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Working Paper 191


Socialism is best defined very broadly, as the doctrine that capitalism has very serious problems, and that a substantial degree of public ownership is needed to solve them. On this definition, ‘socialism’ would include Marxists, Fabians, Utopians, Anarcho-Communists and even conservative (Bismarckian) State Socialists. Social democracy is an even more slippery term. In the late nineteenth century it was used by socialists of many persuasions, often but not always Marxist or Marxistinfluenced, to express the conviction that society and the economy, as well as the polity, must be democratised. This was not seen as inconsistent either with the achievement of socialism through revolution, or even with a period of dictatorship after the revolution: in Russia, for example, the full name of the Bolshevik party was the RSDLP(B), or Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolshevik).


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