Are non-government run organizations technically socialism?

Aug 2016
977
US&A
#1
Awhile back I heard about "Democratic Socialism". The term irks me because Marx defined Socialism as Democratic, and so the term is similar to saying "wet water". This is not to say that all so-called "socialist" nations are especially democratic in nature.

When I looked it up I found this site claiming that Democratic Socialists were against letting the government "own and run" everything. It claims they prefer organizations and businesses owned and run by large communities.

I am unsure if the large, multi-level organizations necessary to compete with other international corporations can be organized in a way that is significantly better than the situation we have now. Unfortunately, it seems like more oligarchical structures are better suited to the relatively quick maneuvers needed to adjust to the changing world economic situation.

Irregardless, I am curious if organizations that are not run by the government can be considered socialism at all.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,780
Stockport Cheshire UK
#2
Irregardless, I am curious if organizations that are not run by the government can be considered socialism at all.
They can.
Socialism as an economical theory is all about shared ownership by a community, it does not require governmental involvement to be socialist.

Definition of Socialism
"Socialism
is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. "
 
Jul 2017
292
Srpska
#3
Irregardless, I am curious if organizations that are not run by the government can be considered socialism at all.
No because they are privately owned. Socialism in economic terms means socially owned. or, maybe it is better to say that such organizations can be socialist if they are socially owned. I am just unaware right now of any such setup -- that some organization is socially owned but not government owned.
 
Aug 2013
163
Finland
#5
No because they are privately owned. Socialism in economic terms means socially owned. or, maybe it is better to say that such organizations can be socialist if they are socially owned. I am just unaware right now of any such setup -- that some organization is socially owned but not government owned.
I guess at least worker's unions fit the bill. Other examples would be worker's cooperatives where the workers own the company they work in, even if the company operates in a capitalist environment.

You might also count various consumer's cooperatives where the customers of the company are also it's shareholders and usually elect the board of members who then run the day to day business. Although if the cooperative also sells it's goods or services to non-owning customers, the lines get blurred quickly.
 
Likes: thegreathoo
Oct 2015
839
Virginia
#7
How about investment banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers et al who are "too big to fail", and are bailed out by billions in public money when they do stupid things because their collapse would wreck the international financial system and bring on a depression, like 2009 and many other times since 1929? Is that "socialism" (God forbid!)
 
Jul 2017
292
Srpska
#8
You might also count various consumer's cooperatives where the customers of the company are also it's shareholders and usually elect the board of members who then run the day to day business. Although if the cooperative also sells it's goods or services to non-owning customers, the lines get blurred quickly.
I think you are right by definition, socialism includes public ownership like publicly traded companies, employee ownership like Publix Supermarkets in the USA, cooperatives, citizen ownership of equity, collectives. So there are plenty of examples.
But to me all of those examples involve private stakeholders, except for social ownership of equity which is distribution of profits to all citizens based on profitability of some government owned venture, and there it is essentially a government owned entity that generates profits. I just don't see how socialism is possible without government's ownership.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,619
#9
No because they are privately owned. Socialism in economic terms means socially owned. or, maybe it is better to say that such organizations can be socialist if they are socially owned. I am just unaware right now of any such setup -- that some organization is socially owned but not government owned.
I would say many churches and even some of the larger private universities qualify since they can employ thousands and have pupils of several thousand. Political parties could qualify as well since in democracies they have millions of campaign funds and staffs into the several thousand during campaign times and several 100s all the time. It is a bit more questionable if authoritarian parties count since they usually intertwined with the military which is technically by default considered government.
 
Aug 2013
163
Finland
#10
But to me all of those examples involve private stakeholders, except for social ownership of equity which is distribution of profits to all citizens based on profitability of some government owned venture, and there it is essentially a government owned entity that generates profits. I just don't see how socialism is possible without government's ownership.
The lines are indeed very blurry. But I would count organisations that essentially work like a commune, even if the government isn't involved in any way, where the profits of the organisation benefits all members somehow equally. However when these organisations start including non-members as customers or especially employees, it quickly steers away from socialism.

I guess you can consider selling to outside customers as "exports" in a way, something which socialist countries have often had no issue with, but once you hire someone that doesn't get the benefits of membership, you have certainly taken a big step away from socialism. Because of that, I have a hard time counting big customer's cooperatives as socialist. They are more inspired by some aspects of socialist principles.