Socialism as an economic system and a political movement, to introduce Socialism within society, has one big problem; it never has been practiced in its true form as one system that runs society. There have been several countries throughout time and there are still several countries that call themselves socialist countries, while in fact they’ve created a cocktail of which Socialism is one of the ingredients. Some countries used Socialism as a first stage to enter Communism and others gave in to Capitalism and made their own Molotov cocktail.
Having a social security system or social safety net as a country, doesn’t make it an absolute socialist country. We can neither speak of absolute Socialism when a country has a totalitarian regime that organizes the major industries in that country. Although the word Socialism carries the following words: social is me, it depends on the countries actions whether at the end of the day it was indeed social in any way possible as Socialism dictates. So lets have a look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Socialism:
A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.
Socialism as an economic and political theory was created from a starting point of making an utopian society. Opposite to most other systems, Socialism had no consensus on how the ideal socialist society would function. There are in fact many forms of Socialism created that all differ from economic planning to community size. The most common are Guild Socialism, Utopian Socialism that also includes communal societies, Christian Socialism, Market Socialism and Agrarianism. The common denominator in all of these variations is stressing the importance of cooperation among the people and keeping away from (capitalistic) competition.
True socialists want to create an entire classless society where the major industries are controlled by the government. Socialists see this control as only way to get rid of competition among the people and to create equality. In a socialist society there is no such thing as private property, since working results in equal wages and equal basic necessities, it provides all with equal benefits and opportunities. Among true socialists the idea exists that Capitalism causes oppression of the lower class. Due to the competitive nature of Capitalism, it is possible for the wealthy minority to keep in control over the industry, which eventually lessens the opportunities and wages of the working class. Within Democratic Socialism we see in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain that Capitalism is part of the socialist foundation.
Opponents of Socialism say that the problem of this economic system is the equal wages and therefore no incentive to get up in the morning and to do our paid work with an equal amount of pleasure as when we get paid more than people who studied less or have less effective connections in life. Furthermore they say that human beings are selfish and self-centred power seeking beings that when given power they will abuse that power. They point out that our tumultuous past and history books show us what human nature has brought us thus far. Governments may not become the collective alter ego that is driven and energized by power and no longer serving the people and the greater good, according to the opponents.
The question is whether the true socialist and the opponents of Socialism are really depicting reality or are they making a caricature out off reality? Things don’t always have to be black or white, when we speak about utopia most people can’t grasp the fact that this world could be or become an utopia, it’s simply denial. When we speak about totalitarian regimes, a lot of people can’t either relate to that as a daily reality. So as much as Socialism, as many other economic theoretical systems, has never been reality in its purest form nor has utopia or an utter totalitarian hell on earth been for us all. That means that we’re merely talking about things from a mind perspective and trying to gather examples from real life that are not always correct examples and do not always take all dimensions in consideration.
What if we, in an attempt to better our world systems, take what seems valid from Socialism and Capitalism and recreate it into ‘Distributive Capitalism’ and place the central power with the people and the government. That way we could make the government more into a logistic department that is at the service of the people. We’d take from Capitalism the creative entrepreneur and from Socialism solidarity. In one strike we would eliminate ‘the winner takes it all’ principle and the all-controlling government. As Jeremy Rifkin, an American economic (1945), says: “Being social and entrepreneurial go well together now a days. It changes the way of thinking. This would really mean ‘power to the people’. It means democratization of energy and information and even the economy. It is flattening down Capitalism and what arises one could call ‘Distributive Capitalism’. In a way Capitalism and Socialism do no longer exist, because ‘Distributive Capitalism’ takes the best of both systems. It combines risk taking, creativity and entrepreneurship.”
When we look at the statement of the opponents of Socialism who say that it will promote laziness and it devaluates self promotion, we can ask these same people if they would come out of bed every morning when they become entrepreneurs instead of the working slaves they’re right now. When in a system such as ‘Distributive Capitalism’ or in a Living Income Guaranteed, we are a part of the companies or have our own companies, that will surely be enough incentive to get out off bed. When you for real become a part of society and what you do matters and therefore you only want to do the things that matter, you feel validated by society and yourself. When you are entrepreneur and the business you’ve started had to be tested in real time and didn’t work out for the best of all, you can simply stop and have temporarily a living income. Now when our business is likely to fail we would push even though we damage others, we would push because of money issues. When money is no longer our main concern we can do the jobs we like, we can invent new jobs and let technology do the jobs technology does best. We never would feel threatened and fear for our living.
We could start seeing jobs in a whole other perspective and really practice solidarity. We no longer would have to focus on one of our talents and make a career out of it. We could pile up all our talents and we could have different jobs build upon the different talents. On Monday and Tuesday we work for a newspaper, Wednesdays we use for development and creativity in a brainstorm team with all kinds of different professions and on Thursday and Friday we teach children and adults. Wouldn’t that be great to be able to be creative, talented and reassured of income when our real time tested ideas do stand the test of time? There might be people in the beginning that simply do not know how to move themselves even in a society that is inviting them to do so, those people can live on a living income and slowly but surely discover what they want to do to contribute to society. In school we can start on an early age to teach children how to become an entrepreneur, since not all of us have that in us as a natural talent. Thus when there are no good or bad ideas in essence but only one criteria that applies namely: we will not abuse, we could gradually grow towards utopia whether we call it Socialism or simply living in the best interest of all.
The same goes for power, when we are already in ‘power’ over our own lives, do we still need to overrule other’s lives? Seeing what real power is and what sustainable power entails, no one ever would want to reach for totalitarian power. As soon as our inner strength is the force that direct us, and that will be reached when financial fears are no longer there, we simply become equals without even thinking about bossing another around that is equal to us. That way we would not let people in charge that are mentally instable, if that’s a polite term for dictators and sociopaths, they would get the opportunity to get to their inner strength with the support and assistance of society. Power and the need for power can look like a big thing to overcome in a transitional period where another economic system is introduced, whereas greed will be an even bigger thing for all of us to overcome. Where greediness for power is really indicating where it all stems from, the fear to not have enough, which will be eliminated with for instance LIG.
So Socialism as in ‘social is me’ or ‘I’m social’, has many valuable proposals in it that we can use to create a society through which we can enter the 21 century. We can ask ourselves if we want to hang on to all the ISMs that have been invented so far or are we willing to take what is effective and move on. We as a person know that it is of no use, when we continue living in our own past, the same goes for our society and us as a whole. Living in the past with ineffective pillars that arrange our society, we can call plain stupid. It’s time to move on and leave the ISMs behind us and for one time dare to think out of the box of our comfort zone. When we continue walking this known path, will there still be an old age pension for us, will there still be enough jobs, and will we be able to simply be happy and not fear tomorrow’s sorrows? When social is in you, then you’ve got the incentive to move and change and mould this society until it fits our 21 century needs, not greed, but plain and normal needs. Being social leads to feeding your needs who are most likely equal in essence to all the other people’s needs. We need you to need yourself and to investigate a Living Income Guaranteed.