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Capitalism vs. Socialism

Updated on May 3, 2012

I've recently gotten into quite a spat on the forums here at HubPages. Nothing too bloody, I assure you, but indeed a task.

A recent forum post discussing socialism and it's merits and follies has gotten quite a response. I wanted to discuss it quickly here in this article.

What is Socialism, What is Capitalism

Capitalism is quite easy to explain and define. It is simply when a person's property is his to do that which he wants. If I own something, I'm allowed to choose how it is used so long as such a use does not interfere with someone else's property. This definition matches the results I've found in the search engines I've used.

Simple enough... liberty is usually easy to explain.

Socialism, on the other hand, has numerous definitions. I still have yet to find two socialists who agree on a definition.

Walter Block (a laissez-faire economist) defines it two different ways, "Government control over the means of production", or "to each in accordance with his ability, and to each according to his needs". The first of these definitions is what I have been told that socialism means - when the people, i.e. the democratic government, controls how things are operated. The second one is a bit more along the lines of "I produce as much as I can, but I use as much as I need", which sounds... strange, but I guess it's an OK definition.

Other definitions include the following

  1. socialism (a political theory advocating state ownership of industry)
  2. socialism, socialist economy (an economic system based on state ownership of capital)

(Both of these are from Princeton)

  1. Any of various political philosophies that support social and economic equality, collective decision-making, and public control of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists.
  2. The socialist political philosophies as a group, including Marxism, libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy.
  3. (Leninism) The intermediate phase of social development between capitalism and full communism. This is a strategy whereby the State has control of all key resource-producing industries and manages most aspects of the economy, in contrast to laissez faire capitalism.

(These come from wiktionary)

So... I suppose we've defined socialism, even though, apparently, there are still other definitions; one of these 'extra definitions' which was used on the forums, I will show is actually, amazingly, capitalism.

More On Socialism

OK, so even though we have numerous definitions of socialism, I'll use the friendliest ones for this argument here - The first definition from Wiktionary.

Let's think about this - if the public controlled the productive capital and natural resources, this would be manifested in some sort of stock-ownership society where everyone owned everything inside the "company" that is the state. It would be like trying to run the entire economy of the state in a democratic method. It would be insanely inefficient.

Some people would proceed to argue (using, again, a different definition of socialism than the 5 I've included) that socialism doesn't have to be state-wide. A worker would have a voice in how the company he worked for was run, and thus it would be a sort of socialism-Company.

To this I simply say that capitalism completely and in every way allows this. This definition of socialism (which has been used in the forums) is in every way allowed under capitalism. "Indeed," say the people who use this definition, "this type of company already exists around the world!". I agree, this system does indeed exist. But I fail to see how this is in any way different than the system of letting workers own shares of the company's stock. Until anyone can explain to me how these two systems are different, I will continue to point out that the people who use this definition of socialism are actually arguing for stock-option salaries under capitalism.

If they, for whatever reason, keep their definition of socialism, but deny what I've written in the last paragraph, then they are necessarily advocates of "bone-head capitalism". Why is it "bone-headed"? Well, let's imagine a scenario - other than stock-options scenario I just wrote about - where a worker would have control of his company in some way. For example, if Jim decides to take his $30,000 and create a company, and then he proceeds to hire 29 people, and then wants his company to be socialist (in the definition described in the past two paragraphs), he would then allow all 30 of them to have a say in how to spend the $30,000...


...poor Jim would be an idiot. Why the hell would anyone allow other people to decide how to spend his own money? This would never happen, except in extreme cases. This shows, quite clearly, that socialism (under this definition) won't work - you're asking humanity to go against its nature.

But Capitalism is Evil!

Everyone seems to think that Capitalism is evil.

I always point out to these people that every single example of Capitalism-related-evilness was actually a governmental failure. I challenge each and every reader to give me one example of a Capitalist-Market Failure that has NO tie to government whatsoever - it just won't happen. Monopolies, cartels, 'unfair competition' (whatever that means), cannot exist without government support.

When this challenge doesn't work out (generally the socialists just ignore it and change the subject), I try to explain that it's impossible for capitalism to be evil: how can "allowing people to choose how to spend their money, as long as it doesn't interfere with others" be evil?

When this doesn't work (people are just hell-bent in their ways), I point out that socialism is evil! Imagine: Bill Gates revolutionized the world, brought unbelievable efficiency to the world, and then proceeded to make everyone's life more wondrous through the magic of computers...

... then the government just about took his company away from him and said that he was participating in 'unfair business practices'. Luckily, Gates gave in and started paying the piper. I concede that government theft of property is not necessarily socialism (even though, by Princeton's first definition, it is), but it sure as hell ain't Capitalism.

Indeed, just about every problem with Capitalism that was listed in the recent Michael Moore movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" was either 1- completely inaccurate, or 2- actually a problem with government intervention. You name the issue he mentioned, I'll tell you how the government caused it!

Oh, and did anyone else notice how, after the government idiotically gave the auto industry billions of dollars, they suddenly began attacking Toyota? Even though just about every other auto company had numerous recalls at about the same time? Toyota had to pay... how much was it? $1.6 Billion? That'll teach those damned Toyotanians to make cars for people to use and enjoy!! Those bastards!!! .... ... ... *cough*...

The Follies of Socialism

Besides the folly I stated in the previous section, there are numerous other follies that exist in socialism. They are a bit more complicated, and I've discussed them in a different article. But it seems that the "HubPages" community didn't bother to read it! On the forums people still regularly demand that socialism is the best thing that could ever happen to people.

Here is a brief overview of my previous article. It relies heavily on Ludwig Von Mises' utterly vicious and unerring attack on socialism in his books Human Action and Socialism.

The first and most important reason why socialism can not work is that there is no system for property rights. According to the majority of our definitions, socialism requires the abolition of private property rights. This utterly destroys just about every incentive there is to invest and produce things.

The second critical folly of socialism is that there is no profit structure; prices can’t exist if there aren’t property rights. Without prices, how can anyone know if a trade is beneficial? Prices help people ration out goods in a logical and reasonable way, and without prices chaos would ensue: it would be impossible to know what would be a good investment or a bad one.

To illustrate this folly, let's imagine 10 orange-juice-makers. If they each worked hard all day, and were each able to produce 10 glasses of orange juice each day, then they would normally make 100 glasses of OJ. But, if everyone owns everything that is produced, and if you had a claim to own what was produced even if you slacked off, then we can easily show that slacking off will ensue. If one of the OJ producers were to be lazy and take the afternoon off, then he would gain 50% leisure time at the cost of the production of 5 glasses of OJ. This would mean, he got to be 50% lazier, but he would have only lost 5% of the product: 9 people produce 10 glasses, and he produced 5 glasses. He gains 50% and everyone loses 5%.

The third critical folly of socialism is known as the tragedy of the commons. For example, if there were a big bowl of cereal, and ten hungry people were each given a spoon, each person would try to eat as much as possible without regard for anyone else. With socialism, this would take place in every market and every industry - there would be wanton waste of resources simply because there would be no private property or prices.

Socialism Tends to Lead to Death

This section is just a quick note to point out that the vast majority of attempts towards true socialism (this would be the Princeton definition) have almost always led to horrendous deaths. North Korea, Socialist China, Soviet Russia and it's satellite countries, East Germany, and Cuba all went Socialist on a wave of death. It is estimated that more than 10 million people died in the USSR from the economic policies of Socialism and about 75 million people were killed from the policies of Socialist China. The numbers for the other countries aren't as specific, but, rest assured, there were deaths and misery.

Socialism is Unconstitutional

I already know that no one cares, but socialism is unconstitutional. The 10th amendment declares that any power not specifically granted to the federal government, nor denied to the state governments, are delegated to the state governments or the people themselves.

There is nothing in the Constitution that allows the federal government to take control of any industry or market. And, before you give me the "General Welfare" argument, realize that if the "general welfare" section of the Constitution were to conform with "anything our elected officials agree to", please note that the Founding Fathers were very specific with the powers granted or denied: they specifically grant the federal government the power to create and establish post (office) roads! Why the hell would any of the founding fathers say that the federal government can do anything allowed if it is in some way good for the "general welfare", but then specifically state that it has the ability to make post office roads --- not roads in general, but only post office roads?!?! Why? because general welfare clearly doesn't mean what people think it means.

Always Remember the Unseen

And for my final argument, remember that everything that the government pays for or regulates in some way is paid for through theft, and at the expense of something else.

If the government pays for a new road, it has to take money from it's citizenry through force -- you go to jail if you don't pay your taxes. And if you resist arrest, they tend to shoot you.

But this isn't the end to the problem. For each dollar that the government spends on asphalt or concrete or whatever the case may be, that's one less dollar's worth of asphalt or concrete that a private citizen can buy. When the government buys things, it raises prices; not only does the government make people poorer by taking their money directly, it then raises prices by buying things and competing for the scarce goods of the citizenry.

That means that each dollar taken by the government is not only one less dollar that could have been spent on something that people actually wanted, but it is one less dollars worth of resources that people can buy.

"Public Goods," the Socialists wail, "are projects that the free market wouldn't bother investing in, and so we need governments to take control of some of the means of production!". I protest this passionately.

How could a private entrepreneur completely ignore something that the public wants? If something like "water delivered to my home" is in demand, then how can we even assume that the private sector wouldn't take care of this? Thar's gold in them thar hills! Indeed, it is profitable to deliver people's mail, there are profits to be made in defending private property, there are profits to be made in saving people from fires. If there is a demand for a service, there are profits to be made; if there are profits to be made, there is a way to make profits without coercion (taxes).


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    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      I've heard a few speak. They are generally angry with what the US is doing. Those that I've heard from have said that the US is marching down the path toward socialism.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio


    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      The point of the article was that Socialism (government in general) sucks and that Capitalism (markets) is much better.

      I'm curious why, after you agreed with everything I wrote, you originally accused me of being wrong.

      Socialism and governments fail and waste money.

    • ChrisJawalka profile image

      Chris Jawalka 

      6 years ago from Louisville, OH

      OK... counterpoints;

      (1) The government came to the conclusion to put those "worthless" labels on cigarette packs, the same way they came to the similar conclusion to put warning labels on everything else in our society. Idiots not understanding the results of their actions. I'm in no way a fan of warning labels on anything, and am a big supporter of natural selection. Agreed, the government didn't do much else in the way of "making America smoke free" (other than PSA announcements, teaching school children the dangers of smoking and just about anything they could get through without tobacco lobbyists crying about it); but, yes is people want to smoke, they will. People continue to keep companies like McDonald's in business even though they merely support the obesity problem; but I really don't understand you're point here... I never said government didn't know the dangers. I never said government wasn't at fault here. Just that the tobacco companies share the same amount of fault.

      (2) Again... not sure what you're trying to refute me on here. Yes, the research was done by private institutes. Yes, the people took the data done by the private institutes and began to yell at the government to fix the situation. I never claimed the government was the hero here. Again, I stated the government was just as guilty... the entire time. But, again; they share the blame with the tobacco companies.

      (3) I totally agree that not being able to smoke in public is a bad thing. I mean, you're frig'n outside and you still can't smoke! Makes no sense. And, I am (again) a smoker. I am for "smoker's right to smoke". And, agree that the whole 2nd hand smoke claim was largely inflated. You can smoke for years, and never get cancer. Why? Because cancer is not only environmental, but also genetic. You have to have the cancer "gene". I know a lot of bars that still allow the patrients to smoke inside, even though it's illegal. When I asked "how come?", I was given the answer, "It's cheaper to pay the $200 fine, rather than lose all the business".

      (4) I'm not trying to get using the microwave illegal for a few reasons. One, I don't even want smoking to be illegal, I smoke! Two, there isn't enough evidence that micowaves cause cancer. Three, the microwave was an ideal invention and makes daily life a lot easier.

      How am I being a hypocrite? All I was proving is that the tobacco companies knew just as much as the government and hid the facts, or sugar coated the facts. Maybe, if the tobacco companies and the government would have been straight forward with the public when they first found out it was bad, more people wouldn't smoke today... I don't know. I would. I like smoking. I've quit smoking several times, but always started up again. Not because of the addictive parts... but, because I honestly enjoy smoking.

      Perhaps our wires got switched somewhere here... I'm not saying any of things your accusing me of... I just wanted to prove the tobacco companies were just as guilty as the government. So... where does our disagreement extend beyond that point?

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      Oooh, poor Evan. He's a moron who doesn't understand history! Luckily, Chris Jawalka is here to learn me some history!

      Let's have some fun with your claims (I haven't read them yet, but I already know that you're going to make some weird assumptions).

      (1) Those labels on cigarettes haven't stopped the problem and Cigarette companies haven't been able to advertise on TV for decades. PEOPLE WANT TO SMOKE. You show this with a statistic later on in the argument.

      How did the government come to the conclusion to put those largely worthless ads on the packs? BY PRIVATE INVESTIGATION BY RESEARCH GROUPS. The government did jack sh** except force the labels on the packs.

      (2) You claimed that "because of government intervention" the income of tobacco companies has gone down. I'm not denying this, but you're claiming that this was 100% due to government. This is nonsense.

      Also, look at your own claim immediately following this one: "Keeping that in mind, the U.S. is the 3rd largest for cigarette consumption in the world with 331 billion cigarettes a year."

      Woo! Good job!! Taking away freedoms REALLY works!!... sarcasm!

      The research showing the connection between cancer and CIGARETTES was done by PRIVATE institutes. And then PRIVATE groups began speaking out about it. And FINALLY the government got on board.

      The private institutes were the heroes, and the government gets all the credit.

      (3) Not being able to smoke in public should be a bad thing. There's pretty much no evidence that 2nd hand smoke causes cancer (that EPA report in 1993 was largely junk). And yet, although I enjoy not having to deal with smoke, we've lost our freedoms to provide smoking areas in bars and restaurants.

      (4) Doesn't using a microwave increase your odds of cancer? Why aren't you trying to get that illegal?

      Quit being a hypocrite.

    • ChrisJawalka profile image

      Chris Jawalka 

      6 years ago from Louisville, OH

      Evan... Just curious here. You're rather young, just unfamiliar with American life from the 1930's to about the 1970's or way too right wing, to honestly believe the tobacco or asbestos corporations aren't evil.

      Now, don't get me wrong... I smoke. Have smoked for about 20 years. But, when I started it was the early 90's and they just started putting warnings on packs of cigarettes. But, it's the how they got there... not that fact that they got there. And it's not only the corporations that are 'evil' in this either. The tobacco and asbestos corporations both have their own faults in this fight, but government did have a hand in it as well.

      As for tobacco, it was a cash crop for almost a two centuries. Of course government had knowledge nicotine was addictive. Perhaps there was no link between cigarettes and cancer for quite some time, but the government and the tobacco companies both knew it wasn't good for you to use, for many years.

      In the U.S. from 1978 to 2006, tobacco counted for $14,974,713,000 revenue in taxes; and '78 was when legislation was just beginning to gain motivation. The first link between cancer and tobacco was discovered in 1950. When, (in 1950) 49% of the country smoked, now it's dropped (because of government intervention) to 20%.

      You can't even smoke in public in most states. In the late 1970's you could smoke on a plane or even... a hospital. Now, since smoking has gone down, drastically (at least in the U.S.) "Big Tobacco" isn't the evil villain they used to be... but, still are in some countries.

      Keeping that in mind, the U.S. is the 3rd largest for cigarette consumption in the world with 331 billion cigarettes a year. China (2163B) and Japan (357B) are the only ones with more.

      Now, back to the reasons the corporations were acting for profit at the risk of human life; it was well known by 1604 that tobacco was 'bad' for you. When King James published his edict against smoking, A Counterblaste to Tobacco, which included notes from autopsies of smokers. In 1761, Dr. John Hill performed clinical studies showing a direct correlation between snuff use and nose cancer.

      The evidence was so overwhelming by the 1950's that tobacco companies introduced filtered cigarettes in the hope that consumers might be fooled into thinking they were safer. Finally, the government issued a report in 1964 that pretty much confirmed what King James knew in 1604.

      But, both King James and the U.S. government of the 1700's sugarcoated the facts, as tobacco was a huge cash crop and neither were willing to see their coffers thin. Now, here's where I think we disagree. You say it's governments fault, I say the corporation is just as guilty. They were working in cahoots with each other. Both knew it was killing people, both had the facts, both lied or at the very least skewed the picture to not look so bad.

      When the class action suites started in the 80's the government began to see they couldn't hold out anymore... but, things didn't really change for decades after.

      I do realize that I have sort of gone off on a rant... and waived from the scope here and there... and didn't even hit on asbestos (it's almost the same story) but, I think you get what I've been saying. Both knew, both kept it either a secret or made it 'better' than it was; therefor both were at fault.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      @ Bob - You make the mistake of assuming that there is no system of regulation "at the top" of Capitalism. Competition is constantly forcing the obsolete and corrupt out.

      To say that we need a middle ground between capitalism and socialism is to say that you agree that stealing is OK.

      I will never say that. Theft is wrong, no matter WHO has the gun.

    • Bob Zermop profile image

      Bob Zermop 

      7 years ago from California, USA

      First, I'll start by stating that I'm a capitalist, so we came to the same conclusion. So far, so good. :D

      However, I think we disagree fundamentally in some places. (Or I may just be misunderstanding your points; correct me.) From what you said, I gather that you identify as libertarian and also agree with the idea of a free market anarchy. I disagree with that for several reasons, but in order to save some space in your comment section, I'll just give you this link to a hub I wrote a while back named Why capitalism works and socialism doesn't : . If you don't like links, please feel free to remove it from the comment.

      A few examples of why I identify as "moderate conservative" in this US scale (so basically damn conservative anywhere else :D ) are the wealth gap in nations like India, the state of health care in the States (not saying it's awful, just that it's not great), and tying into that, the difficulty even in the USA of getting from a low income household at birth to the very top. It's not impossible, and I'd like to keep it that way, and make it possible for more indvls at that. All of those things relate to preventing a wealth gap from widening, and that's where I think the government (which in a fair democracy, should basically be the majority) needs to play a role in any stable, productive society.

      I think your article contains several interesting points, but in a few places I became a little lost. Just a few clarifying questions: Do you disagree with all taxation, including for things like roads, education, a safety net, etc.? You characterized them as "theft" towards the end of your article. If that's the case, I'm happy to explain why I like taxes, but if it isn't I don't want to waste your space or time.

      Also, a clarification. You stated in your last few paragraphs that "Indeed, it is profitable to deliver people's mail, there are profits to be made in defending private property, there are profits to be made in saving people from fires. If there is a demand for a service, there are profits to be made; if there are profits to be made, there is a way to make profits without coercion (taxes)." However, there is no way to make profit from those without money, so there would be no profit investment in things like a safety net and ladder of opportunity, or education. Pure profit investment funded education would result in focus on "marketable skills", not the happiness of the students or the society. I've another hub on that, in case the "happiness" statement wasn't clear, called The ultimate goal of a perfect society. I have a few more examples, but I think you catch my drift. Please feel free to clarify if anything I've said is ambiguous.

      You seem like an interesting guy, and I'd love to discuss some of the ideas you presented. Look forward to your response!

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      So, you agree? The government is screwing you over, whereby the free-market doesn't actually exist?

      Glad we agree.

    • pramodgokhale profile image


      7 years ago from Pune( India)

      Evan G Rogers ,


      In India there was capitalism but with feudal mindset and without innovation.They worked as an agent of MNCs. Indian judiciary protected some corporates even they duped investors.

      As an Indian i have limitations to express on this topic because i am for third world nation that is India.

      than k you Sir,

      pramod gokhale

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      I bet you never experienced capitalism. To do so would be to remove government. True capitalism is anarchic.

      When government makes one policy, things go awry and more intervention is demanded. Things further spiral out of control as more people wish to live off of other people's money.

    • pramodgokhale profile image


      7 years ago from Pune( India)

      I am an Indian , we experienced and experimented both Capitalism and socialism under democratic system.Every ism has its successes and failures and it is not the ism but human mistakes while implementing these mechanisms. We have high performing public sector and private sector and third most important cooperative sector.When we discuss merits of above isms better we interact with balanced view without tilting towards anyone.

      India is a case where any ism has followers and they run, operate and gain success also.Creativity and productivity are the tools to gain success for any ism,EUROPE , USA, USSR have experimented above systems and have valuable expertise with them, India with one billion population can not decide to opt for any single ism and implement partly all of them for development.

      To my knowledge, cooperative sector has a major role to play among grass root people and to become part of Socio-economic development and Mass Uplift.

      Capitalism and Socialism were misused by Politicians under the name national interests!

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      Thanks for the comment. I have to disagree with just about everything you said. The term "Capitalism" was created by Marx - up until then the idea was simply "people doing what they wanted with what they owned".

      Beyond that, you were just rude. So, I won't waste more time.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Capitalism was never invented. Capitalism is simply the process of people being free to do with their property as they wish".

      This is simply not true, or at least not how capitalism has been defined historically. You should look up Roderick T. Long. He like yourself is a Libertarian Anarchist, but avoids using the term "Capitalism" because he believes it is a confusing term. Also on the subject of Anarcho-Capitalism I have numerous criticisms. First, in the Libertarian Manifesto, Murray Rothbard, when addressing the non-agression principle and respect for private property states that it is universally accepted by private individuals and institutions, this statement is so fucking nieve I don't know where to begin. Private individuals and private companies and institutions only respect private property to the point that they are forced to by the state. Not having a utopian vision of Anarchism where people do not coercie others, the solution is only more idiotic. Anarcho-Capitalists argue for private defense agencies. Ok, knowing that people will violate others property/well-being etc... You purpose that people be allowed to hire people, with weapons and guns and such, to do their bidding in the hopes that they will use them responsibly, if you honestly believe that will work then your a goddamned retard. Lastly, Anarcho-Capitalism is not a real form of anarchism. Anarchism is not simply the absence of the state it is also an opposition to hierarchy. Therefore all Anarchists are anti-capitalist. There is also argument amoung anarcho-capitalists that they are real anarchists because hierarchies in employment are voluntary, this is like holding a pair of siscors to a mans testicles to get him to give you his wallet and then claiming that the transaction was voluntary, for the common worker the choices are simple: Accept the hierarchy or starve. The Anarcho-Capitalist would then argue that there would be more then one option avaliable, well this is just another statement to add to the pile of nieve statements made by anarcho-capitalists, approximately 10% of our country is unemployed, those people will have to take anything they can get,

      for them the hierarchy is not voluntary, submit or starve. More

      on why you are not an anarchist, the first anarchists: Proudhon, Bakunin, even Tucker all identified as Socialists. Socialism is not simply government control of the means of production. Socialism as an ideology has dozens of variants, in the 19th century socialism was sometimes used as a name for any idea that was a solution to "the labor problem". The type of socialism you speak of is called state socialism, which in reality functions more or less like state capitalism. Before you comment on Socialism, perhaps you should actually study it, know it's history and such.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      @KC - I'm not familiar specifically with the argument, but it sounds like it would be a system whereby people voluntarily donate their labor, money, capital, etc to mutually benefit one another.

      All in all, as long as the term "voluntary" is true, then I have no problem with it.

      But beware: socialism always fails.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I refuse to accept you bourgeoisie lies! Capitalist scum like you will perish!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What is your take on Mutualism, the economic theory of Pierre Joseph-Proudhound, it is socialism, and yet in it there would be no government control of the economy and their would be markets and all the freedom of capitalism?

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      8 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      Fluxx, you wrote a lot of stuff. And you posted it twice.

      But it can all be summed up with "I think that people should be allowed to steal from one another, so long as it's to help someone else (and I demand that I be the one chosen to decide who to help and who to rob)".

      That's it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Governments today are lobbied and coerced by private corporations and therefore governments have become nothing but an extension of the corporations. So while you argue that governments are to blame for any atrocities that occur within capitalism due to over regulation or dabbling within the system, you forget that governments today are no longer run by people that are for the people, as it once used to be, but by people who come from elitist clans within the capitalistic machinery, so that's your argument shot to pieces, because the governments now are so entwined within the private sector that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins anymore.

      Why should saving a life be profitable, why should feeding a hungry person be profitable, why should giving a thirsty person be profitable, why should putting out a person on fire be profitable. Why should be people who suffer through no fault of their own be made to still pay for their suffering? What you're actually implying-at the heart of it-is that none of us are born with these rights and therefore we should all continuously pay for it, over and over again.

      Though I do agree that socialism in its pure form is not a viable option in today's materialistic, capitalistic based culture. Maybe socio-capitalism would be better option. I think essential items that the general public use on a daily basis eg. water, gas, electricity, public transport, communication(mail etc), roads, sanitation, health care, police and military should be under government control and regulation. The private sectore should still be allowed to carry on wheeling and dealing the way it always has and most likely always will do, but the population needs to taken care and "protected" by government, because ultimately I'd like to think that none of us should ever have to be born into slavery and with capitalism that is what we are from the day you're born. So one day when you have a child look into their eye's and with all that love you have in your heart for your child tell them in your most loving voice "welcome into the world my child, you are now officially my child and a slave." Because I'm sorry but for me to live in a that is ruled over by corporations, that is what we ALL are. SLAVES, remember that when you get up for work tomorrow morning.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      pburger- this sentence you wrote, concerning capitalism, "And yet the system of exploitation continues unabated". Just about every injustice I see with the "free"-market is done through government - tariffs, subsidies, price controls, army invasions of other countries that don't play by the rules, bailouts... amongst others.

      The simple fact is that, if government didn't do everything that the businesses wanted, businesses couldn't be blamed for the mistakes of the government. Every time i see someone mad at capitalist enterprises, the people are actually mad at government:

      "How dare we invade iraq for oil" - Halliburton doesn't own an army called "the US Army", the government does.

      "Why do we bail out companies that should just fail?" - again, the government took your money and then gave it to these companies.

      "Why don't companies just use sugar?" - the US government has atrocious tariffs on foreign sugar which almost triple the price.

      Every mistake you can point to in the "free"-market has the finger prints of government all over it.

      Also, your arguments about globalization are non-sense at best and outright lies at worst. No company has ever conquered another country. And, barring the very small minority of companies that forcibly extract money from people, the only way for a company to get money from a person is to SELL THAT PERSON SOMETHING THEY WANT!!! why is this bad in your eyes? why is selling "food" for "money" a bad thing? -- people get food this way!!! It's not evil!!! If you bring up "sweatshops", the people in the countries with sweat shops actually LIKE the sweatshops - they pay upwards of 10 times the normal salary and keep children out of prostitution!!

      Check this out:

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      TonyMac04 - Your comment had a few inconsistencies, contradictions, and incorrect premises.

      Capitalism was never "invented". Corporations and mills and industries were, but capitalism is simply the process of people being free to do with their own property as they wish. This is the (hopefully) natural state of man, it was never invented.

      I'm not sure your claim about "Big companies leads to lack of values". I would really like to see some sort of quantitative measurement of "values" and a historical graph of "the amount of values" people have over, say, a few hundred years before I'd believe what you are arguing. Values, i don't think, are empirical - if you could quantify them, then there would be one ultimate religion.

      And, also, your argument is flawed in that you see the world as "workers vs. capitalists". This is nonsense - they all rely on each other; the worker uses the capitalist and the capitalist uses the worker, to put it negatively. To put it in a positive way, they both rely on each other. The reason the capitalist pig gets more money is because he took all the risk and had the foresight to foresee the future needs of the economy.

      Your argument about the "inherent value" of things is complete nonsense. If an item has inherent value then water should cost trillions of dollars and diamonds should be worthless. The simple truth of the matter is that things are worth what other people are willing to pay for them - if you value diamonds at $50 a karat (or whatever) then that means you want the diamond more than $50. That's all that it means. Nothing more, nothing less. You're simply wrong on this point.

      I admit i was wrong on the quote - i'll change it. But I think that, indeed, capitalism is the best way to ensure that EVERYONE gets to fulfill both ends of the requirement. The simple fact is that no one needs a car, no one needs a microwave. All of these things are desires. Capitalism not only fulfills needs, but it ensures luxuries as well.

      Debating Socialism vs. capitalism is still very useful because so many people still think socialism works despite all the empirical evidence against it. Also, it's useful in that such debates help answer the questions posed by yourself amongst others.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      Jane Bovary - You've made your point, so have I. I will recap my own: The tobacco companies paid for their own research and were allowed to do with it what they wanted. It is certainly evil to deny facts (just ask the Catholic Church - ZING!), but the fact remains that they weren't the only ones doing the research and the public had access to the information.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Many people point to the failed social experiments of Soviet Russia and Cuba and even China, prior to Deng Shoa Ping's reforms. But we must never overlook the failure of the capitalist system to live-up to its rhetoric. How many people decry the inequalities inherent in capitalism? And yet the system of exploitation continues unabated. Globalization is a glorification of capitalist exploitation. The beauty of globalization is that the exploitation is exported - it is therefore a new form of the old imperialism. The conquering of new markets in foreign lands for the profit of the owners of investment capital.

      The lesson I learned from the last 100 years of social experiments was that rhetoric is the whore of anybody with the means to prostitute the language. Beware of all political rhetoric, and of all political movements; for they all rest on the the tactic of denouncing to promote somebody's agenda.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      One of the key things that socialism tried to rectify was the issue of alienation, which meant that workers were alienated from the product they produced. Before the advent of capitalism and the big producing corporations people worked at something they then sold themselves. The shoemaker made and sold shoes, the apothecary made and sold medicines, the farmer grew and sold food. They made all the dcecisions, took all the risks and the money they made in profit from their sales was theirs to keep.

      The avent of the big companies meant that people could no longer compete and had to go to work in factories to produce shoes and medicines, they had no rights over the products of their labour, including no right to a share in the profits except in the form of a wage.

      The result was the feeling of alienation. This is a potentially debilitating psychological condition which can lead to anomy, a total lack of values.

      The aim of socialism was to get control back into the hands of the workers by giving them "control of the means of production."

      Whether or not this is a successful solution is still open to debate. But I think that capitalism depends on keeping workers dissatisfied on the assumption that a satisfied worker will be less motivated to produce at such a pace that the company's profits will grow. Workers will always be left behind in the company's growth, and wealth is concentrated more and more in the hands of the owning classes. So the fruits of a person's work enriches someone else. This is manifestly unfair. How to solve this though is the question, of course.

      There is also the question of appropriate rewards. Think about a train driver who is responsible for the lives of the two or three hundren passengers on the train but gets paid less than a person who sells perfumes. Who is actually performing a more socially useful function?

      I think that finding solutions to these sorts of questions is more useful than debates about socialism versus capitalism. But I also think that Jane is right - capitalism is profit driven and will do what it can, even act in quite anti-social and immoral ways to protect profits.

      Lastly your quote "to each in accordance with his ability, and to each according to his needs" is wrong and actually is "from each in accordance with his ability, and to each according to his needs" which I think is a fine definition of justice.

      Love and peace


    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      Of course they weren't the first....the whole reason for the tobacco industries research was because they were already aware that connections were being made between lung cancer and smoking.The point is they *kept it to themselves* as did the asbestos industry...and in the case of tobacco they continued to deny the evidence for a long long time, even though they knew otherwise. Do you not find that fairly *evil*?

      Your whole argument about "choice" depends upon being informed . Yes, some people are still silly enough to take up smoking but there are far fewer smokers now than there were before public information campaigns., Why is that? Do you not think there would have been far fewer still if the tobacco companies had come clean much earlier?

      No-one chose asbestos products after the news was out did they? Yet there are still people dying horrible deaths today that, were it not for the secrecy of the industry, wouldn't be.

      If there was no wrongdoing how come the asbestos industry has had to fork out massive amounts of money in compensation? How come the tobacco companies have had to pay out over 200 billion dollars?

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      right, but the point is that they weren't the first, nor were they the only research done in the field of "health effects of tobacco".

      How can a tobacco company hide research when it is publicly published? My argument is simply that people don't care (at least, not all). People found that tobacco was bad for you (they published their work), then the tobacco companies did research as well (they kept theirs hidden)... and in the long run, a lot of people still smoke.

      Your argument is akin to saying that the tobacco company did ALL the research on the subject, and were the FIRST people to do the research, and then they proceeded to NOT publish their research at all (after all, there are always leaks from inside any organization. Best to be careful and not let anyone see or have recorded proof of the research).

      ... this is just nonsense. The research was out there and available to people, but people only started caring in the last 50 years or so.

      And even then, ... Many of my friends chose to smoke, knowing all of this, when they were teenagers. Mostly because it's cool (or whatever... don't ask me, I listened to the research and chose not to. I was the guy yanking smokes out of my friends' mouths and telling them about the health effects... THEY DIDN'T CARE. THEY JUST DIDN'T CARE.)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      Now you're making me laugh! The tobacco companies DID fund their own private research.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      I'm afraid that I'm just going to have to say that your argument is nonsense.

      In order for your accusation to be true, the tobacco/asbestos company would have had to start the research to see if the chemical in question was bad for the health. ... And I doubt that this would ever happen.

      Indeed, as this gentleman points out in his own research, two private gentlemen who had nothing to do with tobacco who first discovered the ill-effects of tobacco.

      So, logically, the tobacco companies couldn't cover it up. They simply didn't respond to the fact that... people... decided to smoke anyway...

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore


      That people still smoke them is not really the point. For a long time there was those who took it up without knowing the ill effects because the tobacco industry kept the information to themselves.

      Similiarly the asbestos industry [in Australia at lleast] knew this product was a killer long before government forced them to withdraw it.

      Why did these industries hide the facts and put people at risk? For profit.

      The truth eventually emerged and consumers could make an informed choice but in the meantime hundreds of thousands of people died because these industries chose not to release the research.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      Hey Jane,

      Let's discuss Tobacco: Now, even though they're practically outlawed, people still smoke them. And not just because they're addicted -- new kids every day pick up the smokes and start their life-long addiction. I fail to see how this is Tobacco's fault. I would say that the entire "tobacco-evilness" is more the fault of people not getting the research about lung cancer out to the public well enough.

      Asbestos industry? I'm unfamiliar with this one, except that I know that asbestos is a carcinogen. I'm pretty sure that once potential buyers hear that a product they want to use is a potential carcinogen, and there's a viable alternative, the change would happen without a government mandate. This argument is theoretical, but I'm sure it makes enough sense to be practical.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hello Evan,

      I can think of two examples of capitalist-related evil: the tobacco and asbestos industries. Government had to step in and regulate or the evil would have continued.

      Because capitalism is driven only by the pursuit of profit it has no regard for the human equation.

      I favour a kind of socialism 'lite'...capitalism with a little heart.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      The thing about all of these "socialist" countries is that they call themselves socialist, but are barely more socialist than America. I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but many of them only have about 40% of the economy controlled by the state. Which, if you think about taxes, isn't far removed from the US - usually people are paying around 30% federal income tax + all the other taxes out there.

      I must admit, I'm not well read on specific examples of Socialism, just the theory and idea of it. It just doesn't work without relying on capitalism.

      I posted a good argument against the "well, what about the definition of socialism being: the workers of a factory own the means of production of that factory?" in the forums, but i'll repost it here:

      Even if we use your definition of socialism: "workers directly own and control the means of production." We still run into contradictions.

      For example - if a worker directly owns and controls the means of production, and it takes some 100 people to produce steel for another group-of-workers-who-own-the-means-of-producing-railroads, then how are we to decide how much one of these individuals owns?

      Scenario 1:Does each worker own a certain part of the means of production? i.e., Does he own the smelt? the forge? the tongs? the safety goggles?

      Scenario 2: Does each worker equally own every single part of the means of production? I.e., they have to vote on how to operate the factory?

      Scenario 1 - how do we decide who owns what in the factory? via price? via first-come first-serve? How do we decide who owns the iron that comes into the plant on a daily basis? -- each day the raw materials would come in and each day the new materials would have to be dished out to the workers, and then each worker would have to agree to use their property to make the steel. It would be rather inefficient; and obviously this won't work - what if one guy decides to hold out, i.e.: i own the smelt, and so everyone has to sell me their first born daughter in order to use it!

      Scenario 2 - (the more likely one) - if everyone at the plant owns everything at the plant, then everyone would vote on how to use the factory. but this is in no way different than a stock-holders situation! I honestly fail to see how this is in any way different than having each workers' contract give them stock options in the company. If you own stock in a company, you are partial owner - thus you own the means of production.

      Since it's almost impossible to deny what i've just written (the stocks = ownership), you have to agree that a company operating in this fashion - selling stocks to workers in an equal way - fits perfectly with the definition of Capitalism!!!

      To illustrate this, let's say that I start a company making steel, and I invest $30k into the company. I can then, willingly and without being forced in anyway, hire 29 more people to work for me, and give us all (30) an equal share in the company. This can happen under capitalism - it just doesn't because no one would risk their own money just to let some other people decide how to spend it!

      "BUT!", you protest, "the reason why this never happens is because private investment is evil!". OK, i'll admit: if we really just want to give the workers control over the company, no matter the cost or morality, we can force the people to invest their money. This means taxes - if you force someone to spend their money in a way they don't want, it is a tax! This means that we now need to have a government. This means that we now have to establish a police to make sure people aren't secretly investing their money for their own benefit.

      ... And this leads us to the Princeton definition, the one that you are at all costs trying to avoid: that Socialism is the governmental ownership of the means of production

      In order to ensure that people have equal control over the means of production of an industry, we have to force the people to give up their own money. The only way to force people to do something is if we develop a military, and tell them that if they don't they either have to go elsewhere, or go to jail, or be shot.

      Your definition - the one that doesn't require governmental control or totalitarianism - either leads to crazy consequences (one guy owning the forge, the other owning the hammer, and another owning one day's worth of raw materials and another the next), total governmental control over the economy, or Capitalism.

      You simply have to accept this.

    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 

      9 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Here's a question: would you consider, say, Norway, to be a socialist country?

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent points - sadly half the people don't want to take responsibility half do, though I think those numbers are askew. You are write it is not a science - an art that can be manipulated to whatever the current wanters mindset is.

    • Evan G Rogers profile imageAUTHOR

      Evan G Rogers 

      9 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

      The simple fact that socialism still prevails is proof that economics can NOT be a science - hundreds of thousands dead, poverty en masse... but it can still work!! ...

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      9 years ago

      Your article is so well written and of course sensible. I also liked hearing about some of the arguments from those in favor of socialism. Don't they learn from history? To do the same thing and expect a different outcome is insanity.


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