Capitalism Is Often Compared With Socialism and Communism As Being A System. It Is Not A System.
Natural Behavior Verses Systematic Ideology Is The Real Difference.
Capitalism is often though of as being a system in comparison with other economic systems . It actually more of a natural characteristic of human and animal behavior than it is something that has to be defined by a system. If one defines altruism as a human behavior characteristic it also is not a "system". When socialism or communism are defined as altruistic economic systems or as forms of forced altruism it hardly remains altruism. Coerced altruism maybe the root of a form of an economic system but is hard to see as human nature where as capitalism just seems to thrive with or with out any system in a group or society. We know this is explicitly true because socialist and communist countries are plagued by what are seen as black and grey markets where capitalist tendencies tend to keep their economies humming in spite of too much ideological friction.
When one studies comparative anthropology and comparative civilizations, ancient to modern one almost always finds the development of market place and trade. Yes there are some modes of civilization that act more like a small tribe or family where everything may be shared internally but external to the tribe or family trade and market behavior seems absolutely ingrained in the social behavior. It is natural for humans and some animals to consolidate capital or goods of production into store houses for later use and / or for trade purposes. Karl Marx the father of both modern socialism and modern communism felt that the capitalism was a system rather than human nature and sought a system to up end it. Capitalism does become regulated and it does end up with systematic rules in society but that does not mean it is at it's core basis a system. It is not. It is the obvious thing and the necessary thing that has to be done to proper and thrive economically. One grows grain and has surplus grain. One then does not do all the hard work of collecting and processing the grain and then storing it just to give it away to people who do no work. One naturally contemplates trading one's spent time working to collect and process one's grain into a trading credit in exchange for some other product some person of people have spent time and effort on producing. There is always some pirate who sees a free lunch in stealing grain already proceed packed and stored. If not a pirate it is a politician promising something for nothing to supporters. A tax on grain essentially moves any surplus capital from the farmers who produced it to the nobles and royal family to allow them to exploit others with the credits already worked for. That is why the system of socialism and communism is so very popular with politicians making promises. The take a cut of other's hard work and use it as their own credits. Unfortunately that also seems to be a part of human nature from the beginning too.
Politics has been the means of transferring the hard earned goods and credits of capitalism from one set of individuals to another. Often the socialism and the communism ideology just seems to be a handy means of justifying stealing capital with what might seem to be a great excuse in that a lot of other people will get their cut of the loot. Reality is that the more that is stolen for the benefit of politicians the less anyone is going to produce precisely because the socialists and communist politicians and other knights in shining armor want to leave farmers with just enough to survive to go out to produce in the coming years so that the goose that lays the golden egg keeps laying. Capitalism not being a system but being a signal to farmers tells them not to produce excess capital if it only benefits the state or to hide production or sell it on the black or gray markets. This happens in every communist and socialist country. Production and sales go underground and/ or and usually more often less and less of productive value comes out of the classes most taxed with more an more consumption going to people who contribute nothing. Those that don't work eat the best and those who work the hardest work a lot less too. So much for the Marxist social system that is supposed to be more advanced than capitalism in the raw. Every Marxist and socialist state finds they can't compete with free market economies. One after an other fails and this is precisely the reason why. The socialist states that's seem to succeed just delay the inevitable decline. They outlast the hard core communist states but ultimately suffer the same fate eventually burn out and then attempt to entice capitalists back by offering them somewhat lower taxes. Incredibly one can see it happening in New York State where they are advertising how swell it is that they are lowering taxes for families and small businesses to get their economy moving again. The ads on television don't tell you that taxes are still too damn high and that you can set up your business in more than 40 other states and 60 other countries and enjoy much more of the fruit of your labor.
When the comparison of capitalism being a system that does not care about other people gets rolled out by the politicians who favor getting their cut of the loot from socialism or communist systems just beware that capitalism is only the weaker argument because it is not an ideological system the way the competition is. capitalism does not force people to be altruistic. It is not a system that grabs goods and redistributes them. Instead with capitalism too much production occurs and famers have little choice but to lower the price of their output and products in market competition with other farmers. People then get the benefit without any altruism because farmers who produced too much have to sell their grain before it spoils and to make room for grain to refill silos in coming seasons. Prices get reduced automatically precisely because there is a surplus and not because someone systematically decided to take a cut for the good of society.
If Capitalism is a system then it works out to be a much more , even magical system that allocates goods and services produced much more efficiently than the system state control people and their better wishes. Just because something is done in the name of altruism does not mean the results are more altruistic than just letting capitalism run it's course. Considering that virtually every communist state has failed or is a complete failure it stand to reason that no one should be fooled by anyone offering that ideology as a system alternative to the lack of system of pure capitalism as it usually pre exists. The socialists states seem to still offer a viable alternative until people eventually come to realize that they are just failing in slow motion and all eventually will crash too , at least incrementally. Socialist states are vampire states that suck the blood of the living, let them live but weaken their economies over time leaving the same exact corpse that communism leaves sooner.
Vitality in an economy is letting people who manufacture the most capital put it to their own use either saving it and allowing banks and financial houses to reinvest it for them or by deploying their own capital in a manner where they maximize their own benefits only by accident casting off surplus production that benefits the rest of society without that intention. One way to look at it is that the unintended consequences of capitalism can be wonderful where as the unintended consequences of socialism and communism is that same old road of good intentions going straight to Hell. Capitalism can have unpleasant unintended consequences too but nothing like experienced by North Korea, China, The Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia etc. History favors capitalism and it favors capitalism not being a system. By definition altruism is by intention not by being coerced to be altruistic which is the Marxist socialist and communist way .