Political Ideologies: Capitalism vs. Socialism Essay
Inthe contemporary times, two dominant ways of life reign humanity. These two ways of life have gradually degenerated into two ideologies, viz. the Western capitalism and the Eastern socialism. Most of the Western countries embrace capitalism, which reflects liberalism, competition, and unrestrained freedom (Pejovich 71).
The states promote a competitive economic environment where individuals strive to enrich themselves. On the other hand, most of the Eastern countries embrace socialism, which challenges people’s freedom. The countries advocate for an environment where the government has full control over economic resources. In both cases, humankind is ignored as a personality, and the society is disregarded.
These two systems of political and social ideologies manifest themselves in the community. Capitalism dominates the western countries with its headquarters being the United States, while socialism dominates most of the former Soviet States and the majority of states in the Far East (Pejovich 72-75). This paper aims at comparing and contrasting the two political ideologies.
History of Capitalism and socialism
In 1700s, it was cheap and easy to produce many goods at one place due to the notion of the economies of scale. Moreover, significant changes in agriculture like enclosure of lands that were once owned communally and crop rotation made it possible for landowners to accumulate stupendous wealth.
Property owners later invested in novel industries. This initial accumulation of wealth at the expense of the society marked the onset of capitalism. It displaced numerous people from their lands thus creating poverty (Pejovich 77-84). In Europe, the European capitalists perpetuated capitalism through their search for silver and gold, which they used as a form of wealth storage.
Some of the elites resisted the move to capitalism, but state laws, which promoted capitalism and harshly punished those opposed to it, suppressed any resistance. Stealing a handkerchief belonging to a “gentleman” amounted to execution upon conviction. This epoch marked the beginning of capitalist imperialism.
On the other hand, industrial revolution led to the emergence of socialism. As capitalists continued accumulating wealth through industrialization, some elites realized that the capitalists violated a number of workers’ rights. Consequently, they came up with ways through which they could help workers to overcome oppression from capitalists.
Individuals fighting for socialism called for the state to own and control the economy rather than allowing few individuals to have control of the crucial economic resources (Pejovich 86-93). Proponents of socialism blamed capitalism for the prevailing poverty, and thus advocated for policies like egalitarian allocation of wealth and conversion of populations into numerous communities to do away with private property.
Capitalism and socialism view of freedom
The triadic model views freedom as comprising of three variables, viz. a constraint variable, agent variable, and outcome variable. Max Weber posits that capitalism entails accrual of wealth by a few individuals (Galbraith 67). Consequently, capitalists view freedom in the sense of being in a position to accumulate wealth without external interference.
Capitalists or individuals supporting capitalistic ideologies act as agents, while the society or individuals opposed to capitalism stand out as constraints. Capitalism views the accumulated wealth as the outcome variable. The three elements play a significant role in ensuring the success of capitalism. Whenever capitalists accumulate wealth, they consider themselves free.
Proponents of capitalism derive the meaning of life from its ideologies. For them, life would be meaningless without wealth and property. Besides, they use it as a criterion for evaluating what is good and bad (Galbraith 73). Capitalists find communal property ownership as one of the ways that promote indolence in society. Hence, they term it awful.
They view capitalism as the ultimate way of encouraging creativity and innovativeness in the society as people compete to accumulate wealth. The fact that capitalism promotes competitiveness makes its proponents view it as the ultimate way of promoting freedom in a liberal society. Capitalism offers an identity to its proponents. Capitalists feel associated to a particular group, which acts as their identity.
People feel happy and free when associated with a particular group. The same applies to capitalists. Freedom comes when an individual can come up with a set of activities to undertake in life. Proponents of capitalism have the ultimate goal of accumulating as much wealth as they can; hence, capitalism helps them in developing a program to follow in order to achieve their dreams.
Conversely, socialism believes in centralized control of the national economy and abolition of private property (Galbraith 79). For socialists, they perceive freedom in the sense of owning property communally, thus being in a position to acquire or use any asset whenever there is a need. Socialism perceives economy as the agent of freedom while the major constraint lies in establishing ways through which the public can own the national economy.
The achievement or outcome variable in socialism is the ability to abolish private ownership of property and accumulate wealth on a communal basis. Hence, socialism views freedom as the ability to do away with individual property ownership and embrace communal property ownership.
Capitalism was associated with oppression of the poor by the rich individuals. Hence, most of the poor people found life to be a worthless venture for they had nothing to enjoy in life (Galbraith 84). In a bid to overcome this feeling, people had to look for a way that would set them free and give them a new meaning to life. Socialism turned out to be the most appropriate way since it promoted communal property ownership, thus implying that all people had equal rights to all properties.
Furthermore, socialism offered the society a platform for assessing the right and wrong social practices. For instance, socialists perceived capitalism as an unethical practice since it promoted unhealthy competition thus leading to disunity in the society. Individuals supporting socialism viewed it as the ultimate source of their identity.
They venerated the culture of communal property ownership and wished to associate with it. An ideology helps in giving its supporters a series of actions to undertake and this element applies in socialism. It helps its proponents in coming up with a set of projects that can promote social ties amongst themselves.
Impact of capitalism and socialism on global political climate
Currently, capitalism is gradually becoming one of the resurgent powers. According to Dumenil and Levy (78-83), the world is encountering the emergence of a new class of capitalists.
Currently, economies of most nations are drifting towards a novel and deep-rooted class of inequality. Capitalism has not only affected the global political economy, but also the global political consciousness. Currently, countries are tolerant to inequality than ever before. In addition, the workplace culture has become parallel to neo-feudalism (Harvey 80).
On the other hand, socialism has had a significant effect on global politics. After nations realized that it was hard to achieve environmental conservation goals in a capitalistic regime, they embarked on political ideology dubbed eco-socialism. The ideology seeks to bring together all stakeholders to work as a group towards embracing environmental conservation policies.
According to Ma (341-342), states can achieve environmental conservation goals by changing from capitalists to welfarist states. Currently, most of the Asian countries are establishing self-governing systems of alliances to create ecological democracies beyond what is established by their states. For instance, India has come up with an eco-socialist movement that works under the guidelines of social justice.
Currently, different nations embrace one of the two distinct and opposing ways of life. While the majority of Western countries embrace capitalism, some of the Eastern countries continue exercising socialism. Capitalism emerged because of people’s undying desire become affluent.
On the other hand, socialism emerged during the epoch of the industrial revolution as a means to counter the oppression perpetrated by the rich on the disadvantaged. The two political ideologies have different perceptions about freedom. Capitalism views freedom in terms of wealth accumulation. They believe that wealth accumulation allows an individual to assume a particular identity. On the other hand, socialists perceive freedom in terms of having control over national economic wealth.
Socialists believe that people can only be free if they have the liberty to use national economic resources without restrictions. Currently, capitalism is gradually eroding the global political consciousness leading to the emergence of a class of inequality. On the other hand, socialism is leading to the establishment of eco-socialism as a policy for attaining environmental conservation.
Dumenil, Gerard, and Dominique Levy. Capital Resurgent: Roots of the Neoliberal Revolution. New York: Harvard University Press, 2004. Print.
Galbraith, James. Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay. New York: The Free Press, 1998. Print.
Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Ma, Zhijuan. “Eco-socialism as politics: rebuilding the basis of our modern civilization.” Environmental Politics 21.2 (2012): 341-342. Print.
Pejovich, Svetozar. “Capitalism and Socialism.” International Studies in Economics and Econometrics 33.2 (1998): 71-93. Print.
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