Facts About Socialism

Socialism is workers’ control over the means of production.

Nothing more, nothing less. i felt the need to magnify the size of this statement because, while this has been explained over and over again, people still seem to overlook this fact or not quite understand it. what this means is that workers, whether as a collectivized group or as individuals, would possess direct authority over the tools and the raw materials used in the production process. beyond this, the word “socialism” says nothing else about society, the economy, our government, etc. socialism is an economic theory. it may exist within the constraints of various political structures but it always retains the above principle (in large print).

Communism is a form of socialism based on the guiding principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

in other words, in order to be a communist, one must believe in two things:

1. workers’ control over the means of production.
2. distribution of goods based on the needs of individuals.

again, like the broader term socialism, communism is simply an economic theory. there is nothing about communism that presupposes any specific political or social order. other stipulations on the theory, including various other economic stipulations such as whether or not there is taxation and how high the taxes are, have nothing to do with communism or socialism as a whole and are only determined by what type of socialism/communism is being discussed. socialism and communism are as varied as the governing bodies of the various jurisdictions of the world.

based on the principles upon which communism and socialism are based, and since in “communist” countries throughout the world worker control is/was rarely practiced…

The USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, etc., are not, were not, and never will be true examples of socialism.

and this is the point at which arguments usually delve into a realm i like to call theory vs. practice:

-“But that is what ‘actually existing communism’ has amounted to. it has never, and will never, work in reality, even though it seems good in theory.”

actually, that is false. many examples of actual socialism and communism have existed and continue to exist to this day, and they often work quite wonderfully:

The Spanish Revolution
The Ukrainian Free Territory
The Israeli Kibbutzim
Freetown Christiania

in addition, one could break down socialism to economic units and discuss a business model that exists in countries all over the world and is gaining massive popularity that could be seen as the basis of socialist thought…

Worker Cooperatives

“A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners… In traditional forms of worker cooperative, all shares are held by the workforce with no outside or consumer owners, and each member has one voting share. In practice, control by worker-owners may be exercised through individual, collective or majority ownership by the workforce, or the retention of individual, collective or majority voting rights (exercised on a one-member one-vote basis).”


according to the International Co-operative Alliance, “The Co-operative Movement brings together over 1 billion people around the world.” according to the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, “Though we lack comprehensive data on the nature and scope of worker cooperatives in the U.S., researchers and practitioners conservatively estimate that there are over 300 democratic workplaces in the United States, employing over 3,500 people and generating over $400 million in annual revenues.” around the world worker cooperatives often make up larger chunks of their respective economies. in Spain, the Mondragon Corporation is one of the greatest examples of large scale worker cooperation in practice. employing over 83,000 people worldwide, it is the 7th largest business in Spain and rivals many Fortune 500 companies (since it isn’t publicly traded it doesn’t get mentioned on such lists including it’s global counterpart the Global 500, but it has received many rewards for its excellence such as the M.A.K.E. top 10 list, made by the same people responsible for the Fortune/Global lists). also, evidence suggests that worker cooperatives are, on average, more productive, better ensure job and income security, and last longer than their hierarchical counterparts:

Worker Cooperative Productivity
Collectives in the Spanish Revolution
Business Ownership by Workers: Are Worker Cooperatives a Viable Option?

another argument that i commonly see takes this basic form: “but socialism and communism prevent individualism and subvert individuals to the group.”

There are many different strains of socialism

to start, communism isn’t the only form of socialism. there are collectivist, communist, and individualist strains and subdivisions within each of those. some prominent socialist theorists and the theories they champion include…

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Mikhail Bakunin
Collectivism (Collectivist Anarchism)

Pyotr Kropotkin

other prominent individualist, anti-capitalist thinkers (though it is unclear whether or not they were socialist) include:

Lysander Spooner
Josiah Warren
William Godwin