EQUATING Socialism with Communism and thinking that the former is an outflow of the latter are two of the most common misconceptions about these doctrines.
Socialism admits of many definitions. But for our general purpose here I choose professor of Political Science (Arizona State University) Terence Ball’s definition of it as “a social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources.” The rationale is that public ownership or at least control best insures that a country’s resources benefit all its members.
Capitalism, on the other hand, is “an economic and political system in which the country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” One easily sees that Socialism is the more egalitarian system as it expressly aims for an equitable distribution of a country’s wealth and does not leave it to unfeeling market forces.
Historically, Socialism antedates, and does not flow from, Communism. Plato (428-348 B.C.) once described his ideal city of Magnesia as one where citizens are given for their use (but not ownership) equal plots of land to take care of their families’ needs.
Early Christians also practiced common ownership of property, a practice that religious orders continue to this day. Members do not own any property; they work for the order according to their talents while the order takes care of all their needs.
There are many but space limitation allows me to mention only the two main types of Socialism: Democratic Socialism as practiced by Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, etc. and Revolutionary Socialism or Communism as practiced by China. (Those democratic socialist countries have per capita incomes and happiness indexes that compare favorably with the U.S.)
A hybrid group exists of republics that adopt socialist practices such as some form of the profit-sharing that I advocate. Our own Pantawid Cash, Universal Health Care, and Cooperative programs are socialist.
Communism is different from Democratic Socialism in that it advocates state ownership AND (not OR) control of property. It further insists that revolutionaries acquire and control a state’s resources through violent means. This and its godlessness and consequent relativist anything-goes morality are my main objections to Communism.
At some point in my tactical interrogation inside a military safe house during Martial Law, the lead interrogator thundered to insist that I must be a communist to know so much about it. My answer to him then is still my answer now: it is precisely because I know Communism so well that I have never been and will never be a communist.