Socialism – Advantages and Disadvantages of Socialist System of Government
Definition of Socialism
Socialism is an economic cum political system in which the means of production and distribution is collectively owned and controlled by the state. This is done on-behalf of the people while the government sees to the equitable distribution of the resources evenly.
Every productive firms that produce goods and services are owned by the government. Goods produced for the satisfaction of all and sundry and not for profit motive.
Citizens in a socialist country work collectively for the advancement of the country and the governance on the other hand cater for every citizen. Goods and services are produced according to the needs and distributed according to individual’s contribution and wants.
Private ownership of the means of production and distribution and accumulation of wealth are virtually not acceptable in a centrally planned or socialist economic system. Countries with socialist system include Cuba, China and Soviet Union etc.
Advantages of Socialism
The main benefits of socialism are as follows:
- Socialism helps to correct or remedy the injustices in society. In a socialist state, there is access to basic necessities like housing, health, education and employment. Bourgeois government endlessly promise to provide these basic needs of life, but they are seldom fulfilled.
- Socialism helps to remove waste often associated with capitalism. For example, in a capitalist society, an individual may have 10 cars and 20 houses, which he may not really need whereas many others may have none. Socialism discourages such primitive accumulation of wealth, which may not aid development.
- It encourages planning and judicious use of resources. The economy is tightly planned from the centre and the country is run like a giant fire.
- It helps to remove great inequalities of wealth and opportunity.
- Socialism eliminates duplication, wastage, spoilage, unnecessary competition and unproductive advertising and selling.
- The socialist principles of equitable distribution (that is, f”each according to his ability; to each according to his need”) enable the country to take care of the underprivileged in society. The GSM service providers in Nigeria, for instance adopt all forms of strategy to outdo each other.
- It encourages the maximum utilisation of human potential. Since education is virtually free at all levels, for example, no one can be denied education on account of poverty.
- It leads to rapid industrialisation, modernization and transformation of a society. For example, the former Soviet Union, by following the socialist path of development was able to move from a largely rural and primary sector economy in 1917 to become one of the two superpowers by the early 1950s.
- As an ideology, socialism demonstrates the use of the concept of surplus value how the working class is exploited by the owners of the means of production.
- Socialism has a great appeal to developing countries where political freedom is of little use to a highly impoverished people. What, for example, is the meaning of democracy to a person who is jobless or a student who drops out of school because he cannot pay his fees? What kind of democratic system would find it difficult to implement an $400 minimum wage law while a legislature collect as much as $100,000 in a month as income and a state governor appropriates as much as $1,200,000 to himself annually as security vote and yet he does not have to account to the public how he spreads it?
- Socialism accords with the traditional African values of good neighbourlines, communal ownership, honesty, integrity, moderation, respect for elders and constituted authorities.
Disadvantages of Socialism
Socialism has certain drawbacks:
- It overemphasizes the state’s capacity to satisfy the needs of the people.
- A socialist government promotes deterioration, subterfuge I want the power of political demagogues.
- The managers of state enterprises are content to do things in a bureaucratic way. There is little pressure to give of the best.
- Socialism cannot go with liberal democracy, as it tends to estate individual freedom and liberty.
- It does not provide incentive to individual initiative.
- The collapse of the socialist states in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s and the gradual opening up of China and other remaining socialist states to capitalists influence show that time may not yet be ripe for socialism.
- It encourages laziness since people may still eat or have access to other basic necessities of life without working.
- Decentralization of state activities hampers effective decentralization to local authorities and subordinate institutions.
- There is a high degree of intolerance of opposition views. Writers, artists, scientists and educationists have to follow official lines otherwise they are branded as descendants and consequently liquidated.
- Socialism leads to the growth of personality cults and personal dictatorship. For example, Joseph Stalin who succeeded VI Lenin as Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was so ruthless that more than 400,00 people who are alleged to have been liquidated during his reign. But this problem is not restricted to socialist states, Idi Amin, a former president of Uganda killed thousands of people during his reign of terror in the country in the 1970s.