Communism and capitalism are two radically different forms of government which both aim to provide the best life for the citizens under its control. An important characteristic of communism is its aim to make sure that every citizen plays an equal role and gets an equal share of the community’s profit. Under capitalism, all citizens are given the opportunity to succeed, but individual motivation and skill is required. Since money is one of the most essential measurements of success and stability, the two forms of government have their own planned approaches to dealing with employment, trade, and spread of wealth. Communism is a form of socialism or Marxism, first proposed by Karl Marx in the mid-19th century.
In the Communist planned economy, the government determines what is to be produced and regulates prices and trade. The citizens follow the government’s plans and play an equal part in producing the goods. The goods are distributed amongst the workers so that everyone gets an equal share. In theory, everyone is contributing an equal part and receives an equal share of the produce, and therefore class differences are eliminated. Everyone, no matter how big or small the role, is ensured to have enough food and other necessities to live.
Communism must therefore run on the principal of sacrifice and cooperation, trusting that each person will do his or her job to help the entire community. Historically, however, there have been many failed attempts at creating a stable communist government. In 1931, Joseph Stalin attempted to catch up to Western Europe, which he felt was a century ahead of his Soviet Union. Also, communism allowed Stalin to avoid relations with neighboring nations, whom he had just fought in WWI, by keeping his country self-sufficient. His first approach was to convert the small farms to state-run agricultural facilities, in order to provide enough food for the entire nation.
To do so he had to go against the peasant class which ran these farms. Although he managed to move most of the peasants to collective farms, many destroyed their agriculture in protest, and millions of citizens starved. For his country’s industry, Stalin set up what was known as the “Five Year Plan”. A board would set up a target goal for each company, now all state-owned, and the company would have to meet that target in production within five years. Failed attempts to do so could result in imprisonment in work camps or even execution. Quickly, care for quality products diminished, and production rose by thousands of percents. So much attention was being paid to improving the nation’s industry that necessary items were being under-produced.
While average income rose, and the Soviet Union found itself quickly catching up in European industry, we still see today the great poverty that communism often brings to its citizens. Poverty is one of the greatest downfalls of failed communism. While ideally, all the citizens are working together and sharing equal wealth, in actuality the deindividualization that the government enforces destroys work ethic and motivation. The results are low morale, unproductive workers, and low quality goods. Citizens of a communist nation see no personal gratification in working for the community, as their hard work yields the same rewards as a neighbor’s laziness. This apathetic attitude often spirals into a failed economy.
Capitalism is seen as the opposite of statist governments, including communism. It runs on personal achievement and gratification. Workers strive to succeed and produce quality products because they know that in return they will often reach financial success. In capitalist societies like America, there is a promise that hard work will bring even the poorest family to the top class. Indeed, dedication and skill is the most straight path to riches, and this incentive keeps the wheels of the country’s economy running.
In a capitalist free market, industries and privately owned, allowing for competition and a higher quality product. In laissez-faire capitalism, another name for the system, the government has virtually no impact on the economy, save for a few wage laws to ensure some amount of financial security for under skilled workers. While we run parallel to some capitalist ideas, America is not a true capitalism. We have some programs that are considered socialist, a cousin of communism, such as public education and the federal banking system. A true capitalist market, for example, is Hong Kong, where the government has virtually no role in the economy.
In Hong Kong, international trade is relatively untouched by regulations, and private banks share the same rights as international banks. Capitalism, while theoretically a system of hope and prospective prosperity for all peoples, has as many downfalls as any other economic system. Although the opportunity is there, and many citizens are a few generations away from ancestors who lived in poverty, not everyone has the means to rise up the social class ladder. While post secondary education is required in a majority of the work fields, it is expensive, and many citizens have little access to it. Also, an economy with little or no governmental regulations will eventually fall to rising inflation, unemployment, and low wages.
This is why many economies, like our own, work together with the government in order to maintain some degree of financial security for the nation as a whole. The major differences between communism and capitalism seem to be the levels of government interaction with the economy and market. While the two seem opposite in policy, history has shown few success stories with total communist or capitalist societies. Many governments who name themselves as one or another are using a mixture of policies from both approaches, trying to find a combination that pleases the people while stabilizing the nation’s financial security. Long gone are the days of the Red Scare, and now nations across the world are learning that strict forms of economic plans, while theoretically sound, do not necessarily work when put under action.
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