Compare and Contrast Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism

Category: Capitalism, Socialism
Last Updated: 06 Jul 2020
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What is communism? Communism is a term used broadly to designate a ‘theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state. ’ It refers to the doctrine which underlines the revolutionary movement which aims to abolish capitalism and ultimately to establish a society in which all goods will be socially owned, all economic activates socially planned and controlled, and in which all distributions will be in accordance with the maxim.

German author Emil Ludwig described the maxim as “for each according to his capacity, to each according to his need. ”(1) It is to be distinguished from socialism which aims by constitutional and democratic methods to nationalize gradually only the essential means of production and to organize distribution on the basis of a just reward to each person for the amount and quality of his or her work. In its early forms the term “communism” first came into use in France, after 1840; the general idea being that private property is the source of all social ills which can be cured only by a community of goods and interest.

In the Greco- Roman world, Plato expounded the idea in his book The Republic in the 4th century and to stoics implied it in their doctrine of natural right or as they called it “jus natural” which means according to which natured created all men free and equal and private property was unknown to the original state of nature. (2) According to Karl Marx, this is the final stage towards development of egalitarian society. Here all the resources are state-owned and it determines its distribution based on the needs in an effort to bring about equality. Communism is conservative. Fewer and fewer people have any say in how the economy works.

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By using state coercion to fulfill unmet demands, it restricts individual freedom. Communism necessarily takes the form of totalitarianism or the tyranny of all over one since it’s up to the state to decide who gets what. Historically, communist societies have been characterized by the absolute rule of a revolutionary party leader, beneath whom everyone is equally subservient. It becomes very difficult for such an economy to survive in a large population when it becomes difficult for equal distribution of resources. (5) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are the ones responsible for the theoretical foundations of the modern communism.

In their time together Marx and Engels wrote several pieces of documentations and books which started in 1848 with The Communist Manifesto, 1850 Marx’s Class Struggles in France, 1867 The First Volume of Das Kapital, 1871 Civil War in France, 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme, and in 1877 Engels so called Anti-Duhring. Marx and Engels took over and modified the current concepts of materialism, the Hegelian view of historic evolution as dialectical process moving from thesis through antithesis to synthesis, the labor theory of value of David Ricardo, The critique of capitalism of the ‘Utopian “by French socialist, and tactics of Blanqui.

In later writings, Marx and Engels described the ideal communist society only in general terms such as “a system of social ownership under which production would be carried on by voluntary associations of workers, distribution would be in accordance with the needs, the state would cease to be an instrument of force and “wither away” and the individual would live in freedom and in harmony with society. Marx and Engels thought that the social revolution they aimed at could be carried out by peaceful means in some countries like England and The United States. 2) Marx and Engels used the term “communism” to distinguish their program from socialism which in the 1840’s meant economic and social reform. Some countries that are, or have been communist are the former U. S. S. R, China, Germany, Guatemala, Cuba, Greece, Africa, Some parts of the United States, Turkey, Suez, Israel, North Korea, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and the southern part of Thailand. (2) We now move to socialism, what is socialism? As mentions before socialism is the doctrine that espouses public ownership or control of a major means of production.

It aims to achieve an equitable and efficient distribution of social goods and greater economic planning then exist under capitalism. Although the central concerns of socialism appears to be economic its ramifications extend to the moral, social and political realms, in fact together with nationalism, it is the leading ideological and political movement of the 20th century. It is considered to be the transitional phase between the capitalism and communism. Thus, you would find all communists advocating for socialism because it lays the foundations for communism.

It advocates an egalitarian society where everyone shares equal wealth and power. There is a considerable disagreement over how the distribution should take place. Hence, socialism can be said to be between extreme capitalism and extreme communism with it being nearer to communism. Socialism is liberal. More people have say in how the economy works. (5) The basic principles of contempary socialism have their origin in the economic, social and cultural transformations of Europe which occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Contributing factors were the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the bourgeois’ and proletarian classes, the enlightenment’s secular and rationalistic view of men and society, and the democratic demands of the French Revolution. Social ownership and control is the development of private property and it inordinate pursuit are seen by socialist theorist as the root causes of inequalities among men, of moral corruption, and of disruptions of the social order, this led to the abolition of private property or control over its undesirable manifestations, is fundamental tenet of socialism.

The means advocated attaining this objective accounts for a broad range of socialist programs, from state ownership and regulation of the entire economy to anarchistic cooperative association; from mixed economy of publicity corporately and privately owned enterprises to national producers’ and consumers’’ cooperatives; from state sponsored social welfare programs to self-sufficient local communes. Socialist argues that the pernicious nature of private property was cleared disclosed with the development of capitalism.

The growth of commerce and industry, coupled with the doctrine of Laissez faire, brought about the private ownership of the major means of productions by a small group of individuals, who intern was able to accumulate most of the wealth of the society. People began to move away from the country and the population became centralized. Cities grew rapidly and overcrowding became an enormous problem. This new industrial workforce, the proletariat, worked and lived in appalling conditions. Poverty was rampant.

The cities were havens for crime and disease. The tumultuous transformation affected not only the lives of the workers but also craftsmen, such as handloom weavers, who were being forced out of business by factories which could produce the same product at a lower price. Much of the working class was confounded by the radical changes that were going on. Without anyone planning it, capitalism had emerged and began to flourish as there was no opposition to it. The factory owners became richer and low-skilled workers and the unemployed became poorer.

Workers whose trades were less secured decided to form trade societies. This allowed the proletariat who had nothing to trade but their labor, to sell their labor for the best possible price. By uniting, workers could achieve results that could not be achieved individually. The central ideas of socialist have their roots in mans perennial discontent with the conditions of his existence. They reflect his desire to overcome scarcity, inequality and social strife, and his longing for justice, happiness, perfection and at time for transcendence.

Among the forerunners of modern socialism are the utopias of Plato with is book The Republic along with Sir Thomas More Utopia , 1516 and Tommase Campanella City of The Sun 1602, the experiments of the Anabaptist Sects in Central Europe, the theories of the Diggers and Levelers in England. (3) The theories of Marx and Engels represent the watershed of socialist thought. The collaborators synthesized the basic socialist ideas, gave them a comprehensive theoretical and practice expressions and influence their development.

Although communism developed as an atheistic ideology the basic principles of socialism can be readily traced to the Christian idea of brother hood, it protests against the selfish pursuit of wealth, and its traditions of communal life. Indeed, Engels acknowledges the religious heritage of the socialist movement and considered the early Christians among the precursors of socialism. (3) Louis Blane and Constantine Pecqueur, who advocated public ownership, worker-managed industries and parliamentary democracy during the Revolution of 1848 in France, were the precursors of the socialism accepted by the modern social democratic parties.

The Fabian society founded in 1884, set out to promote socialism through gradual democratically achieved reforms in England. Relying on propaganda, research, and public debate, the Fabians sought to “permate” trade unions, political parties and other gaps with their ideas. They succeeded with the middle and educated classes and they became influential in the labor and liberal parties. Among the earliest Fabians were G. B Shaw and Sidney Webb. Areas that were affected by socialism were European countries such as Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Estonia.

In Asia you had North and South Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Japan, Lon Nol, Singapore, Ceylon. In the Middle East there was Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. In Africa there was Ghana, Sekov Toure, The Congo, Kenya and Tanganyika, and in Latin America there were Uruguay and Mexico. (3) This term was first coined by Karl Marx to describe a system in which small group of people own large amount of money, land, resources. It puts all the economy is the hands of wealthy business people with the only aim of maximizing profits.

Such economies remain free of government intervention with all the policies being determined by private individuals. The result is monopoly, and a huge gap in the earnings among the employer class and the worker class. Though it’s very good for trades and industries to flourish, it can lead to worker exploitation and unethical business practices. “Laissez-Faire” capitalism which means pure capitalism with no government intervention is said to have never existed in practice. 5) Capitalism is the type of economy in which capital is privately owned and maybe freely used by the owners as they wish in attempting to make profits from their economic enterprise. This type of economy is known as Capitalistic system. Implicit in capitalism is the existence of an effective technique for exchanging good and services. In all but extremely primitive forms of capitalism presuppose the existence of a monetary and financial system. In the sense the term capitalism may be distinguished any economic system in which capital is privately owned and used by the owner as he wishes, capitalism is not of recent origin.

Elements of this type of economic system may be traced back to early historical periods. Even in the hunting and fishing style of society, physical capital and financial capital were individually owned and used. Further capitalistic developments continued through the pastoral and agricultural stages and into the age of metal. By the time of the Greek and Roman civilizations, capitalism had become fairly well developed. The oppressive phase due to the Industrial Revolution in England drew much socialist criticism.

Marx and others tended to generalize from the unfortunate aspects of the Industrial Revolution and to conduce that the explanation of labor was an inherent of evil capitalism. Marx predicted that under capitalism cyclical fluctuations in business activity would become increasingly severe. This would cause more and more members of the capitalist class to be reduced to the ranks of the proletariat. Eventually, he predicted the increasing misery of the proletarian class would lead it to overthrow the capitalistic system and replace it with some form of socialism.

In 1776 Adam Smith, a Scottish university professor, produced a book which described the workings of a capitalist society. He believed that a country's wealth depends on all people pursuing their own interests. If a person promotes his own interest he or she is unintentionally promoting his country's interest. Smith thought that governments should promote free trade and not interfere by protecting certain industries from competition. The only duty of governments, Smith wrote, was to provide services that couldn't be profitable like the building of roads, schools and churches.

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