What is Socialism? The following is the definition described in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism I wonder if government support for the ambulance, schools, and etc could be deemed socialist? Isn't socialism the last step before full-fledged communism? What say you readers?
Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended.
Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation, creates an unequal society, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilise technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public.
Friedrich Engels, one of the founders of modern socialist theory, and Henri de Saint-Simon, a French Utopian Socialism theorist, advocated the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalise economic activity by eliminating the anarchy of capitalist production. This would allow for wealth and power to be distributed based on the amount of work expended in production, although there is disagreement among socialists over how and to what extent this could be achieved.
Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionism and economic rationalisation (usually in the form of economic planning), but sometimes oppose each other. A dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and revolutionaries on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy.
Socialists inspired by the Soviet model of economic development have advocated the creation of centrally planned economies directed by a state that owns all the means of production. Others, including Yugoslavian, Hungarian, German and Chinese communist governments in the 1970s and 1980s, instituted various forms of market socialism, combining co-operative and state ownership models with the free market exchange and free price system (but not free prices for the means of production). Modern social democrats propose selective nationalisation of key national industries in mixed economies, while maintaining private ownership of capital and private business enterprise. (In the 19th and early 20th century the term was used to refer to those who wanted to completely replace capitalism with socialism through reform.) Modern social democrats also promote tax-funded welfare programs and regulation of markets; many, particularly in European welfare states, refer to themselves as socialists, despite holding pro-capitalist viewpoints, thus adding ambiguity to the meaning of the term "socialist". Libertarian socialism (including social anarchism and libertarian Marxism) rejects state control and ownership of the economy altogether and advocates direct collective ownership of the means of production via co-operative workers' councils and workplace democracy.
Modern socialism originated in the late 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticised the effects of industrialisation and private ownership on society. The utopian socialists, including Robert Owen (1771–1858), tried to found self-sustaining communes by secession from a capitalist society. Henri de Saint Simon (1760–1825), the first individual to coin the term socialisme, was the original thinker who advocated technocracy and industrial planning. The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organisation, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favour an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach.
Vladimir Lenin, drawing on Karl Marx's ideas of "lower" and "upper" stages of socialism defined socialism as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.