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Monday, 6 February 2017

Capitalism vs Socialism

The reason this is called ‘Capitalism vs Socialism’ and not ‘Capitalism vs Communism’ is that in practice socialism and communism are not the same (although originally Marx and Lenin used the terms interchangeably). I feel like this is a bit of a cop-out in a way, like ‘COMMUNISM IS EVIL!’ but socialism is fine. From a practical outlook, communism is everything being owned and controlled and regulated by the state, and the one-party state dictating what jobs everyone does. You end up with two classes; the proletariat and the bureaucrats rather than the proletariat and the bourgeois.

Socialism is technically the same thing, but in practice social democratic countries like Norway, Switzerland and Finland (and even the UK in parts) have a mixed economy of some businesses being owned by the state and some being owned privately; free healthcare, free education, secular democracy, benefits to help out the poor, and the majority of people being middle class with some in the wealthy bracket and some in the working class bracket, and then a few homeless people. Socialism in the 20th century was named as a middle ground between capitalism and communism, despite the fact that Marx and Lenin viewed socialism and communism as the same thing.

In my opinion this is the best system, but this isn’t actually ‘pure’ Marxist revolutionary socialism or communism, this is welfare capitalism or social democracy. In a socialist/communist society people wouldn’t be able to own their own businesses or work for themselves, and the state would interfere with everyone’s lives. (Note: this is a very simplistic watered-down explanation and I’m not an expert on political systems).

There are few countries in the world nowadays that follow ‘pure’ versions of communism or ‘pure’ versions of capitalism. Communism in practice has proven to be terrible; no one should have their individuality taken away. Free market ‘pure’ capitalism in practice is also terrible. Capitalism sells the idea that anyone can work hard and get to the top, but what happens is a few sit at the top; the wealthy elite, and sure they create jobs for everyone else, but they can then exploit the workers by paying them little and making them work long hours. There are no state benefits to help the poor so you end up with a few at the top and the rest stuck at the bottom being owned by the top. Sounds a lot like communism, weirdly enough! In fact, Hitler and Stalin both claimed to be socialists, but in practice they were fascists. It’s as if humans will take any ideology to the extreme in order to manipulate the masses...

I believe that everyone should work unless they can’t; I believe that everyone deserves free healthcare and free education. And don’t give me that ‘but if everyone went to university it would mean fuck all’ crap, because not everyone wants to go to university anyway. Besides, to quote a friend of mine, if everyone went to uni we’d just have a more intelligent society. How is that a bad thing? Knowledge shouldn’t be only made accessible to those who make lots of money.

If you earn £20,000 a year you’ll pay less tax, your kids will get a higher student loan, and your rent will be cheaper. If you earn £200,000 a year you’ll pay more tax, your kids will get a smaller student loan, and your mortgage will be pricier. It's all relative. Social democracy allows everyone to have equal chances, rather than only the wealthy profiting off everyone else.

In an ideal world no one would be homeless or poor; everyone would be comfortable and some people would just be more comfortable/more rich because they are simply better skilled or harder working. The problem with communism is that it doesn’t reward hard work. If you work harder than the person next to you, you both make the same. That’s like five people doing a class project together; one person doing all the work and everyone getting A’s.

But the problem with capitalism is that it only allows a small percentage of the population to live comfortably. Before the welfare state in Britain was introduced, life would have been awful for millions. No one should have to pay for healthcare; we’re all humans and we’re all going to die and we can all catch the same diseases. Likewise, no one should have to pay for education. Plus the poorest countries in the world tend to be the ones where people are less educated.

The UK and definitely the US need to look to the Nordic Model for a wholesome way to live. Bernie Sanders was all set to do this in America, but sadly Trump got in the way. As for Britain, the Labour and Conservative parties are practically the same; the Greens are the ones who follow a more social democratic/welfare capitalist/etc etc model. I believe that investing money into welfare, healthcare, education and businesses rather than pumping money into the military and all these awful wars is the way forward. Evolution is better than revolution.

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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