Socialism or Limited Communism
Socialism, or Limited Communism, which, like Communism (see The Communist Manifesto), is a social, political, and economic theory based on the same fundamental ideology and ultimate goal of achieving an ideal, or utopian, society on earth. (see utopianism specifically Hegelian Utopianism). Primarily, the distinction between Socialism and Communism is a matter of degree of implementation (see Spectrum of Economic Systems).
Like Communism, Socialism is a theoretical system of government based on: central planning for both the economy (see Planned Economy or Command Economy) and society, collectivism, groupthink, ideological control, the compulsion to establish and maintain equality and conformity, government control of the means of production and property, redistribution of wealth, and a fundamental opposition to Capitalism (see Market Economy and Americanism). The objective of Socialism is to replace Capitalism with an urbanized communal society controlled by a central government. The government would control both society and the economy (see socio-economic. Everything under government control would be monitored, organized, and equitably rationed (see Redistribution of Wealth) to the people.
The central government in Socialism attempts to own or control the majority of society and the economy, unlike Communism, whose central government attempts to own and control all of society and the economy worldwide. Socialism does not necessarily require government ownership of the means of production and property because government control can be achieved remotely through regulation. Furthermore, Socialism is not necessarily intended to be implemented worldwide, unless it is Socialism/Limited Communism, a transitional phase of Pure Communism.
The foundation of the theory of Socialism is the ideology that a capitalistic society is comprised of oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors are considered to be the middle class, the wealthy, those who own and operate the means of production, capitalists, or the “bourgeois.” The oppressed are considered to be the working class or the “proletariat.” Socialists believe that individual wealth or power can only be attained by oppressing or taking advantage of others.
Socialists are fundamentally opposed to what they consider to be the dangers and immorality of individualism, personal freedom, marriage, the family unit, private property, personal wealth, social and economic distinctions, technology, industrialization, commerce, the world market, and the general inequality and volatility of a market economy (see Capitalism). Socialists want to implement urbanized communal living, working, and child rearing; and to regulate equality through the redistribution of wealth, and the prevention of any individual from acquiring or achieving more than any other individual. This communal society would be organized and controlled by a centralized government. As a result of communal living and regulated equality, socialists believe that the entirety of society would benefit and flourish as a group. Overall, individual independence would be replaced by communal dependence.
In order to maintain a socialistic society, anyone identified by the government as an enemy of the people, unwilling to conform or remain silent when their individual morality conflicts with public morality, or anyone whose goals are in opposition to the government’s goals, would be brought into conformity through social and governmental pressure.
Forms of Socialism
There are two primary forms of Socialism. The first is Socialism as a transitional phase of Communism or Limited Communism, and the second is Socialism as an independent theory. There is, however, a third form of Socialism that is referred to as Market Socialism (see Mixed Economy) which is potentially a sub-form of each of the two primary forms of Socialism. Market Socialism is Socialism with some level of limited use of or participation in Capitalism within specific sectors. Market Socialism is the most commonly implemented form of Socialism and is likely a transitional phase from Capitalism to Socialism, or a “trial run” to test the potential success of Socialism. No state has ever successfully achieved either of the two primary forms of Socialism because no economy has ever survived the total destruction of a Market Economy in an effort to implement a Planned Economy. It is easy to see why states gradually implement (see Incrementalism) Socialism through Market Socialism.
Note: According to Karl Marx (see The Communist Manifesto), Socialism would merely be a transitional phase from Capitalism to Communism. It is accurate to say that Socialism, based on the structure and transitional strategy of the theory of Communism, is a transitional phase from Capitalism to Communism. It is also accurate to say that Socialism, as an independent theory, even though its ideology is essentially the same as Communism, has its own unique structure and control goals, and is an entirely separate system of government.
Variations of Socialism
Socialism is not necessarily a fixed system of government and can vary from state to state. Each state develops some combination of government ownership and/or control of social and economic issues, and implements it at different rates, and through different methods.
One Socialist state may ration income by requiring equal income for each citizen. Another Socialist state may fix income rates for each job. Yet another Socialist state may institute progressive tax rates designed to severely tax the income of high earners and distribute the resulting tax revenue among the low earners (see Redistribution of Wealth).
One Socialist state may assume government ownership and control of corporations or industries which are the means of production. Another Socialist state may assume government ownership and control of the means of production, allow demand to dictate supply, participate in the market economies of Capitalist states, and then distribute profit equally among the citizens of the Socialist state (see Market Socialism and Mixed Economy). Another Socialist state may allow for private ownership of the means of production but maintain control over it remotely through regulations. Yet another Socialist state may allow for private ownership of the means of production but maintain control over it remotely through regulations, while allowing other portions of the means of production to operate with less regulatory control.
One Socialist state may assume government ownership of all property. Another Socialist state may allow citizens to own private property, but retain control over it through regulation. Yet another Socialist state may assume government ownership of property and permit some private property ownership.
One Socialist state may assume government control over all aspects of health care resulting in rationing of health care to citizens. Another Socialist state may assume government ownership and direct control of portions of health care; allow for private ownership of health insurance companies, healthcare facilities, and private health care providers; but control them remotely through government regulation. Yet another Socialist state may allow for total private ownership of health insurance companies, health care facilities, and health care providers; but control them remotely through government regulations.
Socialism, like Communism, is intended to be implemented incrementally (see Incrementalism). Initially, both Socialism and Communism attempt to undermine Capitalism through the strategic use of the freedoms that only exist in capitalistic societies, as well as through class warfare, destruction of individualism, revolutionary action, and social and governmental pressure to conform. However, while Communism promotes a strategic, rapid, extremely aggressive, and violent overthrow of Capitalism; Socialism is more likely to promote a less overt and slower transition out of Capitalism and into Socialism.
Direct and Indirect Methods of Control
Socialism seeks to use the power of government and society to control the economic and social aspects of society. While we tend to think of control as direct and overt, it can be just as powerful and effective through indirect methods.
Direct methods of control are overt and obvious such as the passage of laws, the seizure of the privately owned and operated means of production by the government and conversion to publicly owned and operated means of production, the elimination of private property through seizure and conversion to public property, or direct taxation.
The politicians felt that the industry was too important to society and should not be allowed to continue as a for-profit industry owned by private entities. They did not feel that they were able to exercise the level of control over the industry remotely through laws and regulations. They decided that the federal government should both own and operate the entire industry as they believed that the federal government would do a better job of running the industry to the benefit of society.
Indirect methods of control are covert and potentially ambiguous such as the creation of regulatory agencies (see Law vs. Regulations); controlling the means of production through laws or regulations as opposed to direct government ownership and operation; the passage of indirect taxes, fees, or fines.
The politicians were looking for ways to control the industry without actually taking it out of the hands of the private sector as there was not enough support for government ownership and operation of the industry at the present time. In order to control the industry indirectly they simply passed a lengthy and complicated law that established a regulatory agency to oversee the industry, gave the agency the ability to create regulations without the need to pass additional laws, and thus eliminated the ability of the industry to make any substantial decisions on its own.
As capitalist nations transition to Socialism or Limited Communism, Socialist and Communist leaders expect that humanity will suffer temporarily. This suffering will arise due to class warfare, violence, the forcible seizure of individual wealth and property from the oppressors, coercion to compel the people through both physical and social pressures to conform and cooperate, and finally the destruction of the market economy. Regardless of the suffering, Socialists believe that having a higher purpose will justify these patriotic sacrifices as they will be worth the ultimate goal of Socialism or Communism. In other words, socialists believe that the ends will justify the means.
Comparing Systems of Government
The fundamental distinction among all systems of government is the amount of control that the government has, and over which issues, and at what level of government (see Spectrum of Economic Systems and Government Control: Systems of Government Chart). On one end of the spectrum, both Communism and Socialism function based on collectivism, conformity, and dominant central or federal government control. On the oppose end of the spectrum, Limited Capitalism (see Americanism), and pure Capitalism (the complete absence of government control) function based on individualism, personal freedom, and limited central or federal control.
The United Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R.) was established in Russian with the intention of implementing Socialism and then eventually Pure Communism. The goal was to transition from a Capitalist State (Market Economy) to a Socialist state (Command or Planned Economy) and then to a Communist state as the government increasingly took control of its citizens. Russias never fully achieved pure Socialism or a transition to Communism because the economy collapsed, and Russia was unable to continue to function as a Socialist state.
Note: In Socialism and Communism, the government retains sovereign power and any power that the people have is given to them or allowed by the government.
Note: No state has survived an advanced stage of Socialism without collapsing.
The United States of America (U.S.A) was established as a Limited Capitalist state or Republic. It was specifically designed to limit the power that government could ever take away from the People. Limitations were placed on government by the Constitution, leaving the majority of the control in the hands of the People or citizens themselves. The U.S.A. initially had so little government that it was unable to function properly. The People then gave or allowed the government enough power to function adequately but limited its ability to legally take power by establishing the Constitution. In turn, the Constitution established the Republic, or representative government, the Separation of Powers, and specifically gave the individual states the majority of the limited power that the government was allowed to have.
Note: Americanism identifies the People as retaining the sovereign power of the state in the Constitution and highlights this point by capitalizing the “P” in People.
Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
In the “Constitution,” the People give or allow the government to have power. The government does not allow the People to have power.
Note: Without removing, replacing, or ignoring the “Constitution,” Socialism and Communism cannot be implemented in the United States because Capitalism is the polar opposite of Socialism/Communism.
Focus: The focus is on the group as opposed to the individual.
Slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
Messaging: The messaging used to promote socialistic and communistic efforts often describes governmental and societal efforts to modify societal views from support for individualism, personal responsibility, private property, personal achievement, etc; to the support of collectivism, groupthink, socioeconomic equality, the redistribution of wealth, class warfare, etc.
Terminology: Social responsibility, community, community activism, common good, public activism, village, society, fairness, inequality, offensive, oppression, and other terms that depict aspects of collectivism and social pressure.
Note: the use of terminology in branding
Commun-ism and Social-ism
Communism is based on a communal society
Socialism is based on society as a group
Keep in mind: The use of these or words, or phrases, does not necessarily denote socialistic or communistic efforts in and of themselves because they have value and meaning in a capitalistic society. The use of these or similar terms would only be of significance when used as propaganda tools or efforts to promote the transition from Capitalism to Socialism or Communism.
Last Updated 03/07/2016
See related: Communism