welfare . How enlightened, intelligent, transparent and effective this process has been, should be a point of much debate and conjecture.

In so doing socialism has quite certainly usurped many liberal principles and reapplied them to further the principles of equality and private property appropriation. Democratic institutions (at least in name) and institutions which define a market economy have been fused with socialist ideology raising the interesting point that ideologies such as statism can become progressively democratic in rhetoric whilst remaining largely undemocratic in their actual policies. Or in the case of some jurisdictions these institutions become hostage to 'hyperdemocracy' wherein detached, informed opinions and non-politically influenced decisions becomes impossible.

For modern statists the efficiency of the system is not important. Due process including legal rationality and equality of justice is the ideological bedrock of modern society - giving politicians and government union workers tenuous reasons to increase their power and their meddling. In this regard 'conservatives' look a lot like 'democrats' or 'liberals'.

Some sources: -Harrington, 1968 -Frum, 'Dead Right', 1994 -Johnston, p. 92 -The Great Depression ensued two years after the stock market crash and was created due to government contraction of the money supply, high interest rates and a fragmented ill liquid banking sector. See. G. Wood, "Fifty Economic Fallacies Exposed", IEA, 2002. -History of Socialism, pp 863-64

Related Tags: government auction, government auctions, liberal, state government, government purchasing, government software, federal government, government politics, government education loan, government aid, liberal arts education, liberal democrat, liberal news

After working for a few large IT firms Read born in 1966, is currently an entrepreneur and Venture Capital Advisor and Managing Consultant for Wireless and Mobile technologies [including the internet] and in particular, in software applications for the Wireless or Mobile

Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

© The article above is copyrighted by it's author. You're allowed to distribute this work according to the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license.

Recent articles in this category:

Most viewed articles in this category: