Language is one of the primary vehicles of thought. Consequently, it is also one of the first casualties of political discourse, because thinking is inconvenient when ideology is at stake. Take for example the word “socialism.” This word has been flung about with promiscuous abandon in much recent political discourse. But the sad fact of the matter is, not one person in ten-thousand who has employed this term of late has anything like a genuine clue about what the term can or even might mean. By and large, anyone who says that “Socialism is X” or “the definition of Socialism is X,” where “X” is anything less than a multidimensional complex of ideas (all of whose boundaries are foggy, to say the least), needs to be laughed off the stage.
Now, my areas of expertise do not include social/political philosophy, yet even I can recognize at least four major trends &/or primary thematic structures any one or combination of which could qualify as “socialism.” And while I am not prepared to stipulate that this list is comprehensive, I am most certainly prepared to insist that any simplistic definition of the subject is necessarily wrong.