IntroductionSocialism is a much used and abused term, which spans the political spectrum from the Right (the National Socialists of Hitler's Germany) to the Left (Stalin's communists in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). It has also described a great variety of regimes that have acquired and used the term for their own purposes, stretching from the poor African socialist states and Arab and Asian military dictatorships, to the wealthy social democracies of Western Europe and Australia and New Zealand.
Generally, we may take the term to describe those doctrines which seek to increase the power of society and the state to determine political, social, and economic processes, as against traditional mechanisms and institutions favored by conservatives, and individuals and the market as advocated by liberals. In common usage, the dividing line between socialism and communism is not always clear or sharp, but may be taken to be between those socialists who subscribe to the basic doctrines of Karl Marx, and those socialists who do not. -- Political Theories for Students, "Socialism"
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