Home » Theories » Socialism

Socialism is a left-wing political and economic theory. Crucial for this belief is public ownership. That is in contrast to capitalism, which promotes private ownership. Society should manage and own what it produces (means of production). Besides, the end product must be beneficial for all. There are many types of socialism, but this is a common element.

In the system, the government would make all production decisions. It also decides on the distribution. It is called a central-planned economy. That applies to everything from food, tools, services, healthcare, and more. In summary, it has absolute control. According to socialists, in a free market society, only a few people can thrive. Hence, it is unequal and exploiting.

Socialists aim to create a more equal and fair society. Some believe that some limited private ownership is acceptable. For example, that the people would own small shops and other small businesses. On the other hand, some think that the public should control everything to the smallest detail.

Socialism aims at the workers

Birth of Socialism

Some trivial socialist elements are as old as Ancient Greece. In his Republic, Plato pictures ideas of a collective society. Further, Thomas More built on Plato in his Utopia from 1516. 

The 18th and 19th centuries were in the means of transforming to a free market. Socialism emerged as an alternative to liberalism. Henri de Saint-Simon and Robert Owen were some of the early theorists. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, an early socialist, also defined anarchism.

Karl Marx gave way to marxism and communism. Many new types appeared during the 19th and 20th centuries. Besides, the 20th century was when socialism and its derivatives dominated a large part of the world. There are several forms – see this article.

The criticism of socialism focuses on the central-planned economy. Economists such as Ludwig Von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, or Milton Friedman do not find it too feasible. Besides, they argue that it ties prosperity and progress. Price signals, which are only possible in capitalism, are necessary to relocate resources. Other critics point out the misery, lack of freedom, and low quality of life in the Soviet block.

Key Figures

Karl Marx, German Philosopher
Vladimir Lenin, Societ leader
Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan president
David Ben-Gurion, Israeli president