Capitalism vs. socialism

Is it fair and accurate to distinguish capitalism from socialism by saying capitalism is a system of economics, while socialism is a system of government?

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  • Christopher Kavanaugh
    commented 2017-02-24 00:11:17 -0500 video posted 22 Feb what is capitalism.what is socialism?
  • Zach Campbell
    commented 2017-02-23 16:32:39 -0500
    No, they are each an economic system. I’ll try to explain this as best as I can, but we need to put forth a historical analysis to understand.

    In the past, capitalism has been called an economic system with 1) markets and 2) private ownership of the means of ownership, while socialism has been identified with the qualities of 1) planning (in replace of markets) and 2) state ownership of the means of production (in replace of private ownership).

    Should these two qualities really be the differentiating factors between capitalism and socialism? In order to answer this, we need to look at economic systems that existed before capitalism, such as slavery and feudalism.

    Did markets exist in slavery? You betcha. How about private property? Of course, slaves. Did markets exist in feudalism? Yup. How about private property? Turns out it did.

    When it comes to differentiating socialism from capitalism, I do not believe that markets/planning and private/state ownership should be the factors used.

    Instead, let us look at the relationships in the organization of production that existed in each of these economic systems. In slavery, you have the master-slave relationship. In feudalism, there is the lord-serf relationship. And in capitalism, you have the employer-employee relationship.

    So if markets and private ownership did not differentiate capitalism from slavery and feudalism, why should they be used to differentiate socialism from capitalism?

    I think we need to differentiate socialism from capitalism by abolishing the distinction between employer and employee. In other words, we need a cooperative economy and economic democracy. This is what 21st century socialism will look like (I hope).

    If you have any other questions, just ask.
  • Bren Lynne
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-02-22 17:08:55 -0500