Can Socialists Define Socialism?

I’ve written many times about socialism, which is sometimes a frustrating task because the definition is slippery.

I suspect the average supporter of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks that socialism is big government with lots of handouts financed by class warfare taxation. Since that’s the common perception, is that the definition we should use?

The technical definition of socialism, though, is government ownership of the means of production, which entails central planning, price controls, and other forms of intervention. So, at the risk of being pedantic, is that how the term should be defined?

As an economist, I prefer the latter approach, which is why I’ve pushed back (though not necessarily in a favorable way) against those who called Obama a socialist.

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