Socialism is an economic and social system that centers its ideological bases on the defense of collective property against the concept of private property of the means of production and distribution.

As expressed by socialism, the main goal is the achievement of a just and supportive society, free of social classes and with an equal distribution of wealth. For this, the means of production do not have to be privately owned, because it considers that in this way they end up belonging to a capitalist minority that dominates the markets, taking advantage of their position to control the worker and the consumer.

Socialism generally proposes that the economy must be planned and therefore, the means of production must belong to the State, who is in charge of mediating in the markets and protecting the citizens, trying to guarantee a situation of social justice. Although there are exceptions such as market socialism or libertarian socialism.

Conceptually, it is the socio-economic position contrary to capitalism. And, according to some thinkers, it is the stage before communism.

Difference between socialism and communism Socialist mode of production

Characteristics of socialism

Since the origin of socialism, its basic principles or characteristics are:

  • Its basis is collective property in the means of production and distribution, seeking the social good.
  • Wealth must not fall on capitalist employers but must be distributed equally, eliminating the difference between social classes.
  • State interference in the economic and social spectrum, not leaving the market all decision-making and control capacity. In other words, greater centralization than in capitalist systems.

In its essence, a socialist state has a government or a strong state structure with broad power in decision-making in economic matters and the distribution of income and assets.

Over the years, socialist positions have evolved from their more classical premises to a more open and accepting of free trade. Under certain basic premises such as the control of governments in the economic and financial sphere and the protection of the citizen to avoid situations of inequality or social abuse. These are mixed economic systems known as market socialism or social democracy.

Theoretically, socialism is the stage before communism, a system in which the workers control the means of production in their entirety and organize themselves in a classless society.

Difference between capitalism and socialism

Advantages and disadvantages of socialism

Among the advantages of socialism we can highlight:

  • The means of production are publicly owned, so their benefits, in theory, revert to society.
  • There is no privilege of individual well-being, prevailing the general interest and the collective well-being.
  • It promotes more egalitarian societies, where the income levels of the population do not present notable differences.
  • Look for tools that guarantee access to a minimum standard of living.
  • Show commitment to the working class. Seek to prevent labor exploitation and the violation of workers' rights.
  • He is very committed to the environment.

However, it also has disadvantages:

  • The elimination of private property could eliminate the incentives for the entrepreneur to invest.
  • It could privilege the search for equality over meritocracy. This could scare off human capital.
  • Guaranteeing universal access to basic services has a cost and, consequently, a higher tax burden. This could scare off foreign investment.
  • It seeks to defend the working class, sometimes favoring it over the employer. This could discourage the arrival of companies and, therefore, the generation of jobs. Furthermore, if labor market regulation increases a lot, a good number of workers could leave the formal market for the informal one.
Advantages and disadvantages of socialism

History and origin of socialism

The history and origin of socialism could be traced back to the very beginnings of humanity. However, the term socialism was only coined in the 19th century. Thus, the antecedents of modern socialism are found in the contributions of the utopian socialists (Robert Owen) and, especially, in the work of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895).

The utopian socialists criticize the capitalist system, considering that its bases were the cause of the poverty suffered by a large part of the population. For their part, Marx and Engels considered socialism as an intermediate step between capitalism and communism.

Types of socialism

The main types of socialism are the following:

  • Utopian Socialism: It focuses on the search for a more egalitarian society. This, without referring to the class struggle.
  • Scientific socialism: Current that developed a more formal structure. He argues that there must be a class struggle that later leads to a more egalitarian society. It is based on historical materialism, a doctrine that postulates that changes in society are derived from the relations of production.

It is also possible to distinguish:

  • Market socialism: It proposes the central planning of the economy, but at the same time using the free market mechanism to allocate resources in certain sectors, and under certain conditions.
  • Social democracy: Proposes, within the framework of a market economy, the intervention of the State to promote welfare and the general interest.

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