Sunday, September 27, 2009

Socialism in the 21st Century

Revolutionary changes have been the backbone of socialism that point out the so-called immoral values of capitalism. Satisfying people's basic needs at a price is against what socialists believe in. The democratic stem of socialism consists of an ideal political and economic equality. Theoretically, socialism is argued to lead to communism but socialists emphasize that their values differ from the ones of communism since socialism is based on democracy, ethical values, and the right to private ownership.
Historically, market socialism is believed to be the latest revised version of socialism as it emphasizes the government ownership of economic entities while allowing market forces to guide the economy. The 20th century epoch witnessed the emergence of western socialism in Sweden and Great Britain, for instance, who adopted a socialist style that guaranteed a safe minimal standard of living for all people. In essence, this form of socialism took place via parliamentarian government and not through violent revolution unlike Marxism. Socialism has been changing constantly, and the 21st century socialist reformers believe that change can be achieved and even sustained to reach equality without revolution. These reformists argue that people merit the right to minimal standard of living that includes health care and education at least.

In order for socialism values and ideas to be accepted in today's politics, they must be developed as a positive pragmatic alternative to the present system and continue to seek forward change. However, not all socialistic ideas are progressive in terms of the world we live in today. For instance, divide won't serveanybody's interest and unless socialism comes up with common and harmonious ways of living in cooperation, this idealogy will remain regressive and can only bring more misery to societies. Basically, our human nature implies a common need to live in peace and co-existence with other human beings in other communities where peace, security, and justice are preached. Hence, socialists ought to draw a practical image of their ideas in terms of expressing a universal interest of all people. If so, this form of socialism will arguably become an irresistible force of change and will bring hope rather than disillusion.

On the first hand, the idea of building a new world society is a daunting task and seems utterly challenging. However, socialists believe that a new 21st century way of life is nothing new to their norms and values of social agendas. Indeed, voluntary cooperation and things of that nature may surprise some of us living in today's vicious and unethical corporate world, others may blindly believe that cooperation and equality are vital parts of any society. Socialist values seem relevant nowadays since throughout history civilizations have lived in cooperation and sought social harmony for the sake of progress and co-existence. Socialist argue that cooperation is not just a moral stand, it is an inter-relationship between people that organizes and enhances our lives to reach ultimate interest.
On the other hand, socialism may seem irrelevant to the 21st century due to advanced technology and technical development that undermines the progress of such theory. For instance, today's world economy and capital markets are driven by powerful forces that focus on personal and political gains rather than societal issues. In essence, the capitalist system dominates the driving factors of today's world economy and politics. The only way for socialism to appear practical is to feed off the weaknesses and failures of capitalism, hence, socialist values will find growing support against the deepening current adversity of capitalist failures.

Despite the cynicism out there, socialists believe that their values are being misinterpreted and confused since critics link socialism with communism in many ways. The idea of ending privilege, exploitation and 'devilish' capitalist ways of manipulating the world seems desperate and overreaching from socialists. The creation of a new idealistic world based on a newly reformed 21st century socialism sounds rational and feasible amid the global development we live in today in all spheres of life. Countries such as Venezuela are trying to establish government’s plans to create a more just and equitable society based on their own reality and those plans are particular to such country. Therefore, any imported carbon copy of old socialism will most likely jeopardize the success of such governmental plans.

As we can see, socialism of this era can be relevant and useful today because Venezuela's example illustrates that the adopted form was pertinent to the reality of that country. Venezuela has learned from past socialism failures and implemented what could be applicable to their society as to what is counter-productive. However, from a Marxism standpoint the present socio-economic and political or even cultural reality of Venezuela is crucial to comprehend the elements that need transformation so that there would be movement towards a more just system, a system that is not ruled primarily by capital gains, a system where social relations are based on equality and equity, and eventually a fraternal society.

I don't think the 21st century socialism will be fully functional in all aspects of life rather than just a few. Meaning, what could be done in terms of efforts and development that will make this ideology idealistic nowadays. The only two fields that I could think of are health care and education. Socialism excels in this area and there is concrete evidence of immense advancement in health and education in such countries. Since this kind of practical socialism backs the idea that health and education are basic rights to people, one could agree that this system is morally superior to capitalism. Thus, this will not only make the meaning of socialism understood but it draws a desirable realistic lifestyle that people could identify themselves in and seek the well being of all citizens.
Indeed, the road to reach a practical socialist reform is steep and the challenges ahead are enormous. However, it could be possibly done and it is in the making in some countries as mentioned earlier. It is utterly hard to achieve a complete state of a pragmatic socialism; nonetheless, starting with health care and education is a concrete step to become one. The main issues facing such progress could be today's globalization and border-less free trade that has a great impact on cultures by making inroads for capitalism to dig deep within the roots of how people think and behave. Our mindset is fixed and programed to capitalism due to United States pressure and impact on all aspects of global economy. Hence, it will take a big dose of socio-political formation and a long time to switch our attitudes. It may even take a new generation!

Imagine a world based on common ownership and cooperation, a world that embraces societal freedom where resources are at the disposal of every community and where delegation and empowerment are the key components to drive individuals will to decide how to live their lives in a self-determined society of mutual respect and benefit. Although, socialism is a distinctive systematic political choice, it shows an exciting new way of life that rises above the current traditional political affiliations and views. For instance, liberal or conservative, these various creeds split people into separate groups and thus creating clashing differences where people's freedom of choice becomes at risk.

In conclusion, there is no yes or no answer to the relevance of socialism in the 21st century since any argument can go both ways. However, it seems that there isn't many enthused people to carry on any sort of socialist transformation and if there is, the process will take a very organized and well driven group of people to believe and convince the rest of us that practical socialism could be an alternative to capitalism. It is indeed idealistic to live in a world where everyone is responsible for their own lives and by working in cooperation for the sake of other fellow human beings. From a realist school of thoughts, this requires the ability to look beyond realistic facts and to have an optimist-possibilitarian drive to be able to grasp and believe in this possible impossible.