Socialism is a political movement, and perhaps also a philosophic, economic and a cultural system, that seeks -in some versions- to construct a post-capitalist society where full Human self-actualization is the norm. To achieve that it advocates both the elimination of arbitrary authority and the end of exploitation of the powerless by the powerful. Socialists generally advoadvocate for the lower-class poor and redistributing unearned wealth.
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the Political Philosophy
What Socialism means
Socialists tend to oppose large corporations and the ultra-wealthy most of the time. It's against giving rich people the Freedom to take advantage of the rest of us which is good. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias define socialism as an economic system where the means of production are communally owned with at most a small private sector. In practice, Scandinavia and other social democratic systems are also sometimes called socialist.
Some types of socialism are like Social Democracy. That means having a welfare state which protects democracy. People who have their basic human needs met and a pleasing measure of personal Liberty don’t become involved in authoritarian movements.
More radical socalism
Other types of socialism involve replacing the capitalist class alltogether. Advocates of this type of socialism wants to see production controlled by the state, by municipal authorities, alternatively they want to see workers running their own industry or consumer cooperatives.There is certainly scope for state enterprise, municipal enterprise workers cooperatives, consumer cooperatives in a social demoratic system that workes but replacing the whole of industry with such systems does not work in practise. Even countries like communist China find it better to keep or reintroduce a private sector.
What is wrong with the present society
Currently, the richest 1% of Americans own 37% of the wealth and the poorest 90% own only 28%, a massive unfair distribution of wealth created as a result of the corporate influence politicians receive -- sometimes to the point that some rich pay a lower tax rate than the poor.
This kind of discrepancy is becoming apparent in the rest of the World as well.
Socialists (and Social Democrats) aim to fix the imbalance by either eliminating or reducing the private sector, getting rid of corporate influence and establishing laws that give the people equal care.
The rich don't always deserve that money, as many of them just drain the wealth from the poor and pass it to their offspring and refuse to share it with anyone that deserves it. It's hard to argue with a system that helps the poor and middle class (the vast majority of people are one of those two) and takes cash from the rich (who don't need it and never actually spend much of it).
Socialists and Liberals
From the American definition of liberalism, liberals share quite a lot with the European Social Democrats, with liberals being more inclined towards supporting human, civil rights and equality and Social Democrats towards social freedoms and labor rights.
Socialists, in that manner, have similar (but usually more extreme) opinions on economical matters.
Traditional socialism was a political and economic philosophy that advocated social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy, or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises, common ownership, autonomous public ownership or state ownership. As a form of social organization, traditional socialism was based on co-operative social relations and self-management; relatively equal power-relations and the reduction or elimination of hierarchy in the management of economic and political affairs.
Socialism and other political systems
Communists and far right Conservatives, such as Fascists, have much more in common, including a tendency to revise history, run over people with tanks (see Poland), treat the lower class awfully, censor books, movies and works of art and feel it is the government's right to monitor people’s movements and communication. Far-right Conservatives like Fascists also have something else in common with Communists. When Science goes against their ideology Right wing conservatives and Communists both like to pretend science is wrong.
Right-wing scare tactics
Because many people think badly about Communism, conservatives often pretend socialists are communists. This is a right-wing scare tactic sometimes called Red-baiting. Something similar is calling Obama a Socialist which is not true. Conservatives often claim that Socialism makes people lazy because the wealth gets "spread around" so much. They may also claim that Socialism does not work, when in fact, the 4 countries in Europe with the highest work ethic are all run by democratic socialists or Social Democrats, the two ideologies sometimes overlap. Socialism IS NOT the same as COMMUNISM, and neither communism or socialism is the same as Orwellianism. (Orwell was in fact a socialist!) Communism is socialism taken to the extreme, and saying that socialism is as bad as communism (we're looking at you, conservatives) is just a bit like saying stubbing your toe is as bad as the Holocaust.
Also the right calls many ideas they oppose socialist to put people against those ideas. For example Universal Health Care is called socialist. Universal health care can be part of a socialist system but many capitalist nations also have universal health care. People in nations with universal health care are on average healthier and live longer than people in nations without it. Socialists want universal health care but you don't have to be a socialist to want it.
Socialism seems to be becoming increasingly popular with young Americans, especially college students. See this:
Things Socialists can do:
- Free the people
- Get justice for the hard-working (A lot of the rich are hard-working and they should keep some of the wealth they generate but not all. The hard-working majority of the poor deserve far more than they get.)
- Get laid
- Get nasty to Fascists like Nazis and Klansmen
- Not commit human rights abuses
- Be peaceful
- Prove Neocons wrong in their imaginations
- Ally with Liberals to save the world
- Abolish the death penalty
- Treat Women as equals (What Saudi Arabian women need by a magnitude)
- Treat minorities and immigrants as equals
- Treat Homosexuals as equals
- End wars
- Replace unrestrained, deregulated capitalism with something better
- Tax the sh*t out of the extremely wealthy (If they work hard, they just get it back)
- Introduce Universal health care. Social democrats can also introduce universal health care as can people who just want to improve capitalism.
- Be social(ists)
- Posses a brain All humans need to get smarter
- YBe superior to communists (Oh wait, pretty much everyone including conservatives can do that, way too easy)
- Command economy
- Left-Right Ideological Spectrum
- Social Democracy
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- Socialism in the United Kingdom
- History of Socialism
- Difference between Socialism and Communism | Difference Between
- RationalWiki on Socialism
- Michael Moore Talks About Socialism Michael Moore explains what he thinks is a good Economic system.
- Chomsky on Socialism Noam Chomsky argues that the USSR was not socialist because it didn’t bring Freedom and attacks United States Capitalism too.
- What is Democratic Socialism? If you are studying Social science at 6th Form, College or University this video will give you useful background information for your course work. If you can’t understand it the first time you hear it you can play it several times. The text here is weird.