These days, the word socialism gets tossed around so much, it's almost lost all meaning. Originally, though, it was the bedrock of Marxism and meant that workers and their community should control the market for what they make.

Because the Soviet state eventually strayed far from Marx's idea of socialism towards Lenin's totalitarian communism, socialism is now often used to mean everything from "fascism" to "progressivism." But in its purest form, socialism was a political, social, and economic system meant to empower the working class. In the U.S. today, though, it's often used as shorthand for "the services that government provides and which are paid for by taxes." Depending on who's talking, that idea is either a goal or a target.

Definitions of socialism

n a political theory advocating state ownership of industry

socialism to be established by gradual reforms within the law
guild socialism
a form of socialist theory advocating state ownership of industry but managements by guilds of workers
utopian socialism
socialism achieved by voluntary sacrifice
Type of:
ideology, political orientation, political theory
an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation

n an economic system based on state ownership of capital

socialist economy
capitalism, capitalist economy
an economic system based on private ownership of capital
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a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership
any of several international socialist organizations
Naziism, Nazism, national socialism
a form of socialism featuring racism and expansionism and obedience to a strong leader
the Spanish Nazi party under Franco
Bolshevism, collectivism, sovietism
Soviet communism
Type of:
managed economy
a non-market economy in which government intervention is important in allocating goods and resources and determining prices

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