Socialism is the name for a set of economic and political ideas.
Socialism can refer to a large number of Political systems, almost all of which are Left Wing. In general, Socialist systems want to redistribute wealth from those of greater means to those of lesser means. Here are the most common kinds of Socialism.
One feature of Socialism involves industries being controlled by the state, or "Nationalised". This is intended to allow all citizens to own the "means of production."
Another common feature of Socialism involves higher taxes. This is meant to give the government more funds, so that they can provide higher quality welfare. Sometimes taxes are only slightly higher, and sometimes they are much higher, depending on how much the government wants to improve welfare. Many different countries do this in different ways.
Another feature of Socialism involves people working directly for the state, rather than private companies. The state pays the workers' wages, and the goods produced are used by the state, usually to improve the country. This form of Socialism is less common nowadays, but is still around in several countries.
A final kind of Socialism involves "Collectivisation". Under this system, money and goods are shared more equally among the people, with the government in control. In theory, this system results in the rich people losing money, and the poor people getting more money. If this is used on a very large scale in a country, it is known as "Communism".
Many countries view Socialism in different ways. Social Democracy, for example, a Democratic form of Socialism, is the most common kind of government in the world. Socialist International is an organisation that spreads all over the world, and has ties with many Socialist parties, especially Social Democratic ones.
Communism, too, is seen very differently in different countries. For example, the Soviet Union was a Communist state. However, goods were not shared equally, and many people starved.
On the other hand, in other countries, Communist parties are chosen by the people fairly and Democratically. These countries include Cyprus and Mozambique.
Socialism is Left Wing. Other Left Wing forms of government include Labour and most kinds of Liberalism.
Some people say that a Welshman, Robert Owen, was the first socialist. He is still regarded as a pioneer of the Cooperative Movement in Britain. He said that workers should own the companies, which they worked for. The workers would then share the profits among themselves.
Many socialist political parties were formed during the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. Left Wing political parties are generally newer than Right Wing ones.
The most famous socialist is Karl Marx, who wrote The Communist Manifesto.
Other prominent socialists include Vladimir Lenin, James Connolly, Rosa Luxemburg, Fidel Castro, Ernesto Guevara, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Albert Einstein, Susan B. Anthony, Julius Nyerere, Há»' Chí Minh, Helen Keller, and John Lennon.
The History of Socialism and Communism.
At first, the words "socialism" and "communism" meant almost the same thing. Today, they usually mean different things. Most non-communist people say "communism" when they mean the Marxist and Leninist ideas of Russia's Bolshevik party. Marx said that socialism can be used as a period of working towards Communism. However, many non-Communists do not recognize the difference, and use the term "Communist country" to refer to a socialist state, though socialists would never use the term. Others call this 'State Socialism', to distinguish it from the communist goal that does not need a state or any form of government. To non-communists, the word 'socialism' is now mostly used for attempts to come close to this goal in a democratic state.
After World War I, the collapse of the Second International and the Russian Revolution, socialism was split into two ways. Some socialists followed Lenin and were called Communists. Others believed in Parliamentary socialism and were called social democrats. Social democrats disagreed very strongly with communists; they had supported their Bourgeois Governments at the outbreak of the War and became 'establishment' Parties of the ruling class.
Today, there are still many different forms of Socialism, and some do not agree with others.

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