Vocabulary (capitalism, socialism, and other words not ending in -ism)

A lot of words get thrown around in the national conversation and most often they are used incorrectly and out of context.  In order to have a real discussion, in effort to clarify the confusion, I put forth a vocabulary list, paraphrased in my own words, yet drawn from a compendium of resources which I have identified. I also invite you to read my article Redefining Socialism.  It is my staunch belief that our nation must wrestle out a new perception of this word if we are ever going drag ourselves out of the mire in which we are quickly sinking.   Here’s to decent, intelligent conversation kids…

  • S O C I A L I S M  – a social theory or economic system wherein the government collectively owns and operates the production and distribution of goods. A broader definition of socialism also includes government interference of any kind in a free market, capitalist system.
  • C A P I T A L I S M – a social theory or economic system whereby the control of production and distribution of goods is privately owned, either by a corporation or an individual.  Supply and demand are the only determinants of what is made, how many are made and what to charge for them. Government has absolutely no role in a strictly capitalist, free-market system.
  • C O M M U N I S M – a social theory or economic system wherein the concept of private property is entirely demolished.  It consists of an idealistic vision of a ‘classless’ society where the central government controls the equal distribution of everything. The idea of communism also includes the notion that the working class should reject capitalism altogether and somehow overthrow the elite in power.
  • M A R X I S M – the political, economic, and social theories devised by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-1800’s whereby class struggle plays the starring role in human history. The theory of Marxism asserts that the poor would revolt against the rich and ultimately organize a perfectly classless society where private property was considered unwarranted.
  • E C O N O M I C S – the study and science of the systems by which goods and services are produced, sold, and bought.    Relating to the overall material wealth and health of a country.
  • D E M O C R A C Y –  a form of government in which people choose their leaders and national policies.  Direct democracy means each person votes for policy changes, Representative democracy means we elect leaders to vote on policy changes.   A secondary meaning of democracy includes the idea of social equality and individual rights.
  • P L U T O C R A C Y – an economic system where the wealthy elite direct national policy instead of elected leaders.
  • O L I G A R C H Y – an economic system where only a few have real power and use it to govern the many.


1.  Mirriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary / http://www.merriamwebster.com

2.  The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th ed., HoughtonMifflin Company, NY, 2002.

3.  Safire, William. “Safire’s New Politcal Dictionary: The Definitive Guide to the New Language of Politics.”  Random House, NY, 1993.

4. Webster’s College Dictionary, 2nd ed.  Bloomsbury Publishing, NY, 2005.

5.  Economics for Dummies, 2nd ed.  Sean Flynn, Phd, editor.  Wiley Publishing, New Jersey, 2011.

6.  Rogets II The New Thesaurus, 3rd ed., HoughtonMifflin Company, NY, 2003.

7. ” The New Language of Politics – An Anecdotal Dictionary of Catchwords, Slogans, and Political Usage.” Random House, NY, 1968.


2 Responses to Vocabulary (capitalism, socialism, and other words not ending in -ism)

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