Socialism with Private Ownership

There is a sense in which I will concede that a society with private ownership can be socialist.

If the system of property is usufructuary, for instance, you would have Ricardian socialism. This is not capitalism. Alternatively, you could maintain private ownership but confiscate rent and profit through taxation. Georgism is tantamount to land nationalization, even though private ownership still sort of continues. If the bulk of land rent and industrial profits were taxed away and redistributed, then the economy would be more socialist than capitalist, even if private ownership prevailed.

Thus, there are varieties of socialism that use alternative systems of property rights or taxation and redistribution as analogues for social ownership. If the system of property is usufructuary, private property still remains, but ownership is predicated on "occupancy and use." Thus, the workers would own the factories and the tenants would own the land—capitalists and landlords would lose their privileged positions. If land value is taxed so that landlords cannot profit at the expense of renters, and the revenue therefrom is redistributed in an egalitarian fashion, then land might as well be socially owned. Thus, these approaches can go a long way towards achieving socialism.

However, socialism entails not just ownership of shares of social wealth, but also shares of control. The workers must be able to be part of the decision-making process. Thus, analogues for social ownership can be useful in achieving socialism, but they are not in themselves sufficient.

At the same time, co-operatives are a move in the direction of socialism, especially with such examples as the Mondragon Corporation. But worker control and management is not socialism unless there is also social ownership in the sense of members of society having equal shares of social wealth. Thus, socialism requires either public ownership with egalitarian distribution of social wealth or else a system of property and/or taxation that serves as an analogues for such public ownership. Nevertheless, industrial democracy and worker control of industry must exist alongside this.

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