Communism vs. Capitalism

Hope Corbin

The animosity between communists and capitalists has been a struggle seen throughout the ages—in politics with the Cold War “fought” between Russia and the United States, in the entertainment industry with movies like Red Dawn, Rocky IV and Top Gun, and even in things as trivial as sports with the 1980 Winter Olympics hockey game, otherwise known as the “Miracle on Ice”. There are many differences in the ideas that lie behind communism and capitalism, but the concept of allowing private property yields a completely opposite response from the two political systems. Marx defines bourgeois private property as “the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few”.[1] However, Marx fails to address that private property is, as Mises would describe it, “a social function,” which, if not in existence, wouldn’t allow “pioneers of new ways of thinking and acting” to work “only because private property made contempt of the majority’s ways possible”.[2]

Although there are problems that coincide with owning private property in capitalist countries, specifically in the United States, such as buying property in states with high property taxes, a tax on the value of the property/land you own—Texas being one of the worst states for property taxes, paying 1.90 percent[3]—as well as buying property without understanding the mineral rights—the right of the owner to explore, develop, and extract the resources that may be found in the earth under surface of land bought[4]—private property is “necessary for the carrying on of human existence” [5] and it is “the means that assigns to the common man, in his capacity as a buyer, supremacy in all economic affairs. It is the means to stimulate a nation’s most enterprising men to exert themselves to the best of their abilities in the service of all of the people”.[6] Despite the church stating that “man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all,” it must be recognized that the church also says “no one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs…nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, ‘for no one ought to live other than becomingly.’ But, when what necessity demands has been supplied…it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over”.[7] Marx argues that in a capitalistic society “private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths”[8] because he believes that private property is only attainable to the bourgeois, but according to Mises, “the social order that in abolishing private property deprives the consumers of their autonomy and independence, could not win the support of the masses if they were not to camouflage its main character. The socialists would have never duped the voters if they had openly told them that their ultimate end is to cast them into bondage.” [9]

Hostility amongst communists and capitalists still remains present in today’s society, however the US has come a long way since the days of the Red Scare. Marx followers will still vouch for the termination of private property while capitalists hold onto their right to own it. Private property allows people to create new ways of production and new ways of working stimulating the economy and creating wealth and prosperity.

Picture citation.[10]


[1] Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party, 51.

[2] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty and Property, 59.

[3] Ross, Sean. “How Are Capitalism and Private Property Related?” Investopedia. April 6, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2016.

[4] “Mineral Rights vs. Property Rights: Are You Sitting on a Gold Mine?” Courthouse Direct. May 3, 2013. Accessed December 3, 2016.

[5] Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor, May 15, 1891, 72.

[6] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty and Property, 63.

[7] Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 72.

[8] Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party, 53.

[9] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty and Property, 60.

[10] Digital image. Reference. Accessed December 5, 2016.



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