Socialism as a word has been used to describe many political parties, unions, and community organizations, because it is a powerful phrase. It is the "ism" of society -- it seeks all that is advantageous, healthy, and good for human organization. It is the ideal of creating social harmony among people by reorganizing the framework of our behavior.
Every person who wants to live among others must be able to provide for their sustenance. They need a source of income to give themselves and their families a home and food. And here, in the production and distribution of society's creation, this is where Socialism speaks loudest and most boldly. All have a right to the land, the machines, the mines, and the factories -- the fields, the mountains, the lakes, and the oceans. All have a right to work and to reap the value of the wealth they have produced.
The ideal of Socialism was born under Capitalist exploitation. It came from the thoughts of those who must exchange their labor for enough to live; for those who had to labor for a employer because they possessed no tools of production. As an ideal, it reflects the direct experience of modern serfs in how their social system has made them weak, oppressed, and powerless. Capitalism is a system where the very few possess all, and live simply by the profits of their deeds, without contributing anything; while the many possess nothing, and must live by selling their labor at terrible rates, simply because they have no productive wealth.
In seeing the wretched evil of Capitalism, where those who work receive nothing and those who don't work receive all, Socialism became the exact opposite. It should not be that a few possess everything, but that all possess everything -- that all have a right to self-management and self-government in obtaining their food and shelter. There should be no landlord or baron who can say that they will keep their farms idle, to drive up the cost of bread -- there should be no employer who will live simply by having deeds to factories and manufacturing plants.
When it comes to organizing society's wealth, whether it is the hours of work or the price of goods or where to invest in new enterprises, Socialism gives all an equal voice in decision-making. In affirming that all have a right to the lands, the forests, and the heritage of the past, Socialism appeals to everyone who dreams of a better society. For this idea to work and function well, in maximizing the liberty and happiness of all, it must be a cooperative form of Socialism.
Socialism, when it is enforced by the state, does injustice to the ideal. By using laws, prisons, courts, and police to realize its dream, it is bringing a nightmare into human society. Socialism's idea was to allow each and all the right to manage our economy. The idea of State Socialism interprets this by giving the right to manage our economy to just a very, few people -- whether it is a political dictatorship or a representative system. It gives each person a right to pick someone to make decisions for all, but it does not give the individual mastery over their own life. You have a right to choose a governor, but not to self-government.
Even where this Socialist government adopts a very broad program, there will always be complaints. There will always be individuals who feel themselves sacrificed or exploited or dispossessed. When a person wants to solve a problem in their job, their pay, or work conditions, they must speak with an official -- they must appeal for any decisions to be made. The individual laborer knows more about their place of work than anyone else, and similarly, they know what it would take to make any change to their industry. The real power of Socialism exists when the workers directly manage themselves, without being managed by a "Socialist overseer."
Those who appeal through government to address economic injustice may have to wait weeks, months, years, or decades. And ultimately, the decision is not up to them. It is up to someone else, which very often is an unelected, government official -- a fact which doesn't change from republics to dictatorships. When this is the process that the worker must go through, does it not chip away at their belief and hope in Socialism? Doesn't it make them more pessimistic, bitter, and antagonistic towards this system that's supposed to empower them?
The laborer would reason to themselves, "Even though I am filling out a form, to have my workplace grievance addressed by an official in a few weeks, I am in direct control of the means of production. Even though I must submit to the will of others when it comes to industry, I am still the master of the economy." As the worker repeats these lies to themselves over and over again, doubt will grow into skepticism, and ultimately it will turn into a hate of the word Socialism and all the ideas that come with it.
Then consider the laborer who identifies themselves with a religion, a nation, or a race. They will automatically be opposed to the ideas of Socialism, because they are based on an equality of all in society -- while nation, religion, and race are based on the exclusion of most people. When State Socialism is forced on such a person, their anti-Socialist ideas will slowly turn into anti-Socialist action. Seeing themselves even more alienated from the means of production, they will hail Capitalism as a savior and a guardian. They will treat ideas about self-management and self-government even more suspiciously, and in the future, they will be the most fervent in resisting a Socialist Revolution.
On top of this, there is an entire class of bureaucrats, maintained and defended by those who have been elected, or those who have imposed law without voting rights. While the devoted, anti-Capitalist worker awaits the verdict of his government officials, while the Nationalist laborer grumbles under the red emblems of the hammer and sickle -- the vast majority are laboring to support the government and the rule of the isolated few. The ideal of Socialism, the right to the products of your labor, is immediately compromised. This new "managerial class" must tax, and those who resist are imprisoned or executed.
Those in control, like the workers, are equally subject to the behavior laws of economics. Seeing their sustenance based on their supremacy over the workers, they will try as much as possible to keep the people dependent upon them. The most notable aspect of the system of State Socialism is its bureaucratic and ruling classes.
Compare this, instead, with Direct Worker-Management of the Economy. Where laborers must come together and vote to make decisions for their workplace, they are bound to cooperate. Their bread, homes, and luxuries depend on it. Being in control of the workplace, they hold responsibility for the decision-making. If the workers decided to significantly reduce work rate or work hours, it is they who must suffer the loss of income. And if they're capable of out-producing and out-developing others in the market, it is they who reap the profits of their toil. With direct, self-management of industry, it is the worker who becomes responsible for their own fate.
The worker who has always desired workers' power will be celebrating, because the Socialist Revolution has finally produced its utopia: the worker is in direct control of the means of production, subject to no isolated minority, whether calling itself capitalist or communist. Then consider the worker who has always treated these new ideas of collectivism with fear and hate. They are not subject to the domination of the one-party state, nor to an endless list of officials. They have direct control of their industries, too.
While they could have blamed a Socialist government before for failures of worker's management, now they can only blame themselves -- because it is their hand guiding their own fate. They will only be able to name themselves when asked who came up with their decisions. This alone will not be able to extinguish their hatred of Socialism, but it will prevent it from worsening. It will prevent them from gaining followers in their movements, from gaining readers for their newspapers. They have been emancipated from the state and the capitalist, the collectors of tax and profit. And when there is no new class of masters that dominates the people, few will sympathize with those who want to overturn this new, social organization.
The system of government, no matter what banner it raises or slogan it echoes, must dominate society. Its rules are the unquestionable force in determining the social order. In a dictatorship, it is completely removed from the people and rules over them. But in a representative system, it allows the masses to become their own oppressor. The law's passed by the majority's elect will interfere with what workers at each factory or farm want to do. People thousands of miles away from a manufacturing plant will be choosing someone to make decisions over it. If those workers want to switch the type of screw they use, they'll be appealing to some decision-making process based on the rule of people who have no idea about their production facility.
If each collective of workers are allowed to make their own decisions, then each must be free and independent of a government. When a few hundred workers come together, and organize factory production or planting crops or mining the earth -- they have more experience than anyone else, and their responsibility is kindled by their need of a livelihood. No one else is going to suffer as much as these workers if they make a bad decision, and no one else is as capable of making those decisions. Our economy determines whether there is poverty, whether all are employed, and whether there is hunger. Why, then, are those who have the ideal traits not making the decisions?
It is certain, that a group of knowledgeable people organizing cooperatively will be able to reach amazing accomplishments -- compared to the mediocre, sub-par results that come with a mass-vote for each representative or law. Where Socialism is decentralized, with all workers being the managers of their tools of production, all are freed from the constraints of an overbearing government. All are freed from laws passed by top-down governments, elected by ignorant masses.
Liberalism has tried through education to make every person completely aware of all things necessary to cast a vote that creates the perfect society. But people, under the yoke of Capitalist exploitation, barely have enough time to work, eat, relax, and sleep -- let alone to educate them on the particularities of every industry, the specific customs of every region, and then to conceive the perfect plan to make social harmony. And then it becomes a fanciful dream when Liberalism expects this out of every single citizen.
Once Socialism has been legalized, it becomes fearful in the eyes of the people, and they look upon it as if it were something completely disconnected from them. For it to truly uplift the people, Socialism must be cooperative -- or, in a single word, it must be Anarchism.