The scope of government intervention in the social and economic life of the country has been a controversial issue since the Industrial Revolution. Many people were able to become affluent due to the increased production, but a much larger number of the people faced the hard life because of low wages and appalling working conditions. Consequently, different socialist movements started to emerge in the countries around the world. Socialists opposed the governments and private companies practices of which led to the inequality. In many European countries socialism was very strong, but in the USA socialism has never been a mainstream movement. At the same time, there were not many countries that would fully rely either on the capitalism or the socialist economic system. Therefore these two systems coexisted and still co-exist and even the most liberal governments sometimes have to take the decisions that will be considered by many as the socialist-like decisions.
Paul Richards states that the idea of a Welfare State, in which the government has to protect the socio-economic well-being of the citizens, started to emerge in the 1830s-1840s when the early industrial capitalism caused the separation between the state and the citizens (Richards 91). Paul Richards focuses on the struggle of the handloom weavers in Great Britan that tried to fight for the better working conditions by protesting and writing petitions to the Parliament. Their main opponents were the Board of Trade that wanted to prove that handloom weavers’ economic hardships were the outcome of the emerging economy (Richards 93). A member of Parliament John Maxwell was supporting the working class and thought that the wealth and resources of the country had to be redistributed and better controlled in order to avoid manipulations by the industrialists, bankers, etc. (Richards 96). At the same time, the government failed to help the handloom weavers due to the lack of expertise in policy making under the new conditions of industrial capitalism (Richards 115).
Another example of a European country where socialism and capitalism developed simultaneously is Germany. In the article “The Socialism of German Socialists” (1998) Du Bois writes about 7 classes of socialists in Germany including radicals and anarchists and students and scientists (Du Bois 189). All classes had different motives to strive for the socialist order in Germany. The industrial class wanted to be protected by the state from the negative impact of the economic changes in Germany. The laborers that lived in the cities and earned enough for living wanted to have more influence on the government and the Social-Democratic party was a strong mediator for them. The low income working class just wanted to preserve the old order when there was not much pressure on the people (Du Bois 190-193). There was also a separate class of the Katheder Socialists that researched the German society and economy and advised the government how to tackle some societal problems in order to achieve better social justice. At the same time, despite the popularity of socialism Germany remained to be a paternalistic country and socialism failed to eradicate aristocracy in the German society (Du Bois 196).
Finally, the USA provides many examples how some elements of socialism were applied by the American leaders. For example, President Roosevelt and President Johnson introduced Social Security and Medicare (Rubino). Moreover, nowadays President Obama is often accused of implementing the socialist policies trying to intervene into the American economy, but Rubino provides many facts that prove the opposite.
In conclusion, the majority of modern economies are the mixed economies. Socialism emerged as a reaction to the increasing social injustice and negative externalities during the period of Early Capitalism when there were vast societal transformations. Under the pressure of the various groups of citizens the governments had to start to apply some of the socialist ideas to the economic and social policies. Even the USA that is the stalwart of capitalism sometimes has to intervene in order to protect the most vulnerable groups of people.
Du Bois, B. The Socialism of German Socialists. Central European History, Vol. 31, No. 3.
Cambridge University Press. 1998. Web. 12 February 2016
Richards, P. The State and Early Industrial Capitalism: The Case of the Handloom Weavers.
Past & Present, No. 83. Oxford University Press. May 1979. Web. 12 February 2016
Rubino, R. Barack Obama: A Socialist He Is Definitely Not. The Huffington Post. 22 April
2013. Web. 12 February 2016