12 Difference Between Socialism And Communism

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Communism and socialism both grew out of grass-roots opposition to the exploitation of workers by wealthy businesses during the Industrial Revolution. Both socialism and communism place great value on creating a more equal society and removal of class privilege. The main difference is that socialism is compatible with democracy and liberty, whereas Communism involves creating an ‘equal society’ through an authoritarian state, which denies basic liberties.

In communism, a violent revolution in which the workers rise up against the middle and upper classes is seen as an inevitable part of achieving a pure communist state. Socialism is a less rigid, more flexible ideology. Its adherents seek change and reform, but insist on making these changes through democratic processes within the existing social and political structure, not overthrowing that structure.

However, both socialism and communism are similar in that they seek to prevent many of the ill effects that are sometimes associated with capitalism, such as economic inequality. Socialism and communism are based on the principle that the means of producing goods and providing services — such as all factories and companies — should be owned publicly and controlled and planned by a centralized government rather than being controlled by members of a small class of wealthy people.

What Is Socialism?

Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are socially owned and used to meet human needs, not to create profits. A socialist economic system operates on the basic principle that, what is good for one is good for all, and vise versa. Everyone works for their own good and for the good of everyone else. Social ownership of the means of production can take many forms. It could refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, direct public ownership, or autonomous state enterprises. 

In other words, socialism takes the aspects of society that affect everyone and brings them under the control of governmentsuch as utilities, education, and healthcare. But the government doesn’t control everything: socialism also allows for private enterprise and business ownership, too. 

 A primary goal of socialism is social equality and a distribution of wealth based on one’s contribution to society. Socialism is basically the stage before communism. It is essentially a less extreme form of Communism. In Marx’s theory of history, he predicted that capitalism would collapse and bring about socialism, which would then in turn eventually lead to communism.

Socialists critique capitalism, arguing that it creates inequality and limits human potential. Socialists maintain that capitalism derives wealth from a system of labor exploitation and then concentrates wealth and power within a small segment of society that controls the means of production.

No country in history has achieved a state of pure socialism. Even countries that are considered by some people to be socialist states, like Norway, Sweden and Denmark, have successful capitalist sectors and follow policies that are largely aligned with social democracy.

What You Need To Know About Socialism

  • Socialism allows private property and private ownership, but it may place a certain tax on wealth and inheritance to redistribute opportunity and wealth.
  • A socialist economic system operates on the basic principle that, what is good for one is good for all, and vise versa. Everyone works for their own good and for the good of everyone else.
  • Socialism emphasizes equality of opportunity, using the state to redistribute income from the highest earners to others. But, it does not insist on equality, only aiming for equality of opportunity.
  • Purely socialist governments intervene in economic activity, rather than trust the “invisible hand” of the free market. This includes government-owned companies and price regulation by bureaucrats.
  • Government owns/regulates some parts of the economy for the benefit of the whole nation; Individuals and private businesses also their own make their own economic decisions, keeping the profits and accepting the losses.
  • Socialists support religious freedom but do not believe in a relationship between the state and any religion in particular.
  • Socialists support workers’ rights. But instead of a workers’ revolution, socialists advocate for labor unions and workplace regulations.
  • The principle of protecting those oppressed by other is seen as a responsibility of government. Examples of government programs aimed to help underserved members of society include universal healthcare and welfare programs.
  • Socialists reject the competitive nature of capitalism. They embrace egalitarianism as the ideal way to ensure social stability.
  • Proponents of socialism often believe in the elimination of private property, a strongly regulated economy and well-funded government programs.

What Is Communism?

 Communism is a philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes.

Under communism more preference is given to society rather than individual. Focus is on the progress of the community as a whole, there is no such thing as private property. All property is communally owned, and each person receives a portion based on what they need. More importantly, all people are considered equal and are provided for equally, regardless of their contributions to the economy or to society. 

Communism has two phases. The first or lower phase of communism is called as socialism that is the phase between capitalism and communism. The second or higher phase of communism is the perfect stage. There is no inequality or injustice in this stage. Communist society is classless society where products are delivered according to individuals needs.

Under communism the state controls all aspects of economic production, and provides citizens with their basic necessities, including food, housing, medical care and education. Today, communism exists in China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam, but none of them have achieved the elimination of personal property, money or class systems that the communist ideology requires.

What You Need To Know About Communism

  • Communism is an economic and political ideology in which country’s trade and industry are controlled by the community and the share of each individual relies on his ability and needs.
  • Under communism, all people are considered equal and are provided for equally, regardless of their contributions to the economy or to society. 
  • In communism, the system of government is totalitarian. Totalitarianism is a form of government in which government owns and controls all aspects of the economy.
  • Communists believe in a society that doesn’t have social or economic class divisions (such as bourgeoisie vs. proletariat). The state is run by members of the working class in the interest of the working class.
  • Communists believe that the government must intervene heavily in citizens’ lives to keep them from achieving more than others. This includes control over education, employment and even marriage and family.
  • Today, communism exists in China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam, but none of them have achieved the elimination of personal property, money or class systems that the communist ideology requires.
  • Under communism, there is no such thing as private property. All property is communally owned, and each person receives a portion based on what they need.
  • Under communism the state controls all aspects of economic production, and provides citizens with their basic necessities, including food, housing, medical care and education.
  • In communism more preference is given to society rather than individual. Focus is on the progress of the community as a whole.
  • In Communism there are no classes among individuals across the society, all members of the society are considered to be equal.  
  • The market is state-owned and controlled and therefore there is low competition among firms and entities.

Difference Between Socialism And Communism In Tabular Form  

BASIS OF COMPARISON SOCIALISM COMMUNISM
Basic Philosophy From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution.  
Work Everyone works for their own good and for the good of everyone else.  Everyone works for the good of everyone else.
Economy Planned By The economy is planned by the Central Government.   The economy is planned by the Central Government.
Ownership of Economic Resources All economic resources are publicly owned and controlled by the government. Individuals hold no personal property or assets. Individuals own personal property but all industrial and production capacity is communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government.
Distribution of Economic Production  Production is intended to meet all basic human needs and is distributed to the people at no charge.  Production is intended to meet individual and societal needs and distributed according to individual ability and contribution.
Power Communism decentralizes some power to the people. Communism gives too much power to the centralized government.
Class Distinction  Class is abolished. The ability to earn more than other workers is almost nonexistent. Classes exist but differences are diminished. It is possible for some people to earn more than others.
Labor Unions Labor unions are encouraged. Labor unions are abolished.  
Religion Religion is effectively abolished. Freedom of religion is allowed.  
Welfare The state will be for the welfare of everyone in the society without any discrimination. Supports widespread universal social welfare with an emphasis on public health and education.
Countries of Applicability Norway, Sweden and Denmark. China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Socialism

Advantages

  • Socialist values encourage selflessness rather than selfishness.
  • Socialism ensures that no worker is exploited.
  • Under socialism, each person is guaranteed access to basic goods, even those who are not able to contribute.
  • There is a reduction in poverty when socialism has a chance to work.
  • It can improve labor productivity rates when implemented correctly.
  • Socialism promotes the common good.
  • Under socialism, every person still has an opportunity to pursue their goals.
  • Unions exist under socialism to fight for workers and owners.
  • Prices are determined by the free market forces of demand and supply with exceptions e.g rent controls.

Disadvantages

  • Socialism creates a significantly higher tax burden for individuals.
  • Governments can fail when trying to regulate industries or own business.
  • Excessive labor market regulations can lead to fewer employment opportunities.
  • It reduces innovation opportunities for the society.
  • It results to state monopoly.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Communism

Advantages

  • People are treated equally in the eyes of the government regardless of education and financial standing.
  • There is an internally stable economic system. The government dictates economic structure; therefore, economic instability is out of the question.
  • Communism builds stronger social communities and an even stronger economy.
  • There is fair and efficient distribution of resources across the society.
  • Education and healthcare are provided for free by government to citizens.   

Disadvantages

  • Communism does not reward entrepreneurial ventures or competitiveness. Consequently, a socialist system does not encourage innovation as much as capitalism.
  • It reduces individual initiative as citizens depend on the government for everything.
  • Individual rights are restricted.
  • Prices and output set by the government can lead to shortages and surpluses.
  • The needs of the consumer are not taken into consideration in a communist government.