A Specter is Haunting America — Socialism

Socialism is described currently as a system of social and economic organization 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.

In fact, as Jesuit philosopher Fr. Victor Cathrein has rightly pointed 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.”

Nevertheless, “The fundamental principles of socialism belong not to economical but to metaphysical science. Foremost among its tenets is the equality of man…”[5]

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).

It is this worldview, grounded on egalitarian metaphysics, that will be the object of this explanation.

Preliminary Remark: Socialism and Communism

From the ideological or philosophical standpoint, there is no substantial difference, properly speaking, between communism and socialism. The founders of modern communism −Karl Marx and Frederick Engels− called themselves “socialists.”[6]

The very motherland of communism, the Soviet Union, called itself the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; likewise Communist China, Cuba and Vietnam define themselves as socialist.[7]

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.

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