Democratic socialism took firm root in European politics after World War I. Socialist democratic parties actively participated in government in Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and other nations. Socialism also became a powerful force in parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. To the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of independence movements, it was attractive as an alternative to the systems of private enterprise and exploitation established by their foreign rulers.
After World War II, socialist parties came to power in many nations throughout the world, and much private industry was nationalized. In Africa and Asia where the workers are peasants, not industrial laborers, socialist programs stressed land reform and other agrarian measures. These nations, until recently, have also emphasized government planning for rapid economic development. African socialism has also included the revival of precolonial values and institutions, while modernizing through the centralized apparatus of the one-party state. Recently, the collapse of Eastern European and Soviet Communist states has led socialists throughout the world to discard much of their doctrines regarding centralized planning and nationalization of enterprises.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.