Not about current news, just a definition.

Those who know, know.

What is Socialism to you? Because the definition might be very hard to pin down. Merriam Webster says that it’s a government owning all of the means of production in a society... but google’s dictionary says that it owns (or regulates) some aspects only. Both agree that Socialism seeks equality.

In the end, what country isn’t socialist by definition? Since the government is the biggest spender in all economies, you could argue that they control a huge portion of the economy.

Nevermind that the invisible hand of markets is often covered by the the high-visibility glove of government regulations, subsides, and international treaties so in the end... The government does control the economy of their nation. They might not own the means of production but they sure as hell decide their fate.

But is the US is Socialist?

They do own some means of production. Schools, VA hospitals, police forces, and the Army corps of engineers. Also millions in assets and debts from private companies, plus all of the services the governmnt provides.

Yes, services... not industry. But still, they produce a product, which is sold to Americans. The Social Security system is also the government owning a service.

Advertisement

I add this because this is one of the key disctintions to some of my friends, if the government doesn’t own means of production it isn’t socialist even if it owns services. As in, even if everyone was treated at VA hospital, the VA buys the beds, needles, and everything from a private party... In their mind, even if the surgeon is employed by the VA and the product is the surgery, if the scalple is made by, idunno, Philips, then it’s not a socialist “thing”.

But that's a very classical and narrow understanding of the economy, since nowadays services are very important and very intertwined with industry in general.

But in the end, the US prides itself in being the most capitalist nation on earth or something. I do wonder why though. Maybe they’re a mixed economy, an economy where the government owns some methods of production but not all, and does regulate but only to an extent.

But I guess that if you ask Bernie Sanders “Democratic Socialist” is more catchy than “Mixed-Economy-Democrat.” Which, given his plataform, the latter better describes his position.

Trying to pin down any sort of economic system is very hard. Capitalism is also very elusive. According to Adam Smith in a capitalist system advancement in productivity isn’t because of competition, but because of personal enrichment. He theorized that in a perfect capitalist economy, all corporations would become monopolies.

But then, the US has some strong anti-trust laws in order to prevent the theorized conclusion of capitalism... why?

To me socialism always was an economic principle in which government redistributed some of the wealth, owned some of the methods of production, and also protected consumers to insure the most competitve market possible exists. But given how it’s described in the dictionary, I think I’ve been confusing a Mixed economy with Socialism for a very long time.