Is Socialism Better than Capitalism?

Statement

Socialism is fairer than capitalism and should be preferred.

Q1 Analysis

So long as "socialism," "capitalism," and "fairer" are all defined rigorously and consistently, this statement does not violate Q1.

Q2 Analysis

This is a complicated statement to analyze with Q2 because it involves a number of concepts (socialism, capitalism, fair) and assumptions (that socialism is fair, that a fair system should be preferred, that capitalism is less fair than socialism, that socialism or capitalism are completely distinct, etc.) that must be individually inspected. Assuming that all of these pass Q2, then the statement as a whole should pass Q2.

Discussion

You might argue that socialism is more fair than capitalism because in a functioning socialist society nobody starves, nobody lacks shelter, and nobody has more than anyone else. But in that case, you may be defining "fair" as simple equality — Jan has a bicycle, so everyone has a bicycle, so the bicycle situation is fair. So how do you handle a situation where Bill doesn’t want a bicycle but is entitled to be equal to Jan? You could give him a skateboard, but what if Jan would like a skateboard, too? Or what if a skateboard has less value than a bicycle? It becomes very difficult to create absolute equality in this type of situation unless the group’s desires are largely the same, and in a society of significant size, this is difficult.

What if, instead of defining fair as equality, you define it as giving what you can and receiving what you need? Then you have the problem of defining how much someone can reasonably give and how much they really need. What if individuals disagree with the governing body’s assessment of how much they can contribute and how much they should receive? And if there is no governing body, who makes these decisions?

You might argue that capitalism is actually fairer than communism. In a capitalist society, everyone has a chance to succeed and the market tends to make things better for consumers in general. Overall, everyone benefits, even though a certain number of individuals (such as those who go out of business) will certainly suffer. You might also argue that the inefficiencies and lack of incentives inherent in most socialist systems make them overall less fair than capitalist systems.

It can also be difficult to clearly divide socialism and capitalism. Capitalist societies generally have a certain amount of socialism in the form of restrictions on free trade, minimum compensation laws, tax-funded benefits and projects, etc. Similarly, socialist societies often have elements of capitalism, such as competition for jobs, private businesses, and choices that can be made in the marketplace.

If you are trying to analyze socialism and capitalism on moral grounds, you might start by asking which system you would rather be working under in the worst-case scenario. For example, would you rather have the fruits of your labor taken from you with no equivalent material reward, or would you rather risk losing everything for the possibility of great reward? It’s also worth considering whether or not this should even be treated as a question of morality, or if, rather, it’s a practical question of what type of government works best (in which case you need to define "works best.").

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on September 21, 2010 at 10:34 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

4 Responses

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  1. Written by Y.A.
    on September 22, 2010 at 8:23 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Oh dear.

    You are probably an American, aren’t you?

    Who else could confuse socialism with communism, of course…

    • Written by ideclare
      on September 22, 2010 at 11:28 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Yes I’m an American. How am I confusing socialism (an economic/political theory) and communism (a form of socialism)? For what it’s worth, this post is intended to be about socialism in general, not communism in particular.

  2. Written by boy wonder
    on September 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    capitalism, lol how about we do the better things and take our problems up with the federal banks forget everything else

  3. Written by donK
    on September 24, 2010 at 9:36 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Moralistically, is the the value of the individual their existence in society (socialism) or their contribution, potential or otherwise, to society (capitalism)? In practice the two systems are not as different as their ideologies. China’s rapid growth and stability has been fueled by capitalistic principles loosed in a socialistic society, the west’s by government restraint in a capitalistic society. Idealistically no one is resentful, greedy, or lazy. Practically that’s not the case.

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