Socialism may be seen as a less radical version of communism, which is a utopian sociopolitical implementation that is supposed to provide for people's needs while generating participation in the collective good by all the citizens involved. Socialism, too, advocates for common ownership of production and resources but in practice has been implemented as a "mixed" environment in which there is both public and private ownership of society's most important functions.
Ironically, socialism as a theory is supposed to result in a less hierarchal society that eliminates state bureaucracy and control. In reality just the reverse has proven true. The more collectivism a society espouses, the larger and more powerful the state itself and its bureaucracies tend to be. While classical socialism emphasizes that control of society must devolve to worker-ownership through various flexible cooperatives, etc. (and unions, too), in practice Leviathan swells as such utopian systems are implemented.
Modern socialism finds its roots in utopian socialists such as Robert Owen (1771–1858) who emphasized communal living and Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825), who coined the term. Saint-Simon apparently advocated a technocratic form of socialism in which "experts" would be called upon to manage various aspects of society with scientific rigor (as opposed to political favoritism). In its more extreme forms, socialism blends with the kind of communism espoused by Karl Marx.
Various aspects of socialism such as communes and unions found their way into the formation of the USSR. And even today aspects of formal socialism are an energetic part of Western societies, though the nomenclature used to describe such societies is "capitalism." What is very clear is that the combination of co-operative and state ownership models intermingled with free markets and competitive transactions are the hallmarks of modern society.
What is also clear is that this is an uneasy balance that threatens to plunge even the freest society into an authoritarian spiral, as there are no clear demarcations between the valid workings of price discovery and the price-fixing regulatory functions of the state. This is a problem for all Western states and the results can be seen in the gradual rise in authoritarianism that is taking place throughout the West.
When one has conflated state mandates with the efficiencies of the private market and no distinction is made between them, then freedoms must almost inevitably erode until the larger body-politic rediscovers amidst social ruin and economic chaos how proper functioning societies actually operate and why central planning – socialism – inevitably fails.
News & Analysis
|05/03/13||Sweden Is Not So Equal|
|05/02/13||Obamacare: Opportunity Amidst the Wreckage, but Not Forever|
|04/30/13||Fisker's Spendthrift Tale: Failure of Green Government Action|
|05/09/13||Karl Marx, the Once 'Anti-Communist,' Who Brought Socialist Ruin to the World|
|04/17/13||The Corruption of Individual Rights|
|01/03/13||A Note on Socialism as Elitism|