Capitalism and socialism are two economic and ideological systems that countries employ to handle their finances and manage their means of production. It is safe to say that capitalism and socialism have grown into two opposing ideologies whose fervent proponents have yet to come to a consensus. Understanding the schism requires summarizing the key differences between capitalism and socialism. Scranton defines capitalism as a system that promotes private individuals’ and businesses’ ownership of and control over the factors of production (110). According to capitalists, demand and supply are two natural market counter forces that cannot be harnessed by the government, which is why the planned economy never yields any positive results.
Socialists, on the other hand, are convinced that shared ownership of resources and social planning are not only acceptable but actually desirable (Bronner 124). Socialism advocates equal distribution of resources, which is only possible through centralized planning. The proponents of this system oppose capitalism because they believe that the “laissez-faire” attitude toward markets leads to the inevitable split and segregation of two classes: the ruling class and the proletariat (Glienicki). The first ideas about resource management emerged centuries ago, but the problem only became acute in the twentieth century (Frank 95).
Some of the most important milestones include the Communist revolution in Russia in 1918 and the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (Frank 100). Today, the issue is relevant again because of the growing dissatisfaction with capitalism in developed countries.
Problematizing the Issue
As mentioned above, the main difference between capitalists and socialists lies in their attitude toward resource management. Further analysis of the issue may reveal some compelling gray areas and dilemmas that neither capitalists or socialists always know how to approach. One of them is egoism and selflessness: both parties accuse each other of the former while assigning the latter to themselves (Schweickart 76). For example, Zitelman writes that the driving force of capitalism is greed by empathy: capitalists have to understand people’s needs in order to run successful businesses.
Socialists, on the other hand, see selflessness as the readiness to give up resources for greater net wellness of all people. In this gray area lie many biases, such as the survivor’s mistake. Capitalism proponents strongly believe in the equality of opportunity and often dismiss systemic faults that keep many people from succeeding (Sombart 193; Pearlstein). In contrast, socialists fail to see the selfishness of equal distribution, especially if it means taking money from those who earned it through fair labor. A popular scientific work that addresses these biases is Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution authored by Richards.
In the United States, probably the most prominent figure advocating for capitalism is President Trump, who declared that America would never be a socialist country. In his mind, socialism means receiving benefits for doing nothing, or in other words, leeching off the country’s budget (Newport). Trump has Bernie Sanders as an outspoken opponent who supports social benefits and free education for all (Cassidy 200). This conflict reflects polarized American society with people concentrating around the two opposite ends of the spectrum.
My Stance on the Issue
Socialists, capitalism is more compatible with human nature because it lets humans make the best out of their selfishness and also teaches them to be empathetic. No business can stay afloat if its owner does not take measures to research its target market and understand its target audience. While under capitalism, people pursue their own selfish interests, they learn servitude through predicting and foreseeing consumers’ needs and processing feedback. They learn to be disciplined, proactive, and not afraid to take the initiative in building a business that provides goods, services, and jobs to the community.
Bronner, Stephen. Socialism Unbound. Routledge, 2019.
Cassidy, John. Why Socialism Is Back. 2019. Web.
Frank, Andre Gunder. “Transitional Ideological Modes: Feudalism, capitalism, socialism.” Critical Anthropology. Routledge, 2016, pp. 93-110.
Gliniecki, Bernard. Law and Marxism: The State and the Constitution. 2018. Web.
Newport, Frank. The Meaning of “Socialism” to Americans Today. 2018. Web.
Pearlstein, Steven. Five Myths about Capitalism. Web.
Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism. Routledge, 2018.
Scranton, Philip. “The History of Capitalism and the Eclipse of Optimism,” Modern American History, vol. 1, no. 1, 2018, pp. 107-111.
Sombart, Werner. Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? Routledge, 2019.
Zitelman, Rainer. The Driving Force Of Capitalism Is Empathy, Not Greed. 2019. Web.