Socialism Defined by the Socialists

By: Thomas E. Brewton

Socialism, as defined by the originators of socialism, is essentially the policies espoused by American liberals today. Defining liberalism as a “middle way” or an attempt to “save capitalism from itself” is simply blowing smoke in your eyes to hide the truth.

After World War II, with the advent of the Cold War and revelations about the tens of millions of citizens liquidated by the Soviet Union after 1917, socialism lost the public favor it had enjoyed in the United States during the first 40 years of the 20th century.

To escape public opprobrium, liberals after 1945 worked assiduously via public education and the liberal-controlled media to obscure the identity of American liberalism, world socialism, and the policies of the Soviet Union. In that regard, see A Liberal’s Definition of Liberalism.

If, however, we go back to the seminal era of socialism an unobscured picture of socialism emerges. Its tenets are indistinguishable from those espoused by American liberals in the 1930s and today.

Émile Durkheim in the 1880s was a principal founder of the separate field of study now called sociology. The term itself had been coined earlier by Auguste Comte, who along with Henri de Saint-Simon, was an original codifier of socialist doctrine. Durkheim was both a pupil of Comte and a close student of the development and doctrine of socialism.

Durkheim’s 1895-96 lectures on the history of socialism were published in the United States under the title of “Socialism.”

The following quotations from that work set forth some of the basic principles of socialism:

“…one calls socialist those theories which demand a more or less complete connection of all economic functions or of certain of them, though diffused, with the directing and knowing organs of society….Socialists do not demand that the economic life be put into the hands of the state, but into contact with it….. Even according to the most celebrated theoreticians of socialism, the state as we know it would disappear and no longer be the central point of economic life – rather than economic life being absorbed by the state. For this reason, in the definition, we have not used the term “state,” but the expression – expanded and somewhat figurative – “the knowing organs of society.”

(the KGB, perhaps?)

“…..Socialism is essentially a movement to organize.”

“…..In reality, amelioration of the workers’ fate is only one goal that socialism desires from the economic organization it demands, just as class war is only one of the means by which this reorganization could result, one aspect of the historic development producing it.”

“And in fact, what is it, according to socialists that causes the inferiority of the working classes and the injustice whose victims it declares them to be? It is that they are placed in direct dependence, not on society in general, but on a particular class powerful enough to impose its own wishes on them. That is, the “capitalists.”

“……These premises posed, it is clear that the only means of at least tempering this subjection and and ameliorating this state of affairs, is to moderate the power of capital by another [force] which at first may be of equal or superior strength but which [in addition] can make its action felt in conformity with the general interests of society…. only the state is capable of playing the role of moderator.”

(Compare this to the statement of Dee Dee Myers, President Clinton’s press secretary, that only the government can improve people’s lives, or to President Franklin Roosevelt’s March, 1933, first inaugural address:

“Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion…True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition..The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We must now restore that temple to the ancient truths [established by socialists in 1825]. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit…. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definite public character.”)

Continuing with Durkheim:

“… is necessary to completely suppress the medium of the capitalist who, by wedging himself between worker and society, prevents labor from being properly appreciated and rewarded according to its social value…. That is to say that the capitalist class under these conditions must disappear, that the state fulfill these functions at the same time as it is placed in direct relation with the working class, and in consequence, must become the center of economic life.”

Juxtaposing Durkheim’s descriptions with the pronouncements of radical liberals like Senators Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer makes clear that little has changed in left-wing thinking since 1895.

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 (

About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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