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An economic system based on public ownership of the means of production. The most overt examples of public or common ownership exist in strict communist societies. Small scale communes exist within which people own all physical assets commonly. Some communes even have common ownership of some clothing. Strict communism requires income equality, and is sometimes referred to as economic democracy.

Common ownership of the means of production implies that production is directed by 'society' rather than by entrepreneurs. Socialists tend to promote democratic government as the representative of society in directing production. Large scale production cannot be planned through direct democratic vote, and requires that bureaucrats and officials decide many issues in production.

Critics of socialism claim that socialism fails to match the performance of capitalism for three reasons. First the equalization of incomes eliminates the incentive to innovate and work hard. Second, bureaucrats and high officials do not posses the informational required to direct production in a complex society. Market prices are needed to solve the informational problems of directing production, and socialism will at best have pseudo-prices. The absence of financial markets is a major problem with socialism. Third, socialism tends to degenerate into oppressive dictatorship. The incentive, informational, and political problems of socialism are inescapable.

Many want socialism for ideological reasons. Egalitarian ethics drive the socialist movement. Marxists claim that capitalism is exploitative. Socialism is indefensible in terms of economic efficiency and natural rights ethics. Socialists envision a better world, but their dreams are unrealizable.
1. the USSR (Soviet socialism based on overt central planning)

2. Nazi Germany (national socialism based on comprehensive regulation)

3. Sweden in 1991 (before the backed off from the abyss)

4. England just before Thatcher (before the backed off from the abyss)
by evolutionary subjectivist September 24, 2007
Actual: An economic system in between capitalism and communism, advocating collective ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Slang: Anything that a right winger doesn't like.
The national highway system is an example of socialism.

That atheist socialist Hussein wants to impose Sharia Law and gay marriage on America!
by JeffGannon February 06, 2012
1. An economic system where the means of production, distribution and exchange is determined by the state/public sector in some form. Can be centralised, decentralised, democratic or undemocratic.

2. Description of a left-wing political position between social democracy (general acceptance of the market economy but thinks the public sector has a vital role in proividing some goods and services) and communism (marxism). Agrees in the state determining the means of production, distribution and exchange but wants to bring that about peacefully and democratically.

3. General description of the left: the belief that individuals should be judged on how they treat other people rather than on their job/race/sexuality, that people should have equality of opportunity, that in principle wealth should be distributed fairly to everyone who works rather than the minority who own most of the economy and most of the wealth and that an economy owned by a few individuals without a strong public sector to balance that is undemocratic and unjust.

4. A stage in history defined by Marx's theories as coming after capitlalism and before communism where the means of production is owned by the state and run in the interests of the proletariat.

5. A label used by various Marxist-Leninist dictatorships with state-run economies in the 20th Century to justify their totalitarianism.
All marxists are socialists but not all socialists are marxists.
by Skitali March 03, 2004
confused with communism, which doesn't work, this however can work very well with a mix of capitalism and democracy, it is a more equal economic system where the poor can become rich, whenever this comes up in a conversation someone eventually says it didn't work in russia
I think socialism is a..
Didn't work in russia
No, thats communism, this is differ...
Didn't work in cuba
Your not listening to me, Im talking about something completely different!
by Jared October 19, 2003
A socio-economic system where every worker-citizen is "equal." A decent theory on paper, but difficult to implement in the "real world."
During the cold war there was a massive amount of propoganda against socialism spread by conservatives who didn't want to lose their control over business and government.
by deleted_scenes July 30, 2003
My take: all approaches to governing people lay on a spectrum and each is interdependent with the economics of that society. Because the terms cover widths on that spectrum, and are not able to be pigeon-holed, no one conveneient definition of a term such as socialism, and, hence, no one convenient dismissal, is acceptable to a thinking person.

Socialism has many current forms, some more invested in governmental "control" and involvement (western European govenrments) ostensibly stemming from the belief that people will not pay for that from which they do not receive immediate benefit; i.e., roads, health care, the military (need taxes to pay for these things). Yes, the US is a socialist state as well, as it governs some aspects of production, some aspects of capital disbursement (in the form of the Fed, quasi-governenmental instititutions such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, special US-backed corporate loans ala Chrysler in the 80s), health care and wealth distribution (taxes). We just do it to less of an extent that some claimed "socialist" states.

If there is anything I would like people to undersdtand, it would be that socialism is not a bad word, no more so tham "dog", and that your unbiased assessment, as opposed to your knee-jerk dismissal, is warranted to truly understand and judge this concept.
And, by the way, the working forms of socialism in the modern world (US included), are "social democracies".

And, American cowboy, I know you've been brought up to believe you are independent and it is your manifest destiny to strive to whatever length to outcompete, but remember you live in a community and those you outcompete will lose, and your charity should have been given prior to their loss, or their need to receive a handout. In this way we all win and enemies or the disenfranchised no longer exist.
by scott semper November 13, 2004
Term invented by the affluent to convince the average that the remote possibility of great wealth is worth sacrificing health care, education, and a decent life for seniors. In other words as long as you too can be a Bilderberg, even if the chance is as remote as yogic flying, then the 98% of the population who cannot afford extensive health care, post-secondary education, or retirement savings can all suffer.
"You're being the poster child for socialism donating money to the Cancer Society, even though the pursuit of profit has allowed the use of Atrazine, DDT, BPA, PCB's and other carcinogens to be so affluent some have appeared in rain water.

Just because capital pursuit has indiscriminately stolen from every single living organism it's right to live free from toxic byproducts in the manufacture of our fuel, food, and plastics - it does not make you and I as direct consumers responsible.
by Hydroguy March 05, 2010
From abortion to genocide socialism is an ideology responsible for more deaths to humanity than any other ideology in the history of mankind.
Socialism is murder.
by Socialism is Murder April 15, 2010