[RE]Defining Socialism

Throughout the years the word “socialism” has been assigned several different meanings – often with the person talking about it having their own agenda in mind. To some it’s an “evil red state”; the illegitimate sibling to some communistic state. To others it’s a “key to utopia”: the end-all of evil in government which will extend its virtuous endeavors to society at large. Neither of these common tropes properly address what a socialist country would truly mean.

Socialism, at its core, is an economic system that resides between capitalism and communism. Therein lies the rub: there is not, and should not be, any fully -ism system in the world today. Society is closely linked to the economy. It is society that ultimately produces and consumes the goods and services we collectively label “the economy”. Therefore, shouldn’t society rule over the economy? Not so much.

I have long held that the best -ism isn’t any of these 3: it’s all of them. A Comprehensive Economy (or ACE) combines the best parts of the 3 most popular economic -isms while eliminating the worst. It’s capitalism with guidelines. It’s communism with restraint. It’s socialism with common sense. It’s A Comprehensive Economy for Society (ACES).

So what does this jargon mean? Put simply, it puts people first.

We start from the most free position: an unregulated capital market. In this anyone can create anything and sell it at any price – sounds great, right?! Unfortunately we know from experience that this unregulated “free market” leads to profit at all costs: workers suffer, quality suffers, innovation stifles. What’s interesting about this is these are the same complaints about communism: the workers suffer, quality suffers, innovation stifles. With a small level of “free market capitalism”, workers thrive, quality improves, and innovation occurs. With a small level of “state-sponsored production”, breakthroughs are made, quality of life improvements are shared by the masses, and quality is at least existent (for examples, learn how we split the atom, see what happened when we broke up “Ma Bell”, and review the long history of the US Postal Service). Both of these systems thrive when done in moderation.

That brings us to what, when, and how to regulate them – as well as where socialism fits into all this.

Capitalism with guidelines, Communism with restraint, Socialism with Common Sense.

This phrase perplexes many but it’s really rather simple: the people are consistently in power. When a company goes too far in its pursuit of profit, we reign them back. When a need is so great that it’s required for modern life, it’s essential (and thus a candidate for state-sponsored production). However, these both require a competent government to administer.

While we do experience some level of satisfaction with our current model, the end result for the average person is disappointing. Companies get away with exploitative practices daily and the government can only do so much before it’s “intruding on the free market” or creating an “unfair restriction” over corporate giants – something these companies spend millions of dollars to lobby against.

Therefore socialism, in its purest form, must combat the private market in a way that doesn’t require the government to intercede. The people must own the means of production by creating it themselves.

A Socialist Economy

Socialism doesn’t have to be the Marxist precursor to a communist state. A socialist economy can be created at any time by the people themselves, without requiring government for its inception.

Only the people can stop fascism. Only the government can stop socialism.

Casey Dwayne

People have choices. They can choose which products to buy, which services they use, and the method of production in which they participate. In other words, they can choose to spend money – and work – for socialist companies – but what is a socialist company?

A socialist company (in my vision) is one in which:

  1. All workers retain ownership in the company for the duration of their employment.
  2. All meaningful decisions are made by workers in the form of elections or representatives.
  3. All stake in the company remains within the company (no outside ownership is allowed).
  4. The company cannot be sold, only merged with another socialist company or dissolved based on direct election with 60% or more in agreement.

With this model, socialist companies already hold a huge advantage over private ones: the less moral profit incentives are diminished. How much the CEO makes is decided by election. A decision to cut quality is put to the people associated with it instead of a board looking to increase their wealth. The company cannot be gutted and stripped for parts just to eliminate the competition. Many good things come from this model, and it’s just the start!

Workers at socialist companies are rewarded by not only their base pay, but share profits in the form of bonuses. This encourages employees to do well, as hard work does mean better pay. It does require a bit more participation in the running of things, but it also means decisions are made collectively: no one voice holds more weight than any others, and success or failure is shared amongst those that participated. It requires involvement, and anyone that has worked at a bad company has probably wished they had a bit more sway in how that company operates.

With a series of socialist companies creating the goods and services we all consume (and working for said companies if that is their choice), we could create a network of responsibly sourced, locally owned companies to keep our economy strong. Workers would have more money to spend, the cost of things could be based on the cost to produce the product, and the money stays local instead of being sent overseas or landing in some fat cats pocket. It creates a series of wins for everyone – except the exploiters (other than the tax man, I mean).

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