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What is Socialism?

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TheSpanishInqui...
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What is Socialism?

So, this whole 'socialism' thing. It's advertised a lot around my college, and many of my friends are socialists, but I realised, I don't actually know what socialism is. I've looked it up a bit, but everything I read was very hypothetical and quite hard to engage with. None of it seemed like a particularly good idea or a particularly bad idea, I can see benefits and flaws to it, but it was all very 'ideal world' stuff. So, can someone explain to me - what is socialism? What does it mean? If a socialist government were elected here in Britain, what would change, and what would the country be like after 5 years? 

gnome
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Welcome to the forum.

May I suggest you visit the link below and then take a look at the vast amount of information available elsewhere on this site by using the navigation toolbar and drop-down menus located at the top of the page.

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/questions-and-answers-about-socialism

BordenClarke
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Firstly it is very good to hear that there are people around you who identify as socialists. Secondly, Socialism can seem quite complicated and daunting to alot of newcomers, as its an idea that is very different from our current system. For some questions you are asking referring to https://www.reddit.com/r/Socialism_101/wiki/faq may help you with some questions that alot of people ask about socialism, navigating that should be very useful for you. However if you have any other questions please feel free to ask me or anyone else on the forum. There are many misconceptions about what Socialism is and we will all be able to help you with those.

Hope I could be of some help!

Samuel Clarke 

ALB
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Here's a basic definition of socialism from this site here which answers your precise question:

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/education/introductory-articles/what-...

Quote:
What is Socialism?

Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.

But does it really make sense for everybody to own everything in common? Of course, some goods tend to be for personal consumption, rather than to share—clothes, for example. People 'owning' certain personal possessions does not contradict the principle of a society based upon common ownership. In practice, common ownership will mean everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions. 

Democratic control is therefore also essential to the meaning of socialism. Socialism will be a society in which everybody will have the right to participate in the social decisions that affect them. These decisions could be on a wide range of issues—one of the most important kinds of decision, for example, would be how to organise the production of goods and services. 

Production under socialism would be directly and solely for use. With the natural and technical resources of the world held in common and controlled democratically, the sole object of production would be to meet human needs. This would entail an end to buying, selling and money. Instead, we would take freely what we had communally produced. The old slogan of "from each according to ability, to each according to needs" would apply. So how would we decide what human needs are? This question takes us back to the concept of democracy, for the choices of society will reflect their needs. These needs will, of course, vary among different cultures and with individual preferences—but the democratic system could easily be designed to provide for this variety. We cannot, of course, predict the exact form that would be taken by this future global democracy. The democratic system will itself be the outcome of future democratic decisions. We can however say that it is likely that decisions will need to be taken at a number of different levels—from local to global. This would help to streamline the democratic participation of every individual towards the issues that concern them. 

In socialism, everybody would have free access to the goods and services designed to directly meet their needs and there need be no system of payment for the work that each individual contributes to producing them. All work would be on a voluntary basis. Producing for needs means that people would engage in work that has a direct usefulness. The satisfaction that this would provide, along with the increased opportunity to shape working patterns and conditions, would bring about new attitudes to work.

Vin
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Have a look at this

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UcYhx-24z0

jondwhite
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Communism is not an ideal to which society adjusts itself.

Scientific socialism is not about painting a pretty picture.

Scientific socialism is not about building castles in the sky.

Scientific socialism is democratic control.

Scientific socialism is common ownership.

By far the best work on this is Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels or if you fancy something longer The German Ideology by Marx.

LBird
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jondwhite wrote:

Scientific socialism is democratic control.

Scientific socialism is common ownership.

By far the best work on this is Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels or if you fancy something longer The German Ideology by Marx.

I think that it's a mistake to recommend Engels' book, jdw.

It does not mention 'democratic control' by the direct producers.

In fact, it's one of the sources of Engels' 'materialism', and is a serious departure from Marx's concerns about workers actively building their own socialism.


Young Master Smeet
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The Devil Himself wrote:
And this can only come about by society openly and directly taking possession of the productive forces which have outgrown all control, except that of society as a whole. The social character of the means of production and of the products today reacts against the producers, periodically disrupts all production and exchange, acts only like a law of Nature working blindly, forcibly, destructively. But,with the taking over by society of the productive forces, the social character of the means of production and of the products will be utilized by the producers with a perfect understanding of its nature, and instead of being a source of disturbance and periodical collapse, will become the most powerful lever of production itself.
This man is Always Wrong wrote:
With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by systematic, definite organization. The struggle for individual existence disappears. Then, for the first time, man, in a certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions of existence into really human ones. The whole sphere of the conditions of life which environ man, and which have hitherto ruled man, now comes under the dominion and control of man, who for the first time becomes the real, conscious lord of nature, because he has now become master of his own social organization. The laws of his own social action, hitherto standing face-to-face with man as laws of Nature foreign to, and dominating him, will then be used with full understanding, and so mastered by him. Man's own social organization, hitherto confronting him as a necessity imposed by Nature and history, now becomes the result of his own free action. The extraneous objective forces that have, hitherto, governed history,pass under the control of man himself. Only from that time will man himself, more and more consciously, make his own history — only from that time will the social causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly growing measure, the results intended by him. It is the ascent of man from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.
So, not the direct producers, except that the direct producers are the whole of society.

LBird
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YMS wrote:
So, not the direct producers, except that the direct producers are the whole of society.

So, whether we use the terms "direct producers" or "the whole of society", do you agree that the social production of scientific knowledge, maths, physics, logic and reason, should be under the democratic control of [insert approriate term here]?

That is, we vote upon 'truth'.


ALB
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Yes, Socialism Utopian and Scientific is the best introduction to "Marxist" ideas. Better in fact than the more widely-read Communist Manifesto.  Can be found here:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/index.htm

LBird
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ALB wrote:

Yes, Socialism Utopian and Scientific is the best introduction to "Marxist" ideas. Better in fact than the more widely-read Communist Manifesto.  Can be found here:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/index.htm

No, ALB, Socialism Utopian and Scientific is the best introduction to "Engelsist" ideas.

Unless workers are aware of the substantial differences between Marx, and the trajectory Engels-Kautsky-2nd International-Lenin, then they won't understand the importance of workers' conscious self-activity in the building of our socialism, that is, the democratic control of the means of production.

'Production' includes all socially-produced ideas, not just 'factory widgets'.

So, 'truth' must be consciously built by the direct producers.

Any other formulation will lead (because it always has) to elite Leninist control of science, maths, physics, etc.


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