By: Valerie Torrealba Period 3
In “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” by Karl Marx, Marx attacks the capitalist system that that had begun to take over the market with the industrial revolution, and calls for a radical rebellion against this system, where there is complete abolition of private property, which is what the capitalist system runs on (1). On the other hand, “Liberty and Property” by Ludwig von Mises, attacks the communist regime, calling for a complete rejection of the ideals that Marx proposes (2). While the communists believe that the government should oversee all operations within a society, von Mises calls for a laissez- faire system, where the government exists only to keep peace among citizens, and has little influence on the economy. Both fall on extreme ends of the economic spectrum, but do they work? While both of these theories appear practical on paper, both cause problems in practice, and therefore, countries should stray away from extremes, finding a balance that works for the nature of their society and the current economic situation.
In countries that have completely adopted communist ideals, many problems have arisen, and continue to arise, due to the economic system in place. North Korea is probably one of, if not the most prominent communist country, and many of its citizens have suffered because of the extreme policies. Rather than creating equality for all and abolishing class, dictators such as Kim il Sung and Kim Jong Il helped create dictatorships that control all aspects of their citizens lives. In an attempt to create an equal society by having the government oversee all operations, the citizens are stripped of their freedom. According to “Victims of Communism” by the Memorial Foundation, “between failed economic policies, diversion of international food assistance, and a vast network of political prison camps, Kim Jong-il killed millions of Koreans.” To maintain the communist regime in power within their country, they use brainwashing, isolation, an extreme classification system, along with political prison camps to keep order and conformity (3). North Korea is just one example of where communism has proven inefficient and dangerous for society.
On the other hand, however, an extreme laissez-faire approach to economics has proven to have its flaws as well. For example, in the 1920’s in the United States, the government followed a very laissez- faire approach to economics. This worked for a while, as shown through the extreme wealth and prosperity (for a select few) in the United States. However, due to the lack of government regulation, things spiraled out of control and people were unprotected for the backlash that followed. Though it may not have directly caused the Great Depression, it did not help alleviate the stress and turmoil caused by this economic tragedy (5). Furthermore, as Marx pointed out in the communist manifesto, there is a large gap between the rich and the poor in a capitalist country. According to CNN Money, the top 1% in the United States makes about $1.3 million a year, while the bottom 50% makes about $16,000 a year (4). A gap this wide indicates a pretty significant flaw that capitalism has. Though it may not be easy, and it could take a while for people to grow accustomed to the idea, it is best to find a balance between the two economic systems.
1- Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist manifesto. United States: Publisher not identified, 2017.
2- Mises, Ludwig Von. Two essays by Ludwig von Mises: Liberty and property ; Middle-of-the-road policy leads to socialism. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn University, 1991.
3- “Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation.” Victims of Communism North Korea Under Communism 19482014 Comments. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://victimsofcommunism.org/north-korea-under-communism-1948-2014/.
4 – The Gap between the, and “have Nots” Is Widening. “U.S. inequality keeps getting uglier.” CNNMoney. Accessed May 01, 2017. http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/22/news/economy/us-inequality-worse/.
5- Amadeo, Kimberly. “What Happened During the Great Depression of 1929?” The Balance. Accessed May 01, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/the-great-depression-of-1929-3306033.