Socialism: a simple definition for the unaware or ill-informed

It is time.

In as much as people are woefully ignorant to this concept (socialism) and are currently throwing around uneducated pieces of mythical misinformation like some sort of carnival barker at the county faire, I figure it was time for a refresher course by way of simple, straight-forward definition.  Then at least one may say they dislike the concept for good and hopefully well thought out reasons.


is simply the exercise and/or practice of people pooling their resources, energies, and abilities to solve identified problems and accomplish necessary tasks within a social structure. Additionally, it is the mechanism by which an advanced social construct distributes and allocates scarce (natural) resources.

That is it!  VERY simple, right!  "Back to the future"?  Even the cavemen knew this!  As did the colonialists and pioneers, as do the Amish, as do high school fundraising car washers . . .

This point is also the philosophical crossroads where most followers of traditional beliefs, many New Age adherents, many secular humanists, and many old testament Christians (and other religions) meet -- in the knowledge and understanding that "god's" abundance is not the dominion of the few be they a wo/man (the capitalist) or relatively small groups of wo/men (shareholders)!  This latter belief system was the basis of the feudal monarchists.  In other words: the bounty of the natural world is ours!

** (read Encyclopaedia Britannica's entry on Christian Socialism as a number of pro-environment evangelicals are revisiting this practice of late.)

Loosely, socialism has also often been the modus operandi since this country's founding including our forming of colonial-era posses, a standing modern military, police and fire departments, the building of roads, airports, etc.!  You get the idea.

Lastly, socialism as defined above does not stymie the creative or innovative process as myth-makers tell you -- in fact it unleashes it -- especially for the lower and middle-class!

When the individual is untethered, unshackled from say the burdens of individually procuring payments for healthcare, securing child care, enhancing their minds by way of educational advancement a true liberty and freedom is found manifest in the creation of the fertile fields for the aspiring and talented lower and middle-class entrepreneur, the genuine small business person, the artist, the owner-operator.

Remember, even those  evil (and quite prosperous) Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Finns, and Icelanders produce wealthy individuals all while adhering to the social(ist) tenets of their respective countries.  Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, even in our "caveman example" (as well as in Celtic, Viking and other clan-states throughout time) we can find in archaeology evidence in attempts at caring for "the tribe".   Did feudalism and its offspring capitalism make us prehistoric?  Darwinian in nature?  Reduce us to survival of the "fittest," er richest?  Was DEVO, with their "duty now for the future," a band of seers?

"Classical" illustrations of socialism speak to the socio-economic world as it was until very recently and does not as conveniently nor completely cover or address the recently created and current age of the information society and the information-driven economy.  But even therein, all economies end up being based on producing something that has, at its core, socially-produced elements.  A novelist invariably utilized a public school at some point in his/her life, the software writer uses computers built from and of our resources.

The trick (a socio-political one) is how then to allocate, value, compensate, and price the good or service in a way that addresses not simply the compensation for the innovator and his/her innovation, but also the society that gave of its resources to the good/service -- and earlier at some point likely nurtured the mind of the innovator.  Herein I do believe Marx' observation was correct -- at least as a starting point (Disclosure: I have major issues with Marx so I can not be assumed in any way to be a "Marxist"!).

As we can see from recent kerfuffles about "you didn't build it," capitalism myopically speaks to but one half of this equation about "who really does builds what" and is extraordinarily defensive in its blind-eye to the equation's other half!

Now that we know the truth about socialism and its place in society (conceptually, globally, historically, and currently) . . . if we could only get back to that community-based ethos and move away from being told to accept and love the neo-aristocratic definitions of "freedom" and "liberty" we might be in position to actually start solving some of our problems!

One may or need not believe in the corollary thoughts; "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" any more than they see themselves as "thy brother's keeper" but in so dismissing, and unless one is part of the so-called "1%," you may now better understand the inertia you feel as like the salmon you too swim against the current (of your neighbor/fellow citizen/tribe/nation).


Addendum (regarding any potential comments)

In the post above, I speak mainly of conceptual socialism and while there certainly are modern and historical manifest examples we could discuss in applied theory they really are not properly surveyed here -- scholars spend 30-50+ years of their lives at it so it is doubtful we will embark upon that.  In fact, I guarantee we won't!

Suffice it to say as well as I didn't and won't cover bastardized, crony, or semantically inaccurate variations of "socialism" like those rhetorically practiced by racists ("national socialism" -- from a lot that disavows socialism), tyrants (Stalin et al. who sought to use "socialism" as their rationale for power), or any other such examples contrarians like to present.  Again, the post's definition is short, straight-forward, and I believe easily understood by all -- or should be.

So, if one is moved to comment, I encourage you to do so in the form of questions about socialism (preferably theory but questions about practical application are fine as it helps us move such discourse forward).   If seeking to be abject contrarian, please do so without presenting the equally theoretical socio-economic merits of Friedman, Alan Greenspan, or the "Chicago school" as you won't convince me and I will therefore not entertain debate about them.

It will be a waste of your time writing as I won't read the post.

I personally find their pseudo-scientific rationale for what they are: ostensibly neo-aristocratic in structure and frankly boorish . . .  ultimately nauseating.  I know them, I reject them so not in my blog.

Also, please don't comment with manifestos or long-winded rants!

I am sure some contrarians are passionate about their view(s), I respect that . . . and that is why I am sure you too have a blog.  If I want to read your manifesto I will visit your site as you visited mine.  And thank you doing so!  Again, ?uestions, ?uestions, ?uestions will move any and every dialogue forward.

Thanks in advance for understanding and not wasting either of our time.

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