Socialism is clearly not understood by many in America. Socialism, according to Brittanica.com, is a “social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources.” In other words, rather than one guy owning Amazon and getting most of the profit himself, everyone would own Amazon and share in the profits. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Socialism has been confused with other failed forms of government and social mechanism, such as communism. Though communism is a form of socialism, it is only one of many forms that have existed throughout history.

Socialist principles and ideals have been around since Plato described a similar environment in the “Republic” way back in 360 B.C. Other forms of socialism that have evolved over time are communal socialism, Christian socialism, market socialism and many more. Communism, as far as I’m concerned, wasn’t even a true form of socialism. Instead, it is an oppressive system of government that masks itself in the ideas of socialism without practicing the principles of it. In other words, dictators pretend to represent the people while they hoard the national wealth for themselves. 

A true socialist society would have a state run by the people rather than representatives as we have now in the form of politicians. One way that would work is that we would all have an opportunity to represent our local communities in the government on a rotating basis. We would all be members of the government. There wouldn’t be any separation between us and our representatives. We would all understand how the government worked because we would all be a part of making it run smoothly.

Socialism is about community and working together. Its root word, after all, is social! It is all about thinking about your community and ensuring there is enough for everyone. The goal of socialism is to protect the work force and ensure that everything from the economy to resource management is designed to benefit everyone.

Socialism is not about getting something for nothing. It is about equal distribution of resources and making sure everyone’s basic needs are met. Every living being on this planet is entitled to food in their stomach, a roof over their heads, clean water, access to health care, and education. Period. No humane argument can be made to deny any one of these as an inherent human right.

I find it incomprehensible that any thoughtful and caring person would consider it free-loading to be given these things. But many people do consider it free-loading. And its not really their fault. Everything around them teaches and reinforces the concepts of capitalism. Their mentality is me and my family first. The community is a separate circle to them. Yes, they’re part of it, but they are not responsible for anyone other than their own family. In a resource-scarce environment, that may be the case. But we don’t really live in a resource-scarce environment anymore. We currently have the resources to feed, house, cloth, and educate every human being on the planet. So, why do we live like we don’t have enough? Why do we have to have more for ourselves when others have less? 

What is so wrong about helping one another out? Because that’s what socialism is. It is helping those who need help because I can. An ism is “a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy.”  So, add the root word, social, which means “relating to society” or “needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities,” and you get the philosophy of companionship. That’s my definition of socialism.

Imagine a society governed by the principles of companionship, compassion and cooperation. I know there are going to be readers who don’t understand my point. They’ll read this and think it is another example of liberal daydreaming of a society full of rainbows and unicorns where we get everything handed to us. Or that I’m dangerously naïve and my train of thinking will lead to a new rise of the big red serpent. But my hope is those readers would take the time to consider my thoughts and use them as a starting point for their own research into what socialism truly means,  and how it could benefit our society while bringing us together.

Cruz Fernandez is a staff reporter and weekly columnist at the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at cfernandez@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8105.