I have offered plenty of thoughts over the months about the meaning of socialism and the fact that, according to some of the best historical definitions, democratic socialism doesn’t meet these definitions. In fact, this was the theme of episode 8.

Just last week Jeff Deist discussed socialism in Mises’ thought, especially as he analyzed it in his Socialism treatise. Ritenour made similar points that I have been making. Of particular note was his definition: that socialism means state ownership of the factors of production. Based on this, various forms of “social safety net” public policies are technically forms of what Mises would consider to be left interventionism. Ritenour warned that to broaden the meaning of socialism without nuance or care would cause us to lose some of the power of Mises’ socialist calculation argument against socialism.

This is exactly what I was driving at when I claimed that the way in which we critique interventionism and even democratic socialism (which I have categorized as a sort of neo-syndicalism) are not the ways we critique actual and historical marxist socialism.

Ritenour also mentioned the fact that Rothbard and Hoppe had in their writings broadened the meaning of socialism; and this is especially true in Hoppe’s Theory of Socialism and Capitalism where he breaks down the various styles of socialism. In my opinion, this is not per se objectionable, so long as one is at least aware of the historical definition and its differences with the way that Hoppe uses the phrase. Of course, they reason that Hoppe uses socialism in this broad way is because he first defines capitalism in a very specific and logical way, built upon praxeology and individual private ownership itself.

So to echo Ritenour, how we use socialism should really depend on our context and what we are trying to accomplish in a specific setting. I highly recommend the episode.

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