When socialists talk about socialism, we envision something entirely different from what liberals or conservatives picture. Socialism is not a catch-all term for “anything the government does,” or “when there’s high taxes and lots of bureaucracy.”
Socialists look at the world and puzzle over how it functions. They study our society, culture, and institutions to learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s through this understanding that socialists advocate their ideals and principles.
By deeply analyzing who has power, how they got it, and how they maintain it, we learn how to set things up in a better way.
Right now - in capitalism - a small group controls how our resources get used and how our products get produced. This hierarchy is mimicked at home, in government, at school, and in public life. Socialists recognize that who controls the means of production (hat-tip Marx) shapes the world we live in.
Democratically reorganizing who has control over resources means we reorganize our social relationships, too. When we stop letting the wealthy minority define how we structure the world, we dissolve the arbitrary walls, floors, and ceilings that separate and alienate us from our fellow human beings. When the people are in control, we will build a better world.