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Definitions of socialism: Wikis


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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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  • "If we consider only the passive concept--a state or condition of affairs where property is held, more or less completely, in common--we find that a serviceable word [for communism/socialism] has existed in each of the European languages from earliest times."


  • "SOCIALISM, n. A social state in which there is a community of property among all the citizens; a new term for AGRARIANISM. [See COMMUNISM.]" (Webster's American Dictionary, 1848)


  • "Socialism, as first propounded by Owen and Fourier, proposed that a society living together should share all the wealth produced."[1]


  • "When it [the Communist Manifesto] was written, we could not have called it a Socialist manifesto. By Socialists, in 1847, were understood, on the one hand, the adherents of the various Utopian systems: Ownites in England, Fourierists in France...; on the other hand, the most multifarious social quacks..." (Frederich Engels, Preface, dated 30 Jan. 1858, to Manifesto of the Communist Party)


  • To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry, and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible on the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best attainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.
    • Clause IV (4) of the new Labour Party constitution adopted this year; written by Sydney Webb


  • The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. Where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe. And where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect."
    • The new Clause 4, from the constitution of the Labour Party



Oxford English Dictionary: "1. A theory or policy of social organization which aims at or advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all. 2. A state of society in which things are held or used in common."

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary: "1 : any of various theories or social and political movements advocating or aiming at collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and control of the distribution of goods: as a : FOURIERISM b : GUILD SOCIALISM c : MARXISM d : OWENISM 2 a : a system or condition of society or group living in which there is no private property <trace the remains of pure socialism that marked the first phase of the Christian community -- W.E.H.Lecky> -- compare INDIVIDUALISM b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state -- compare CAPITALISM, LIBERALISM c : a stage of society that in Marxist theory is transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and payments to individuals according to their work"

Compact Oxford English Dictionary: "a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: "1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. 2. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved."

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary: "a political doctrine or system which aims to create a classless society by removing the nation's wealth (land, industries, transport systems, etc) out of private and into public hands."

Cambridge Dictionary of American English: "any economic or political system based on government ownership and control of important businesses and methods of production"

Riverside Webster's II New College Dictionary: "1. a. A social system in which the producers possess political power and the means of producing and distributing goods. b. The theory or practice of those who support such a social system. 2. Construction of the material base for Marxist-Leninist communism under the dictatorship of the proletariat."

Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus: "1. a political or economic theory in which community members own all property, resources, and the means of production, and control the distribution of goods. 2. the system of government that is based on this theory. 3. in Marxist-Leninist theory, the transition stage between capitalism and communism."

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition: "An economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity. There are many varieties of socialism. Some socialists tolerate capitalism, as long as the government maintains the dominant influence over the economy; others insist on an abolition of private enterprise. All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists."

The Century Dictionary: "Any theory or system of local organization which would abolish entirely, or in a greater part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute co-operation; would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor; and would make land and capital, as the instruments of production, the joint possessions of the community."

Encarta® World English Dictionary: "1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles 2. movement based on socialism: any of several political movements or theories of the 19th and 20th centuries based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and the exploitation of workers 3. stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need"

Scott-Foresman Intermediate Dictionary: "1. theory or system of social organization by which the major means of production and distribution are owned, managed, or controlled by the government, by associations of workers, or by the community as a whole. 2. a political movement supporting or associated with this system."

Wordsmyth Children's Dictionary: "a theory of government in which the whole community rather than individuals owns all of its property and resources."


Noam Chomsky: "Mastery over production by the producers is the essence of socialism" (The Soviet Union Versus Socialism)

Vladimir Lenin: "socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people"

Michael Parenti: "...public ownership of all the major means of production and public ownership of the wealth, the moneyed power itself..." (Democracy for the Few)


  • Arthur E. Bestor, Jr., "The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3. (Jun., 1948), pp. 259-302.

See also


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