Tenets of socialism

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โˆ™ 2011-02-07 20:23:08

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Socialism is a philosophy which opposes capitalism, which merely means opposition to the private ownership of productive capital (also referred to as "bourgeois property"). The simplest form is syndicalism, which is the belief that productive capital should be managed democratically by those who work it, but there are many other forms

Here's an example to better illustrate socialism and how it differs from capitalism.

In capitalism, a wealthy investor (called a capitalist) buys a widget factory. He employs a person to work at building widgets in his factory and pays the worker a fixed amount (called a wage). Profit (that is, revenue minus expenses+worker wages) goes directly to the capitalist.

Socialists oppose this system, and here's why; let's say that a worker can build one widget an hour. The widget requires $100 worth of material to build. The worker is paid $10 for that hour of work. At the end of the hour, the worker has produced a widget, which the capitalist sells for, say $150. The capitalist has therefore made a profit of $150-$100-$10=$40

To a socialist, this is highly unjust. Since the materials used to create the widget cost only $100 dollars, this means that $50 of the final value comes from the work done by the worker. However, the worker has only received $10 for his work! The capitalist receives the rest (the $40, which socialists call surplus value.)

Socialists believe that this is exploitative. The capitalist, who has done no work to build the widget, has stolen a large chunk of the value of the worker's work, merely because he owns the factory. In fact, socialists believe the exploitation of this relationship is so grievous as to be tantamount to wage slavery.

Socialists wish to change this relationship by removing the capitalist from the equation. One method, the aforementioned syndicalism, fixes this by having the workers collectively own the factory. Since there is no capitalist to accumulate profit, each worker would get the full value of his or her work.

Another system which is important to mention is "state socialism". This is the system we see in places such as the Soviet Union, where the government owns all productive capital. Many socialists, quite understandably, oppose this system. In fact, many socialists refer to this not as "state socialism", but as "state capitalism", since they view this merely as another form of capitalism, with the exploitation of the private capitalist replaced by exploitation by the government acting as a capitalist.

I hope this answered your question, at least somewhat.

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