Article-10873276 image

What is Socialism?

Here's the definition since a lot of people don’t seem to know.
2 min

So, there’s a video making the social media rounds with a CNN reporter supposedly asking Bernie Sanders supporters to define socialism. Here it is: 



Based on a lot of what we’ve seen in articles and online comments, the reporter probably revealed quite a bit of truth about what young Americans actually understand about socialism.

Back in July 2014, Reason released a report stating that 42% of Millennials preferred socialism, but only 16% could accurately define it. Ouch.

So just what is socialism? Quite simply it is the “popular ownership of the means of production”. In other words, a democratic government owns all of the businesses in the country and runs them for the benefit of the people.

If you don’t believe it, here are some socialists defining socialism from an earlier piece we did refuting the idea that all government action is a display of socialism. First up is Vladimir Lenin:

“What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the 'first', or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production become common property, the word 'communism' is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism” (The State and Revolution)


“For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly. Or, in other words, socialism is merely state-capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the interests of the whole people and has to that extent ceased to be capitalist monopoly” (The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It)

Here's how the Socialist Party USA, which uses the term democratic-socialism, defines socialism:

“The Socialist Party strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control -- a non-racist, classless, feminist, socialist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community.

Socialism is not mere government ownership, a welfare state, or a repressive bureaucracy. Socialism is a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and community residents control their neighborhoods, homes, and schools.  The production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. Socialism produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth.”

So there you go. Socialism is the government controlling not only businesses, but also neighborhoods, homes, and schools. Indeed, as the Socialist Party USA claims, it is a very different “social and economic order” than anything you’ve likely experienced.


(Image Credit: Flicker, beatdrifter)

Devin Foley

Devin Foley

Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.

Devin is a contributor to local and national newspapers, a frequent guest on a variety of talk shows, such as Minneapolis' KTLK and NPR's Talk of the Nation, and regularly shares culture and education insights presenting to civic groups, schools, and other organizations. In 2011, he was named a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation.

Devin and his wife have been married for eighteen years and have six children. When he's not working, Devin enjoys time with family while also relaxing through reading, horticulture, home projects, and skiing and snowboarding.

Add a Comment


Join the conversation...

You are currently using the BETA version of our article comments feature. You may notice some bugs in submission and user experience. Significant improvements are coming soon!


Be the first to comment on this article!