For those unfamiliar with 21st century socialism — which is not communism or pure socialism — below is an explanation of this concept and its importance to the developing world.
Heinz Dieterich said 21st century socialism encompasses participative democracy (yes, socialism supports democracy and doesn’t require large-scale repression to succeed), a democratically-planned economy of equivalences and a non-class state
The whole point is to contribute ideas that will improve the system and ultimately help create a humane society. This article was not written entirely within the context of Dieterich’s conceptualisation but includes my ideas on what I think 21st century socialism should be.
The socialist project does not involve large-scale repression and violence. Key elements for its success are an awakened and knowledgeable majority who are fully engaged in the project through democratic channels and institutions. The aim is to create an awakened, powerful majority and not a lazy and complacent society. In a 21st century socialist society, the majority will be fully empowered to decide their destinies and the destinies of their countries. The future of countries will not be shaped solely by market forces.
Socialism aims to balance market forces and the needs of the majority, the needs of people are prioritised — as it should be. The important socialist concepts of equal opportunity, compassion for fellow human beings and sharing are beautiful ideas. It is the governments that have implemented these ideas that have made them ugly. The fact that many people do not see the importance of these concepts and the need to create a society based on them is a sad and shameful reflection of our world and what it has become. Furthermore, if these concepts are contrary to human nature, then this is a very poor reflection on human beings.
Well, well, well....that's the nature of the beast, fortunately.
You can call this socialism, humanitarianism or whatever you like, but the ideas are the same. Yes I believe that people have a right to choose how they live but the problem arises when this is done at the expense of other people. You cannot justify stepping on others and supporting a system that disadvantages millions of people throughout the world because you want to make as much as possible. An idealist I might be but life is about maximum giving and not maximum grabbing.
Capitalism is not a system that fosters equal opportunity. It’s a dog-eat-dog system that has to disadvantage many in order to succeed. If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em, etc. If it is such an advanced system why is half the world below the poverty line? The observable fact is that capitalism has failed and will always fail in solving the problems of inequality, hunger and poverty. Because, sweety, they are stupid. And if you are stupid, you must suffer...why must I give up my money for some dumb ass in Ethiopia or Somalia, or wherever? But how can capitalism be expected to solve these problems when it was created for and driven by the need to maximise profits? Furthermore, it is unrealistic and short-sighted to claim that a capitalist society is one where you can go as far as you want to. Tell that to those who are desperately poor with absolutely no options (there are so many around us that I am sure the capitalist defenders won’t have a problem finding one). As I said, the stupid must suffer.
Socialist economies are controversial and for good reason, 21st century socialism, however, attempts to strike a balance. As for those who cite the “successful” implementation of capitalism and its many benefits, I would like to say, please consider that what works in industrialised countries will not necessarily work for other countries. We need our own systems that will enable us to successfully conquer major problems that industrialised countries do not have. Furthermore, anyone who would like to defend the prosperity and stability of capitalism, I recommend that you watch the news at 7 or Google “world economic recession”. I believe in moderation and balance and this is why I support socialism. We cannot ignore poverty. All I ask is that people do not demonise something they are not knowledgeable about. It is through debate and investigation that we might find solutions. Is it too much to ask that people look past self interest for the sake of those who suffer? One thing I am convinced of is that poverty and inequality must be challenged and faced head on and that these matters need to be given some attention until we find a solution. 21st century socialism does not attempt to create a utopia. The aim is to create a society based on equal opportunities, fairness and justice. The point is that pure socialism and pure capitalism do not work. They have failed to address the challenges the world faces. The way forward needs to balance these two while prioritising the rights and needs of all people and this is called 21st century socialism. Moderation is what is needed and when the need arises, we should be open to altering our ideas. Viva socialism!
Melika is a committed socialist-humanitarian. She studied for a Master of Social Science degree as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. Her interests are African development, the non-profit sector, poverty eradication, industrial psychology, the developing world, education and personal development. She is also the fundraising officer for the Community of Mandela Rhodes Scholars