The socialism vs democracy essay is meant to make comparisons and contrasts between the two terms. We will discuss the possible similarities and differences that exist between the two terms. While socialism is an economic system, democracy is a system of government. This article will elaborate on the two terms, that is socialism vs democracy for a clear understanding.
First of all, we will explain what socialism and democracy are as well as their pros and cons to ease the understanding of the two terms. Having a clear understanding of these economic and political systems is of great importance for the effective governance of nations as well as their sensitive industries and institutions. Understanding these concepts will be of significant help when it comes to decision-making with regard to running different sectors and organizations in a country. This is for the common good of every citizen of a country.
It is important to note that not every system of government will work effectively for a country. In most cases, countries have tried to adopt different aspects of different economic and political systems to enable them to work productively.
Table of Contents
- Socialism pros and cons
- 1. Advantages of socialism
- 2. Disadvantages of socialism
- Democracy pros and cons
- 1) Advantages of democracy
- 2) Disadvantages of democracy
- Socialism vs democracy
- Differences between socialism and democracy
- Frequently asked questions
Socialism is an economic system in which the government is in full ownership and control of trade and industry. In essence, it is the government that owns and controls all means of production. The economic system is after basic societal needs, it is not based on self-interest. Competition does not have a place in this system due to the focus on basic societal needs. So in essence, this system is for the good of society, everyone. A major characteristic is that the government has full control over the economy. Another name for socialism is a centrally planned economy.
Theoretically, the socialist economy is classless. Most economies are neither pure capitalists nor pure socialists. The classless economic feature of socialism is not totally fulfilled.
A socialist is someone who advocates for or supports the idea of socialism. Socialists believe that in society, everything comes about through the cooperative efforts of the state through the help of citizens and the people of the economy.
In essence, a pure socialist economy permits no private ownership and control of legal production. The government is in charge of all legal productions and distribution. That means the government makes all economic decisions. Even if socialism permits private ownership, individuals may possess just little property. By implication, no individual has the right to own large means of production such as companies and factories. This feature of the direct opposite of capitalism.
Socialism is a centrally planned economy, it is the government that provides answers to the basic economic problems in society. They make decisions pertaining to the prices of goods and services which they should charge.
The rule of engagement here is that all individuals receive an in their efforts or contributions according to their ability. For this reason, individuals in this economy work very hard. As the description of this economic system works for the good of everyone, the implication is that the government takes care of those that do not have the ability to contribute to economic development. This category of people includes the aged, children, disabled, less privileged, etc.
Examples of socialist countries include;
- Soviet Union
Socialism pros and cons
Absence of exploitation
This economic system does not give any room for exploitation. That means the government makes sure that nobody exploits another. So each individual will receive and contribute according to their potentials/abilities. The government guarantees access to everyone’s basic needs. Those that cannot contribute especially the disabled have the privilege to enjoy this access. The good thing about it is that it is a mechanism for reducing the poverty level in an economy. Everyone enjoys equal rights to health facilities and other social welfare.
As a result of the fact that people who cannot contribute also enjoy certain access to basic needs helps to minimize poverty. In essence, minimizing poverty comes as a result of the fact that everyone is equal. So everyone has equal rights to social welfare.
Rejection of discrimination
Because everyone has equal rights, this system does not approve of any form of discrimination. Everyone can do what they are best at with higher pay for those jobs that no one is available to do but yet needs to be done.
This economic system is not based on selfish interest, the focus is on the needs of society. Capitalism bases on consumers’ purchasing power which makes the poor to be worse off. Socialism on the other hand works towards preventing such things from happening. Socialism tends to be selfless, carrying out products based on the people’s basic needs and necessities. In essence, the system places more priority on the people’s needs. The citizens have no cause to worry about what happens tomorrow. This factor tends to lead to an increase in productivity.
In this system, the government makes provision for a conducive working environment. This aims at reducing the risks that are peculiar to the jobs, and this also provides a comfortable working condition for them. That is, the government is responsible for any accident that occurs in the course of a job operation.
Hidden taxes are those taxes on consumer goods that describes the incidence of taxation. This is a case in which firms transfer their taxes to consumers without their knowledge. More weight of the tax burden rests on the final consumer. So, a real socialist economy does not have taxes. This is because the government is in possession of everything and pays allowances to the people.
There are lots of benefits and advantages attached to social justice. This is because the system reduces inequalities thereby easing equitable distribution of national income. Everyone has the right to enjoy their own share of the national wealth and equal opportunities. This facilitates the elimination of consumer exploitation. In simple terms, equal distribution of wealth and income is present.
Rapid and balanced economic development
The centrally planned nature of this economic system makes the state make prompt plans and decisions with regard to the allocation of resources. So, the plan tends to foster efficient use and utilization of resources which helps to minimize wastage. his leads to rapid economic growth. The development of the USSR in the early years is a typical example.
We can say that the system eases balanced economic growth and development. It also means that an imbalance in focusing on development is minimal. That is, the central planners will not focus on some aspects of development while leaving others behind. So, economic growth and development in various areas are commensurate.
Minimal exploitation and class conflict
One of the major aims of socialism is to create a classless society that fosters equality for every individual. A situation in which the rich will exploit the poor does not exist in this case. No discrimination and no favoritism but this can only happen if the government is transparent. Everyone is equal in the economy. This, in turn, helps to eliminate any form of class struggles that is common in the capitalist economic system.
When people are over-dependent on corporate pooling for things to be done is a big disadvantage. Such an economy expects everyone to be cooperating constantly without any form of competition. In this system, competitive individuals are seen as the cause of social catastrophe for their self-interests.
It kills innovation
Because competition is absent here, people do not have the incentives to be innovative. Competitors and business ventures do not have any reward for competing. This tends to amount to the production of sub-standard products.
No choices and freedom
Socialism makes no provision choices to the people in terms of the products to purchase as well as the brands like capitalism do. Due to the monopolistic nature of this system, people face coercion to buy a particular product at a particular price. Also, the system takes away people’s freedom of enterprise and free choice of occupation. The central planning committee assigns jobs to workers. With this, no worker has the right to change his job without the government’s consent.
Lack of incentives
A typical socialist economy should not have taxes levied on people. But here, higher progressive taxation tends to cause disincentives to work harder or set up businesses. In such cases, entrepreneurs have this feeling that the government is taking a high proportion of their profits. As a result of this, some people avoid risks and migrate to other countries instead. Extra efforts will not constitute an added advantage as the system kicks against individual wealth accumulation. This negatively affects the incentive to hard work and innovation.
Though the idea is that the government will succeed in regulating all sectors of the economy. Government intervention may be prone to government failure and inefficient resource allocation. For instance, the regulation of the labor market such as minimizing or maximizing the working period can lead to unemployment. This can amount to a lack of flexibility. Also, a corrupt government will only jeopardize the economy. Due to the high rate of government regulation on firms, it discourages investment and this lowers economic growth and development.
No suitable basis for calculating cost
Under capitalism, market forces (demand and supply) determine the cost of production as well as the subsequent prices of commodities. Under socialism, this is not the case. The government owns and controls everything, that is the role of an entrepreneur. This means that the means of production do not have a market price. So because of this, there is no suitable basis for calculating the cost of production as well as the price of goods and services.
Most times, people use socialism and communism interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing. The two terms are distinct from each other, not the same philosophy. The reason for this confusion is that both socialism and communism seek to establish a classless society where everyone has equal opportunities. Also, both systems have to do with the public ownership of capital or productive resources as well as the contribution based on one’s ability. These features mentioned above made the two terms look like the same thing.
What is democracy?
Democracy refers to a system of government in which the entire citizens or eligible ones have the right or franchise to carry out direct votes on issues or elect someone to make these decisions on their behalf. It implies a structure of government where the rules come from the people rather than the military or the state. In other words, democracy is the government of the people, for the people, and by the people.
Since it is not possible for everybody to have a hand in the running of a country, the people vote for a representative that will take action on their behalf. An example is the members of the house of representatives and councilors.
Virtually every individual believes democracy to be the best available system of government because everyone has the freedom to have a voice as well as air out their opinions. Democracy is not a coercive and dictatorial form of government where everyone can speak out or air out their public opinions. Under the democratic system of government, the abuse of human rights is highly forbidden.
Democracy pros and cons
1) Advantages of democracy
Personal involvement with the government
Democracy offers people the opportunity to have personal involvement with their government. Due to the fact that a democratic government is under the control of the people, individuals can decide their fate. That is, people have the right to choose to vote in the manner in which their morality dictates. Usually, voters have the choice to vote if that will be the most favorable way of expressing their opinions. Every cast of votes is an opportunity of expressing personal opinions. Whether this expression lands in the majority or not, an agreement exists in a democracy that a vote stands except if a clear moral objection to the outcome exists.
Minimizes the issue of exploitation
Democratic structures work towards reducing the issues of exploitation. This is because of the individuals that gain votes into powerful positions. Under democracy, there is an equal distribution of authorities in the system. There are existing checks and balances to make sure that no single person gains supremacy over legislation. The democratic system of government hinders elected officials from ignoring the general needs of the people for their selfish purposes. It is a challenge to help the elected to represent the needs of each community. This is for everyone to receive an equal opportunity to pursue their goals.
A democratic system of government encourages equality in a positive manner, it offers every vote an equal amount of weight in the course of an election. Every individual has the opportunity to cast a ballot without any form of judgment while registering for this process. This provides an opinion regardless of one’s economic and social status. In essence, every YES or NO counts as one whether you are rich or poor, possess an asset or not. One word that democracy and socialism have in common is equality.
Faster economic growth
A government operating under a democratic system tends to grow an economy faster than other systems of government. The freedom that exists in a democracy gives the general public the opportunity to go after the result they want. Legal barriers exist to prevent one individual from hurting another even while freedom exists. Democracy has a positive influence on everyone’s work with regard to fruitfulness as everyone employs their strengths. This is b The freedom to seek employment opportunities, schools, or residence is granted under this system. For this reason, a country’s gross domestic product that features constitutional arrangement is always greater.
Greater levels of consistency
Consistency and stability exist more in a democratic government than other forms of government. More unity in the process of governing exists due to the fact that more individuals have the right to vote on issues. This arrangement may take different forms but the end result is the same. Every eligible person has the right to express their views at the polling unit through casting votes. This means that every community has the right to continue pursuing specific results that they perceive to be helpful. They can also switch directions in order to give something new a try. Democratic structures have a way of bringing everyone together in a way that is helpful to virtually everyone.
A stronger level of patriotism
Democracy gives room for people to fight for the things they desire to have in life. That is, every individual pursues their dreams even as they work to mold society in a vision that meets up to their expectations. Sometimes, there are ideas that may counter the desires of the majority or morality. There are still possibilities to express these desires as long as these efforts do not hurt other people. For this reason, a greater level of loyalty and patriotism exists in a democracy. Even in cases of disagreement in a community, every individual still has a common ground on their nation to fall back to in the course of forming their identity. Each individual has their own way of contribution which the democratic governing structure celebrates unlike other forms of government that dictate these choices.
Less armed conflicts
A democratic government has less probability of engaging in armed conflicts. There are fewer cases of violent rebellion in such systems. Decisions have to go through legislative bodies or the people thereby reducing the likelihood of war. Coup attempts are fewer under this system. In this system, there is a smooth transmission of power as well as legitimacy. In changing leaders, the checks and balances in this format ease the production of smooth transmission when power changes hands. Fewer arguments with regard to who makes a replacement for any position exist. This is so because the people direct each job or someone who won an election fills that position.
More centrism, less extremism
This means that democracy encourages a higher level of centrism than extremism. It gives citizens the encouragement to come to the center than the way it favors the extreme. There can be instances whereby a complete majority of a single party has the ability to win an election. Even at that, there can be a mass disagreement within those ranks thereby compromising the things that must happen. With this, it is possible for voters and their representatives to sum and weigh the various needs of each community towards the policies that aim at protecting the needs of everybody. In turn, this assures the protection of the interests of each individual, segment, and society. They are sure that they can receive the necessary protection in the course of providing a higher level of accountability for the governing actions that take place.
One argument for democracy is that it fosters political education, that is, it may serve as a training avenue for citizens. In the course of an election, political parties make proposals of their programs as well as policies in favor of their candidates. They do this usually through the mass media, demonstrations, and speeches. The purpose of doing this is to win the favor of the public. These activities impart political consciousness amongst the people.
It promotes change
Democratic structures promote change in government without going through any form of violence. Citizens can feel great and have a good sense of involvement and participation.
2) Disadvantages of democracy
May be ineffective
Unless voters take time to educate themselves on the decisions with regard to government, the system will not be effective. It allows individuals to cast vote either directly or through a representative with regard to the issues that are mandatory for the government to manage. Usually, there is no direction with regard to how voters approach this responsibility. Even though some people will put in efforts to educate themselves on every issue to offer opinions out of the experience, it is not a basic requirement to undergo all these processes. There is a tendency that someone would turn in a straight-ticket ballot without making any consideration on the views and needs of individuals.
Dependent upon the will of the majority
history has stated that the will of the majority is usually not the ethical or moral position to be taken. The system tends to be unfair to the minority as it is the majority that carries the vote. In other words, the system makes the majority better off while the minority group tends to be worse off. This is because the system seems not to grant their desires.
The democratic system makes the minority feel that their votes do not really count. That is if you as an individual find yourself outside the will of the majority, it will make your vote become irrelevant. Meaning your vote does not count for something.
According to Larry Flynt, the majority rule is effective if one is considerate about individual rights. He went further to say that it is because it is impossible to have five wolves and one sheep voting on what they should all have for supper.
Can encourage mob rule
people migrate towards neighborhoods, employment opportunities/job vacancies, relationships, etc, based on the rate at which they are comfortable they feel around other people. What is prevalent here is having neighbors and friends that are like-minded, having the same perspectives. This is because a sense of fear is present, this fear is with regard to the fear of treading upon the wrong path. No single individual will desire to be stuck outside while looking in especially when it comes to the issue of governance. This tends to polarize people and states as families continue moving in order to stay in their comfort zones. Therefore, election tends to promote or encourage mob thinking. It is an edict that has to do with us vs them, this may amount to unhealthy rivalry.
Will Rogers has once warned that “democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
The cost of democracy unrealized
One of the least cost-efficient systems of government that exist today is the democratic government. The high cost involved is a factor that many people have not realized that it exists. The time and finances required in conducting an election are so costly. Eben local and regional elections cost a lot. Well; it is an important thing to have people have power in their voice, the government uses the taxes they pay for this opportunity.
More time to implement changes
Usually, a democratic government requires more time to effect changes. It is not like a centralized government structure that makes declarations, regulations, or responses. In most cases, this is usually not possible in the democratic structure. In this case, processes of implementing changes slow down to an extent of taking many years for these changes to take place. This is the case because it is necessary for every referendum to go to the voters. Every single decision must undergo a review potentially which gives rise to a certain level of uncertainty.
Under this structure, it is usual for elections to involve the thoughts and opinions of every individual on the basis of what they want themselves. Rather than considering what will be useful and helpful for the overall society, individual votes may go on the contrary. This process encourages people to put their needs above that of others. The act of people casting their votes based on personal interests is something that will always create discontent in society. This is because of the feeling that the majority is suppressing the minority. Based on these considerations, there has to be an emphasis on the protection of the rights of those who find themselves on the outside or minority.
The risk of conflict of interest
Under the democratic structure, there is always a risk of creating a conflict of interest within the government. A lot of people work towards retaining what they have after earning/acquiring them. Democracy tends to put structures in place that will limit the impact of one person on society though this was not the initial case.
The risk of empty promises
In democracy is established in a representative form, it does not require the same level of accountability. Every politician has a goal of receiving the highest number of votes. As soon as the person gets into office, he faces fewer levels of control. Because of this, he has a tendency not accurately representing what his community desires. The only remedy for this is to elect a different person for the next tenure. Usually, election candidates come up with promises that will convince the people to elect them but when they get up there, they will do otherwise. This means that under direct democracies, empty promises are common. This is when there is an incentive to offer everything without the requirement to fulfill those promises made. Mostly, there are more lies than truth in regular conversations with regard to the occurring government.
Paralysis of the system
Usually, there exists no incentive for people to work together especially when another election has the tendency of changing the future outcome. In cases where the incentive to work together is absent, then partisan politics will become the norm of the government. The situation is mostly bad in the two-party systems and multi-party systems. Well, this disadvantage is usually present in all democratic governments. The bottom line is that gridlock is frequently recurrent in democratic structures.
Voters must accept an entire mandate for single issues
Unless a direct structure of democracy is in place, voters will always face compulsion to accept an entire manifesto to carry out votes on issues that are critical to their needs. Instead of the people/voters having a candidate who will truly represent them, they have no other choice than to pick the platform closest to their stance. For example, if all the candidates of a particular office are perceived to be incompetent, the people will have no choice but to look for the one closest to their stance, even if that candidate is not good enough. Also, in some countries, primary elections may rule out the candidates that seem to be competent enough while leaving those that the people will not want want to have as their representatives.
Socialism vs democracy
Socialism vs democracy similarities
Though socialism is an economic system while democracy is a political system, that is a system of government. They are two concepts that seem to have no similarities. The socialism vs democracy similarities will help in drafting out the possible similarities that exist between socialism and democracy. A government administration can combine the components of both socialism and democracy to find more effective ways of running an economy of a country. The economic and political systems have a great impact on an economy, it can either be positive or negative depending on the approach carried out. Here, socialism vs democracy similarities outlines the similarities that exist between the two concepts.
Socialism and democracy have some things in common in the following areas;
- Government involvement
- Effect on the economy
- Social welfare and selflessness
- Social security and justice
A common similarity that exists between socialism and democracy is the rule of equality. In the case of socialism, everyone is equal and the system tries to minimize class differences and discrimination. Both the rich and the poor are equal in an economy. Under democracy, everyone has equal rights to vote and be voted for irrespective of financial status. The two concepts chase after equality.
Both socialism and democracy have to do with government involvement. Socialism involves government ownership and control of all factors of production. Democracy also has to do with the involvement of the government but in the aspect of putting the interests of the people at heart. People get involved with the government. In essence, both in socialism and democracy, the citizens/members of the public are directly involved with the government.
Effect on the economy
Both socialism and democracy have effects on the economy of a country. These effects can either be positive or negative. This is a major reason why it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of the economic and political systems. Understanding these components will help the government to understand the consequences of each action they take as well as the policies they adopt. This will help in adopting policies that will not be detrimental to the economy both in the short run and the long run. The government will be able to weigh policies the advantages and disadvantages of every policy.
For instance, when there are no proper checks and balances in the democratic system of government, the abuse of rights will be inevitable and this may have an adverse effect on an economy. For socialism, the government is prone to failure since it has full control over all factors of production. These two examples will obviously have a negative impact on the economy.
Social welfare and selflessness
Understanding what socialism and democracy stand for reveals that the two systems pursue social welfare and selflessness. Democracy allows the masses to express their views on certain issues, especially for their common good. In the same way, socialism pursues the common good of the masses rather than few minorities. The two systems are after making the masses better off if the government administration runs them effectively.
Social security and justice
In one way or the other, both systems chase after the social justice and justice of the masses. People usually seek to vote for a competent individual who will be able to represent them properly. Competence in leadership whether in the democratic system of government or the socialist economic system is a major factor that determines social security as well as social justice in a jurisdiction. In either system, if the present administration fails, it will have a negative impact on the people’s social security and justice. On the other hand, if the administration of the day functions effectively whether, under socialism or democracy, the masses will enjoy social justice and security.
Socialism aims at reducing the problems of exploitation through government ownership and control of means of production. In the same way, democratic structures work towards reducing the issues of exploitation. This is because of the individuals that gain votes into powerful positions.
Under democracy, there is an equal distribution of authorities in the system. In the same way, there is an equal distribution of wealth among individuals under socialism. Just as checks and balances exist in socialism to curb exploitation, so it is in the democratic system of government.
The democratic system of government hinders elected officials from ignoring the general needs of the people for their selfish purposes, so also socialism prevents capitalists from ignoring the general needs of the people for selfish reasons.
Socialism vs democracy chart
The socialism vs democracy chart below summarises the differences between socialism and democracy.
Basis for comparison
An economic system in which the government owns and controls all means of production and argues that for greater economic and social equality to be in place, there should be a division of means of production among every individual in an economy.
States that every eligible individual in a sovereign country has the right to participate in the political processes of a country through elected representatives into government offices via popular votes.
An economic concept
Political science or politics/system of government.
Has a relationship with regard to other systems defining the right of ownership as well as the active control of most or all capital as well as other assets and people.
Still in the same category but in the aspect of selecting leaders/representatives and policies.
The system shares economic gains throughout all sectors of society.
People or citizens can do the procedure and policy through the casting of votes.
A strategy to manage the production and consumption of products and services.
A system of exercising political influence under the people’s authority.
An economic framework for determining production decisions.
Process of making broad decisions for a country, society, or organization.
Socialism is a strategy for managing the manufacture and distribution of goods and services.
Democracy is a method of exercising power and influence under the authority of the people.
Main Differences Between Socialism and Democracy
Socialism is an economic system in which the government owns and controls all means of production and argues that for greater economic and social equality to be in place, there should be a division of means of production among every individual in an economy. Democracy on the other hand is a system of government in which the entire citizens or eligible ones have the right or franchise to carry out direct votes on issues or elect someone to make these decisions on their behalf. The system of government states that every eligible individual in a sovereign country has the right to participate in the political processes of a country through elected representatives into government offices via popular votes.
Socialism is an economic concept while democracy is a political science or politics/system of government. Socialism is a concept that describes a type of economic system while democracy is a political concept that describes a system of government.
Socialism has a relationship with regard to other systems defining the right of ownership as well as the active control of most or all capital as well as other assets and people. For example, capitalism lays more emphasis on private ownership of property. Democracy on the other hand is still in the same category but in the aspect of selecting leaders/representatives and policies. For example, we have dictatorship, monarchy, and oligarchy.
Frequently asked questions
Socialists believe in the fact that the collective efforts of the state make up everything in society through the help of its people and citizens. Such governments advocate for equality as well as minimal discrimination. Also, everyone should have equal access to social welfare.
Capitalist democracy is the combination of capitalism and democracy. This implies an economic system that combines capitalism and a strong state of welfare thereby curbing the excesses of human freedom, that is the disadvantages that may result from this human freedom. On the other hand, socialist democracy is the combination of socialism and democracy. By implication, it combines socialism, prioritizing general welfare while giving the franchise to the people.
Socialism is not the same as communism. Most times, people use the two economic systems interchangeably. They assume the two terms to mean the same thing but they are not actually the same thing. Some scholars will explain that communism is the extreme form of socialism. This is because there is no form of freedom like socialism which allows for some levels of freedom. Mostly, communism is dictatorial and authoritative in nature.
Other areas that make them different are as follows;
- While communism totally abolishes religion, socialism does not.
- Under socialism, the distribution of wealth is based on the people’s ability and contribution while under communism, it is based on ability and needs.
- Socialism diminishes class distinction while communism eliminates it completely. While the ownership and control of means of production are government-based, under communism, it is communal ownership and control.
- A Socialist economy is a classless society while a communist economy is both stateless and classless.
The following are the cons of democratic socialism;
It tends to cede control over the government’s basic needs. This implies that the government is given more control over how people should live their lives. Also, it has the tendency of causing a net financial loss rather than gains for individuals and families.
Democratic socialism greatly limits the influence of unions and other institutions due to some forms of rigidity. As a result of this, it reduces the level of innovation as there is no reward for extra hard work. In essence, added skills will yield no reward or benefit for individuals.
Another disadvantage is that it has a higher chance of creating more bureaucracy. In this case, the government will want to determine who is eligible to receive certain benefits. It also creates more government spending and inefficient resource allocation. There may be a trade imbalance, no balance between domestic trade and international trade.
Usually, this system amounts to a lack of financial and societal motivation. It cannot curb, control, or prevent corrupt governance. That is, the checks and balances on the government are fewer. This may gradually lead to dictatorship.
Social democracy in socialism is a political doctrine that agitated for a peaceful evolution of an economy from capitalism to socialism using well-established political processes. It places part of its emphasis on social revolution. This closely relates to democratic socialism but the difference is that social democracy is a political doctrine while democratic socialism is a type of socialism
Countries with a socialist government include the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, Venezuela, Vietnam, Syria, Venezuela, Zambia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Laos.
Chyou is a published author who focuses on the field of international business. After an established career facilitating mergers and acquisitions for medium to large corporations, Chyou turned to writing to help students better understand international business concepts.