# What is Socialism in Social studies & Political science

What is socialism in Political science, Social studies, Economics, History

What do Scandinavia, Bernie Sanders, and the Soviet Union have in common?

Arguably the most misused theory of all time: socialism.

The word is thrown around in popular culture and political discourse as both a pejorative and a compliment.

But how can the same system be behind both the Nazi Party and Finland’s world-class education system?

What is socialism in Political science, Social studies, Economics, History?

Well, in its most simple form, socialism is when a population collectively owns and controls the means of production, and distributes the result proportionally.

In practice, however, control is usually delegated to the state.

While the distribution usually comes in the form of underlying social welfare to satisfy everyone’s basic needs, like housing, education, and health care.

The end-all purpose is to guarantee a level playing field for members of society, thereby removing class distinctions based on ownership.

For example: in the US’s capitalist society, high-quality education is expensive, meaning that those who can afford it are generally given better opportunities.

Those who can’t are forced to compete at a material disadvantage.

This leads to class inequality, not based on talent or ability, but generational wealth.

By comparison, in countries like Finland, where high-quality education is free, everyone is given the same opportunity to succeed or fail, regardless of their financial status.

If that sounds a bit idealistic, that’s because it is supposed to.

What is socialism in Political science, Social studies, Economics, History?

Early socialism was predicated on the idea that if we could eliminate classes and have true, societal equality, it would be a utopia.

In fact, the earliest modern form of socialism was called “utopian socialism”.

It’s important to note that there are no 100% socialist countries, but rather, different socio-economic systems with socialist undertones.

Even the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which literally has the word “socialist” in the name, has been called a far cry from “real socialism”.

The same is true of the Nordic countries, which employ socialist programs combined with a capitalist economy.

What is socialism in Political science, Social studies, Economics, History?

But so, why are the Nordic countries doing so well, while Russia is still recovering?

Well, like any political system, socialism has a countless number of variations.

The two most dominant are Social Democracy, as practiced by Sweden and Bernie Sanders.

And the Marxism-Leninism form of socialism, used by the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba.

Social Democracy generally prioritizes improving quality of life through equal rights and opportunities,

bolstered by a state-run welfare system and on top of a capitalist economy.

What is socialism in Political science, Social studies, Economics, History?

On the other hand, Marxism-Leninism prioritizes the infallibility of its dictatorship government.

The rationale is that any benefit to the state would also be a benefit for the people.

However, in practice, this has meant that the ruling party can massively depreciate the population’s standard of living for the “good of the state”.

Although both strive for similar utopian socialist goals, the way they approach them is very different.

These examples show that socialism (along with its logical extreme, communism) may be backed by rational theory, but requires rational practice to go along with it.

Social democracies make up the happiest countries in the world.

Other socialist-leaning countries like China and Cuba suffer from terrible human rights abuses, like modern slavery and censorship.

Maybe the best takeaway is not to trust anyone using the word “socialism” to describe radically different political theories.

Just because “salad” is in the name doesn’t make fruit salad, potato salad, and Caesar salad the same thing.

If you’d like to learn more about Libertarianism, Anarchy, and other political ideologies, check out our article blog.

 

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AUTHORNishant Chandravanshi

Nishant Chandravanshi is the founder of The Magadha Times & Chandravanshi. Nishant Chandravanshi is Youtuber, Social Activist & Political Commentator.

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