"Socialism" is a historical term whose use has evolved over time. I believe it first appeared in an Owenite periodical, the London Cooperative Journal, in 1829 or 1830.

The beginning of the classical socialist movement was the Ricardian socialist movement. They were inspired by two arguments of Ricardo's: 1) that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated producer prices when those commodities were in elastic supply, and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labor (including past labor embodied in capital); and 2) that profit, interest and rent were deductions from this exchange-value.

From these doctrines, the Ricardian socialists deduced that profit, interest
and rent derived from the exploitation of labor. The term "Ricardian socialist" applied most directly to English writers like Hodgskin, Thompson, Grey and Bray; but the same deductions from Ricardo occured to Proudhon, Rodbertus, Marx, and Warren before the middle of the century.

"Socialism" is not by any means necessarily statist. The market-oriented Ricardian socialist Thomas Hodgskin, and the American individualist anarchist Tucker (who resembled each other closely in many ways), believed that the free market was the best route to socialism. They both viewed profit, interest and rent, not as natural outgrowths of a free market, but as the products of state-enforced privilege IN VIOLATION OF the free market.

The central defining features of socialism, as Tucker defined them in "State Socialism and Anarchism," are:
1) The belief that all exchange value is created by labor; and
2) that "labor is entitled to all it creates."

Tucker believed that this latter end could be best achieved by removing statist privileges like banking market entry barriers, legal tender laws, and enforcement of land ownership not based on occupancy and use. The resulting free market in land and credit would reduce the return on these "factors" to the labor value of providing credit and the labor value of improvements on land (plus economic rent, of course).

I recently found a relevant statement on the issue by the Marxist Maurice Dobb, in his introduction to Marx's "Toward a Critique of Political Economy."

As Dobb rightly pointed out, the orthodox Marxist doctrine is that surplus
value was a necessary outgrowth of wage labor, even in the freest of free
markets. Even in such a laissez-faire environment, the difference between
the value of labor-power and the value of labor's product would result from
the inherent nature of wage labor. Profits would result, Marx said, even if
all products were sold at exactly their values (i.e., the LTV describes how
the market works now, not the ideal for a future utopia). His whole
doctrine depended on the assumption that exploitation would result even in a
free market, where all commodities were sold at value. As Marx said: "If
you cannot explain profit on this assumption [without bringing in state
coercion], you cannot explain it at all."

Dobb continues:

"The point of this can the better be appreciated if it is remembered that
the school of writers to whom the name of Ricardian Socialists has been
given (such as Thomas Hodgskin, William Thompson and John Bray), who can be
said to have held a 'primitive' theory of exploitation, explained profit on
capital as the product of superior bargaining power, lack of competition and
'unequal exchanges between Capital and Labour' (this bearing analogy with
Eugen Duhring's 'force theory' which was castigated by Engels). This was
the kind of explanation that Marx was avoiding rather than seeking. It did
*not* make exploitation *consistent* with the law of value and market
competition, but explained it by departures from, or imperfections in, the
latter. To it there was an easy answer from the liberal economists and free
traders: namely, 'join with us in demanding *really* free trade and then
there can be no "unequal exchanges" and exploitation.'"

In fact, what Warren, Tucker, and market-oriented Ricardian Socialists like Hodgskin did was PRECISELY to take up this last challenge. But the way in which they did so did not please most "liberal economists." Benjamin Tucker accepted Most's charge that he was merely a "consistent Manchesterian," and adopted that label as a badge of honor.

From: Fred Foldvary <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: socialism historical?
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 11:40:43 -0700 (PDT)

--- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
>  government money, as it predates socialism, probably doesn't rightly
fall under the category of socialism. <

Does the meaning of socialism include a time frame, so that a policy that
is socialist after that time is not socialist before that time?

What is "socialism," what year does it take effect, and why is the time
element involved?

Fred Foldvary


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