The Soviet Communist Party sought to "build socialism" in the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, anarchists and proponents of other alternative visions of socialism—emphasizing the potential of small-scale communities and agrarianism—coexisted with the more influential currents of Marxism and Bernstein's social democracy.
Socialism developed as a political ideology in the nineteenth century as a reaction to industrial injustice, labor exploitation, and unemployment in Europe.
Йmile Durkheim saw socialism as rooted in the desire simply to bring the state closer to the realm of individual activity as a response to the growing anomie of capitalist society.
When Stalin assumed power following the death of Lenin, he favored a "socialism in one country" policy in contrast to Leon Trotsky's call for permanent revolution.
Others advocate "market socialism" in which social control of economy rests on a framework of market economics and private property.
Socialism became increasingly associated with newly formed trade unions and mass political parties aimed at mobilizing working class voters in states.
Max Weber was—along with Karl Marx, Vilfredo Pareto, and Йmile Durkheim—one of the founders of modern sociology.
Early socialists differed on how socialism was to be achieved or organized, and they did not agree on the role of private property, the degree of egalitarianism, and whether the traditional family should be preserved.
The moderate, or revisionist, wing of socialism dominated the meeting of the Second International in Paris in 1889.
In China, the Chinese Communist Party has led a transition from the command economy of the Mao period under the banner of "market socialism."
The influence of the party gradually declined, and socialism never became a major political force in the United States.
Weber was a critic of socialism who warned that putting the economy under the total bureaucratic control of the state would not result in liberation but an "iron cage of future bondage."
Both the National Socialism in Germany under Hitler and the Soviet-style developed by Lenin and his successors became totalitarian states that denied personal freedom to citizens.
Outlining principles for the reorganization of society along collectivist lines, Saint-Simon and Owen sought to build socialism on the foundations of planned, utopian communities.
On the other hand, strong opposition to social democracy came from revolutionary socialists in countries such as Russia where neither parliamentary democracy nor capitalist industrial infrastructure—theoretical precursors to "socialism"—existed.
Despite the rhetoric about socialism as an international force, socialists increasingly focused their politics on the nation-state, which was the practical seat of political power.
Lenin maintained that revolution was the only path to socialism.