Monday, March 22, 2010

Socialism and Communism

The definition of socialism is a political and economic system where the government/public owns the means of production, such as land and factories.

The definition of communism is a political and economic system where the government/public owns the means of production, such as land and factories.

Wait a minute. Those two look suspiciously similar.

So what's the difference between socialism and communism? According to my World Book encyclopedias, communists say that communism will be a freewill endeavor, and that socialism is a step on the road to communism. Under socialism, unfortunately, some of those greedy people have to be coerced into paying their taxes and doing what is right for their fellow man. The encyclopedia also reports that socialists see communism as the system where people are forced to participate in the system, but that socialism can be democratic and freely entered into.

I guess it depends on whether you call yourself a socialist or a communist. Either way, it's the other one that is the big bad bully of a system.

Of course, we know the history of the Communist Party in Russia and other nations, where the government terrorized and even murdered its citizens, discouraged religion, and curtailed freedoms. So what is it about Socialists that's different? Here's a quote from the encyclopedia about socialism:
Most socialists are firmly committed to work within the framework of a country's constitution. They seek to cooperate with all parties.

Ah. I see. So the socialists (as opposed to the communists) honor the nation's constitution and work for reconciliation between the political parties. Of course.


  1. Well, people think of the communists in Russia, but almost no one remembers that The National Socialist German Workers' Party was more commonly known as the Nazi Party...

    Both sides have their well-known examples.

  2. I asked my husband this question, and he (in typical fashion) had a great explanation. Unfortunately (in typical fashion) I can't remember most of it. But part of it had to do with socialism acknowledging individual sovereignty to a degree that communism doesn't. In socialism you're still you, apart from the state, and you still have some freedom to choose what you want to do (within the system). In communism the state is all and you're absorbed into it and basically lose your own identity. In socialism, you have to work within the socialist economy, but you can decide how you want to do that (what you want to do and be). In communism, there's no deciding for youself: the government tells you what you are going to do based on what is best for the state.

    Hmmm, I just had a thought. Maybe it's that in socialism the state says, "We know what's best fo you" whereas in communism the state says "We know what's best for us"?