What Are Socialist Values?

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Socialists share some common goals with capitalists, but they differ greatly in their ideas about how to reach those goals. Many criticisms of the socialist economic system question the functional problems of a planned economy. For instance, Ludwig von Mises argued that a socialist system was impossible, because planners do not have any way to acquire the information necessary to run an economy. The core socialist values are common ownership of property and the equality of people. In practical terms, socialist society values democratic control over major decisions and free access to goods and services.

1 Common Ownership

In contrast to the capitalist value of private property, socialists make common ownership a value central to their belief structure. Common ownership goes beyond national borders; it means that all resources are owned by the entire global population. This means that nobody can take personal control over resources. Every decision about how to use resources should ideally be made with the participation of all people, or the representatives of every group of people.

2 Equality

Equality of material conditions and opportunities are basic socialist values. Every person in a socialist society should have an equal income, and equality in housing, health care, education and recreational opportunities. The value of equality means that nobody in society has any special benefits, regardless of their production and willingness to achieve results. The only exception in socialist society might be the revolutionary who works to support the continually evolving socialist revolution.

3 Revolutionary Spirit

Socialist James Petras says that socialist society is dynamic, evolving through various stages including the earlier “heroic” stages and moving toward its “institutional” stage." This evolution requires some highly motivated citizens to display a revolutionary spirit in all of their actions, renewing socialist ideas and practices in an evolving social context. The revolutionary completes important tasks agreed to by the collective. He practices kindness to the less fortunate people in society, attacks the transgressors of social norms, such as thieves, and shows hatred and hostility towards imperial powers outside the socialist society.

4 Democractic Control

The socialist value of democratic control means that all people have a right to participate in any decision that impacts them. This is not limited to political decisions; it also extends to decisions about the production of goods and services. According to the Worldwide Socialist Movement website, production under socialism would be solely for use by people to meet human needs. This would end the need for buying, selling and even money.

5 Free Access to Goods

Individuals would not need to pay for access to goods and services under socialism. Work is done on a voluntary basis and produces products for the immediate needs of people. This means that all work aims at the ideal of direct usefulness. The concept of free access to socially produced goods is summed up in the famous socialist phrase, “From each according to his abilities, to each accordingly to his needs.”

Brian Gabriel has been a writer and blogger since 2009, contributing to various online publications. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Whitworth University.