Choose Your ‘Socialism’

Robert Hockett in Forbes:

Let’s begin by identifying one source of confusion – one reason that there are so many ‘socialisms’ and, therefore, so many non-‘socialisms’: While the word ‘social’ can be readily understood in distinction from ‘individual,’ the words ‘socialism’ and ‘individualism’ are more difficult to make sense of as contrast terms, because so few of us specify which realms of activity we have in mind when we use them. When we use color words, for example, we know we are speaking of visible surfaces. When we use number words we know we are speaking of countable objects. But what sorts of things are we describing when using the ‘S’ word?

Is the ‘S’ talk, for example, about political arrangements or economic arrangements? If it’s the former, then what sorts of arrangements are ‘political,’ in putative distinction from ‘economic’? If it’s the latter, then is it about ownership? If so, then ownership of what? Is it about control? If so, then control over what? Is it about the mechanisms by which resources, goods, or services move from some hands or uses to others? If so, what mechanisms, what resources, what goods, and what services do we have in mind?

More here.