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
74 more definitions
Top Definition
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
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
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
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

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