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New Harmony, a model community suggested by Robert Owen, 1838

Socialism is an economic system where the means of producing wealth (factories, offices, etc.) are owned by society as a whole, meaning the value produced belongs to everyone in society as opposed to a small class of private owners. People who advocate this type of system are called socialists.[1] There are two ways socialists believe society can own the means of producing wealth: either the state is used or worker-owned cooperatives are used. Another key belief is that management and portion are supposed to be based on public interests. Socialists believe that everything in society is made by the cooperative efforts of the people.

There are many varieties of socialism, so no one definition can apply to all of them; however, in all varieties, the workers own the means of production.[2] The major differences between the different varieties are the role of the free market or planning, the method of ownership of the means of production, the role of management of workers and the government's role in the economy.

A more extreme form of Socialism is called Communism. The main difference between Socialism and Communism is that in a Communist society, there is no state, money, or social classes.

Overview[change | change source]

Socialism is an economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. In Marxist theory, it is a transitional (temporary) social state between the capitalism and Communism.

Social democracy is a kind of Socialism that tries to mix parts of socialism with capitalism. In this system, the government takes some wealth (money) from the rich and gives it to the poor like a Communist state, but despite any increase in regulatory control and reduced monetary incentive, people can continue to operate their own businesses and own private property. Unlike communism, a portion of the money siphoned out of the economy through taxation is partially redistributed under the auspices of the common good after deductions for government administrative expense and collection, rather than direct seizure of private property for public possession. The primary strategy of democratic socialism is fundamental transformation through systematic reform rather than overt revolution.

In many countries that practice social democracy, specific services, and some industries, are subsidized and/or partially controlled by the government. For example, education, health care, housing, utility companies or public transportation are some industries that might be owned/maintained by the government in a socialist system. For the most part, people working in these industries are paid by the government, with money paid by the people as taxes. Welfare is likely offered under socialism.

Another kind of Socialism is "Collectivization." In this system, money and goods are shared more equally among the people, with the government in control. In theory, this system results in the divide between classes getting smaller, with the poorest of a nation's people being better cared for while the richest accept higher taxes and economic regulations/restrictions. Of course, Socialism as it is commonly practiced differs in many ways from communism (See "The History of Socialism and Communism", later in the article.)

Today, many democratic socialists, especially in Western Europe, want industries to be guided jointly (together) by representatives of shareholders as well as the workers working together in what is known as an industrial democracy because both groups have interests in the success of the enterprise. This would be a more direct democratic way of organizing rather than control by central government. Trade unions and/or workers councils would represent the interests of the employees.

Many countries see Socialism differently. Socialist International is an organization dedicated to the cause of promoting socialist ideals, and has ties with many Socialist parties, especially Social Democratic parties.

Most non-communist people say "communism" when they mean the Marxist and Leninist ideas of Russia's Bolshevik party. Marx believed that capitalism followed the economic and political system of feudalism. He also believed that capitalism would oppress many people, and those people would eventually revolt and use socialism. Then he thought that socialism can be another bridge, but to Communism. However, many people incorrectly use the term "Communist" to refer to a socialist state. Others call this 'State Socialism,' to distinguish it from the communist goal that does not need a state or any form of government. To non-communists, the word 'socialism' is now mostly used for attempts to come close to this goal in a democratic state.

History[change | change source]

A Welshman, Robert Owen, was the first socialist. His followers began calling themselves socialists in 1841.[3] He is still regarded as a pioneer of the Co-operative Movement in Britain. He said that workers should own the companies they worked for. The workers would then share the profits among themselves. He set up a new model factory in New Lanark, Scotland.[4]

Karl Marx is the most well-knowned architect of the theory of socialism, and communism. He wrote a book about capitalism, socialism, and communism, called "The Communist Manifesto". Friedrich Engels co-wrote the book, and paid for much of Marx's work and research.

Many socialist political parties were formed during the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. Left-wing political parties are generally newer than right-wing ones.

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics[change | change source]

Socialism[5] with Chinese characteristics combines the basic principles of scientific socialism with the facts of building socialistic China. Socialism is the common rule and essential feature of the practice, and Chinese characteristics are what the basic principles of socialism really represent in China. And the scientific socialism theory is raised by Deng Xiaoping, the chief designer of opening up and economic reform in China.

1. For the economic aspect, China insists on the economy with different types of ownership basic system of market economy with the public ownership in the leading role.

2. For its political aspect, China sticks to a system of the People's Congress, a system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation, and a system of regional ethnic autonomy.

3. For its cultural aspect, China keeps its socialist value system at the core of social trends, while respecting differences and expanding common grounds.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Durlauf, Steven N.; E. Blume, Lawrence. "socialism". DICTIONARY OF ECONOMICS. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
  2. Peter Lamb, J. C. Docherty. Historical dictionary of socialism. Lanham, Maryland, UK; Oxford, England, UK: Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2006. p. 1.
  3. Gale (2001). "Socialism" . World of Sociology. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  4. "Socialism". Encyclopedia of World Trade From Ancient Times to the Present. 2005. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  5. Chi, Liu. "socialism with Chinese Characteristics". CRIENGLISH.