Weeeeeell, the majority of the difference is that the countries on top have government supplied healthcare, which usually make up 12-15% of GDP. Ex-healthcare there is still somewhat higher government involvement in the economy, but not a major difference. By which I mean that 5-8% higher involvement isn't "major", and there is still private property rights and the majority of the productive capacity is under private ownership.
As mentioned elsewhere, North Korea is the only country which can be said to be socialist. In addendum I could say that Somalia is a country which has an almost perfect market economy. All other countries tend to be on a scale in between, with most countries having 35-50% government control.
Socialism is an economic idea (central planning, government ownership) as well as a multitude of political ideas of how to make that happen (leninism, troskyism, maoism). North Korea has a socialist economy, wholly centrally planned and with full government ownership, as well as a political Juche ideology which is a volatile mixture of leninism, maoism, nationalism, and self-sufficiency. (Not exhaustive lists.)
North Korea could perhaps best be described as a national socialist state.
There's a sense in which only a country which is socialist top to bottom can be called a socialist country. As the term is used here in the USA, however, having socialist tendencies can be enough for a country to be called "socialist."
Actually, North Korea is (or professes to be) a Communist country, and Communism traditionally has allowed for a so-called "dictatorship of the proletariat."
@Unseen: I can easily gather from this thread that Americans (among many others) don't really have any idea what socialism actually is. You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating. If people wish to argue in favor if i.e. the Nordic model I have much less objection, but that is very far away from what socialism is.
@Unseen: I can easily gather from this thread that Americans (among many others) don't really have any idea what socialism actually is. You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating.
@Arcus: Technically, you're right. However, "socialistic," as a term, implies a tendency toward that position, and people here view things like the Post Office, publicly operated police, fire, and rescue departments, parks, etc., as socialistic in nature.
*sigh* But then we aren't discussing socialism. Which I'm fine with doing, seeing as I'm not a big fan, but since you know the difference you probably shouldn't aid the confusion. Discussing socialism while allowing for private property is a bit like discussing atheism while allowing for the existence of gods.
I looked at that list and, for example, Germany and all of the Scandinavian countries, save Denmark, were ahead of the United States, as were Vietnam, Cuba, and El Salvador, socialist countries not listed in the blog post.
Interestingly, on Arcus's resource the Scandinavian countries along with the Netherlands all appear near the top. Aren't these the recently highlighted atheistic based cultures mentioned in another thread?
I absolutely can't criticise Arcus's link because it comes from my favourite UK newspaper, so I shall have to sit on my hands.
However, a lot of the differences of opinion posted on what actually constitutes socialism could explain why there is such a variety and passion on this subject.
"You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating."
You're saying the New Oxford American Dictionary is obfuscating the issue.
Dictionaries can describe or prescribe, but NOAD says nothing about the abolition of private property. It says that in socialism the means of production, distribution and exchange are owned or regulated by the community.
NOAD goes on to say people use the word in a variety of ways, but none of the ways it identifies require the abolition you require.
Actually, I didn't say "You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating," Arcus did.
Uhm? The prescriptive part of the OED is exactly what I said it was, everything is owned by the government (community), which necessitates the abolition of private property. If you are talking about socialized sectors then regulation bit is used, i.e. after the war housing was built by cooperations and distributed to the members here based on their number in the queue. The descriptive part deals with the confusion I pointed out.
Two other relevant definitions that are even less unambiguous. Merriam-Webster's definition:
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
a political theory advocating state ownership of industry
an economic system based on state ownership of capital