Socialism is an economic system based on the central ownership of capital. While individuals work in various capacities, the government regulates how much income an individual can consume / regulates where that income will go. Citizens also have a say in defining needs. Socialistic economies promote utopian societies, in which all are equal. The government in a socialistic economy is believed to act out of the common good of individuals. Although different types of socialism exist, socialism is thought to be a balance between capitalism and communism.
Socialistic societies still have different classes of wealth, but just not to the degree that capitalistic societies have. Socialists often argue that a small group gains wealth in capitalistic societies through exploitation, while the majority of the people suffer. In balanced and equalized societies, people make useful contributions and everyone’s individual needs are met. Further, these societies are not completely controlled by the government like communistic societies. However, they still do not have all of the freedoms that a capitalistic society has.
Karl Marx is known in history for being the biggest supporter or most known supporter of socialism. He argued that societies and economies would ultimately fall under capitalism. Marx believed that eventually too much freedom would be afforded to consumers and a revolution of sorts would occur, in which the government would be overthrown. He also believed that in a communistic society, the economy and government would fail, because individuals would be too oppressed. His overall theory supported equality and balance versus oppression and freedom. He’s known for his famous statement of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution.”
Many governments over time have claimed to have a socialistic regime. However, many of these societies, in fact, practice(d) communism (Red China, Cuba, the former USSR). True socialistic governments / economies include Sweden, Canada and others. Although, it’s important to remember that each of these practice different aspects of socialism. Of course, each nation, which has a democracy, where people have the most freedoms, has socialist parties (which promote socialist candidates).
There are numerous differences between socialistic societies and others. One of the biggest differences between a true capitalistic versus a socialistic society is that of healthcare. This is especially a hot topic in the United States right now, because President Obama supports a socialistic reform of health care. While individuals in capitalistic states find their own means of health insurance, the government provides free healthcare to everyone in a socialistic society. An individual, who needs an operation, will have to wait until he can afford it under capitalism; while under socialism, he will definitely get the operation, but it may take years and years until it is his turn. Socialists would argue that at least the individual gets the operation and no one is favored. However, capitalists would argue “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Why should individuals receive health care for free, if they are unwilling to work?
The overall important elements to remember about socialism are: 1) There’s more control over the people by the state. 2) This control establishes wages and compensations. 3) Taxes, as a result, are much higher, as they go to pay for the needs, which the government meets freely for everyone. 4) There are still classes, but not as big of gaps like in capitalistic societies. 5) The government control is said to be for the common good of all citizens.