Common Ownership

Socialists endorse common ownership because, in their view, private property (productive wealth or capital, rather than personal belongings) has several important drawbacks.

  • . As wealth is created by the communal endeavour of humans, it should be owned collectively, not by individuals.

  • Private ty encourages materialism and fosters the false belief that the achievement of personal wealth will bring fulfilment.

  • · Private property generates social conflict between 'have' and 'have-not' groups, such as owners and workers.

Broadly speaking, socialists-have argued either that private property should be abolished entirely and replaced with common ownership or that the latter should be applied in a more limited way. In the USSR from the 1930s, the Stalinist regime implemented an all-encompassing form of common ownership by bringing the entire economy under state control. More moderate socialists, including the Attlee Labour government in the UK (1945-51), have opted for limited common ownership by nationalising only key strategic industries, including the coal mines, the railways and steel-making, leaving much of the economy in private hands. However, in recent decades, western socialist parties have placed less emphasis on common ownership in favour of other objectives.