Key Features of Socialism
Salient Features of Socialism
While different forms of socialism may differ from each other in some details, there are certain essential features which are common to them all. These are discussed briefly below: —
1. Social Ownership of Means of Production. This is the most fundamental feature of socialism. Under socialism, farms, factories, mines, railways, banks, are owned by the society rather than by private individuals or companies. There is thus no private property in respect of the means of production, although private property in the form of houses, furniture, household equipment and other consumer's goods may be allowed.
2. Social Welfare the Main Aim. The second feature of socialism, which follows from the first, is that the means of production are operated with the object of promoting and serving the good of the whole community rather than for the benefit of a few individuals. This is in sharp contrast to capitalism, under / which entrepreneurs undertake productive activity primarily for making profits for themselves. Thus, under socialism, the productive resources of the community are diverted to the production of goods and services which maximize social welfare rather than earn the largest profits, e.g., greater emphasis is put under Socialism on the production of necessaries of life for the masses and on the provision of education, medical aid, etc., for the general public.
3. Central Planning. Unlike Capitalism, under which price mechanism allocates resources among the various productive activities, under socialism this allocation is done by a central authority with a view to maximizing social welfare. Thus, economic planning is an important feature of socialism. The central planning authority or a planning commission formulates an over-all plan for the entire economy according to certain objectives and priorities. Accordingly, it lays down programmes and targets for each sector of the economy and proceeds to implement these programmes.
4. Equality of Income and Opportunity. Another essential feature of socialism is the removal or at any rate the reduction of economic inequalities. Since under socialism all means of production are under social ownership and there is no system of private property and inheritance, the inequalities of wealth cannot arise. Besides, since the instruments of production are operated by the community for social good rather than for individual profits, there cannot be any serious inequalities of income. Besides, under socialism there is equality of' opportunity for all, which is ensured by the provision of free education and professional training up to the highest level. However, absolute equality is unattainable since people differ in natural endowments.
5. Classless Society. While under capitalism, the society is split up into two hostile classes, viz., capital and labor, there is no such cleavage under socialism. It is thus a classless society. Since all means of production are owned by the community and operated by it for social good, the question of two classes with conflicting interests does not arise.