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
The simplest definition for socialism is this: democratic workers' ownership and management of the means of production.

Notice, that this does not imply a state. The comparison between communism and socialism is an erroneous one, as communism refers to a theoretical future society - a classless, stateless society in which the economy and society is run generally of the line of "From each according to their ability, to each according their need , and socialism to an economic system
Socialism or barbarism!
by Llanganati November 23, 2014
1) An economic system where the means of production (large machinery, equipment and land) are organized to directly produce goods and services for use as opposed to being owned and operated for private profit. It entails some form of public, cooperative or collective ownership in the either autonomous cooperatives or a network of public entities or a centralized state.

There are many models of socialism that vary in three ways: the coordinating mechanism for making economic decisions (economic planning or market socialism); the type of ownership; and how firms are managed (self-management, democratic management, etc).

The fundamental difference between socialism and capitalism is the elimination of private property in socialized production under socialism (i.e; in highly collective and mechanized industries) so no idle class can live off profits, rent and interest. Instead of going to a class of capitalists, the profit might go to all the workers in a firm (in cooperative types of socialism) or to the public at large (in public/state ownership types of socialism) - potentially eliminating the need for taxation as a source of public revenue.

2) Political movements that advocate a socialist economic system; but sometimes it is used to refer to the policies of self-described Communist or Social democratic parties regardless of whether or not these policies have anything to do with socialism as a different economic system than capitalism.
"I am a socialist; I think capitalism is unjust and becoming inefficient for providing for society as a whole."

"Soo... you think we should tax the rich to pay for social programs and regulate businesses to make them work for 'society'?"

"That is not socialism... socialism means changing the ownership of enterprises. In fact, socialism would mean we don't need to rely so much on taxes because the profits made by enterprises could be used to replace the role of taxes in financing public services. And regulation is just an attempt to correct market failures in capitalism, socialism would not require inefficient regulation because we would directly own and run enterprises."
by Fighting Falcon May 13, 2012
1. The political philosophy that the means of production should be owned by the working public rather than individuals. This can be interpreted in a vast number of ways. For instance, the public may own property through the government or through various workers' organizations.

Socialism is not social democracy (socialism has nothing to do with taxing people or pouring money into welfare programs). Nor is socialism necessarily communism (many socialists believe in the right to personal property and not in the redistribution of income).

To put it briefly: socialism is the idea that those who work to create a profit should receive it. You can make money by working but not by exploiting others.

2. The extension of democratic ideals into the economy.
Neither Cuba nor Sweden lives up to the ideology of socialism.
by Coffee Eyes July 10, 2008
A political philosophy based on the belief that some or all businesses should be run solely for the benefit of the people using them.

Socialism and Communism are based on similar principles. Socialism does not require that a socialized industry be legally owned by the government, but if that were the case it could still be considered socialism. In the strictest sense, Communism prohibits private ownership of money, business, or goods, while Socialism may or may not on a case by case basis. The two can therefore resemble each other and it can be hard to distinguish one from the other.
In a Communist country, I worked in a deli owned by the government and was paid a fixed salary by the government.

In another country's socialized medical system, I am a doctor, own my office, and pay my own salary out of my business account, but legally have no right to decide how to run any aspect of my business. I can't change my prices, deny service to anyone, or increase my own salary.
by ed July 25, 2004
a political theory advocating worker ownership of the means of production.
Socialism is opposed to capitalism.
by The Libertarian Socialist March 19, 2010
Stepping stone from Capitalism to Communism. It will not work with humans and society at the current level of evolution. I do believe, however, in the far future, it will be possible. The reason socialism and communism have not worked so far is because they did not first have capitalism. You see, Capitalism provides the infrastructure needed for Socialism and Communism to work and in places like the USSR and China, they went straight from agrarian societies to Communism (skipping capitalism and socialism) so it did not work. There were other reasons as well like dictators and corruption. Communism is the perfect system but alas, human beings are NOT perfect so they are not compatible.
by BurgLyke October 12, 2003
For voters who can't accept the real thing
"I can't believe it's not Communism!" Paul exclaimed after realizing Socialism is not communism
by AnnexTheFrikinZero December 25, 2012

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