Being more than 60 years old, I understand socialism and communism because I grew up during the cold war era. It was often discussed in my school classes and in my home. The news media often showed the differences between capitalism based on freedom and the socialist/communist systems.
In the 1960’s I remember seeing communist Soviet Premier Khrushchev angrily banging his shoe on the United Nations speaker’s podium and shouting to the free world, “We will bury you!” It was scary, but he was wrong. He died, American capitalism triumphed and communism in the Soviet Union failed, along with the fall of communist eastern Europe.
During our current election cycle, the words “socialism” and “socialist” has been used to describe our new president and his beliefs. But it occurred to me that anyone under 40 years old probably doesn’t know what the fuss is all about. Is “socialist” just a negative label an opposing party uses to attack the other? Why are older people so strong in their negative opinions of socialism?
Volumes have been written to explain socialism and communism as a governing philosophy, most of it based on the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimar Lenin. But perhaps the plain English explanation is the easiest to understand.
Socialism: You have two cows. The government decides you don’t need two cows, so it takes one by force and gives it to your neighbor. A cooperative is formed to enforce rules on how both you and your neighbor may milk your cows. They say it’s for the larger good of the community.
Communism: You have two cows. The government decides that no private citizen should be allowed to own cows, so it seizes both. A government committee milks the cows and puts it into one big container. It then gives you back the small amount of milk it determines you need. However, to get your share you must stand in line for hours; it is expensive and usually sour.
Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one cow and buy a bull. You build a herd of cows that produces many gallons of milk, selling milk to your neighbors. You make money and your neighbors are provided fresh milk at a reasonable price. 
Understanding the dangers of socialism is vital to the survival of our American free enterprise system. Someone has added another humorous explanation:
American Bureaucracy: You have two cows. Under a new farm program, the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, then pour the milk down the drain. You must file stacks of government paperwork explaining what you did. Your hungry neighbors apply to the government for welfare (refer to Socialism above).