The following information presented in this article is a mixture of personal observations and beliefs, and academic research. All unoriginal material and information will be referenced at the end of the article, with links to the sites. Please bear in mind that this article was written under extreme time constraints and is open to scrutiny from any readers.
Socialism. There are many things that can be said about socialism; there are many opinions that exist regarding its presence in the world and its place and value. Still, there is one question that was presented by those in my community: Does it have a place in modern society? Let us address what is known about this topic, then meditate on it and hopefully answer the question; if the question reframes from receiving an answer, let us ask questions that develop our understanding and knowledge of it.
First, let us identify what socialism even is. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, socialism is any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. This definition is quite convoluted so let us break it down.
“Any of various economic and political theories” refers to the possibly many different visions of how politics and/or economics should be executed, maintained, or perpetuated. “Advocating collective or governmental ownership” refers to those visions that publicly support and argue for the idea of the ownership of things (be they living, non-living, stagnant, organic, etc.) in a manner that is not directed back to one powerful source but rather divided among many sources that have equal and lesser power; or in the other circumstance, directed back to a governmental body. “[And advocates the] administration of the means of production” refers to those visions that publicly support and argue for the idea of the management of manufacturing by those aforementioned sources/governmental body. Lastly, “[And advocates the] distribution of goods” refers to those visions that publicly support and argue for the idea of the dispersion of products (utilitarian, necessary, and recreational) by those aforementioned sources/governmental body.
The condensing of this analysis of this definition of socialism into a comprehensible statement would be as follows: Visions that argue for the supervision and the circulation of goods and their respective processes to be executed by governments or numerous congregating powers, which therefore affect the political/economic agenda.
Now that we understand how socialism will be discussed in this context, we must next address understanding what constitutes as modern society. While breaking down a definition is simple, to understand what is necessary to create “modern society” is not so straight-forward. The comprehension of this phrase requires breaking it up into two parts: defining and comprehending the term “society” and then, understanding the term “modern” and equipping it to its partner term. Let us begin with the defining society.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, society is [a collection of] people […] thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values. This is rather simple to recognize. A society requires people to live together in the same space while maintaining organization of their individual groupings (a.k.a. communities) and while sharing laws, traditions, and values that connect these individual groupings; essentially, it is a group of groupings that are connected by agreed upon beliefs.
Now, let us quickly shift the focus to the term “modern.” What does modern mean? Modern, as it is written in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is of or relating to the present time or the recent past: happening, existing, or developing at a time near the present time. This too is simple to recognize; “modern” refers to anything related to the current or related to something a short time ago. However, it is when these two simple terms are combined that problems can occur with comprehending the notorious phrase.
We now know what “modern” and “society” mean but what does “modern society” constitute? On one level, it simply refers to a group of groupings connected by common beliefs held during the current time or the short past; that would be what it is. Still, we must try and comprehend what traits constitute the “Society of Now”; after all, a society is only made up of people and beliefs created by people for people. Therefore, by this logic, if we are to understand “modern society”, we must understand what laws, traditions, and values are present in the “Society of Now.” Only after we grasp these traits, note them and their significance, will we be able to attempt to answer the firstly proposed question.
Before going any further, I must simply address this. I will be examining American (United States) society specifically. I chose to do this because I, myself, am American and can therefore only validly speak about Americans. If I were to attempt to analyze Nigerian, Russian, Indian society, or any other society for that matter, I would merely be analyzing from a perspective that is limited by information written and broadcasted in media (which has inevitable biases.) It is of much more value to analyze the perspectives of the people themselves and the best people to do that are people from those respective societies. Essentially, it is not my place to speak on the behalf of those societies.
It is possible to discuss this topic under the assumption of a global society; however, to do so, there is a requirement of the meeting of various and different minds from multiple locations and backgrounds in one place. Only then, could we attempt to validly discuss this topic in the context of a global society. If this requirement could not be met, it would take multiple accounts of academic research (which I have not had the time to do.)