Capitalism and Socialism
For the past one and a half centuries, capitalism and socialism have been the principal global protagonists. Capitalism came first. Constituting the motive force behind industrialization and modernization, its role was supreme. The call for freedom (and equality), first enunciated during the English Civil War against monarchical absolutism and later made memorably evident by the French Revolution, served as common sources of ideological inspiration. For Britain – well to the forefront for the first hundred years – Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, together with the theories of Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham set the framework. Divergent as these were in their basic philosophy, the opportunities and freedom from tyranny that the capitalist system provided, reflected the best possible vision for a secure and happy future life.
Socialism traces its ideological roots to the earliest forms of social existence when, it alleges, communal life was solidaristic and untainted by competitive strife. Early philosophical traces are discernible in Plato's Republic. The guardians or philosopher kings, hold no property, nor do they live in family units. They selflessly rule in the interests of the wider community. At the time of the Peasants' Revolt in England, led by the redoubtable John Ball in 1381, the sentiments expressed were captured in the witticism of ‘When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman?’, implying a society where class division was absent. Thomas More's Utopia dreamt of a classless utopia, where the organized societal conspiracy of the rich against the poor would finally be ended. The Levellers and Diggers of the English Civil War threatened the sanctity of private property, but were quickly repudiated by Cromwell's New Model Army. More recently, early criticism of nineteenth-century laissez-faire market capitalism and disappoint