Delightfully Disturbing: Words and the meaning we give them.
..This is far from being the philosophical post, that the title might suggest.
(Though I rather feel like writing that other post now)
No, actually, I just want to clear out eventual confusion:
I should tell ya all, that when I say socialism I often refer to what could also be called communism. I don’t know about where you are from, but in Denmark the word communism is now commonly used as another word for Stalinism. So in essence, it covers a totalitarian system with a huge state with much power.
So in Denmark the terms socialist and communist have basically changed position, or at least the old idea of socialism being a stage between capitalism and communism no longer applies. That is why I am vary of using the term “communism”, and prefers the less negatively charged “socialism”.
For now, I am going to use both socialism and communism with the same meaning = the original Marxist idea of communism.
If anyone could tell me how these words are commonly used internationally, I would be grateful! But for now, I hope this clears out some confusion in my future posts..
You are correct, in most of the world (at least the capitalist world) the word communism has become equated with Stalinism. To some extent, though, so has socialism (especially in the United States). In the United States words have become so shifted from their original intended meanings that it often becomes very difficult to communicate. For example, the word Libertarian here has started to mean essentially minarchists who support a capitalist economy. The best thing to do is when you write about these topics to present your definitions of crucial words in the beginning.
I can provide you with the definitions of capitalism, socialism, and communism that I most often use:
Capitalism: an economic system structured upon the accumulation of capital in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, usually in competitive markets.
Socialism: an economic system in which the means of production are publicly or commonly owned and controlled co-operatively.
Communism: an economic system in which the means and product of production are publicly or commonly owned and controlled co-operatively.
Communism is a socialist idea based on it’s public ownership of the means of production in order to free labour from wage slavery and the general influence of capital. The difference is that in a communist society the product is in some way communally owned in order to distribute according to need. It’s also notable that most socialistic societies will have some communistic elements in order to keep those cannot produce on their own afoot.
I think it’s also worthy of note that this is not the largest dividing issue between socialists. The largest issue, at least it seems to me, is on whether government is a force that can be used to push forward the social revolution or whether it is incompatible with the social revolution and has in fact been it’s greatest hindrance. Essentially, semantic difference is that of state socialism vs libertarian socialism. I’m wondering which side you take on that issue.