Socialism is the idea that the people, either directly or through government, should own the factors of production and distribution. Some people refer to communism as socialism, but this is very misleading and not the case here. Socialism is an economic system and has little to do with politics. It does not hope to create complete income equality although there is generally more equality than in other systems.
There are many varieties and degrees of socialism. These range from mild welfare states to communal systems. Socialism can be achieved on various levels and it is not necessary that it involve government. There were many experiments with socialism in the United States in the 1800s. Many communal societies were attempted in the isolation of the American frontier. Most failed and no longer exist.
In a small way, the increasing number of employee owned companies in the United States are also types of socialism. It is widely accepted that the welfare state, which the US initiated between 1934 and 1967, is a definitive characteristic of a socialist society
Socialism is the most common form of government in the industrialized world.