Up until the early 20th century, socialism commonly meant more or less the same thing as communism - a money-free wage-free state-free commonwealth based on common ownership of the productive forces. William Morris, Kropotkin, Marx and Engels all used socialism in this sense. Even Stalin described a socialist society as a society without buying or selling. The important thing to note is that state ownership for Marx and Engels did not constitute socialism. Lenin's view was quite different. He called socialism a "state capitalist monopoly" run in the interests of the whole people. Marx and Engels' views must not be confused with those of Lenin. Drawing up a detailed blueprint for socialism is premature since the exact forms will depend on the technical conditions and preferences of those who set up and live in socialism but we can broadly define the essential features of socialism.
Socialism is a system in which the means for producing and distributing wealth will be owned by society as a whole. Under capitalism, the land, factories, offices, mines, transport and other instruments of production and distribution are monopolised by a section of society only, who thus form a privileged class. Socialism will end this, for, with the means of life owned in common by the entire community, it will be a class-free society in which the exploitation and oppression of man by man will have been abolished. All human beings will be social equals, freely able to co-operate in running social affairs.
An authentic socialism must be built by the working class in such a way that they are empowered in social production and in control over the society, dismantling the class power of the capitalist class. It means people possessing control over planning about what is produced and the rules for the society. There would need to be the breaking up, the dismantling of the old hierarchical state machine, and its replacement by congresses of delegates controlled by general assemblies at the base.
Socialism is about radical democracy. It would give people democratic control over political as well as economic matters, rather than the system we have now that concentrates the control of these areas into the hands of a small group of people at the top of the socio-economic ladder. It means giving you control over your workplace rather than in the hands of some board of trustees, the stock-holders, or the bosses who are only interested in profit and not your livelihood. The economic basis of socialist society is the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and the eradication of exploitation of man by man.
Abolition of money and the prices and wages that go along with it should be part of the basis of socialism. "To each according to his ability, to each according to his need". NOT "let the workers starve if they can't pay".
Arguments for the retaining of this ridiculous system of distribution and exchange usually rest on some misanthropic claims about humans being the uncivilised greedy hordes who will deplete resources if everything was made free. If socialism will create a more abundant amount of resources, then certainly we won't need such extreme caution. The idea of hoarding goods only seems palpably tempting because of the society we live in. I think that money would just be more control in the form of a bureaucracy. There has to be someone to manage the prices and wages, to manage all that economic activity, to make sure everyone has jobs to pay them so they can buy the stuff on the "market".
Obviously, we cannot have a revolution right now because most people haven’t got an inkling about socialism let alone want it. But assuming they did, the Socialist Party would argue that electoral strategy has these advantages:
1) It is a reasonably good indicator of the strength of the communist movement. Which means we would we know we had enough support to go over to communism
2) It infuses the communist movement with the moral authority to proceed forward to communism. Opponents of communism would be less able to thwart it having been deprived of the moral authority to retain capitalism
3) It provides a convenient coordinating juncture for the changeover to a moneyless economy which by its nature cannot just be phased in