What does it mean to be a socialist? According to the World Socialist Movement a socialist is someone who believes in and practices the principals of socialism. Socialism is defined by the same organization to be “common ownership.”
In broader terms “common ownership” refers to the “entire global population” as the sole owners of “everything in common.”
Certain resources are exempt from common ownership according to the socialist philosophy such as personal possessions like articles of clothing, keepsake items and other such items that cannot be owned or shared in common and have strictly personal worth and no overall global value.
Therefore, the vast majority of the world’s resources fall under the umbrella of common ownership. How this philosophy is practiced in the real world, however, is where it generally fails to meet its desired definition.
In order for true socialism to be a practical working system certain other criteria must be in place and strictly adhered to:
Greed, lust and envy, three of the baser qualities of human nature must be kept in constant check by each individual under this system of economic and political philosophy. Without these kept under the watchful eye of the individual the system will collapse in on itself.
This must be the task of the individual and peers and not some type of governmental and legislative force or the system will quickly move into the realm of a totalitarianism, police state or dictatorship - all in the name of the common good.
Democracy in its truest sense must be the foundation upon which the socialist system is built. A system in which each individual member of the society participates on various or multiple levels in the economic, political, military, trade, security, education, transportation, infrastructure, judicial and production, just to name a few. Just as above, this social democracy must be first and foremost on the level of self-governing of one’s actions with minimal legislative and police enforcement or it will slide into a Soviet-style or Maoist communism.
The responsibility of the individual being capable of governing themselves cannot be overstated if the real idealism of a socialistic state can ever be successfully achieved.
The needs of the society are met through cooperate production of the world’s resources in common and nothing of the Earth’s natural resources and human technical advances are employed and consumed that doesn't meet human need.
The end result of this type of sole use production would be the free access of the world’s goods and services by each member of society and based upon the needs of the individual in that society and their level of participation within the procurement and production of said goods and services. This would lead to the end of economic systems so prevalent since the dawn of human civilization. The need for the transfer and acquisition of personal financial wealth would be done away with as all under socialism, in theory, would benefit from the sole use ideal. It would literally put an end to the need for buying and selling, legal tender or currency of any kind. The barter system would thrive under true socialism.
Any type of work, service, skill or profession not deemed by the community as useful and needful for that society would not be practiced by the individual. Only work that produces the needs of the common good of the people would be engaged in and only those skills and practices seen to have some kind of direct usefulness to the community as a whole would be seen as beneficial.
The types of work practices would of course be determined by the community at hand. One community may see no beneficial use for music composition but has a great need for mining. Another may not live in an area conducive for mining but is a literal bread belt for growing crops of great variety, and so forth. This is where in a socialist society barter becomes an active part of the system of economic convention.
All this then leads to one burning question - Has humanity within the last 300 years practiced socialism in its truest sense anywhere or in any country? I think the answer to that question is self-evident -- No!
This then leads to one more question - Since there has been no known or recorded society of human beings that have practiced true socialism within the last 300 years has the American nation ever been led by a real socialist President or Congress? Again, the answer is an unqualified -- No!
Therefore, inspite of the pundit calls that say otherwise Woodrow Wilson was not a real socialist. Neither were Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter or the current President of the United States Barack H. Obama. Also, the American Congress has never in its entire history of existence been led by or guided by the principles of true socialism.