From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SocialismThis article is about socialism as an economic system and political philosophy. For socialism as a specific stage of socioeconomic development in Marxist theory, see Socialism (Marxism).
Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources. A socialist society is organized on the basis of relatively equal power-relations, self-management, dispersed decision-making (adhocracy) and a reduction or elimination of hierarchical and bureaucratic forms of administration and governance, the extent of which varies in different types of socialism. This ranges from the establishment of cooperative management structures to the abolition of all hierarchical structures in favor of free association.
As an economic system, socialism is the direct allocation of capital goods (means of production) to meet economic demands so that production is oriented toward use and accounting is based on some physical magnitude, such as physical quantities or a direct measure of labour time. Goods and services for consumption are distributed through markets, and distribution of income is based on the principle of individual merit/individual contribution.
As a political movement, socialism includes a diverse array of political philosophies, ranging from reformism to revolutionary socialism. Some currents of socialism, often referred to as state socialism, advocate complete nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange as a strategy for implementing socialism; while social democrats advocate public control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Libertarian socialists and anarchists reject using the state to build socialism, arguing that socialism will, and must, arise spontaneously. They advocate direct worker-ownership of the means of production alternatively through independent syndicates, workplace democracies, or worker cooperatives.
Modern socialism originated from an 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private property on society. Utopian socialists such as Robert Owen (1771–1858), tried to found self-sustaining communes by secession from a capitalist society. Henri de Saint Simon (1760–1825), who coined the term socialisme, advocated technocracy and industrial planning. Saint-Simon, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx advocated the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalise economic activity by eliminating the anarchy of capitalist production that results in instability and cyclical crises of overproduction.
Socialists inspired by the Soviet model of economic development, such as Marxist-Leninists, have advocated the creation of centrally planned economies directed by a single-party state that owns the means of production. Others, including Yugoslavian, Hungarian, East German and Chinese communist governments in the 1970s and 1980s, instituted various forms of market socialism, combining co-operative and state ownership models with the free market exchange and free price system (but not free prices for the means of production).
The socialist perspective is generally based on materialism or positivism and the understanding that human behavior is largely shaped by the social environment. In particular, scientific socialism holds that social mores, values, cultural traits and economic practices are social creations, and are not the property of an immutable natural law. The ultimate goal for Marxist socialists is the emancipation of labour from alienating work. Marxists argue that freeing the individual from the necessity of performing alienating work in order to receive goods would allow people to pursue their own interests and develop their own talents without being coerced into performing labour for others. For Marxists, the stage of economic development in which this is possible is contingent upon advances in the productive capabilities of society.
Socialists generally argue that their movement is an attempt to bring social organization up to the level of current technological progress to fully take advantage of modern technology. They argue that capitalism is either obsolete or approaching obsolescence as a viable system for producing and distributing wealth in an effective manner. Socialists generally argue that capitalism concentrates power and wealth within a small segment of society that controls the means of production and derives its wealth through a system of exploitation. This creates a stratified society based on unequal social relations that fails to provide equal opportunities for every individual to maximize their potential, and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public, and focuses on satisfying market-induced wants as opposed to human needs. Socialists argue that socialism would allow for wealth to be distributed based on how much one contributes to society, as opposed to how much capital one holds.
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