So"cial*ism(?), n. [Cf. F. socialisme.] A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often employed to indicate any lawless, revolutionary social scheme. See Communism, Fourierism, Saint-Simonianism, forms of socialism.
[Socialism] was first applied in England to Owen's theory of social reconstruction, and in France to those also of St. Simon and Fourier . . . The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning, . . . even by economists and learned critics. The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, . . . radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property . . . The tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy.Encyc. Brit.
We certainly want a true history of socialism, meaning by that a history of every systematic attempt to provide a new social existence for the mass of the workers.F. Harrison.
Socialism of the chair [G.
katheder socialismus], a term applied about 1872, at first in ridicule, to a group of German political economists who advocated state aid for the betterment of the working classes.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
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