What is Socialism?

By Gustavo Solimeo   
April 08, 2010
Socialism is often described as a social and economic system based on collective or state ownership and administration of the means of production. It is also a philosophical and political theory, in addition to the political movement trying to establish this system. Thus, socialism is more than an economic system. It is a doctrinal system that proposes a major change in lifestyle and social structures.

As Jesuit philosopher Fr. Victor Cathrein points out:
"We call Socialism a system of political economy, not as if it did not also lead to many political and social changes, but because the gist of socialism consists in the nationalization of property and in the public administration and distribution of all goods."


"The fundamental principles of socialism belong not to economical but to metaphysical science. Foremost among its tenets is the equality of man..."Rev. Victor Cathrein, S.J, Socialism Exposed and Refuted - A Chapter from the Author’s Moral Philosophy, Translated from the German. by Rev. James Conway, S.J. Second edition. Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: 1902. Retrieved from http://www.archive.org/stream/socialismexposed00cathuoft

Socialism is, therefore, much more than an economic, social or political system: it is a whole view of man and the universe. It is what the Germans call a Weltanshauung (a comprehensive view of the world and human life). This worldview, grounded on egalitarian metaphysics, deserves more attention.

The communist dictatorship of Cuba styles itself "socialist."

Socialism and Communism

From the ideological or philosophical standpoint, there is no substantial difference between communism and socialism. The founders of modern communism - Karl Marx and Frederick Engels - called themselves "socialists."Engels even coined the expression “Scientific Socialism” (Frederick Engels. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. 1880) to describe the philosophical-social-political-economic theory opened up by Karl Marx, as opposed to “utopian socialists” (everyone else, before them...).
Besides, Engels, in his Communist “Catechism” (The Principles of Communism), answering the question “How do communists differ from socialists?” does not disagree with the socialists on principles but only about methods, or the degree of radicalism in the application of the principles to concrete situations (Frederick Engels, The Principles of Communism [1847]. Q. 24. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm)

The Soviet Union called itself the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Communist China, Cuba and Vietnam likewise define themselves as socialist regimes.

Socialism can be applied in varying degrees. Thus, in practice, there can be a difference between an incomplete application of socialism and full-blown communism, which is socialism taken to its ultimate consequences.

Therefore, to define socialist doctrine we can use socialist and communist authors interchangeably.





+6 # Rebecca Barry 2010-05-24 18:41
It is a great pity that so many of our countrymen are falling into this snare of Satan.

I keep praying that the people of this once great nation will wake up and turn back to God with all of their hearts. Otherwise we are doomed.
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+4 # C A Massie 2010-05-26 17:20
The whole of our existence as a Nation, in fact as a World depends upon the proper Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope and ALL the Bishops, as per Her prescription in the Secret of Fatima. Nothing else short of this simple, easy act will suffice to stop the spread of Russia's errors! It has not been done accordingly. We must pray our daily Rosaries for this purpose alone! Or Peace may never come to this world.
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-1 # jeffrey j payne 2011-01-22 12:50
capitalism run amuck objectifies workers,while the small amount at the top take and take. In the states the top folks earn at least 100 times as the workers who do all the value added labor.in most "socialist" counties the folks at the top earn on average of 10 times what the workers make.The simple fact of the matter is people are now being treated ie objectified as commodities, and it is destroying this country. look around and see what a mess this country everyone except the very wealthy are seeing their net- worth declining,and with it our standard of living goes also. The catholic church has never- ever supported capitalism run amuck.You want republicans in charge because they suport the chuches view on abortion.Thats fine. in the future you may want to have at least a little objectivity in your articals.People don't exist so companies can use them up and throw them away, it causes caose
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0 # scragsma 2011-09-23 14:28
@jeffrey j payne: I agree that it's wrong for corporations to treat people as commodities. But it is equally wrong for GOVERNMENTS to treat people as commodities, as objects whose only purpose is to serve the state - and that's what socialism is.
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-2 # Rae Dawn Hastings 2011-09-24 11:57
Have we forgotten that the Nazi's of WW2 were Socialist! That should have ended socialism, which is very un-social forever!
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+1 # georgia Hedrick 2012-07-04 17:05
I can see from the published comments listed that, unless I agree with the premises given, nothing of my opinion will be published. Correct?
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-2 # R.Chester 2012-12-27 09:54
Deja Vu...we have the 1930's of the Nazi Regime all over again only in America this time around!
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