What are the main characteristics of socialism? See 6 most important (2023)

What are the main characteristics of socialism? See 6 most important (1)

Socialism is an economic and social doctrine that emerged in Europe at the end of the 18th century as a form of opposition to Capitalism and as an alternative to the model.

Its main theorists were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who influenced several revolutions around the world.

Discover the main characteristics of Socialism and learn more about this ideology.

If you want to go directly to a specific piece of content, click on one of the topics below:

  • What is Socialism?
  • What are the main features of socialism?
  • What are the currents of Socialism?
  • Countries That Adopted Socialism
  • Differences between Socialism and Capitalism
  • Contradictions and criticisms that Socialism suffers from
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What is Socialism?

Socialism is an economic systemand social whose main theoristsdefend the end of private property and the socialization of the means of production. The goal isreshape society so that it becomes more just and egalitarian.

Early socialist theoriesappeared at the end of the 18th century, during the same period as theIndustrial Revolution. In large part, they are aresponse to the problems that existed at the timein the world of factory work.

For all its productive benefits, the Industrial Revolution also promoted:

  • Unhealthy work;
  • Increased workload, which could reach 18 hours of work;
  • Low wages;
  • Pollution of cities and health damage.

In addition, it fixedtwo social classesdifferent:the bosses and the employees, which in Marxist theory are calledbourgeois and proletarians, respectively.

That is, those who own the means of production (bourgeois) and those who sell their labor power (proletariat).

Like this,Socialism is a set of theories that seek to modify the economic situation and everything related to it. to her.This means changing everything that emerged from the Industrial Revolution and that may be related to theCapitalism.

To better understand how this would be done, let's see what the main characteristics of Socialism are.

What are the main features of socialism?

Socialism is not a unique phenomenon. That is, there are many socialist theories, but they have main characteristics in common, which we are going to see.

1 - State leadership

Socialists argue thatthe State is at the forefront of the economy, directing it through constant interventionsin labor relations and in the mode of production and distribution of wealth.

(Video) SOCIALISM: An In-Depth Explanation

Like this,the State is the one who stipulates the goals, defines schedules, wages and prices, which leads to another of the main characteristics of Socialism:the planned economy.

2 – Planned economy

It is a type of system whereinvestment, production and allocation of capital goods take place in accordance with economic plans for the entire economy.

In the socialist case, plans were made centrally, that is,there is no free market. The means of production are put at the service of the government's objectives.

3 - Abolition of classes

The Socialismpreaches the suppression of social classes, since they are fruits of Capitalism, which must be overcome.

The socialist idea indicates that the time will come whenthe proletariat will take power and establish new forms of economic relations, without exploitation between classes.

4 – End of private property

When we ask what the main characteristics of Socialism are, this is one of the first that is said. Socialist theorists argue thatthe means of production must be socialized, rather than being owned by someone or some group. According to socialists, the means of production should belong to everyone.

5 – Distribution of income

It means thatthe production carried out by society must be equally distributed among the people. That is,made by the state, which is the director of the economy and seeks to eliminate social inequality.

6 – Search for overcoming Capitalism

As we saw,Socialism wants to overcome Capitalism. This needs to be well understood.Many people understand that Socialism is anti-capitalist, but things are not like that..

The Marxist variant, for example, argues that Capitalism is important for wealth to be produced and disseminated..

However, this same variant believes that capitalism will be overcome naturally given its contradictions. For example, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, even though everyone participates in its production.

This will happen when there is a proletarian revolution, which will promote the dissolution of private property (one of the bases of Capitalism) and the socialization of production goods and the wealth built in thewas capitalist.

Thus, the aim is not to eliminate Capitalism by decree, but to direct it towards an egalitarian form of economy.

Hey! Now that you know the 6 characteristics, how about practicing with thebest exercises on socialism?

What are the currents of Socialism?

Now that we've seen the main characteristics of Socialism, let's get to know its main currents.

They existtwo strandsbest known of Socialism:the utopian and the scientific. These names were given by Karl Marx, who theorized Scientific Socialism and understood that socialists before him expected something that would never happen.

(Video) What Is Social Class? | Socialism 101 #6

Therefore, to understand the main characteristics of Socialism, read our text on theKarl Marx ideas.

What are the main characteristics of Utopian Socialism?

The main names of Utopian Socialism were: Claude de Rouvroy, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen.

They mainly advocated:

  • Combating inequalities;
  • Capitalism reform and not its overcoming;
  • Conciliation between classes;
  • Distribution of wealth;
  • Cooperation in labor relations.

What Marx thought impossible to happen was the reform of Capitalism. For him, only with its overcoming would it be viable to have a Socialism.

What are the main characteristics of Scientific Socialism?

The name "Scientific Socialism" isused to designate socialist analysis based on historical laws and investigation into the history of economic elementsthat form the basis of societies.

Its main features are:

  • Defense of overcoming Capitalism;
  • Search for the abolition of social classes;
  • Abolition of private property;
  • Division of society into base and superstructure, in which the base is the productive forces and the economic model and superstructure are the elements that justify it.

Real Socialism, which was realized in Eastern Europe and much of Asia, was the attempt to apply the theory of Scientific Socialism. However, the experience proved to be very complicated, with the need to use force and the promotion of loss of freedoms and rights.

You can learn more about this attempt at socialism with our text on theRussian revolution.

Countries That Adopted Socialism

Many countries adopted Socialism as an economic regime throughout the 20th century. Among them are:

  • Russia;
  • China;
  • Cuba;
  • Vietnam;
  • North Korea;
  • Yugoslavia;
  • Czechoslovakia;
  • East Germany and
  • Poland.

Only Cuba, China and North Korea remain with characteristics of Socialism in politics and economy. Most nations adopted liberal democracy as a regime.

Differences between Socialism and Capitalism

Now that we've seen the main characteristics of Socialism, it's easier to know what makes it different from its economic rival: Capitalism.

Unlike capitalism,Socialism advocates the end of private ownership of the means of production and their collectivization. Thus, capital would not belong to groups, but to society as a whole.

What are the main characteristics of socialism? See 6 most important (2)

Therefore,aims to promote equality between people, since there would be no accumulation of wealth to differentiate them. In this way, society would no longer be divided into classes.

(Video) Socialism or Capitalism: Which is Better?

Now that you know what the main characteristics of Socialism are, be sure to test your knowledge with our list ofexercises on this ideology.

Contradictions and criticisms that Socialism suffers from

Socialism was criticized by various philosophical and economic branches, mainly in its rigid version, known as Orthodox Marxism.

In this version, the authors see the material basis as the only thing that is really true. I.e,everything that exists has the function of justifying the economic structure of exploitation.

Religion, art, law and even the state are mere forces built by the powerful to spread the bourgeois worldview and keep the class situation always the same.

Supporters of Classical Philosophy point out the economic reductionism of this theory, and show thatareas of life are independent, although there is a connection between them. They also criticize materialism and defend a metaphysical conception of the world.

They also criticize the Marxist idea that society will necessarily become communist, removing human freedom from events and the options of different models.

Economic critique of socialism

From the economic point of view, some theorists began to point out a fundamental problem of socialism, which would be the“economic calculation problem”.

This terminology was first used by the economist Ludwig Von Mises in one of hispaperstitled “Economic Calculation Under Socialism” which was published in 1920, shortly after theRussian revolution.

The text was basically a doctoral thesis that explained why the Soviet Union was invariably destined to fail. In 1991, 2 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and 70 years after the study was published,Mises' predictions were confirmed with thedismantling of the soviet bloc.

Briefly, the economist's justification for remaining pessimistic about the Soviet economy was thatthe model ignored the basic laws of economics. Among them, one in particular: the Law of supply and demand.

The economic calculus Mises is referring to is the way prices are created.. For example, imagine that you want to sell your old cell phone. You offer one price, your buyer offers another, you negotiate, and you arrive at a price agreed upon by both parties.In the socialist model, this does not exist..

As the socialist economy is planned and planned, then an entity ends up deciding the price of everything. The problem is that there is no way for a single person or group of people to have all the information needed to price all things.

I.e,central planning kills the price system and without the price system there can be no planning. From then on, the vicious cycle of contradictions begins.

If you want to read more about it, we'll leave you aarticle on Economic Calculation under Socialism.

Social Criticism of Socialism

Invariably, as socialism is a socio-economic system,he will suffer criticism from both camps and some of the main social criticisms that socialism suffers from, is about your premise of equality.

(Video) Capitalism or Socialism?

If we go back to what are the main characteristics of socialism,let's remember to abolish social classes, end private property and distribute income. However, if we go further in this reasoning we arrive at the following scenario:

If there are no more classes, no more private property, then all people are equally owners of everything and equally receive the profits generated. Now, think about it,it is possible (or even efficient) for all people to own the same factory?

probably thatit would end in a huge mess. What would inevitably happen is that some people would be chosen to run the factories and the same would happen with all sectors of society.

But this in itself would generate inequalities. People are different by nature and everyone has their own opinion about what is more or less important.

As soon as these opinions conflict, someone will have to decide what will be done.When that moment arrives, we perceive an unequal amount of decision-making power. Thus, the socialist system would fail to extinguish inequalities, as some would have more power than others.

These are some of the criticisms that socialism receives. Do you agree with them? Leave it in the comments.

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Thank you for reading our article about the main characteristics of Socialism until the end!

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