Ever since there have been people there have been systems of government in place. Whether it’s a family unit, a tribe, a monarchy, a Republic (which is what America was founded as, contrary to classroom censorship) or some other system, humans have arranged themselves in enough positions to run circles around even the most dedicated scholars of the kama sutra. However in America words like socialism and communism, which describe legitimate and even worth while systems of government, have become political curse words that Tea Party and Republican candidates fling at one another as insults. To help un-muddy the issue it’s important to try and clear the air so that people understand what these words are meant to imply.
What we have in America is a version of capitalism. Capitalism, in its ideal form, means that you have a free market economy. Essentially those who can provide the best service and who the mob chooses are declared the fittest to survive in a kind of commercial Darwinism. Additionally, anyone can choose to produce anything no matter how necessary or frivolous. While this appeals to the ideal of freedom and in serving the needs of the people through competition and choice, it can also be a rigged game where financial titans scoop up small businesses and eat them whole, supplanting the little man and growing bigger and bigger. While there are laws that stop this sort of behavior, such as anti-trust laws and monopoly laws, it can still happen with some regularity in a capitalist system. Additionally, capitalism says that whoever has the most money gets the most stuff, which lets the rich and powerful trample over the material needs of the poor and disenfranchised, at least in theory.
Socialism is a step away from capitalism, but it hasn’t lost the total idea of a free market. In socialism businesses produce goods and services for the total population, and those goods as well as the means of production are publicly owned. The creed of socialism, once production has reached unheard of heights to equal the mythical cornucopia, is that the goods are distributed among the populous according to who has done what. So if you are a homeless bum or a rich layabout it doesn’t matter; both will get nothing because they contributed nothing. Those who worked hard and provided their sweat and effort to create the plenty will share in it. This of course requires a lot of changes to the thought patterns and values of capitalism. You need to take the big view of the society over the individual, needs of others over the needs of self and you have to accept that you only get what you’ve earned. Also, it requires someone centralized to make the decisions about who gets what, and to decide what goods and services will be provided so that those goods and services will be divided accordingly.
Communism is the end point on the scale of society before individual. Whereas socialism seeks to divvy up the economy, communism is government as well as economy. In a communist setup the creed is each according to their needs. That means that you work because you want to, and because you have a responsibility to the society that nurtures you. What you are given will be according to what you need to satisfy your family and your requirements. So if you are sick, you will be cared for. If you have children they will be educated. If you have a family to feed, food will be provided. Communism has the noble goal of dividing everything up evenly and equally so that no one is left behind, making a truly classless society where no one is in the upper or lower percents, but which is equal across the board. However, while many attempts have been made with communism, none have reached the pure, functioning state where there is no necessity for government because the society will simply make sure that it keeps functioning by taking care of everything and everyone like an entity caring for itself.
“What is the Difference Between Socialism and Communism?” by Anonymous at Wise Geek
“What is the Difference Between Socialism and Communism?” by Huberman and Sweezy at Marx Mail
“What is the Difference Between Socialism and Communism?” by Admin at Were You Wondering