1004 Words Essay on Is Socialism Dead (free to read)

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To many globe-watchers, socialism – social control of means of production as opposed to free operation of market forces – appears to have lost its relevance. With the disintegration of U.S.S.R., the overthrow of dictatorial communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the growing privatisation of economy in People’s Republic of China, there is no major country in the world which stands for unadulterated or doctrinaire socialism.

Even in India, where the constitution was amended years ago to insert the word ‘socialistic’ in the preamble to the constitution to proclaim that bringing about a socialistic pattern of society was the ultimate aim of the India State, recent spate of decontrol, liberalisation and privatisation demonstrates a dominant trend which is antithetical to socialism. In these circumstances, is it any exaggeration to formally proclaim that socialism is dead?

Doctrinaire socialism refers to the politico-economic system in which, means of production are owned not by private individuals but by society. The latter decides how much of commodities is to be produced and when the things should be produced. The society also fixes the price and determines the quota for consumption by different individuals or organisations. In the initial stages of socialism, the state makes all the decisions on behalf of the society. Under a Socialistic system of economy, every citizen works according to his capacity and gets according to his work done. This system permits certain inequality of incomes unlike that prevails in communism where everyone works according to his capacity and gets according to his needs.

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Although many socialistic practices have prevailed and still prevail in some countries associated with capitalism such as U.K., Sweden and France, where many industries and public utilities like coal, railways, tele-communication have been nationalised from time to time, we will confine ourselves to those countries exclusively which had accepted socialism as national creed in preference to free-market economy.

These countries would not allow market forces of supply and demand to determine level of production or prices, but would centrally control the level of production, price and distribution of commodities throughout the country. China before Deng and the former U.S.S.R. before Gorbachev were the most prominent examples of socialistic countries.

Achievements of U.S.S.R under socialism are by no means insignificant. An industrially weak country, which was defeated by Japan in 1905, could consolidate itself sufficiently under socialism to inflict a crushing defeat on Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Again it was due to sustained economic development achieved through Five Year Plans that U.S.S.R. could develop space technology to send men in space. It became a superpower and a great support to countries struggling for freedom from colonial and imperial powers.

It could achieve almost 100% literacy and universal health care which was not achieved by many developed and advanced capitalist countries. China too made big strides under communist regime. Although poorer than India in 1948, in a period of less than 30 years, it became strong enough to claim and receive veto power in the U.N. and attained an economic development which far surpassed India in per-capita production and income. Achievement of communist U.S.S.R. and the former East Germany in the field of sports are a testimony to the care these countries took in promoting sports among their citizens.

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Few would quarrel with the aim of socialist movement. It believes in human dignity. It underlines the importance of economic freedom and sustenance of each and every citizen before political freedom becomes relevant. Socialism is much more idealistic than capitalism and requires a great deal of sacrifice and dis-interested effort on the part of leaders of socialistic government to manage the productive forces with a view to serve the community interest rather than their personal interests. It appears, the government leaders and bureaucracy in socialistic countries, could not measure upto the standards of self-lessness required by the socialist doctrines.

This led to deterioration in the performance of government controlled institutions. Productivity fell and economy collapsed. Failures of the socialist countries cannot be attributed to the socialist doctrines. Failures of human beings in the massive state bureaucracies have been responsible for the collapse of socialist regimes.
Faulting socialistic doctrines for collapse of socialist economies will be as futile as blaming free-market forces exclusively for the great depression of Nineteen Thirties in the U.S.A. Free play of market forces could not guarantee sufficient employment to people in U.S. in the third decade of this century. Purchasing power of people plummated and there was misery all around.

There were goods but no buyers. To boost up the economy, President Roosevelt ushered in a New Deal which involved huge government spending on public works to create employment and provide purchasing power to the people. Gradually economy revived.

The great depression demonstrated to the economists that the government cannot remain a disinterested spectator if the operations of free-market forces lead to hardships for citizens.

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Involvement of Federal Government of the United States in the economy during the great depression is not an isolated instance of intervention by the state to influence market-forces. The war-ravaged economy of England after llnd world war compelled the Government of England to resort to nationalisation of coal mines and other public services to relieve public misery and strengthen the national economy. Later, with a change in circumstances privatisation has been brought in again in many nationalised sectors in England.

Life is too complex to be circumscrbied in a doctrine how-so-ever attractive or comprehensive it may appear. Political, Economic and environmental changes are too un-settling at times to be managed by applying a doctrinaire approach. Nations, just as men, learn from experience and adopt a strategy which delivers the goods. They are not and should not be inhibited by any single creed or doctrine. Socialism as politico-economic doctrine was relevant to certain’times and circumstances in some countries. The working of global economic forces has questioned its viability in contemporary circumstances. But as an ideal of an egalitarian society it will continue to inspire men as long as there is poverty, inequality and exploitation of man by man.

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