Quoting oneself is probably some sort of social media faux pas nevertheless I’m going to quote a comment I made on a FB forum about a blanket condemnation of ‘socialism’ arguing that it has never and can never work:

No one votes for ‘socialism’ they vote, with varying degrees of understanding, for a set of premises, principles and policies espoused by a particular party. ‘Socialism’ is just a label that people put on a package. Serious political debate should involve examining that package rather than being for or against the label that its supporters or detractors assign to it.

China, Canada and Sweden, to name just three, have been given as examples of socialist countries or countries with socialist policies but their policies are not the same.

This linked article on the world’s ten most ‘socialist’ countries is interesting.

It has been argued that these countries are not ‘socialist’ in terms of ‘classical socialism’ which espouses ownership of all means of production. Perhaps they are better described as ‘social democracies’ that accept the principle that democracy entails taking care of their citizens. Popular ownership of all means of production can never work but neither will private ownership of all means of production.

This video gives a useful explanation of social democracy:

Perhaps it is better to think in terms of a country’s position along a continuum between ‘poles’ of ownership of the ‘means of production’ by private individuals/corporation and ownership by the state/community.

And what does it mean to say that one set of policies has been more successful than another? Who do they benefit? South Africa which has embraced a capitalist model has a much higher GDP per capita than Zimbabwe which is seen as socialist (and a mess) but Zimbabwe’s life expectancy is higher as are its literacy rates and it has has far less income inequality.