Capitalism and Communism

Capitalism and Communism

The purpose of this research is to examine capitalism and communism, with a view toward offering a comparison and contrast to these two economic and philosophical systems. The plan of the research will be to set forth a working definition of the key concepts to be examined, to provide a frame of investigative reference in which the comparison may occur, and then to discuss in detail the record and features of each system that illustrate differences, similarities, and as it were their pros and cons.

For purposes of discussion, working definitions of communism and capitalism are required. The basis of communism is economic. The encyclopedic definition of communism identifies it as a “form of collectivist social economy in which the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by the community . . . Until the ultimate stages . . . communism involves various degrees of abolition of private property” (“Communism” 358). As a practical matter, countries in which communism has been adopted as the prevailing economic system, the means of production and distribution have been and are officially controlled by the state. The encyclopedic definition of capitalism (or free enterprise system) is almost its antithesis, inasmuch as “its most distinctive single feature is private ownership of most capital [i.e., wealth used to create more wealth], particularly the factories and other industrial production facilities (i.e., means of production)” (“Capitalism” 129). Curiously, although Adam Smith and David Ricardo, two eighteenth-century British commentators, were among the first to study capitalism systematically, it remained for the anti-capitalist nineteenth-century German expatriate living in England, Karl Marx, to designate the term as it is now commonly understood.

The definitions seem simple enough, but in a larger sense they are complicated by an almost anarchic assortment of philosophies, opinions, and histories….

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