Socialism and communism are ideological doctrines that have many similarities as well as many differences. One point that is frequently raised to distinguish socialism from communism is that socialism generally refers to an economic system, and communism generally refers to both an economic system and a political system. The means of production are publicly owned in both systems, but the ways that money and resources are distributed are different. In socialism, each person is allotted resources according to his or her input, or amount of work, and in communism, each person is allotted resources according to his or her needs. Many people consider communism to be a "higher" or more extreme form of socialism.
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 resources is centralized to achieve both classlessness and statelessness. Under communism, all people are considered equal and are provided for equally, regardless of their contributions to the economy or to society. This is different from socialism, but both socialism and communism are similar in that they seek to prevent many of the ill effects that are sometimes associated with capitalism, such as economic inequality.
Socialism and communism are based on the principle that the means of producing goods and providing services — such as all factories and companies — should be owned publicly and controlled and planned by a centralized organization rather than being controlled by members of a small class of wealthy people. Socialists assert that wealthy people who own the means of production are able to exploit workers in order to make more money and become even richer, thereby increasing their power over the workers. By eliminating private ownership of factories and companies, socialists believe, the workers can be paid more.
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, typically see capitalism as a steppingstone toward the ideal state and believe that socialism can develop out of a capitalistic 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.
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