What is Socialism?

Milton Obote’s goal was socialism as he said on several occasions during his rule. The Common Man’s Charter is his socialist manifesto, though it lacks a concrete definition of what it is. Back then it was not necessary because it was broadly known at the time. Today this is not the case. 


Tom Mboya, who was a member of the socialist wing of the KANU, delivered a fitting definition:


“The elements of socialism that serve to characterise the universal system are well known and include: First, ownership and operation by the State of the fundamental means of production. Secondly, control of those means of production left in private hands. Thirdly, planning the uses of resources to ensure needs are fully recognised in the allocation of resources and, in particular, that the volume of saving and investment is large enough to promote rapid growth and rising standards of living for all. Fourthly, control of the distribution of incomes to avoid excessive concentrations in the hands of a few and to share the benefits of society equitably among all its members. Fifthly, encouragement of the co-operative form of business organisation to establish an identity between those involved in production and distribution and those receiving the fruits of that labour. And, lastly, the guarantee of equal opportunities to all without discrimination or exploitation.”1


This needs some further explanation to be understood. 


The last point is the fundamental goal. Without reaching this goal socialism cannot exist. 


This is why the state companies and cooperatives mentioned in point one and five are necessary.  This is to abolish wage labor. Wage labor is based on the exploitation of the surplus value by the capitalist, as already Karl Marx pointed out2


The private enterprises of point four can only be small family enterprises that are not employing and therefore exploiting workers. 


Economic planning as mentioned in point three is vital to keep the necessary economic proportions for the development of Uganda. Not even big capitalist monopoly companies like the market as a factor. They try to minimize the effect of the market by intern planning measures. Lenin in his days took the German Postal Office as an example3. The functioning of Amazon is the best example for cybernetic planning in such a company today. 


This is what socialism is about.


1 Tom Mboya: The Challenge of Nationhood, Praeger Publishers, New York/Washington 1970, p. 76

2 https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1865/value-price-profit/

3 https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch03.htm