Sara A. Period 2 Honorbound
Communism is bad. Capitalism is good. Those are phrases that are engraved in most people that live in countries that are capitalist or democratic. Since communism’s introduction and rise, especially during the cold war, the way most Americans have learned to differentiate communism and capitalism has became simply to label communism as bad and capitalism as good. Interestingly enough though, when I stopped five people in the street to ask them what is better -capitalism or communism- four out of five people responded that capitalism is better. When I asked why communism isn’t better, the reply was “communism is bad.” it became obvious that many people did not know what communism and capitalism are.
Before deciding if there is a third way, that is neither capitalist nor communist, two questions must be answered. The first question, what is communism?
In his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx’s definition calls for revolution against the bourgeoisie by the proletariat for the ultimate end of having an un-governed and classless society. China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam are the countries that identify themselves as communist today. However, they do not necessarily fit into Karl Marx’s definition of not having a government or social classes.
Another social and economic system that also needs need to be discusses is socialism, which is characterized by belief of social ownership. It is a system that varies greatly and can have different levels of social ownership at different level. It shares the similarity with communism of equity in social ownership.
Now the second question, what is capitalism?
Robert T. Miller describes capitalism in Catholic Moral Doctrine and Capitalism as having three main components; “a) clearly defined and protected rights, b) broad freedom of contract, and c) little intervention from the government.” Most of the countries that use this system are the ones that have more liberal beliefs when it comes to the freedom of the people and the individual. In the United States, part of what makes it such an appealing country, is the freedom to start, own and run a private business. The economy of the United States is primarily run by the private sector. The government’s involvement is limited and only in crucial situations there is intervention needed. Robert T. Thomas explains capitalist feelings about government intervention as, “beyond situations involving public goods or significant externalities, capitalists are rightly skeptical about government interventions in the market.” However, just like with any other economic system there is a downside to capitalism and that is the separation that is created by socioeconomic classes. The higher class will be composed of powerful and wealthy CEO’s of companies in the private sector while the lower socioeconomic class struggles to find stable and high paying jobs.
Thinking about the definitions that have been given of both a capitalist and a communist system the question remains. Can there be a third way for society that is neither capitalist nor communist?
Perfection is not possible hence the perfect society does not exist. However, if it were to exist, it would be counterproductive to our final end which according to Aristotle, is happiness. Thus, the way to reach happiness is by being able to use our reason and talents to our fullest potential. Some members of society often make the mistake of believing that in order to be happy society must reach a perfect economic system that will satisfy the economic and emotional needs of all the people in world. However, the closest we can get to a perfect society is a society where all people are able to receive what they Robert T. Miller described the economic system that we want as, “[an] economic system that generate[s] and distribute[s] resources in a way that maximizes the long-run probability that all members of society have enough goods and services to lead decent lives,” in Catholic Moral Doctrine and Capitalism.
However, in the same way in which there cannot be 0% unemployment in our economy because inflation must be controlled, there shouldn’t be a system that strives to eliminate all poverty and establishes equality for all humans in this society. Taking into consideration Aristotle’s definition of happiness- being able to live a life physical and mental well being and having the opportunity to use our reason to our potential-if we were to find the perfect economic system, what then? Everyone would have everything they need and that balance would need to be sustained, therefore, labor mobility or growth would not be possible. Someone who has a passion for making shoes would not be able to start a new business because it would unstabalize society. That person’s ambition or creativity would be stamped and therefore happiness would not be sustained. As human beings, some of us have strong ambitions and desires. There are others that have less ambitions and drive, therefore, there can’t be equality in a world with people that have different needs and different desires. There will always be some whose potential is being contained and there will be others who would be lazy or afraid and not live life to their fullest.
The answer to the question is both yes and no. If we look at the society of the United States we would see that it is a mixture of capitalism and socialism which thus makes it a form of communism. The United States, like many other countries, is very capitalism friendly. When we look at it carefully we realize that it makes sense because of the American views. As free people we would want the opportunity to be able to work hard and receive a just reward for that work. However, just recently President Obama passed a healthcare plan that has been labeled as socialist. Not only the healthcare policy, but even public education in the United States is a socialist policy. Currently, in the white house and the senate and congress there is a lot of talk over the fiscal cliff. In order to prevent it, the government is going to intervene in a heavy manner. Another example that contradicts capitalism is the financial aid the government gave the auto industry in order for it to be able to get back into business. The strongest of all examples would ultimately be the kind of power that monetary policy and the Federal Reserve can have on the economy. Control is taken away from the private sector and given to the government and Federal Reserve. From all of the examples above, it is clear that the government’s intervention in the United States is a lot more prevalent than most capitalist economist would believe necessary. Pure capitalism does not exist in the United States, and if it were to, it would not be successful. Taking into consideration the economic crisis in present day, the country needs government intervention to prevent a depression.
Since there hasn’t been a pure communist system that has been able to survive living to the full extent of a communist country and most capitalist countries have a fusion of socialism, which also include components of communism, there can be a third form of government . When we look at distributism and socialism they are both smaller different forms of social systems.. Hence, communism and capitalism at their purest are extreme and it would be extremely complicated to make it work and achieve a perfect society .Communism and Capitalism are the main society systems but not the only ones. One very common system that is used very often is a hybrid mixture of both.
However, when we take a look at the system of the United States there is a mixture of both societies that has proven to be effective. Therefore, we could potentially say that a third society already exists. It exists in all the countries that have universal healthcare or universal education but have policies that restrict the government intervention in the economy and promote the development of the private sector. It is a hybrid society.
In the United States Aristotle’s belief of reaching our final end can be achieved. What makes America so appealing is the “American Dream”. The reason that the American dream exist is both because of socialist and capitalist beliefs and views. Maybe a mixture of both societies is what will get countries closer to achieve happiness for most people.
The key to creating a as near to a perfect society as possible is to find the correct dosage for each country. In other words, finding a balance of capitalism and communism, and taking into consideration that that balance might change over time or due to specific situations like an economic down turn, a significant growth of people living in poverty, or an increase in the population.
“Manifestoof the Communist Party.” THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.
“On Truth and Trade: Economics and the Catholic Vision of the Good Life.” Dappled Things. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.
“The Road Not Taken / El Camino Menos Transitado.” Paulo Coelhos Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.