Socio-economic system in which the means of production and distribution are under collective or government control
See also:
  • FreedomPedia
  • 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.

    Reference

    Socialism, by Robert Heilbroner, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
    "Socialism—defined as a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production—was the tragic failure of the twentieth century. Born of a commitment to remedy the economic and moral defects of capitalism, it has far surpassed capitalism in both economic malfunction and moral cruelty. Yet the idea and the ideal of socialism linger on. Whether socialism in some form will eventually return as a major organizing force in human affairs is unknown, but no one can accurately appraise its prospects who has not taken into account the dramatic story of its rise and fall."

    Bibliography

    Socialism and the Classical Liberal Critique - Online Library of Liberty
    Short overview and links to more than 20 titles, including works by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Karl Marx, Thomas Mackay, George Bernard Shaw and Ludwig von Mises
    "Modern socialism emerged in the 1830s and 1840s in France and England at a time when classical liberalism was beginning to have an impact with reforms such as the First Electoral Reform Act of 1832 and the success of the Anti-Corn Law League. The success of socialist ideas in the revolutions of 1848 meant that classical liberals increasingly had to turn their attention to combatting calls for government intervention in the economy from the 'Left' as Frederic Bastiat did in the last few years of his life."

    Articles

    "I Have a Plan...", by Ron Paul, 18 Oct 2004
    Criticises political ads and speeches that present plans for government to "run" the economy or the country
    "Remember, there is a simple dictionary definition for government planning of the production and provision of goods and services: socialism. No matter how much the grand planners from both political parties deny it, many of their programs and proposals are socialist. Federal taxes, regulations, welfare, subsidies, wage controls, price controls, and interest rate manipulations all represent socialist interventions in the economy."
    Related Topics: Capitalism, Limited Government
    Imperial Chinese Welfare State, by Abbé Huc, The Chinese Empire, 1855
    Recounts the socialist reforms of Wang Anshi in 11th century China, opposed by Sima Guang, and compares them to proposed socialist reforms in mid-19th century France
    "According to Wang-ngan-ché, the carrying out of his scheme was to procure infallible happiness to the people in the development of the greatest possible material enjoyments for everyone. ... ' ... In order to prevent the oppression of man by man the State should ... take the entire management of commerce, industry, and agriculture into its own hands, with the view of succouring the working classes and preventing their being ground to the dust by the rich.'"
    Related Topic: China
    Inequality of Wealth and Incomes, by Ludwig von Mises, The Freeman, May 1955
    Describes how attempts to equalize incomes and wealth lead to lowered standard of living for the masses and eventually to socialism
    "When Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto recommended 'a heavy progressive or graduated income tax' and 'abolition of all right of inheritance' ... They were fully aware of the inevitable consequences of these policies. They openly declared that these measures are 'economically untenable' and that they advocated them only ... as a means of bringing about socialism."
    Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism, by Ludwig von Mises, 18 Apr 1950
    Speech to the University Club of New York; argues that the middle of the road policies of interventionism, such as price controls and progressive taxation, eventually lead to socialism via central planning
    "They advocate the substitution of public control of the means of production for private control. They aim at the establishment of what is called socialism, communism, planning, or state capitalism. All these terms signify the same thing. No longer should the consumers, by their buying and abstention from buying, determine what should be produced, in what quantity and of what quality. Henceforth a central authority alone should direct all production activities."
    What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Apr 2006
    Discusses why corporatism, mercantilism and Big Business are the chief opposition to libertarianism and truly free markets
    "Which kind of state socialism is the greatest threat? ... it seems most likely that although there will be a variety of beneficiaries ..., the major receivers of largess, and the main proponents of government expansion, will be businessmen. In other words, the great threat to liberty is the corporate state, otherwise known as corporatism, state capitalism, and political capitalism."
    Related Topic: Free Market
    Anarchism, by Voltairine de Cleyre, Free Society, 13 Oct 1901
    Examines various economic propositions for anarchism (socialist, communist, individualist and mutualist) and opines that all could be tried out
    "Such Anarchist Socialists hold ... that Socialism, meaning the complete taking over of all forms of property from the hands of men as the indivisible possession of Man, brings with it as a logical, inevitable result the dissolution of the State. ... They believe that every individual having an equal claim upon the social production, the incentive to grabbing and holding being gone, crimes (which are in nearly all cases the instinctive answer to some antecedent denial of that claim to one's share) will vanish ..."
    Frederic Bastiat, Ingenious Champion for Liberty and Peace, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jun 1997
    Lengthy biographical essay, covering those who influenced Bastiat as well as those influenced by him, his writings (including correspondence with his friend Félix Coudroy), his roles in the French Constituent and Legistative Assemblies and his legacy
    "When, in the name of compassion, socialists demanded more powerful government, Bastiat fired away with tough questions: 'Is there in the heart of man only what the legislator has put there? ...' Bastiat warned socialism must mean slavery, because the state 'will be the arbiter, the master, of all destinies. It will take a great deal; hence, a great deal will remain for itself. It will multiply the number of its agents; it will enlarge the scope of its prerogatives; it will end by acquiring overwhelming proportions.'"
    Free Market, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 1993
    Originally published in the The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics; definition of the free market and some related terms, e.g., exchange, prices, demand, using lay examples
    "The ultimate in government coercion is socialism. Under socialist central planning the socialist planning board lacks a price system for land or capital goods. ... the socialist planning board therefore has no way to calculate prices or costs or to invest capital so that the latticework of production meshes and clears."
    Related Topic: Free Market
    Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992), by Peter J. Boettke, The Freeman, Aug 1992
    Lengthy biographical essay, including his criticism of Keynes and the impact of The Road to Serfdom
    "The Road to Serfdom ... forced advocates of socialism to confront an additional problem, over and beyond the technical economic one. If socialism required the replacement of the market with a central plan, then, Hayek pointed out, an institution must be established that would be responsible for formulating this plan."
    Give Me Liberty, by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
    Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
    "In cities and states, both parties began to socialize America with imitations of the Kaiser's Germany: social welfare laws, labor laws, wage-and-hour laws, citizens' pension laws, and so-called public ownership. Eleven years ago this creeping socialism sprang up armed with Federal power, and Americans—suddenly, it seemed—confronted for the first time in their lives a real political question: the choice between American individualism and European national socialism."
    NewHow Nationalism and Socialism Arose from the French Revolution, by Dan Sanchez, 12 Apr 2017
    Examines how three crucial ideas (liberalism, nationalism and socialism) emerged around the same time (18th and 19th century) and how they depended on the rise of the modern people's state
    "On behalf of the poor, a 'Conspiracy of Equals' plotted to take over the Republic, abolish private property, and seize the wealth of France for equal redistribution. The conspiracy was detected and its leaders were guillotined. And upper-class intellectuals like Henri de Saint-Simon dreamt up utopian schemes in which the welfare of the poor working classes would be guaranteed by central planning. These dreamers came to be known as socialists, referring to their concern for broad 'social' concerns, as contrasted to the 'narrow' individualism of the liberals."
    Immorality, Inc., by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 31 Jul 2006
    Argues that the lawlessness and violence in occupied Iraq is due to the immorality of modern day warfare
    "We learned after the fall of socialism in Eastern Europe and Russia that socialism had been all too effective in creating a new socialist man. The lack of respect for contract, property, and life itself became evident in the reform process. The cultural foundations that might have led to a stable and secure freedom were just not present. Why is this? Because violence blessed as an official civic policy is a demonic teacher of populations."
    Related Topics: Ethics, Government, Iraq, War
    Is Capitalism Why We Fight?, by Gregory Bresiger, Mises Daily, 6 Apr 2006
    Critical review of the theses presented in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, also inquirying about topics omitted from the film
    "Yes, many Americans are historical illiterates. Next question: Why? Answer supplied by me: The greater and greater power of state education. The producers don't seem to understand the connection between the dominance of state education and the lack of even the most rudimentary understanding of history. ... State education, the philosopher J.S. Mill warned in "On Liberty," inevitably leads to tyranny."
    Libertarianism Is the Key to Our Future, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Jul 2006
    Examines three reasons (freedom, morality and pragmatism) that suggest that Americans will eventually return to their libertarian heritage
    "Socialism is inherently defective, as the people of the Soviet Union finally realized. But the difference is that they, unlike Americans, understood that theirs was a socialist system. What Americans still do not realize is that no matter how hard they try, they will never make any of their socialist programs succeed. And the primary reason they don't understand that is that they think that their system is freedom and free enterprise ..."
    Liberty Defined, by Floyd A. 'Baldy' Harper, 4 Sep 1957
    Speech to the Mont Pelerin Society; Harper first offers his definition of liberty, then explores "adulterated" definitions, its relation to morals, moral law and basic humans rights, ending with his hope for the cause of liberty
    "One can search in vain, I believe, for any consensus of the meaning of socialism. The confusion is illustrated by the fact that when the Parisian Le Figaro opened its pages in 1892 with a list of definitions of socialism, more than 600 were included. And when Dan Griffiths of England wrote his book in 1924, What is Socialism?, he found 263 answers worthy of note."
    Ludwig von Mises: Scholar, Creator, Hero [PDF], by Murray N. Rothbard, 1988
    Partial contents: The Young Scholar - The Theory of Money and Credit - The Reception of Mises and of Money and Credit - Mises in the 1920s: Economic Adviser to the Government - Mises in the 1920s: Scholar and Creator
    "A crucial objective of socialism was for central planners to allocate resources to fulfill the planners' goals. But Mises showed that, even if we set aside the vexed question of whether the planners' goals coincide with the public good, socialism would not permit the planners to achieve their own goals rationally, let alone those of consumers or of the public interest."
    • ISBN 9999827659: Paperback, Ludwig von Mises Institute, First edition, 1988
    Ludwig von Mises, socialism's greatest enemy: His life and times, by Jim Powell
    Lengthy biographical essay on Mises, including details on Menger and Böhm-Bawerk
    "Although the socialist vision didn't come to pass right away, except in the Soviet Union, it captured the imagination of intellectuals everywhere. Socialism seemed to be the wave of the future, and to oppose it was to defy history itself. Yet Mises bristled with defiance. ... Mises gained an epic insight and delivered a paper about it ... Mises decided to write a book on socialism. ... The book was an overwhelming attack on socialism."
    Mises: Defender of Freedom, by George Reisman, Mises Daily, 29 Sep 2006
    Describes several of Mises' contributions to economics theory and other areas, along with some personal reminiscences
    "In answer to the vicious and widely believed accusation of the Marxists that Nazism was an expression of capitalism, he showed ... that Nazism was actually a form of socialism. Any system characterized by price and wage controls, and thus by shortages and government controls over production and distribution, as was Nazism, is a system in which the government is the de facto owner of the means of production."
    On Equality and Inequality, by Ludwig von Mises, Modern Age, 1961
    Examines the premise that "all men are created equal" and some possible as well as purported conclusions
    "Under socialism the 'comrade' gets what 'big brother' deigns to give him and he is to be thankful for whatever he got. ... It is in our Western circuit that socialism makes the greatest strides. Every project to narrow down what is called the 'private sector' of the economic organization is considered as highly beneficial, as progress ..."
    Perspective: The Road Ahead, by John T. Flynn, The Freeman, Oct 1995
    From Forgotten Lessons: Selected Essays of John T. Flynn, 1949; enumerates a set of principles that Flynn thought were crucial to reversing the direction the United States was in (mixing capitalism with socialism)
    "We cannot delude ourselves with the expectation that we may go a little way further and then stop in the belief that we can combine socialism and capitalism and preserve the best features of each. ... If we keep on the way we are going, nothing can save the capitalist sector of our economy from extinction, because it will inevitably be called upon to pay the cost of operating its own sector and the greater portion, if not all, of the cost of operating the socialist sector."
    Related Topics: Capitalism, Liberty
    Right and Simple, by Charley Reese, 30 Dec 2006
    Discusses the proposition that "the right thing to do is both simple to state and simple to understand" in the context of the drug war and the political situation in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States
    "It is of no concern to Americans if Venezuela opts for a socialist government. Most of our European allies have socialist or semi-socialist governments, as indeed do we. I haven't heard even a neoconservative refer to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, federal aid to state schools, corporate welfare, farm subsidies, etc., as 'free enterprise' solutions."
    Robert A. Heinlein's Soaring Spirit of Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jul 1997
    Biographical essay, including multiple quotes from fellow authors and significant excerpts from Heinlein's novels and stories
    "One dreary character is described like this: 'Bill has the socialist disease in its worst form; he thinks the world owes him a living. He told me sincerely—smugly!—that of course everyone was entitled to the best possible medical and hospital service—free, of course, unlimited, of course, and of course the government should pay for it. He couldn't even understand the mathematical impossibility of what he was demanding. But it's not just free air and free therapy. Bill honestly believes that anything he wants must be possible ... and should be free. ...'"
    Socialism and Medicine, Part 2, by William L. Anderson, Future of Freedom, Jun 2008
    Examines the economics of medical care in the United States, including the influence of third-party payers and comparisons to medical care in Canada
    "... under a socialistic system, capital becomes a liability rather than an asset. The reason is that under a system of private profit, capital is used by its owners to provide an income; in socialism, capital does not provide an income to anyone. Rather, it is an expense item and nothing else."
    Socialized Medicine in a Wealthy Country, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 2 Dec 2006
    Discusses the view of socialised medicine held by left-socialists, examining the problems that existed in Soviet-controlled countries as well as current U.S. problems, and urges for a "complete separation of health and state"
    "But the opponents of health-care socialism also have in their minds a vision of what life would be like under socialism. Mostly these visions are drawn from experiences under socialist countries that have been driven into poverty by state ownership of the means of production. The state in these cases does not have much money. There is no private store of wealth to speak of, and no private business that has the motivation or the means to provide customer service."
    Thanksgiving the first Libertarian holiday, by Matthew A. Givens, The Crimson White, 19 Nov 2003
    Explains how and why the Pilgrims turned from socialism to capitalism
    "What most of us never learned was that it was also an experiment in socialism. The Mayflower Compact required that 'all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing or any other means' were placed in the common stock of the colony. Further, it required that 'all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel and all provisions out of this common stock.' People were required to put into the common stock everything they could, and take out only what they needed."
    Related Topics: Thanksgiving, Capitalism
    The Democrats Are Doomed, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 9 Feb 2007
    Comments on the slate of Democratic Party presidential candidates for the 2008 election and the general ideology and outlook for the Democrats
    "... the ideology that underlies the raison d'être of the modern Democratic Party, at least at the national level ... is socialism. I know what you are thinking: these guys aren't socialists, for it's been years since any prominent Democrat openly advocated the nationalization of all industry. ... That's true enough but it sidesteps the reality that there is no economic activity that these people don't favor regulating to the nth degree."
    The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise, by Milton Friedman, 16 Nov 1991
    From keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after Friedman's admonition against Nixon's drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the observable, predicted results
    "There are some general features of a socialist enterprise, whether it's the Post Office, schools, or the war on drugs. The enterprise is inefficient, expensive, very advantageous to a small group of people, and harmful to a lot of people. That was true of socialism in Russia, it was true of socialism in Poland, and it's true of socialism in the United States."
    The Drug War's Immorality and Abject Failure, by Anthony Gregory, Future of Freedom, Jul 2006
    Discusses how drug use differs from criminal, property-rights violations, the justifications for the drug war and the many areas where it has had detrimental effects on society: inner cities, rule of law, foreign relations, etc.
    "Just like those socialists who concocted the most elaborate of five-year plans, the drug-war planners have neglected to take into account the factor of human nature. ... Socialism has failed in country after country because it has never recognized that centralized, coercive control of the economy is simply incompatible with the way people operate, function, and act in relation with one another."
    The Great Thanksgiving Hoax, by Richard J. Maybury, The Free Market, Nov 1985
    Describes what really happened to the Mayflower pilgrims (and also at Jamestown) by relying on governor William Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation
    "This had required that 'all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means' were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, 'all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.' ... This 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need' was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving."
    Related Topics: Thanksgiving, Free Market
    The Idea of Liberty is Western, by Ludwig von Mises, American Affairs, Oct 1950
    Argues that the "idea of liberty is and has always been peculiar to the West", meaning primarily the cities of ancient Greece, and discusses "liberty" as viewed by Harold Laski, contrasting, for example, life under Stalin with Italy under fascism
    "Socialism is unrealizable as an economic system because a socialist society would not have any possibility of resorting to economic calculation. This is why it cannot be considered as a system of society's economic organization. It is a means to disintegrate social cooperation and to bring about poverty and chaos."
    Related Topics: Liberty, Capitalism, Greece
    The life and times of F.A. Hayek, who explained why political liberty is impossible without economic liberty, by Jim Powell
    Lengthy biographical essay, with extensive quotes both from Hayek and others (including Keynes)
    "Hayek had lived just long enough to see the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics disappear from the map. He had insisted, as Mises did before him, that socialism would never deliver decent living standards -- and he was vindicated. He warned that socialism means tyranny, and after World War II dozens of countries embraced socialism and suffered through savage tyranny."
    The LP's multiple personality disorder: The Life of the Party, part two, by Thomas L. Knapp, 30 Jan 2003
    Describes three political party strategies (electoral, ideological and revolutionary) and suggests that, in view of its size, the LP should decide on only one of these approaches
    "The primary historical example of the successful ideological party in American history is the Socialist Party of the early 20th century. Socialists won elections in many cases, especially at the municipal level, but did not achieve sufficient voter support to become the nation's majority, or main opposition, party. Instead, their increasing popularity forced the Democratic Party to adopt many of the Socialist Party's policy goals as its own."
    Related Topic: Libertarian Party
    The "Value" of Public Schooling, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
    Examines public schooling, first comparing it to military boot camp and the draft and then discussing indoctrination
    "... most Cubans know that public schooling and government-provided health care constitute socialism, and they are very proud of their educational and health-care systems. They would not want to see them abolished. ... most Americans honestly believe that public schooling and Medicare and Medicaid constitute 'free enterprise' ..."
    The War the Government Cannot Win, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 1 May 2007
    Discusses how government cannnot win the war on terror because economic law is more powerful than the state
    "It is precisely this rationale that led socialism in Russia to last 70 years and drive the entire country into the ground. ... Can't the government ... see that while their people were lining up blocks for a scrap of bread and dying at the age of 60, ours were shopping in massive department stores and living to 70 and 75? Why isn't it obvious what a failure socialism has been?"
    U.S. Hypocrisy in Cuba, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 26 May 2006
    Comments on a billboard stating "In a free country you don’t need permission to leave the country. Is Cuba a free country?", posted by the U.S. Special Interest Section in Havana
    "Every Cuban fully understands that such things as public schooling, national health care, social security, welfare, income taxation, and coercive redistribution of wealth are socialism. Castro and his minions have long been honest, direct, and forthright in proudly telling Cubans that these programs are the heart of Cuba's socialist economic system. Yet here in the United States, nearly every federal, state, and local government official ... teaches Americans that the same programs here ... are 'free enterprise.'"
    Related Topics: Cuba, United States
    Winning the Battle for Freedom and Prosperity, by John Mackey, Liberty, Jun 2006
    Updated from speech given at FreedomFest 2004; after a brief background on himself, Mackey criticises the freedom movement from a marketing and branding perspective and suggests a different approach by de-emphasising some issues and prioritising others
    "Socialism doesn't work. This was proven beyond a doubt in the 20th century. Nation after nation tried to replace capitalism with socialism and without exception their efforts to improve the quality of their citizens' lives failed. Most Americans know that socialism doesn't work as an economic system. ... Why then do so many people embrace socialism in health care and education?"

    Cartoons and Comic Strips

    A Banker's Thanksgiving, by Chan Lowe, 25 Nov 2008
    Related Topic: Banking

    Books

    Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy
        by Peter J. Boettke, 2001
    Partial contents: Why are there no Austrian Socialists? - Economic calculation: the Austrian contribution to political economy - Hayek's The Road to Serfdom revisited: government failure in the argument against Socialism
    Related Topic: Communism
    Planned Chaos
        by Ludwig von Mises, 1947
    Partial contents: The Failure of Interventionism - The Dictatorial, Anti-Democratic and Socialist Character of Interventionism - Socialism and Communism - Russia's Aggressiveness - Trotsky's Heresy - The Liberation of Demons - Fascism - Nazism
    Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
        by Ludwig von Mises, 1922
    Partial contents: Ownership - Socialism - The Social Order and the Political Constitution - The Social Order and the Family - The Nature of Economic Activity - The Organization of Production Under Socialism - The Distribution of Income
    The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918-1928
        by Peter J. Boettke, 1990
    Partial contents: The Meaning of the First Decade of Soviet Socialism - The Political Economy of Utopia: Communism in Soviet Russia, 1918-1921 - The Political Economy of NEP: Market Relations and Interventionism in Soviet Russia, 1921-1928
    Related Topic: Communism
    The Road to Serfdom
        by Friedrich A. Hayek, 1944
    Partial contents: The Abandoned Road - The Great Utopia - Individualism and Collectivism - The "Inevitability" of Planning - Planning and Democracy - Planning and the Rule of Law - Economic Control and Totalitarianism - Who, Whom? - Security and Freedom
    Why Perestroika Failed: The Politics and Economics of Socialist Transformation
        by Peter J. Boettke, 1993
    Contents: Introduction - The road to nowhere - The theoretical problems of socialism - The nature of the Soviet-type system - The logic of politics and the logic of reform - Credibility in Soviet reforms - Charting a new course - Conclusion

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