Is socialism better for human welfare than capitalism?


Fact Box

  • Socialism is defined as “various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods;” or in simpler terms, a societal system where groups retain no private property and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. Socialism transitions a capitalist society into a communist one.  
  • Capitalism is defined as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” 
  • Soviet Union leader (1917-1924) Vladimir Lenin stated, “The goal of socialism is communism.” 
  • Socialist philosophers/leaders, apart from Karl Marx and Lenin, include Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, and in more recent decades, dictatorial leaders Mao Zedong, Caesar Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jung-un.  
  • Scottish Enlightenment thinker, Adam Smith, used the metaphor of the invisible hand to explain the unseen forces that move the free market economy. This concept argues that individual self-interest paired with the freedom to produce and consume goods leads to societal flourishing. 
  • Current socialist countries include Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Guyana, India, Laos, Nepal, North Korea, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Vietnam. 

Stephanie (No)

Throughout history, socialism has harmed more than it has helped, as seen through its economic and human impact. Socialism takes power from the people who are paying into it by permitting governments to 'spend someone else's money on others,' limiting opportunities for 'social mobility,' and producing notably slower economic development.

Such affected societies are built 'on faulty principles' that defy typical human nature, which requires some sort of incentive. Because socialism eliminates competition, there is 'less entrepreneurial opportunity,' leading a nation's citizens to become complacent instead of striving higher. Conversely, capitalism rewards hard work, leading to innovation that is vital to societal services such as healthcare.

Although the main talking points for or against socialism are often heavily focused around economic matters, it is vital to consider the subsequent humanitarian effects. Socialism gives governing bodies state control over various industries, which opens the door to communism where the government has ultimate control. Once any government has achieved this power level, it may be virtually impossible for civilians to regain it back.

While this may sound dramatic, simply consider the state of countries with socialistic models and the power that their associated leaders hold: citizens of Venezuela live in poverty, misery, and tyranny, China had a one-child policy for decades, religious freedoms in North Korea are virtually non-existent, and following World War II, those under communist Russian rule in Eastern Europe faced prison or death upon trying to escape it. Given the inhumane impact of socialism, no country considering its citizens' wellbeing should attempt such a model.

Caroline (Yes)

One of the most significant fundamental differences between socialism and capitalism is that 'capitalism is not a political system, but an economic one.' In its very essence, socialism is better for human welfare than capitalism as it is not a system based on profit. Capitalism does not factor humanity into its ideology, whereas socialism has human welfare at the core of its very ethos. Is it any wonder that psychopaths, with little to no empathy, thrive in large corporations? While capitalism is divisive and focuses on the 'I' of a situation, socialism is a collective and looks after the community as a whole. Societies benefit when citizens care for and give everyone an equal stake in their community. Socialism levels the 'playing field' and allows those that would be disadvantaged in a capitalist society to contribute. Under socialism, every person is of equal value to the state regardless of their 'marketability' which leaves room for people to enjoy their lives and spend less time stressed about their finances.

Capitalism claims you can achieve whatever you wish if you work hard enough. But in order for capitalism to succeed, it requires exponential growth, which is not always admissible. In many cases, this damages the environment through pollution and deforestation, and it destroys people physically, mentally, and emotionally. It restricts and stifles people from reaching their potential. Capitalism creates 'workaholics' as it benefits their system to have a population that will create more wealth for businesses.

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