Why is this such a hard question to answer?
There are plenty of complexities, nuances, counterpoints, contradictions, subtleties, gradations, and even multiplicities to the discussion, but at the essence isn’t there a single and fairly simple question . . .
Would the majority of people be better off if the privately owned companies (the ones that dominate the economy) were owned publicly?
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Publicly instead of privately:
Straightforward dictionary definition: “Socialism is a system of organization based on the social, rather than private, ownership and control of the majority of society’s productive assets.” Starting around 1850, socialists who were literal about the meaning of the word (as most were in the early days of the movement) said that too much wealth and power was concentrated in the hands of the largest companies and the private decision-making of those enterprises focused on private-interest profits with too little regard for social and ecological consequences. The largest corporations needed to be socialized.
Owned publicly or privately? The debate is at least 170 years old. Hasn’t there been enough experimentation (public vs. private) by this time as to develop consensus about the answer?
Bank of America
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Is it possible that there is no resolution to that debate?
Perhaps both paradigms (public and private) are problematic.
Perhaps the problem is the scale of the enterprises, irrespective of whether they are owned publicly or privately.