People tend to use the terms and interchangeably, but what many don’t realize is that comparing Socialism and Communism is like comparing apples to oranges.
Socialism is an economic system, while Communism is a political system. According to Karl Marx’s, the goal of Communism is to create a classless society, ultimately abolishing all , which would allow for the people to collectively control the economy, instead of relying on a market-controlled economy. Unfortunately, Communist leaders have been historically corrupt, due to a lack of and societal participation in state policy. The people’s voice is often diminished or completely silenced.
Socialism is similar to Communism in that the goal is to diminish social inequality, but that’s where the similarities end. Like Communism, Socialism is utilized to reduce market control of the economy, but instead of abolishing private property alltogether, policies are created to regulate the economy, thus increasing competition and ensuring fair treatment of workers. The most successful implementations of Socialism utilize democratic policies to make sure that the people retain their voice and power over the government.
It’s a common misconception that Socialist policies would decrease innovation and increase laziness, because people would lose the motivation to work. The rumor has been deemed untrue for several reasons.
Technological innovation involves high monetary risk. Some of the world’s most important inventors went through thousands of failed attempts before achieving success. The economic security that Socialism gives provides innovators the freedom to experiment without the fear of extreme economic repercussions.
On the other hand, a Capitalist economy can often inhibit innovation. Capitalism rewards products that create the largest profits, which does not necessarily align with high innovation.
Though North Korea, China and Cuba portray several aspects of Socialism (diminished social classes, government controlled economy), Communist would be a more accurate way to categorize them.
Each of these nations share one defining aspect: an authoritarian government. While China and Cuba are less extreme cases, all examples show that Socialist policies can result in negative outcomes when the people’s voice is taken away. Instead of promoting economic equality, China, Cuba and North Korea have very large poor populations. A small group connected to the government control most of the nation’s wealth.
Oftentimes, Socialist policies are used as a form of propaganda to manipulate a population, when in reality the policies aren’t Socialist at all. It’s worth mentioning that recently, China and Cuba have begun to implement Capitalist policies to their economies, creating further distance from a Socialist system.
Most Americans would classify their country as Capitalist. In fact, ‘Socialist’ is considered an insult in made political circles both conservative and liberal. What many don’t realize is that America is already Socialist in many ways.
Some of the features that are considered ubiquitous to the American landscape were born out of Socialist policies. Free education from elementary through high school, for example, was not always seen as a constitutional right. It was not until the late 19th century that free education became available to all citizens, not just the wealthy. Labor laws are also inherently Socialist mandates. The 40-hour work week, minimum wage, worker’s compensation, and child labor laws are all Socialist. Perhaps the most quintessential American infrastructure, the National Highway System, would not exist without Socialism.
With just a few of many examples listed, it’s hard to deny the position impact Socialism has had on American society. As mentioned earlier, Socialism is simply an economic policy, and can be combined with Capitalism and Democracy that can end in stellar results.
Socialism is a bad word in America. Politicians use the term ‘Socialist’ as an insult because it represents something foreign, scary, and un-American. What most people don’t realize is that America is, in fact, already Socialist. Many things that make this country what it is—Social Security, Public Schools, Highways—are all, by definition, Socialist entities. The goal of Socialism is… is to shift the the way we think about Socialism. Socialism isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something that we already experience and appreciate.