Open Socialism a compelling alternative to democratic capitalism

The Open Socialism System

Open Socialism (OS) is a societal system that is designed to be the highly equitable, productive and favor long term thinking. It combines ideas from socialism, communism, capitalism, democracy, the open source software movement), agile software development and evolutionary psychology.


OS has the following goals in order of importance.

  1. Ensure the long term survival of society and its people.
  2. Have a society that is sustainable for the people who live in it. People should be happy, needed, productive but not overworked. Without a happy populace the system will destabilize.
  3. Scientific and technological advancement.

This is unlike capitalism which does not have clear goals and is struggling to ensure humanity’s long term survival.

1 does not imply the blind persistence of OS. If a better societal system comes along, OS should make way for it, or adapt to include the good parts.


OS starts with the concept of a state owned socialist system. To have clear and deliberate goals society needs to use a cooperative model with a top-down aligning of societies purpose.

Humans cooperating is more efficient at providing value to the greatest number of people when compared with a capitalist society. This is because under capitalism resources are expended in competition between groups and companies do not work towards the good of all.

OS greatly differs here from capitalism. It takes an optimistic base concept of cooperation and then attempts to mitigate the issues, rather than basing the whole system on something non-optimal. This is how OS can, in theory, be a great improvement over democratic capitalism.

Reward Individual Effort

Humans are inherently self serving and will seek advantage for themselves. It is inhuman to expect people to follow ideals like “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.

If individuals cannot strive for personal success within the system, they will be forced to attempt to circumvent it. Thus OS recognizes humans inherent self-serving nature and rewards people rising up in society and doing great work. However, unlike capitalism the difference between the top and bottom of society need not be excessive. 5 times the salary may be sufficient incentive, but this is a knob to be tuned. Humans do not need extreme rewards to be driven to strive!


State owned socialism has inherent risks as a societal system. Those at the top can have control to a far greater degree than is possible under capitalism, where a lot of the power rests with companies and individuals. Incentivizing rising up the ranks with increased remuneration will stimulate corruption and nepotism. OS acknowledges the criticality of directly addressing normal human corruption, particularly in cooperative directed societies.


Under OS almost all information is publicly available, both in real time and historical. This is much like the open source model. Mechanisms are also included to allow the public to flag questionable decisions (and also generally contribute if they please). As such, corruption needs to happen under the nose of the entirety of society. The higher up in society a decision is being made, the more scrutiny that can be expected.

Consensus Based Decision Making

OS favors consensus based decision making. Decisions made by a group of people are far less likely to be corrupt. This is because influencing a decision requires corrupting multiple decision makers as opposed to just corrupting a single individual leader.

Consensus based decision making can be slow with consensus difficult to reach. OS uses the consensus seeking variant which aims for consensus but falls back to voting if consensus cannot be reached. OS recognizes the value of the democratic process! However, it is a tool to be applied only when and where it makes sense.


In OS the whole of society is managed by one giant organization. This presents a number of challenges.

Autonomous Teams

Society in OS is managed by small autonomous teams known as circles. There is a hierarchy of circles from the top of society all the way to the bottom. eg. Main Leadership -> Health -> Disease Prevention And Treatment -> Cancer Research. Circles define the purpose and charter of sub-circles, however they do not control them. Business has shown us that top-down orchestration is highly ineffective. There is no reason that Disease Prevention And Treatment circle could make better decisions than Cancer Research when deciding on a cancer research strategy. This kind of autonomy is even more necessary for OS as the size of the organization is too large for any kind of top-down controlling model.

Circles are focused on leadership and do not perform actual work. Instead a circle will create a project and assign members to enact a specific piece of work. A clear separation of leadership (circle) and producing value through work (project) helps each of these concerns be better and more explicitly addressed.


Circles use ideas like consensus seeking decision making, openness, sub-circle and project creation to do their job. However, society is large with many different areas. Agile software development practices has shown that there is no one size fits all practices and flexibility is required. Circles can adjust how they work down to the fundamentals. Continual experimentation and improvement is the best way to achieve long term value.

This is not without its risks. Circles may change in ways that broaden the scope of possible corruption such as appointing an individual leader. A parent circle has the charge of monitoring its sub-circles. If they destabilize the parent circle can dissolve the sub-circle (and recreate) it as necessary.

Want To Keep Reading?

OS Goals

OS Core Tenets

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