Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production; as well as the political ideologies, theories and movements that aim at their establishment. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership; to citizen ownership of equity; or to any combination of these. Although there are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.
Socialist economic systems can be divided into both non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism involves the substitution of factor markets and money with engineering and technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism. Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and, in some cases, the profit motive with respect to the operation of socially-owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them. Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend. The feasibility and exact methods of resource allocation and calculation for a socialist system are the subjects of the socialist calculation debate.
The socialist political movement includes a diverse array of political philosophies that originated amid the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 1700s and of a general concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism. In addition to the debate over markets and planning, the varieties of socialism differ in their form of social ownership, how management is to be organised within productive institutions and the role of the state in constructing socialism. Core dichotomies associated with these concerns include reformism versus revolutionary socialism and state socialism versus libertarian socialism. Socialist politics has been both centralist and decentralised; internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions and at other times independent of, and critical of, unions; and present in both industrialised and developing countries. While all tendencies of socialism consider themselves democratic, the term "democratic socialism" is often used to highlight its advocates' high value for democratic processes in the economy and democratic political systems, usually to draw contrast to tendencies they may perceive to be undemocratic in their approach. The term is frequently used to draw contrast to the political system of the Soviet Union, which some have argued operated in an authoritarian fashion.
By the late 19th century, and after further articulation and advancement by Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels as the culmination of technological development outstripping the economic dynamics of capitalism, "socialism" had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production. By the 1920s, social democracy and communism became the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement. Socialism proceeded to emerge as the most influential secular political-economic worldview of the twentieth century, and while the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, many economists and intellectuals have argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism, or a non-planned administrative or command economy. Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence in all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, some socialists have also adopted the causes of other social movements, such as environmentalism, feminism and liberalism.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Socialism" as of 03 Jul 2016, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.