Q. Why Have Socialists Supported Collectivism and How Have They Sought to Promote It?

Topics: Socialism, Marxism, Communism Pages: 5 (1852 words) Published: December 5, 2006
Collectivists believe the individual should be subordinate to the collective, which may be a group of individuals, a whole society, a state, a nation, a race, or a social class. Thus, collectivism contrasts with individualism, which emphasizes the liberty of the individual. Socialists emphasize the fact that people usually prefer to achieve goals collectively rather than independently. This is stems from the Socialist view of human nature, in which a man is seen as a social animal, who prefers to live in a social group rather than alone. Socialists assert that action taken by people in organised groups is likely to be more effective than the sum of many individuals' actions. Socialists have traced the origins of competition and inequality to the ownership of private property, namely the ownership of productive wealth – capital. Socialists believe that private property is unjust, as wealth which is produced by collective effort should be owned collectively. Socialists argue that private property fosters conflict in society between the rich and the poor, or between the employers and the employees and thus creating an artificial divide, therefore Socialists argue if you didn't have the property then the divide would not exist, and this would be a class less society, which is the fundamental aim of a Socialist utopia. Therefore, Socialists support collectivism as it upholds the idea of reaching a class-less society – one of the aims of a Socialist utopia. Socialists also believe that property breeds acquisitiveness as it encourages people to believe that personal fulfilment can only come by obtaining property. Socialists believe that the earth is given to humankind in general, and therefore no individual has the right to claim any part of it and say that it belongs to him or herself. Socialists believe that by having common ownership, there is the possibility of imposing economic equality, and it is possible to direct commonly owned property to serve the interests of the whole community, not just those of fortunate owners of property. Hence, Socialists support collectivism as it is the opposite of capitalism, which is what Marx and other Socialist thinkers saw as the problem, where the poor were exploited. Socialists have sought to promote collectivism in numerous ways. Syndicalists, for example have proposed that property should be owned collectively by groups of workers and not by the state, specifically, the workers in each industry should become the collective owners of their own enterprises. This is similar to the cooperative ideal common in continental Europe, whereby independent producers own their own property, but then pool their output and sell it collectively; therefore they collectively own the distributional elements of their work. In England, a system of consumer cooperatives was developed in the 1840s and has flourished ever since. Retail businesses are effectively owned by the consumers under this system, who then have access to cheap goods. Social democrats have emphasised the state as an instrument through which wealth can be collectively owned and the economy planned. They propose that there should be the creation of a mixed economy of nationalised and privately owned industry. The nationalised sector was used to regulate economic activity throughout the economy. Therefore it is evident that Socialism in the modern age is one in which there has been a decline in collectivism as a part of the central belief system. In conclusion, common ownership or collectivism is probably one of the oldest Socialist ideas, since is predates the onset of capitalism, and Socialists would argue that collectivism brings about equality in society, which is what Socialists call their utopia. Socialists have sought to promote collectivism in many different ways, and modern Socialists have had to accept that total collectivism is ineffective, and a mixed economy better reaches Socialist goals of equality.

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