Socialism Defined

I’ve never understood why those of a socialist persuasion try to pretend that they’re not socialist. Well I found the Encyclopaedia Britannica definition of socialism, and boy does it have something to say about the Democratic Party:

socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.

Holy Hell, it’s almost like it’s exactly the perspective that Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren were arguing for when Obama said, “You didn’t build that.”

This conviction puts socialism in opposition to capitalism, which is based on private ownership of the means of production and allows individual choices in a free market to determine how goods and services are distributed. Socialists complain that capitalism necessarily leads to unfair and exploitative concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the relative few who emerge victorious from free-market competition—people who then use their wealth and power to reinforce their dominance in society. Because such people are rich, they may choose where and how to live, and their choices in turn limit the options of the poor. As a result, terms such as individual freedom and equality of opportunity may be meaningful for capitalists but can only ring hollow for working people, who must do the capitalists’ bidding if they are to survive. As socialists see it, true freedom and true equality require social control of the resources that provide the basis for prosperity in any society. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels made this point in Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) when they proclaimed that in a socialist society “the condition for the free development of each is the free development of all.”

If we replaced the term “socialism” in that excerpt with “unnamed philosophy,” and then walked around the Democratic National Convention asking people whether they believe in this unnamed philosophy, how many do you think would say no? One? Maybe Two?
Let’s face it: The supporters of the Democratic Party are socialists, through-and-through.

This fundamental conviction nevertheless leaves room for socialists to disagree among themselves with regard to two key points. The first concerns the extent and the kind of property that society should own or control. Some socialists have thought that almost everything except personal items such as clothing should be public property; this is true, for example, of the society envisioned by the English humanist Sir Thomas More in his Utopia (1516). Other socialists, however, have been willing to accept or even welcome private ownership of farms, shops, and other small or medium-sized businesses.

And this point is how we distinguish between the communist forms of socialism and the fascist forms of socialism.

The second disagreement concerns the way in which society is to exercise its control of property and other resources. In this case the main camps consist of loosely defined groups of centralists and decentralists. On the centralist side are socialists who want to invest public control of property in some central authority, such as the state—or the state under the guidance of a political party, as was the case in the Soviet Union. Those in the decentralist camp believe that decisions about the use of public property and resources should be made at the local, or lowest-possible, level by the people who will be most directly affected by those decisions. This conflict has persisted throughout the history of socialism as a political movement.

And there’s your split between the Democratic Party and the Occupy Movement.
The current political climate is really just the same battle between socialism and capitalism that has raged throughout history. The only difference is, we’re now fighting that war at home rather than on foreign shores.

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One Response to “Socialism Defined”

  1. freemarketmerchant Says:

    Ayn Rand made a great correlation to Statism, Fascism and Socialism in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. I used it in my very first blog http://austrianschoolwarrior.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/the-true-equality-statism-fascism-socialism-and-corporatism/

    Great blog anyway!


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