Modern socialism originated from an 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private property on society. In the early 19th-century, “socialism” referred to any concern for the social problems of capitalism irrespective of the solutions to those problems. However, by the late 19th-century, “socialism” had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for an alternative system based on some form of social ownership
I am prompted to write this because I saw our much maligned former Prime Minister Julia Gillard ‘accused’ of being a socialist the other day. Insult or not, she is not a socialist and never has been one. I have only known a few real socialists in the Labour Movement and Labor Party in the last 60 years here and in Britain.
One of them was a member of the LCL, often described as a socialist, but not because it was seen as an insult,the late Thomas Playford, Premier of South Australia for decades.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Playford_IV). He was responsible for public ownership of power generation, for the build up of the white goods industry and for massive building programs in the public sector back in the 1950’s including public housing for workers in the growing industries, immigants and refugees. He was succeeded by Don Dunstan of the Labour Party, who was more interested in education and the arts and took us forward in ways that are still having benefits today as we move further into food production, marketing and the hospitality industry. Some of his initiatives are recognised as gold standard world-wide, even today.
The two men were great mates, despite the difference in their age and party allegiances.They sat on opposite sides of the house. However, they often rode home together, Tom offering Don a lift on his way home to Norton Summit and his orchards. Many who know this story have expressed a wish to know what they discussed! Don was a keen backyard gardener and producer and later a restauranteur. Days before he died he was placing net bags over his grapes to protect the bunches from birds. My guess is they were discussing the fine art of pruning and grafting or apple varieties and other fascinating topics which kept them in the real world, grounded and firmly planted in what matters – that all people should have health care, an education, an affordable place to live and a job. That is my standard. If you can’t match that as a politician, you won’t get my vote or even my passing interest!