From a purely socialistic perspective, socialism is the logical (and, arguably, necessary) next step in human history, economically and in terms of effective governance. Capitalism is, to generalize, the pursuit and accumulation of capital (or essentially profits). I would further argue that it is merely the current evolutionary stage in Man's economic, social, and political development. Developing from the core ideals of feudalism, capitalism expands its scope to encompass ever-greater masses of potential labor, through which it may begin the process of securing its means of production, and the human labor necessary to work with said means of production. The capitalist then (according to Marx) enters into a "contract" with each wage-laborer, essentially promising the necessary means of subsistence in exchange for the laborer's physical energy, or working ability. If agreed upon, the worker enters under the purview of his/her employer (or to go by Marx's term, the capitalist), and proceeds to expend the needed labor-power in order to produce whatever particular goods/services required. In return, the capitalist pays the worker. However, remember what I pointed out above: capitalism's primary goal is the accumulation of capital (profits). This said, the capitalist is posed with the dilemma of either paying the worker for his/her services (plus, in today's world, possible benefits, etc.), or possibly a) cutting wages, or b) shortening the overall length of the *paid* work day, but extending the rest - therefore causing the worker to be paid for but a specific length of time yet continuing to work for the rest of the hours required. Or, as Marx has illustrated: A----B (the length from point A to point B represent the amount of hours paid) to B-------C (the amount of time from point B to point C representing the amount of hours - or labor - not paid). Thus, the capitalist is able to pay his/her workers yet still is able to accumulate the necessary amount of capital (profits) needed to continue the operation all over again.
Granted, this is a rather antiquated concept (contained in Marx's "Capital"), however I believe the principles enshrined in it ring true. If not directly similar, it is relatable, as seen in today's economic world/climate. Furthermore, the concept furthers Marx's main point: the sole purpose - and reason for existence - of Capitalism is, generally, the pursuit and accumulation of profit through exploitative measures/means. We see this in the horrid working conditions (sweatshops) of Asia, as well as S. America, where transnational corporations and industries move jobs away and relocate them in countries where labor is easily exploited, and labor/environmental conditions,laws, and regulations are all but nonexistent. If we are to follow Marx's key theory, such exploitation will inevitably lead to revolt on the behalf of the workers living under said horrid conditions, wherein they will overthrow their oppressors, seize the means of production and distribution, and bring in a new era of workers' cooperation, egalitarianism, and democracy - all for the good of the collective. Such revolts have been seen in Russia, Germany, France, G. Britain, China, Cuba, and all throughout the world. However, as I have noted above, these movements were not lead by the broad majority; instead they relied on the goodwill and vigor of a revolutionary vanguard party (Leninism), which, historically, has been proven to fail due to corruption, centralism, and authoritarianism. Certainly other commonalities are to be seen as well, mainly the lack of agricultural, industrial, economic, and political development within said nations. But I digress, and I have already explained these reasons above. Socialism, as the next step in economic and political development, requires a strong industrial base, a sound democratic foundation, and a working class conscious and aware of its plight and needs. Without these necessities, any movement will struggle (more so than should be necessary). Socialism can work, and function in a manner that is efficient, effective, democratic, and stable. It is merely the transition from capitalism to a more collective, egalitarian society; one which focuses on the needs of the majority, as opposed to the wants and demands of a privileged few. I would emphasize that Socialism requires Democracy in order to function in a healthy and transparent manner. To do otherwise would be to invite corruption and stagnation. Is it in any way a Utopian dream? No, not by any means. Democratic Socialism, founded upon the needs of the majority, is our best bet - I think. This is all my own personal opinion, coupled with what I have taken away from my readings of Marx and Engels. There are those who would argue that the necessary next step after Socialism is Communism; this may well be - for some. I personally do not see the need to go beyond it. However, again, this is just me.
Answered By: Le Socialiste - 12/24/2010