As far as we are concerned, socialism and communism are exact synonyms, alternative names to describe the future society we wish to see established. We don't object to ourselves being described as communists but in practice, we only use the word socialist.
There are three phases of socialism. They are interrelated and interdependent and part of an unfolding process.
(1) Socialism first arose out of the material conditions of the earlier portion of the 19th Century. This is the birth of socialist science. It is materialistic. It recognises that everything in existence is interrelated and in a constant process of change. (In a very real sense, it might even be said that socialism is the science that integrates all branches of science into a correlated whole.) Specifically, it indicates the general outlines and the process of social evolution and, more particularly, the nature of capitalism. It explains how the seed of the forthcoming society is fertilised within the womb of an old society.
(2) Then, socialism arises as a movement. It is not alone sufficient to understand the world. The task is to change it. Its very reason for being is to exert all its efforts to arouse the working class and all others to become socialists so that the vast majority becomes conscious of its interests, and proceeds to institute socialism. The socialist revolution cannot be rammed down the throats of "followers." The socialist revolution is a majority, conscious and political. It is and can only be democratic by its very inherent nature. It is not a new ruling class come to power with a subject class having to submit.
(3) Finally, in the course of its evolution, capitalism has laid the groundwork for socialism, a classless, money-free, wage-free society. Socialism is "a society from which exploitation has been banished and in which the unfolding of each individual would be the condition for the freedom of all."
What constitutes being a socialist? Broadly speaking, it is one who realises that capitalism can no longer be reformed or administered in the interest of either the working class or society; that capitalism is incapable of eliminating its inherent problems of poverty, wars, crises, etc.; and that socialism offers the solutions for the social problems besetting mankind since the material conditions and developments—with the single exception of an aroused socialist majority—are now ripe for a socialist society. If an organisation or an individual or a "victory" supports the continuation of capital-wage labour relationships by advocating or organising to administer an improved, bettered reformed status quo (capitalism) instead of coming out for the socialist revolution (a frightening word which only means a complete social-economic change) then—it is NOT socialist. The need for educating, agitating and organising to keep the issues clear cannot be overemphasised. All too many liberals, radicals, intellectuals, and, what is far worse, the much greater numbers of rebellious workers resisting their sad lot in life—all these, sincere, earnest and devoted—have been washed in and out of the so-called socialist organisations and their fringes and in the entire process never did get an insight or an inkling as to what it is all about.
The simplicity of the socialist case is buried by friends and foe alike in mountains of "day-to-day" ISSUES so that there never is and never can be time for them to become acquainted with the science of socialism, i.e., the socialist case. The real need today is the understanding and knowledge of socialism rather than changing the word "socialism."
"The end justifies the means" is in no way part of the socialist political doctrine. Marx never suggested the personal liquidation of capitalists. Neither did he advocated in any way, the hatred of capitalists, as a political tactic. As Marxists, we do not hate those who are opposed to us. We do not even make bad intent or insincerity the basis of our evaluation of their ideas. It is the logic and claims of their views which we rigorously and consistently oppose. The Socialist Party does not advocate violence or hatred because they are inconsistent with the end in view—a classless society of free labour and production for use. The end itself determines the means. If the end is a classless society consciously brought into being by the vast majority, then the means can only be helping to bring this consciousness to the required majority. Hate and violence are in this context inconsistent with these ends. To substitute then as means would mean to change the ends. That there can be no basic separation of ends and means is integral to Marx's doctrines.
Socialist society cannot begin until the vast majority of the dispossessed realise that capitalist property relations and the division of labour which arises from it are the real barriers which hamper and frustrate the development of the individual in the widest sense, out of the energising of their knowledge and experience they will act accordingly. Those who hold that the basic thing is the overthrow of capitalist relations and the devil take the hindmost are mistaken. The abolition of capitalist property relations is merely the necessary condition which makes possible the releasing of men's energies, capacities and will to re-integrate themselves into the new society. In the building of socialist society much to learn, and some things to unlearn. One thing history will have taught, however, is that love, goodwill, the rights of the individual, can only have real meaning in an equalitarian and humanist society.