Table of contents
Simple Definition of Socialism
It is helpful to provide a simple definition of socialism.
Socialists critique capitalism as a system of private ownership where the capitalists own the means of production and extract surplus value (profit) from workers labour. Capitalists do this by exploitation, in paying workers less than the value of their labour, keeping the difference between this amount and the price they sell commodities for. The difference or ‘profit’ is seen by socialists as simply ‘theft’.
However, socialists believe that everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Therefore society as a whole should own, or at least control property for the benefit of all its members. Hence, socialism promises to distribute wealth evenly and fairly across the economy.
Under capitalism those who own corporations and the means of production earn much more than those who have nothing to sell but their labour.
There are different theories about the best way to create a socialist society. Karl Marx argued for a ‘workers revolution’ to overthrow the ruling class.
Simple definition of Socialism – Types
Forms of socialism range from Democratic Socialism (a mixed economy where the public owns key industries, like coal, electricity, water and gas, etc and shares the income, but allows private enterprise to operate elsewhere) to State Socialism (where the state controls all of the means of production and decides what to produce and how to produce it).
Today, any simple definition of socialism must include eco-socialism. Since the beginning of the epoch of destruction of the natural world, known as the Anthropocene, Eco-Socialism has gained increasing prominence. Eco-Socialism brings together the philosophy of ecology and socialism. Consequently, it promotes a society without class divisions that lives in balance with nature.
The unsustainable nature of capitalism is more obvious than ever. Capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. Indeed Marx argued the exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system, as the exploitation of working people.
Continuous growth is central to Capitalism, including continues growth in the consumption of the planet’s natural resources. World systems will continue to self-destruct due to capitalism’s destructive forces.
As a result of this destruction, we see the emergence of new diseases and global heating causing climate change. Consequently, this brings droughts, bushfires and sea level rise. Crop failures, disruption of food supplies and mass starvation will also result if stronger action is not taken. However, Eco-Socialism provides a vision to mobilise people around the world, to prevent ongoing human socioeconomic and environmental destruction. This is clearly within our definition of socialism.
Thank you for reading our simple definition of socialism.
- Fred Paterson
- Australian Socialism
- Best Socialist Countries
- Public Services Sector
- Socialist Parties
- Welfare Rights