Visualization of narrower problems
A political philosophy comprising a vast range of ideological traits, socialism is expressed in three main ways: socialism which aims at revolution and the overthrowing of capitalist society (mainly equated with communism); socialism, including Christian socialism, which aims to gain improvements within the democratic constitutional framework (usually termed social democracy); fascism or state socialism which is violent, nationalistic and authoritarian. Socialism as an unqualified term may be used to describe all of these and also military and civilian dictatorships superimposed on nominally socialist regimes. Although socialism may be regarded as altruistically motivated, its aims and claims are very difficult to achieve in practice, giving rise to bitter factionalism, civil or general war, violence, subversive activities and general instability.
Although socialism as an idea for running societies is in disarray following the changes in eastern Europe, the influence of socialism remains strong, especially in the advanced democracies held up as models superior to those of Marxist socialism. This influence takes the form of state-financed education systems of demonstrable inefficiency, but especially the state-financed welfare systems, especially in their more destructive forms through which dependency is encouraged. In 1992 it was estimated that 1,200 million Asians were still living under socialism.
1. The core of the socialist ideology is a negative position rather than an affirmation in that it is a reaction against the lack of government intervention in individual life, particularly economic life but also encompassing education, health, artistic expression, marital and family affairs and religious beliefs. The mentality of a socialist is characterized by a certain neurotic anxiety, which could be called the socialist anxiety, that if human affairs are not regulated in all ways, chaos is the inevitable outcome. In this respect socialism bears close resemblance to ancient Judaic legalism from the time of Moses to that of Jesus, and its historical origins seem to lie in this tradition as well. Such collectivist policy deprives individuals of moral responsibility and is an impediment to human development.

2. At the root of all socialist thought is supreme intellectual arrogance; a belief that the order of society should be made to conform to the order of a dominant mind.

3. Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated. Distinctions must be made to guide concrete choices between the various levels of expression of socialism: a generous aspiration and a seeking for a more just society, historical movements with a political organization and aim, and an ideology which claims to give a complete and self-sufficient picture of man. Nevertheless, these distinctions must not lead one to consider such levels as completely separate and independent. The concrete link which, according to circumstances, exists between them must be clearly marked out. This insight will enable Christians to see the degree of commitment possible along these lines, while safeguarding the values, especially those of liberty, responsibility and openness to the spiritual, which guarantee the integral development of man. (Papal Writings, 14 May 1971).

4. They leave nothing untouched or whole which by both human and divine laws has been wisely decreed for the health and beauty of life. They refuse obedience to the higher powers, to whom, according to the admonition of the Apostle, every soul ought to be subject, and who derive the right of governing from God; and they proclaim the absolute equality of all men in rights and duties. They debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is "the root of all evils which some coveting have erred from the faith," they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one's mode of life. These are the startling theories they utter in their meetings, set forth in their pamphlets, and scatter abroad in a cloud of journals and tracts. Wherefore, the revered majesty and power of kings has won such fierce hatred from their seditious people that disloyal traitors, impatient of all restraint, have more than once within a short period raised their arms in impious attempt against the lives of their own sovereigns. (Papal Encyclical, Quod Apostolici Muneris, 1878).

1. Socialism is the only political philosophy to have emerged which addresses, realistically and with human compassion, the systemic evils and structural inequities of a caste and class division of society that is inspired by primitive, aggressive behaviour. "Might makes right" has continued in the main to be the creed of the Western world. Economic and military super-power dominates the globe, paid for by the exploitation of people by business investors and their financial and managerial allies, by business men and women, and by presidents and prime-ministers and their millionaire backers. The socialist challenge to this system has had victories in the past: universal education, public health services, government social pension and unemployment pay schemes, trade unionism, emancipation of women, protection of minorities, public housing and so on. Its biggest victory, world peace, has proved elusive due to the statist imperatives continuing to be propagated by the exploiters who, sitting on their hoards in moral darkness, hypocritically wave their flags while the world arms itself for a nuclear confrontation.

2. Advocates of capitalism tend to confuse the triumph of markets over bureaucracy with the triumph of capitalism in its own right. Social democrats have long condemned the Soviet system as inconsistent with socialism, although that did not prevent people from accepting the idea that what existed in the USSR and its satellites was actually socialism. Both right-wing and left-wing dogmatists have found it convenient to discredit the socialist idea by this means. But Western capitalism has been extensively transformed by social democracy with pro-capitalist conservatives accepting many of the changes championed by the socialist movement such as unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, and health insurance.

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(C) Cross-sectoral problems