Sunday, November 20, 2011

Revolts in Europe have deep links with socialist movements

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Why Karl Marx was right

2010 has been quite challenging for the European policy makers. European states including Greece, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania and many more have been blazing due to incessant strikes one after the other. Starting from June 2010 to September 2010, each day was hectic for the state police trying to control agitations on streets led by different labour unions demanding wage increase, reforms in pension schemes and working conditions. Although these incidents seem apparently discreet, they have deep links with the socialist structure and mark the beginning of a full-fledged social movement.

German philosopher, sociologist and historian Karl Marx envisioned a new economic system, the foundation of which was to be dictatorship of the proletariats – the larger section of the society – and the state was to be responsible for safeguarding the interests of proletariats against the bourgeoisie. This later came to be known as 'Socialism.' But history is testimony to the fact that any nation that had experimented with socialism, had somehow failed to safegaurd the interest of proletariats and often saw discreet discontentment in the form of revolt or strikes. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) imbibed socialism in 1917 through the October Revolution led by the great visionary V. I. Lenin. However, the world witnessed that the experiment failed when USSR split in 1991. There were many reasons behind the failure including wars, famine in USSR, the short life span of the leader Lenin etc. Moreover, the irony in the case of USSR was: inspite of the fact that agriculture gets special focus under socialism, USSR witnessed drastic fall in agricultural output during the socialist era. Finally, while socialism was supposed to be dictatorship of proletariats, there was dissatisfaction among them which resulted in widespread revolts across USSR. Worse was the use of police force by leaders like Stalin to suppress such revolts. Even the socialist journeys of Central and European states like Romania, Bulgaria, though quite successful, were often knocked off by incidents of dissatisfaction among citizens.

Modern Europe can be considered in the same league. European states are increasingly incorporating socialist policies with time. History shows that the entire rebuilding and reconstruction of Europe was based on Keynesian theory. A more critical observation shows that many things are changing in Europe recently. Trade unions are gradually becoming more powerful. They have more influence over policymakers unlike in India or other mixed economies. In contrast, the bargaining power of the capitalist class and their dominance is declining. In totality, there are high chances that proletariats will overthrow pro-capitalist governments and establish socialist policies in full swing. This is what Marx had prophesised centuries ago. The transformation may not be so sudden and radical as Marx had said but there are all possibilities for a drive, a change or a transition. When and how? Even Karl Marx had not given a timeline!

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