This is a pretty good overview of what socialism actually is, its history, and what socialists actually believe. I agree with much of this (in terms of the article’s historical and factual accuracy) but disagree with certain parts. For example, I wouldn’t refer to the Soviet/Chinese model as “state-capitalism.” I’d say they were more like a return to the god-emperor states of the pre-modern era. Also, I disagree with the standard Marxist view of fascism as merely the strong arm of capitalism. Certainly, capitalists and fascists have often made common cause against leftists, but fascism is an anti-bourgeois, anti-liberal ideology unlike the ideological framework of capitalism. Just as conservatives and libertarians have a bad habit of calling everything they don’t like “socialism,” socialists have a bad habit of calling everything they don’t like “capitalism.”
I’ve been an anarchist for about a third of a century. For the first five or so years of that, I was a Chomskyite anarcho-syndicalist. Even since I’ve been closer to an individualist-anarchist (if I had to choose a label). But I always considered myself an anarchist first and anything else second. I’ve never called myself a “socialist” because of the usual association of socialism with statism and central planning. I’ve never liked the term “libertarian” either because of its association with corporate apologetics.
By Richard Wolff, Yes Magazine
Over the last 200 years, socialism has spread across the world. In every country, it carries the lessons and scars of its particular history there. Conversely, each country’s socialism is shaped by the global history, rich tradition, and diverse interpretations of a movement that has been the world’s major critical response to capitalism as a system.
We need to understand socialism because it has shaped our history and will shape our future. It is an immense resource: the accumulated thoughts, experiences, and experiments accomplished by those yearning to do better than capitalism.