Difference Between Socialism and Liberalism
Socialism vs Liberalism
The terms ‘socialism’ and liberalism’ are used a lot nowadays, and many people often mistake one for the other. In order to differentiate between these two terms, one must keep in mind the clear-cut differences by defining the prevailing ideology of each term. The tenets of socialism assert that the state should wield total economic power by manipulating prices of goods and wages of workers.
Furthermore, socialism requires people to submit to the rule of law. In return for their compliance, citizens are provided with resources rationed by the government. On the other hand, liberalism is more challenging to define since it is further divided into classical and modern liberalism. Classical liberalism states that the government should take control of an institution in order to ensure that it continues to be of service to the people, free of charge. Classical liberalism does not see any need for the government to enforce law and order and subjugate its citizens under the iron rule of law and order. However, modern liberalism veers away from this ideology by adding a new twist.
Modern liberalism asserts that aside from ensuring economic and political security, it is also the government’s job to interfere with people’s day-to-day affairs in order to maintain social security. Modern liberalism, in effect, can be compared to socialism, because both of them assert that the government can effectively uplift its citizens not only by seizing control of the economy or private institutions, but also by keeping a close watch on citizens to ensure that none of them become subversive. Many modern-day politicians have been supporting modern liberalism because they believe that the government can solve all problems once it is granted total power. These politicians point out the inequality of different classes in society, and propose reforms that at first seem to favor the poor and marginalized, but in the end just grants the government reason to extend its powers to curtail private interests. And even though liberals seem to advocate reforms to improve government policy, they are still embracing the same old political structure to further their own ambitions. The late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt himself defined liberalism as the ‘saving grace for the far-sighted conservative,’ and also ‘reform what you want to preserve.’
Capitalists and supporters of democracy believe that socialism and modern liberalism are detrimental to economic progress. Because prices of goods and wage of workers is controlled directly by the government, privately-owned companies and institutions cannot flourish under a socialist or modern liberalist government. People who value freedom of speech and human rights likewise oppose socialism and modern liberalism, because they believe that such ideologies limit a citizen’s right to choose which products to buy, what job to take, what religious belief to espouse. Even though modern liberalism is more subtle and suave than socialism, it still ends up giving too much power to the government in the guise of economic, political, and social security.
1. Socialism says that only by granting the state total economic and political power can economic progress and equality among citizens be attained.
2. Classical liberalism says that the state should only take over an institution to ensure that citizens can freely benefit from that particular institution’s services. Classical liberalism does not require the thorough enforcing of law and order to reach economic progress and equality.
3. Modern liberalism says that the state should interfere not only in economic or political affairs, but also in social affairs, such as day-to-day activities of its citizens. In effect, modern liberalism ceases to be associated with classical liberalism, and instead becomes similar to socialism.
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Written by : Celine. and updated on May 19, 2011
Celine. "Difference Between Socialism and Liberalism." DifferenceBetween.net. May 19, 2011 < http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/politics/difference-between-socialism-and-liberalism/ >.