|Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have many similarities as well as many differences. It is difficult to discern the true differences between socialism and communism, as various societies have tried different types of both systems in myriad forms, and many ideologues with different agendas have defined both systems in biased terms. Some general points distinguishing the two concepts, however, can still be identified.
One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, while communism generally refers to both an economic and a political system. As an economic system, socialism seeks to manage the economy through deliberate and collective social control. Communism, however, seeks to manage both the economy and the society by ensuring that property is owned collectively, and that control over the distribution of property is centralized in order to achieve both classlessness and statelessness. Both socialism and communism are similar in that they seek to prevent the ill effects that are sometimes produced by capitalism.
Both socialism and communism are based on the principle that the goods and services produced in an economy should be owned publicly, and controlled and planned by a centralized organization. Socialism asserts that the distribution should take place according to the amount of individuals' production efforts, however, while communism asserts that that goods and services should be distributed among the populace according to individuals' needs.
Another difference between socialism and communism is that communists assert that both capitalism and private ownership of the means of production must be done away with as soon as possible in order to make sure a classless society, the communist ideal, is formed. Socialists, however, see capitalism as a possible part of the ideal state and believe that socialism can exist in a capitalist society. In fact, one of the ideas of socialism is that everyone within the society will benefit from capitalism as much as possible as long as the capitalism is controlled somehow by a centralized planning system.
Another difference between socialism and communism is centered on who controls the structure of economy. Where socialism generally aims to have as many people as possible influence how the economy
works, communism seeks to limit that number to a smaller group.
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