|Source: Mark Belfast- Tony Benn-|
The meaning of socialism as it was in 2010 and is now going into 2012, has the same meaning in Britain as it does in America. And it's democratic socialism meaning that the people have some personal economic liberty and there's private enterprise, but that it's heavily regulated and taxed to finance a large welfare state.
To provide a lot of social Insurances. Like health care, health insurance, education, pensions, transportation, etc, even media. Basically the economic system that Sweden has.
But democratic socialism is not just an economic system, but a full-functioning political ideology. Where Socialists tend to be socialist of course on economic policy, but somewhat liberal to libertarian on social issues as they are in America. But socialists in America preferred to be called Progressives. Which I believe is for political reasons, because of how unpopular the term socialist is in America. And American Socialists tend to be Socialist Libertarians/Socialist Liberal like the Dennis Kucinich, Noam Chomsky and others.
Actually, Noam Chomsky defines his politics as socialist libertarian. And Socialists tend to be isolationist on foreign policy just like Libertarians. Actually democratic socialism is a version of socialism. Which again is a very diverse political ideology, just like neoconservatism is a version of conservatism.
This is what socialism looks like in the 21st Century. Even the Communist Republic of Cuba is moving away from Marxist-Socialism where the state owns the means of production in society. President Hugo Chavez of the still Bolivar Republic of Venezuela is trying to establish a Neo-Marxist socialist economic system there. But is having limited success at best in achieving that. I believe socialists have figured out that Marxist-Socialism doesn't work. When you essentially try to put the central government in charge of the entire country. Especially in large countries, or have figured out that there are just not enough people to support an economic system like that.
So Socialists have moderated (if it's possible for Socialists to moderate) into what's now called democratic socialism and social democracy. That I just laid out, but that the goals and principles are still the same. But the policy's to achieve those goals are different.
Socialists still believe in collectivism. That if you give people too much liberty, they'll either take advantage of it, or not know what to do with it. Which is one reason why they believe in the need for high tax rates in Sweden and Britain. Someone could be paying as much as 60-70% in taxes and that Socialists believe the private sector simply can't be trusted to perform certain services because of it's profit motive. So they believe you need the Central Government to step in and take control of those services. Like health care, health insurance, education, pension, etc. And that you need the welfare state again financed through high tax rates to be generous to lave a level playing field. The goals and principles of socialism will always be the same, a collectivist not individualist political ideology, unlike liberalism.
Socialists believe you need a very strong Central Government to provide basic human services. To prevent society from being as unequal as possible and that the private sector simply can't be trusted to perform certain human services. Which is why you need a strong Central Government to perform these services. But that the policy's to achieve these goals are different from the past, recognizing that the old policy's don't work and to obtain as much political support as possible.
The main differences between a social democracy like Britain and a Marxist-State like North Korea, gets to democratic control and how much control the people have over their own lives. Marxists believe that all forms of individualism are immoral and dangerous. Social Democrats/Democratic Socialists believe that you have to have a functioning growing private sector to have a strong economy. And then you can use a lot of that revenue to finance basic human services that all people need to live well.