Essay about Socialism
Two Poles of Socialism
Socialism Essay: Introduction
In the 18th century, the world had witnessed important events such as revolutions and wars. Firstly, the industrial revolution brought innovations to the world. Steam machines rapidly spread all across Europe and the United States. With the industrial revolution, factory owners and employers started to get wealthy; meanwhile, workers faced heavy work circumstances. Secondly, in 1789, French Revolution broke out. The fight against monarchy provided a chance to rebuild the structure of society and raised questions about social change. During the 18th century, Robert Owen's, Louis Blanc's, Karl Marx's, and Friedrich Engels' socialist ideas had shaped the most powerful ideology of the century. Therefore, the idea of Socialism spread all across Europe, and a century later, Socialist and Labor Parties were founded in European countries. European worker class was fighting for better circumstances and a better life. Meanwhile, in the United States, Socialist and Labor parties had not shown a development like European countries because there were major social class differences and ruler class prevented it.
In the 18th century, Robert Owen was an English manufacturer who wanted to build a cooperative community in Indiana, the United States (“Socialism in Europe,” 2020). His vision of New Harmony was seen as a utopia that could not be built. Also, with the innovations of the industrial revolution, the U.S had become the most powerful producer in the world. More specifically, the U.S became the heart of capitalism, and most of the time, American products were traded with Great Britain.
In the U.S, Socialism did not develop as much as in European countries. First of all, the labor class in the U.S mostly comprised of black individuals and immigrants. Back then, the black community was categorized as slaves. Therefore, their working circumstances were heavy, and they got a low-wage salary. In other words, black workers were considered cheap-labor forces who worked more than twelve hours a day. In exchange, they got low-salary, and they did not have any rights against the law. Also, they had faced discrimination and hate. More specifically, factory owners and employers hated the black community. Therefore, they did everything in their power to prevent labor unions (Jones, 2002).
Another labor force in the U.S was white immigrants. Their salaries were a little higher than black individuals. Still, white immigrants were cheap-labor forces. Other labor force in the U.S was women and children. They were working for a low-wage salary, and they did not have any rights. In the U.S, labor forces did not have any civil rights, and they were powerless classes against the riches. However, this fact did not stop socialist communities from uniting. In this sense, Socialism did not spread in the U.S because of few reasons. First of all, the geopolitical location of the country was an obstacle to unity with other socialist unions. However, in Europe and Russia, socialist and labor parties had the opportunity to unite and support each other.
On the other hand, in the U.S, socialist and labor parties supported political parties, and socialism ideology transformed into reforms with Theodor Roosevelt's presidency. American society considered Socialism as a visionary ideology that conflicted with the existing system of the U.S. Also, during I.WW, American Socialist Labor Party, did not support human slaughter in Europe. Therefore, these parties in the U.S were different than Europe because they preferred reforms rather than socialist revolution. However, socialist ideology affected European countries' social chances, and in Europe, social reforms took place.
Socialism did not take root in the U.S because factory owners and employers prevented it from happening. The country was the counter-power to socialist forces in the 20th century. More specifically, United States showed great effort to keep capitalism alive during the I.WW. Also, Socialist Labor Party had a limited effect on society, and they were popular until 1912. The Socialist Labor Party Convention was founded in 1876 in Philadelphia, and in 1897, socialists supported a new coalition that led them to the first step toward the foundation of the Socialist Democratic Party in 1900 (“1896: Socialism,” 2000). In the 1900 elections, Eugene V. Debs ran for president, and he had %6,5 vote; and a few years later, he was arrested for his anti-war speeches (“1896: Socialism,” 2000). Socialist Labor Party's defeat in the 1900 election broke the socialism vision in the United States.
Socialism's vision did not take root in the U.S, but it affected social reforms that were made during Theodor Roosevelt's presidency. Roosevelt had fought for reforms that benefited the working class. However, factory owners and employers were not happy about these reforms because reforms sought improvements on worker's salaries. They believed that factory owners and employers should have decided on worker's salaries. More specifically, during those years, labor cooperatives were founded, and they negotiated with factory owners and employers thanks to Roosevelt’s mediation.
Negotiations concluded with the victory of the labor forces. Factory owners and employers agreed to raise workers' salaries and made some improvements on work standards. However, Cooperatives did not accept them officially. During Roosevelt's presidency, Socialist Labor Party settled with reforms and stood against war. The Party started to lose popularity with the I.WW. Roosevelt was sensible to the inequal working circumstances, and he did everything he could, and he did not run for president for the third term in 1908. Therefore, Socialist Labor Party lost its bureaucratic power. In the 1920 elections, Eugene V. Debts' defeat in the election was proof of Socialist ideology’s downfall because he took %3 percent of the votes (“1896: Socialism,” 2000).
Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and post I.WW outcomes affected the United States' stand against Socialism. After I.WW, in Europe, fascism was rising, and Stalin's brutal massacres to the working-class created a fear against Socialism. Therefore, the U.S citizens never embraced Socialist Revolutions or the idea of Socialism. After all, in the heart of Socialism, there were severe problems and fear against Stalin's methods. In other words, during the Stalin years, the Soviet Union was ruled by fear.
Stalin's ideology of Socialism under a single flag had threatened both Europe and the United States. Eventually, Stalin's ideology created an antipathy to Socialism in the U.S. After the II. WW, the U.S, and the Soviet Union had become counter-powers to each other. More specifically, during the Cold War years, individuals who supported Socialism in the U.S were treated as traitors or enemies. Eventually, Socialism did not take root in the U.S, and the ideology did not develop as much as in European countries.
To sum up, in the 20th century, Socialism was one of the most powerful ideologies in the world—Socialism's development based on ideas of philosophers and intellectuals in Europe. Therefore, Socialism spread more rapidly in Europe than in the United States. On the contrary, there were major class differences in the U.S, and the labor force was weak against the ruler class. Eventually, the ruler class prevented socialism development in the U.S. More specifically, Socialism did not take root in the U.S because Socialist Labor Party supported reforms more than the socialist revolution, and they slowly lost their support. Post-IWW outcomes and Stalin's presidency created an antipathy for Socialism in the U.S. Eventually, the United States became the counter-power to Socialism.
1896: Socialism. (2000).
Jones, S. (2002). It didn't happen here: Why Socialism failed in the United States. World Socialist Web Site.
Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution. NCERT. (2020).