Getting controversial on Episode #11 as we dip our toes into the debate on capitalism vs socialism. This is a topic we’ve been wanting to discuss for a while now; it’s an incredibly important aspect affecting all of our lives on a day to day basis, but very rarely have we stopped to consider what it actually means and how we might be able to make it better for everyone on average. There are a whole lot of rabbit holes we could go down on this topic, but we’ve tried our best to stay somewhat clear on our goal of introducing the arguments for and against.
It’s clear that we both lean much more heavily towards socialist policies, but we’ve tried to show that there are arguments both for and against both sides. I’m sure this will be a subject we expand upon in future episodes, but for now, enjoy. Let us know if you agree with what we’re saying, if you want to know more about something in particular, or if you think we’ve got it completely wrong. Cheers!
Why are we discussing this topic, and why now?
Around the world, more and more, politics is seeing a trend towards capitalism vs socialism as the main differentiator of choice. The US election is showcasing the debate in real time with Trump representing a largely capitalist mindset, and either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden representing a more socialist ideology. The Coronavirus (CORVID-19) has brought to the forefront of people’s minds, the failing of our current societal structure, and are looking for other options as to how we might be able to improve the world we live in.
Firstly, we want to state that our bias leans towards socialism, but we have a desire to present an unbiased overview throughout this podcast. We urge you to get in touch with us if you have differing opinions, and also please do let us know if we’ve misrepresented one side, or have stated something in error.
Define what we mean by capitalism and what we mean by socialism
We are largely focusing on the principles defining each ideology. We don’t want to get bogged down in the specifics of how either has been implemented in the past. We will touch on this point later when discussing why communism countries haven’t worked, but socialists principles can still be beneficial.
This link provides a breakdown of the differences between Capitalism and Socialism across a few general concepts including economic system, approach to ownership and government intervention, as well as freedom of choice.
Difference between communism and socialism – this is important!!
“Communism is a political system, socialism is primarily an economic system which can exist in various forms under a wide range of political systems.” Communism vs Socialism – Difference and Comparison
A true communist society, which is stateless, classless and governed directly by the people has never been achieved. In practice, they have been totalitarian in nature, with a central party governing society. (Most of the arguments against communism stem from this point – we don’t know if true communism would work, it sounds amazing, but technology and more importantly, society, haven’t reached a point where this could be tested; totalitarianism is generally accepted to be negative)
Very confusing in general, as perception is often aimed at certain aspects of both without considering for the political spectrum.
Semantic bait and switch! – The use of certain language, particularly by media outlets like Fox News, to misrepresent socialism by associating it purely with communism. As we’ve mentioned, communism is an extreme version of socialism, which we agree doesn’t work.
Anyone can be rich
The only way to get more resources after a certain extent is to provide incentive for productivity
The argument is that inequality is the driving force that encourages innovation, which then pushes economic development.
Capitalism works incredibly well for someone with money, and when times are good. In times when things aren’t going great, capitalism turns it’s back on you. Eg. Corvid-19, coronavirus, capitalism doesn’t provide a mean for protecting those affected by something out of their control. Capitalism doesn’t provide employment insurance, free healthcare etc.
Question the underlying premise of capitalism that people are inherently lazy and require incentive to work
Is money the greatest incentive? Capitalism thinks so. Socialism cuts people’s motivation to succeed (when you know that if you work harder than everyone else but you are rewarded the same, it really doesn’t inspire people to do more – I don’t agree with this statement as it relates to both equally).
Workers owning the means of production vs the company owning the production, so they can still operate in a free market
Main disadvantage of socialism:
“Socialism has hardly ever been successfully demonstrated, and never on a large scale. Human nature tends away from egalitarian sharing and toward private ownership. This foible will never change.” – Communism vs Socialism – Difference and Comparison
Here we have the crux of the argument, does human nature tend away from egalitarian sharing, and will it never change? Does the evolution of our human intelligence not stem from cooperation and communication between strangers? Could be argued it was an our tribe vs their tribe situation (which is still prevalent today with the rise of nationalism) but this then relates to Noah Hurari’s argument about a collective story. “The only human nature is that there is no human nature; it can be demonstrated that humans are mostly only as violent, oppressive, and self-serving as the conditions in which they live and have created them to be” – Comment on Reddit
Interesting analogy: “Socialism is a non-profit system in which people pay only for the cost of something, without paying extra to enrich a shareholder who didn’t actually do any work. Imagine replacing corporations with nonprofit cooperatives. The workers benefit, because they keep the money they receive for their labor. The consumers benefit, because they get things at cost. We already do this for certain services, like public roads, police and fire departments, libraries, and public parks. Socialism is compatible with democracy and freedom.” – Comment section of Communism vs Socialism link
Socialism makes people selfish
Socialism is all about lack of freedom of choice
Beyond this, there is almost no government funded program currently in the use that isn’t failing utterly, or that isn’t in massive amounts of debt.
But socialism has failed in these countries!
“Don’t be fooled. All Venezuela demonstrates is that if you leave implementation to the very worst, most anti-intellectual, callous, authoritarian and criminal people in society, socialism can have genuinely horrendous consequences. But couldn’t the same be said of every ideology?”
Where does this entire argument fall short?
With the rise of technology, labor is becoming replaced in a much larger part by machines, and programs. Capitalism’s main selling point is that the more efficiently you work, the more you should be entitled to earn. What happens then when your competitor has more money than you for some reason, so imbalance in the playing field, and can afford to replace workers with machines, thereby increasing his productivity tenfold?
So what do we think is the best case scenario then? And what is a more realistic scenario?
The only thing that isn’t controversial, that we can say for sure, is that neither works in the extreme. Unfortunately, socialism is often looked down upon for the failings of extreme versions which have been implemented by dictators throughout history, whereas people seem unwilling to see that capitalism is largely becoming more and more extreme around the world. A mixed economy where socialist principles are adopted on a larger scale within a capitalist marketplace, is the most realistic approach to finding a middle ground at the current time.
Removing the desire for wealth accumulation, and implementing a triple bottom line where social outcomes are considered equal with economic outcomes is the best way forward.
Mixed Economy: Mixed economy