Top Ten Greatest SocialistsThe greatest people of all time who called themselves a socialist or who advocated for socialism.
The Top Ten
-Author of The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.
-Founder of the Communist League and key member of the First International.
-Revolutionary figure who kindled Marxism, communism, modern sociology, and the powerful ideas of historical materialism, dialectical materialism, class struggle, alienated labor, crisis theory, social conflict theory, and the labor theory of value.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite!”
-Revolutionary who fought apartheid as the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, its military wing, and ultimately the ANC itself. Spent 27 years in prison.
-First President of South Africa (1994-1999). His government created South Africa's Constitution, led a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and provided land, electricity, education, and healthcare to South African citizens.
-Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of The Long Walk to Freedom.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: "Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times -- times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation -- that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty ...more
-Most famous activist from the Civil Rights movement. Leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Birmingham campaign, and the Poor People’s Campaign. Participated in the Selma marches and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where he delivered the celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech. Assassinated.
-Minister. President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
-Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”
The ultimate irony: only in America could an avowed socialist become a multi-millionaire by selling a book trashing Capitalism. Also interesting that he did not donate any of his several houses back to the government, and took every allowable deduction on his taxes. Anyone is allowed to pay as much extra tax as they wish.
Americans found out Bernie wasn't crazy after all
-Independent US Senator from Vermont, ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, US Representative from Vermont, and Mayor of Burlington.
-Co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, co-sponsor of the Medicare for All and Social Security Expansion bills. Secured funding for key healthcare, environmental, and other social programs.
-Ran for US President in 2016 and 2020. Popularized socialism and his policy platform, and inspired other US leftists to run for office through organization like Our Revolution.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “If there is going to be class warfare in this country, it's about time the working class won that war.”
-Leader in the Indian independence movement and president of the Indian National Congress. Imprisoned with Gandhi for civil disobedience.
-First Prime Minister of India, the largest democracy in the world. Served for 18 years. Abolished the princely states and integrated a large and diverse nation under one secular government. Leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, oversaw India's loss in the Sino-Indian War.
-Led the industrialization of a mixed economy and creation of the "Permit Raj," fought for the rights of women and lower castes, and established universal primary education throughout India.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: "The conflict between capitalism and democracy is inherent and continuous; it is often hidden by misleading propaganda and by the outward forms of democracy, such as parliaments, and the sops that the owning classes throw to the other classes to keep them more or less contented. A time comes when ...more
-Union organizer and founding member of Brazil’s Worker’s Party.
-President of Brazil (2003-2010). Created sweeping family assistance, anti-hunger, and infrastructure programs that brought millions out of poverty, while running a surplus and successfully navigating Brazil through the 2008 global recession.
-After endorsing President Dilma Rousseff as his successor, she was impeached and he was imprisoned (and later freed) in the politically motivated Operation Car Wash, which prevented him from seeking office again.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Hunger is actually the worst weapon of mass destruction. It claims millions of victims each year...Well-fed people can enhance their dignity, their health and their learning capacity. Putting resources into social programs is not expenditure. It is investment...Where there is hunger there is no hope. There is only desolation and pain. Hunger nurtures violence and fanaticism. A world where people ...more
-Author of The Story of My Life, about her childhood triumph over the challenges posed by blindness and deafness.
-Co-founder of the ACLU and founder of the Helen Keller International organization. Member of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Party.
-Delivered countless lectures around the world on socialism, rights for people with disabilities, women's rights, and anti-imperialism, among other topics.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: "I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness."
-Author of The Souls of Black Folk and Black Reconstruction in America.
-Co-founder of the NAACP, founder of the Niagara Movement, and editor of The Crisis.
-Major contributor to modern sociology and pan-Africanism. Opposed Booker T. Washington's accommodation to Jim Crow and Marcus Garvey's separatism, while embracing Marxism later in life. Proposed theories of double consciousness, the color line, and the talented tenth.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”
-Linguist who revolutionized the field of linguistics by creating the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Credited with inspiring the cognitive revolution in the human sciences.
-Professor and author of Manufacturing Consent, Hegemony or Survival, and Syntactic Structures.
-Activist and outspoken critic of war, US foreign policy, neoliberalism, state capitalism, and the news media, and defender of free speech.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level – there’s a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed ...more
-Theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, the theory of special relativity, the mass–energy equivalence formula E=mc2, and the theory of Brownian motion. Also laid the foundation for quantum physics.
-Received the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect, and was named Time’s Person of the Century.
-Peace activist. Helped create the International Rescue Committee. Advocated for refugees, civil rights for African Americans, world government, gay rights, labor Zionism, and Arab-Jewish peace.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the ...more
The total collapse of the Soviet Union was the final nail in the coffin of his theories.
Socialist Quote: "Comply or die."
-Marxist revolutionary who led the Bolsheviks in the 1917 October Revolution which established the Russian Soviet Republic. Consolidated power by defeating the White Army and leading the Red Terror.
-Leader of Russia and the Soviet Union until his death. Presided over the redistribution of land to peasants, the nationalization of banks and industries, the Russian withdrawal from WWI, and the New Economic Policy.
-Author of The State and Revolution and Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin opposed nationalism, imperialism, and parliamentary democracy, and supported the establishment of a centralized and international worker’s state.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”
-Marxist revolutionary who was elected Prime Minister of the Gold Coast colony, and led a campaign of “positive action” which resulted in Ghana becoming the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from European colonization.
-First leader of Ghana (1957-1966). Passed ambitious development plans, created a welfare system, and established universal primary education. Overthrown in a coup after creating a one-party system with him as leader.
-Pan-Africanist, founder of the Organization of African Unity, and author of Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “If we are to achieve revolutionary Socialism, then we must avoid any suggestion that will imply that there is any separation between the Socialist world and a ‘Third World.’”
-Activist blogger and spokesperson who was shot in the head by the Taliban after advocating for girls’ education and women’s rights in Pakistan.
-Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, youngest Nobel laureate, author of I Am Malala, and subject of the documentary He Named Me Malala.
-Creator of the Malala Fund and advocate against the Rohingya genocide and drone strikes, among other issues.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
-Five time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. Imprisoned for ten years for opposing US entry into World War I.
-Founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, the American Railway Union, and the Socialist Party of America.
-Led the landmark Pullman strike and the Burlington railroad strike of 1888, and arguably inspired later banking reforms and child labor laws.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
-Prime Minister of the UK (1945-1951) and Leader of the Labour Party (1935-1955).
-As Prime Minister, created the UK's National Health Service and social insurance system, which offer free healthcare for all citizens and pensions for retirees, the sick, and the unemployed. Nationalized public utilities and major industries, created the National Parks system, passed a universal family allowance, and ensured free secondary education.
-Supported NATO and the Marshall Plan. Oversaw the independence of India and Pakistan as well as the end of the British Mandate in Palestine.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: "Socialists do not propose to substitute the domination of society by one privileged class for that of another. They seek to abolish class distinctions altogether. The abolition of classes is fundamental to the Socialist conception of society."
-Author of Women, Race & Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?
-Put on FBI’s Most Wanted List for alleged involvement in Marin County courthouse attacks; was acquitted after successfully defending herself at trial.
-Professor and founder of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism as well as prison abolition organization Critical Resistance.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “If Black people, by means of terror and violence, could remain the most brutally exploited group within the swelling ranks of the working class, the capitalists could enjoy a double advantage. Extra profits would result from the superexploitation of Black labor, and white workers’ hostilities toward their employers would be defused. White workers who assented to lynching necessarily assumed a posture of racial solidarity with the white men who were really their oppressors. This was a critical moment in the popularization of racist ideology.”
-Author of many novels, including Giovanni’s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk. Essayist, poet, and playwright, and author of The Fire Next Time and Notes of a Native Son.
-His work explored themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class in the context of the Civil Rights Movement and Gay Liberation Movement.
-Activist and lecturer during the Civil Rights Movement.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “Bobby Seale talks about a Yankee Doodle-type socialism. I know what he means when he says that. It is a socialism created from the indigenous need of the people in the place...The price of any real socialism here is the eradication of what we call the race problem...Racism is crucial to the system to keep Black[s] and whites at a division so both were and are a source of cheap labor.”
-Suffragist, activist, and author of the influential Declaration of Sentiments on women's rights.
-Founder and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Credited with initiating the first organized women's rights movement in the US.
-Abolitionist. Declined to support the 14th and 15th Amendments since the rights they provided did not extend to women.
-President of Bolivia (2006-2019) and leader of the Movement for Socialism (since 1998). Previously a trade unionist and activist for the preservation of Bolivia’s coca industry.
-As president, he significantly increased state ownership over natural resources within the context of a mixed economy, expanded the welfare state, abolished illiteracy, and cut off ties with the IMF and World Bank.
-Led initiatives to preserve indigenous culture and languages, combat racism, and increase the political participation of indigenous peoples.
𝙎𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚: “If we want to save the planet earth, to save life and humanity, we have a duty to put an end to the capitalist system...This is why I believe that it is important to put an end to the exploitation of human beings and to the pillage of natural resources, to put an end to destructive wars for markets and raw materials, to the plundering of energy, particularly fossil fuels, to the ...more
-Labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, which revolutionized the farm labor movement in the US.
-Organized the successful Delano grape strike in 1965, lobbied for bills that improved conditions for farm workers, and participated in various civil disobedience activities.
-Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and originator of the phrase, "Sí, se puede."