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|10-11-2011, 12:09 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2011
Difference between Capitalism/Socialism/Communism?
Can someone please explain to me (in laymans terms) the difference between all 3?
I know capitalism and socialism are economic systems, and communism is more of a political system.. But communism and socialism seem to get tied in together so often?
It's all really confusing to me..
Also, whats the difference between "National Socialism" such as the Nazi's, and regular Socialism?
|10-11-2011, 01:09 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2010
Capitalism--individuals and corporations own the means of production.
Socialism--government (which is supposed to represent all of society) owns the means of production.
Communism--the political side of socialism. Basically, a communist is a socialist in a hurry.
The cow analogy for socio-political systems does a great job, I think--
Cows Explain Politics
The Nazis weren't socialist, but fascist. In fact, they hated the communists, which were genuine socialists. The historical reason the socialism aspect of the term, "Nationalsocialismus" came about, is through corporatism (not unlike what we have in the U.S. today, though more extreme). Wikipedia calls it, "right wing socialism". That comes pretty close, to me. (There were also strong ties to the "volk", or "people" that resemble a sort of socialism, just not in terms of economics).
Last edited by Solipsist; 10-11-2011 at 01:17 AM.
|10-11-2011, 11:47 AM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Berlin, Germany
All those terms are intellectual concepts. In reality politics get's made by people who have many different interests.
A lot of people use labels such as captialism or socialism to avoid having to face the practical implications of a specific political proposal.
From 1947 to 1979 the bottom fifth of the US income distribution raised their income by +122% while the top fifth raised theirs by +99%.
From 1980 to 2009 the bottom fifth decreased their income by -4% while the top fifth raised their income by 55%.
The US system of 1947 to 1979 and the US system of 1980 to 2009 are both called capitalism but the practical implication of how it distritubes wealth is completely different.
In the US you have well funded think tanks who succeed in convincing the population that the real conflict is between the labels of capitalism and socialism. It a way to distract the people from the political reality.
Communism is a term that comes from Marx.
Marx made the observation that there change in history and that people become more free over time. He believed that over time humanity will reach a state where everyone has the same right and therefore earns the same hourly rate.
He called that state where the process of history that produces those social changes reaches it's final destination "communism".
Furthermore Marx observed that gradual change can't produce that state but that you need a revolution to get there.
The road to the goal of communism got called socialism.
At the end of the long 19st century the movement split in Germany in two parts. One the one hand you have people the KDP who call themselves communists who believe that a revolution is necessary.
On the other hand you have the SPD (Social Democratic Party) who wants to achieve socialistic goals through democratic means.
Another huge conflict between the groups was that the SPD supported the German government in waging WWI while the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) didn't.
Today the youth organisation of the SPD still calls themselves "Young Socialists". Those people believe that it a good thing to reduce inequality but I don't think that many of them would say that everyone should get the same wage. They just want that everyone can get a middle class living standard through working a fulltime job.
Hitler challenged the other NSDAP people to follow everything he does and won the internal conflict in the NSDAP.
It's a good example of how the opinion of political leaders matter a great deal more than the label under which a party operates.
|10-11-2011, 07:46 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2011
There are many types of political philosophy that seek to account for the problem of distributive justice. What primary goods are people entitled to? How should these be regulated and distributed? In reference to your specific question I guess the question is: "How should wealth (including property) be distributed, and how much inequality can be justified?"
Within a liberal capitalist framework, you find a range of opinions from Libertarianism through to Egalitarian Welfare Capitalism. The opposite end of the spectrum, on a very basic summary, consists of Communitarianism and Communism.
Broadly speaking, Communism is the idea that the distribution of goods is better handled through central distribution by the state. This way, there is less wastage, less inequality, and it also attempts to deal with a host of other problems associated with Capitalism, including alienation and negative externalities, for example environmental destruction and boom and bust cycles (which is particularly relevant in these economic times).
I will forgo the objections to Communism because they are fairly evident.
Most people accept that a liberal capitalist system is the best. The question is how much regulation should there be? Rawls suggests that inequality should be allowed if it benefits the least well off (the difference principle). His argument is that there may be instances within Capitalism whereby the least well off are more well off than they would be if the economic system was more constrained. Equality would be worse if everybody was worse off, as you can imagine was probably the case in Soviet Countries. Capitalism tends to improve living standards is essentially the point.
However, this is by no means a justification of the climate of distribution in the US at the moment. I personally think the Wall Street protesters are largely against the massive inequality currently found in the US. It is hard to justify such inequalities because another fundamental aspect of justice in Rawls' concept of a just society is equality of opportunity. Currently, you could easily suggest that certain sections of American society have far less opportunities, be it for career progression, access to university education and so on, solely on the circumstances in which they find themselves born. In other words, it is pot luck how well you do to a certain extent, and rich (by birth) but less talented people end up doing far better than many gifted people born into unfavourable circumstances.
So I apologise for not directly answering your question. I guess my point is that you can have, and the best answer is, something in between Libertarian Capitalism and Communism, whereby government regulation ensures that the system does not lead to some pretty nasty situations, for example too much wealth in the power of the few, boom and bust cycles, poverty as well as environmental destruction and lack of opportunity and alienation in a repetitive, meaningless and poorly paid job with little or no prospects. That is the situation in which many people presumably find themselves, if they even have a job.
In essence, a left-wing critique of Capitalism would focus on the power of the interests of the elite and their protection and projection of those interests, the most powerful of which today is arguably the media. It does take some pretty nifty propaganda to get a lot of people to believe in things that are against their interests.
Last edited by JDuff; 10-11-2011 at 07:50 PM.
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