Socialism, a state of affairs in which an elected or oftentimes self-appointed authority controls the means of production of a territory. Such means of production constitute factories, farms, and everything else that produces a product for use or consumption, such as food, technology, oil, etc.
One of the tenets of socialism is that property and other commodities belong to no one in particular but to people as a group. Since no one holds ownership over property, the laborer of a fruit farm works to produce fruits for “everybody.” These fruits are then collected by people in charge of their distribution, which occurs in the form of rations. Part of that share, in equal measure to the rest, goes to the farmer who worked to grow that fruit.
The main idea of socialism centers on “equality,” namely, in the equal distribution of wealth and income.[i] Other aspects of the original idea are tethered to the quest for a life based on science, and the “liberalization of the mind.” Many of the original ideas of socialism hinged on Biblical concepts.[ii]
Nowadays, the definition of Socialism has undergone “restructuring.” Few in America would submit to the type of rationing that would arise from the true essence of Socialism. Our “new Socialism,” or what I call “Capitalist Socialism”— because it runs through the structure of private labor—is tied heavily to taxes rather than to the abandonment of private property. A good socialist nowadays likes to get paid for his or her work—and, in that, more according to ability than to need—and to spend an evening at a privately-run club or restaurant where he or she can reap all the benefits of his or her labor.
The new socialist still leans heavily toward free education and free, universal healthcare, which would spare him or her from sacrificing scare resources better suited for basic needs—such as food, gas, diapers, television sets, etc.—and enable him or her to pursue his or her happiness without the onus of expenses imposed by a totally independent path.
Socialism in Experiment
One of the first experiments in Socialism occurred in 1825 in a village called Harmony, in Indiana. The British industrialist and philanthropist Robert Owens purchased the village—which he renamed New Harmony—from a German Lutheran sect led by the preacher George Pratt, who owned it.
Owens envisioned a community where class and private property would be nonexistent, where science ruled, women would have equal rights to men, and where education and “character building” would be paramount.[iii] The idea drew many intellectuals to the commune.
The people lived free of charge in New Harmony. Whatever they produced in the fields and farms of New Harmony—over which Owens held ownership—was distributed equally among everyone within the commune.
But the experiment immediately had setbacks. People began to find little enjoyment in lining up for rations of food every day. On top of that, many of the villagers had become idle, with little desire to work the fields. Those with less patience for their condition than the indolent who enjoyed having to do little began to abandon the community of New Harmony.
Robert Owen’s socialist experiment went on for a little over two years before its collapse. His son, Robert Dale Owens, encapsulated the failure of the failed experiment in these words:
“All cooperative schemes which provide equal remuneration to the skilled and industrious and the ignorant and idle, must work their own downfall, for by this unjust plan of remuneration they must of necessity eliminate the valuable members –who find their services reaped by the indigent – and retain only the improvident, unskilled and vicious members.”[iv]
A part of Socialism is still alive to some degree in Western Capitalisms, such as in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, U.S.A, Australia, etc. through the regulation of the market system, or “the means of production.” Through regulation, a state holds part of ownership of these means.
Where Socialism Failed
Robert Owens may have learned that, by allowing people to exercise their freewill, the commune risked losing all its members from the beginning. The fact that people are by nature free spirits, who have only been oppressed throughout history, along with the failures of the first experiments in socialism, led to the construction of walls in the first truly socialist states.
[i] Equality (Socialism) (Bloor, Kevin) 2018
[ii] Jesus Was A Socialist (Dreier, Peter) 12/25/2016
[iii] New Harmony (ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA)
[iv] New Harmony, Indiana