TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

If communism was working the way its progenitors wanted it to, would it be better than capitalism?

The main reason why communism was made was people wanted to be equal without getting restricted by their environment, but nowadays communism is abused by some dictators such as North Korean leaders. Besides, capitalism also has its own problem. There are so many people who didn't have opportunities to try what they really wanted to do due to their poverty or else.
If communism was working as it should be, would it be better than capitalism?
(When there are no dictators)

Topics: Communism
  • thumb
    Apr 15 2013: The trouble Is not with the system. The trouble is the nature of man.
    We like to think that mankind is basically good. An honest appraisal of human history must lead us to the conclusion that we should question this assumption.

    • thumb
      Apr 15 2013: Hi! I agree, the morality of humanity must be considered but we also have to face the fact that it is our society/country/schools responsibility to enstill this decency and obedience.

      I think the reason why communism may have a history of tyranny may be related to the fact that, and of course I'm not sure about this it is just an opinion, but perhaps the citizens of these communist countries were immoral, out of control and in order to allow those with the education to work, as well as those with the morality but not the opportunities to gain education and find work, to coexist with the unfortunate fact that some people are immoral, the idea of communism brought an equilibrium that allowed for further expansion and growth in all three different groups of people.
      • Apr 16 2013: Absolute power corrupts Absolutely.. whether absolute powers given to one or 3 dozen. Central planning has and always will fail
    • Apr 16 2013: Adam smith understood Humans are simultaneously selfish and altruistic. On one hand where about self gain and on the other we have a developed moral consciousness. In Smiths argument, that is why market systems work, and are by nature malleable and self regulating.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: "Central planning has and always will fail."

        While communism is a beautifully swift example of such entropy, USA's flagship pseudo-capitalism relies heavily upon similar central planning... can anyone argue that our government is sustainable?

        I would call myself something like... an altruistic anarcho-capitalist. Ideally. (I would love to discuss the notion). What beautiful innovation and evolution might result from such a fluid existence?
  • thumb
    Apr 24 2013: I think it would. The problem was that there was a huge gap between the theory and its practice. The communism theory was an outcry for change in the reality of severe injustice of those times. It had noble ideals. But as it usually occurs in the mankind history, the great ideals always fall victim to the basic human nature -- the human nature of greed and selfishness. This means, whoever gains the power in the name of any ideals, exploit those ideals only for the benefit of his and his close group. Communism was not exception of this basic human nature, as well as the Capitalism and many countless other man-made systems of diverse ideals.

    So I think that instead of looking for the BIG answers from the failure of Communism (like dictatorships, organizing labor differently, the Chinese interpretation of communism or whatever) it would be much better for the all mankind to look for more seemingly minor answers, which are actually the real true answers. Because these answers are common to perhaps all the mankind’s ideological failures in the history and not just for the failure of the communism -- for example, also the latest economic crisis due to the failure of the Capitalism.
    • thumb
      Apr 25 2013: it is a recurring theme, only if communism worked. but the thing is, communism is unworkable as a concept. without private ownership of means of production, it is impossible to see what ideas work and what don't. because the reason behind the success of capitalism is trial and error on massive scale. but this does not work without "attaching" success and failure to the entrepreneur. hence, ownership of capital.
    • thumb
      Apr 25 2013: Well said Yubal I agree 100%. No government can work on principles of greed and selfishness. I believe Greed and Selfishness can be eradicated through law itself. There should be no personal gain through leadership whatsoever. Our leaders must be selfless and that is a very tall order that must be forced upon them by their own hand. That is unlikely.
      • thumb
        May 1 2013: I agree. The job of politician needs to be the most unglamorous toil, for minimum wage without benefits, with death penalty for corruption, that would attract only those who are sincerely devoted to "serving the people". I'm yet to see a government that would vote to decrease its own salary. Nor have I seen voters that would vote down a social welfare program.
        • thumb
          May 1 2013: I almost completely agree. Your words here express almost precisely my thoughts, except the death penalty. I guess there are many who think similarly as you wrote about how it should be in politics.
        • thumb
          May 1 2013: Hi, I have replied to your comment below, not this one.
        • May 1 2013: A reply to Arkady and Yubal. I am referring to this thought. "I agree. The job of politician needs to be...

          I believe that to be a desperate measure, one that would attract no one other than the Dalai Lama and probably not even him. I have a different perspective,

          Whatever is being glamorized is being glamorized deliberately to produce certain results. The mass media, news, newspapers, television shows, education, is controlled information. By who? By those who have a vested interest in how you think. Violence is glorified. Excessive luxury is glorified. Excessive consumption and irresponsible behavior is glorified. Competition is glorified. Hubris is glorified. Poisonous food is glorified. The idea of what is glorious and what is glamor is being dictated to us. And we have accepted it. The others who have had a very different message for us and became popular, JFK, John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus etc. have all been assassinated. The reasons for this are obvious. So because you are faced with what seems like an enormous and seemingly impossible task of turning this all around, you turn to desperation. By using a pittance of a salary and fear of death, so that you can trust a person. You have created a situation where you will not have to trust.

          In order to solve this problem, I say ignore what they say, reject their notion of success, dismiss what they tell you is glory and listen to your highest thoughts. I say glamorize our leaders to the highest degree. Make it known that it is the highest and most honorable position possible to achieve. With it comes a salary fit for a great leader. Of course swiftly remove them if they are no longer serving the best interest of all people. But in order to determine what is best for all people, they would first have to decide what they are doing here. And this is a question that mankind has been asking for millennia. Perhaps it would be profitable to ask it now.
    • May 1 2013: I understand that it can appear as if we have an accurate understanding of human nature. I do not believe we understand what human nature is. What we have, when we look at human kind, is evidence that is based on the behaviors of humans. Behavior which is in theory caused largely by the dominant beliefs of the day. For example I'll take two subjects where the contrast is high. You can clearly see the difference between the behaviors of the Dalai Lama, who believes one thing about life, and Adolf Hitler who believed entirely another. Why do they behave so differently? Is there nature different? Are they different species? Or is it simply because of what they believe? Perhaps the only thing that matters is what we believe. And most of all what we believe about ourselves.
      • thumb
        May 1 2013: A quick review of the history shows that usually new systems or ways are founded with good intentions. The founders usually mean to make good. The problem is with their successors. The successors many times twist the main theme of the founders, and here enters the issue of the human nature. The communism is of no exception of this principle.

        I have written about this in more details on another discussion at TED forum. It is at my second reply there (Sep 2 2011) to "robert richards": http://www.ted.com/talks/thandie_newton_embracing_otherness_embracing_myself.html?c=312893
        • thumb
          May 1 2013: Yubal, I read your comment in the Thandie Newton video discussion. People tend to look for confirmation of their ideas instead of looking for contradiction (a problem which Karl Popper found with Marxism http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html)

          "A famous study by psychologist Peter Wason neatly illustrates how we tend to look only for confirmation of our ideas, seldom for disconfirmation. Wason presented subjects with four cards having the symbols A, D, 3, and 7 on one side and told them that each card had a number on one side and a letter on the other. He then asked which of the four cards needed to be turned over in order to establish the rule: Any card with an A on one side has a 3 on the other. Which cards would you turn over? (The answer is below.)

          These are just a few ways in which we systematically fall victim to psychological illusion.

          Answer: Most subjects picked the A and 3 cards. The correct answer is the A and 7 cards. " -- http://tinyurl.com/capce8e

          With this in mind, don't you think that there are as many examples of the contrary - when something bad turns into something good? E.g. arms race boosting scientific and industrial progress, the failure of Hubble telescope lens boosting development of image processing technologies, or wars stimulating economy and causing exchange between cultures.
        • thumb
          May 3 2013: Yubal - I agree.
          Arkady - everybody suffers from confirmation bias until the amount of data is so overwhelming that confirmation bias is sure to disappear, when you're more interested in the data than confirmation of biases. The Bible is not a history book.

          Brendan - an American journalist who was interviewing Dalai Lama once tried to be funny and tell him a joke. "Dalai Lama walks into a pizzashop and says - give me one with everything." Dalai Lama wasn't sure what a pizza shop was and didn't get the joke, but the conversation was still a pleasant one. He didn't say "Are you implying that I don't know what a pizza is?" or "How dare you use your American culture while speaking to Dalai Lama?! I feel offended!" The interview is on youtube.
      • thumb
        May 1 2013: A reply to Arkady Grudzinsky:

        Good points. Generally I like to phrase the sentence that Bad things come out of Good things and Good things come out of bad things.

        Now to be more specific about your points: The examples you gave about good things coming out of bad things -- please note that to create the good things you mentioned from the bad things, there had to be, I guess, someone (or some people) with good intentions who initialized those good things. But see now, isn't the scientific and industrial progress used many times for bad aims ?? Isn't the image processing technology used many times for fraud or just to create illusions about products to attract customers or about modelling to attract teenage girls ?? And so on and on.......

        So you gave true facts, but the principle I gave about the basic human nature is valid with those facts too.
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: Yubal, perhaps, it is fair to say that any good cause can and will be perverted by someone somewhere. I agree with this statement. I wouldn't, however, make far-reaching conclusions that tendency to corruption is "fundamental human nature". People also known to strive to improve their lives. If corruption and decay were the fundamental general direction for humanity, there would be no social progress - things would get worse over time. And they do get worse, here and there, but, on a global scale, humanity makes progress: slavery is abandoned, exploitation of child labor is illegal in most places, diseases are eradicated, life span increases, etc. Even the beggars on highway exits are not naked and do not have open sores. It's the same "human nature" that makes things better.

      I stopped using terms "natural" and "unnatural" after reading the paper about homosexual necrophilia observed in animal world http://www.ted.com/talks/kees_moeliker_how_a_dead_duck_changed_my_life.html . I read the paper last year, from a link in Wikipedia about homosexuality in animal world. I always think of this example every time someone says that "homosexuality is unnatural".
      • thumb
        May 3 2013: I have no disagreements with what you say. Please note that I myself wrote in the comment you read on the Thandie Newton's talk, that the human nature is good fundamentally. However, the same nature has some traits which persistently cause failures of the systems the man creates, as the time passes. I gave there briefly the mechanism of how this happens.

        We both do not differ in what we say. See how.
        When you give examples of good things mankind has created or done, these things are usually new ways//innovations//discoveries//enterprises//....etc. At these new beginnings, there are mostly the good intentions of the beginners//founders, there's plenty of vital enthusiasm, there's great vision and so on. So no wonder so many good things come out of all these great virtues of the Man, as you had specified.

        But I say let's look beyond the great beginnings, after enough duration of time. Let's see what happens when the founding people//generation of all the good things pass away or lose their impact. The history proves that usually the followers or the successors (not necessarily the immediate successors) after the founders lose//forget//ignore the great ideals of their preceders. What was once new and fresh beginning turns gradually into routine, many times a boring routine. And so in such climate these followers tend to twist or misuse those great systems//ways//creations of the original founders. I say that this occurs due to the human basic traits of greed, ego-centrism, selfishness....etc which start to dominate in the absence of the spirit of good intentions, enthusiasm, vision, positive ideals.......

        But I shall add and say that it's not at all a lost battle. Exactly by becoming aware of these processes and confronting them we will be able to reduce the impact of our bad habits//traits and to preserve the original good qualities of our basic human nature and of our great creations.
        • thumb
          May 3 2013: I agree. The process you describe is most fully described in the Bible.

          All things are born fresh, new, exciting, and good. As time passes, things serve their purpose, then they outlive it, loose freshness, excitement, glitter, etc., become dull, then decay, turn ugly, and die, and new things are born from them. This happened to civilizations, social structures, religions, ideologies. Some things have longer life cycle than others. Religions seem to last for millenia. Ideologies (Marxism, Nazism, etc.) - for a few decades. Social structures such as feudalism and capitalism - several centuries. All of them too long for a single generation to witness the full cycle. But there is no doubt in my mind that capitalism will be replaced by something else. It's already very different than 100 or even 30 years ago.

          It is very possible that Marx was right in a sense that development of productive forces will lead to socialism (when society will be able to guarantee basic income to everyone - this seems to be happening) and, eventually, communism, when money becomes obsolete and people will not *have* to work to live comfortably. He may have been right about the result, but not about the way. I don't think, class struggle, revolution, and dictatorship of proletariat is the way to such society. I think, it needs to be some sort of "spiritual awakening", some sort of belief system - not instilled from outside, by the government or organized traditional religion, but growing from within, much like the biblical "kingdom of heaven". Too bad, religions tend to follow the same basic pattern that you outlined.
        • May 3 2013: Amazing!!! Yubal. I am referring to this; What was once new and fresh beginning turns gradually into routine, many times a boring routine. And so in such climate these followers tend to twist or misuse those great systems//ways//creations of the original founders. I say that this occurs due to the human basic traits of greed, ego-centrism, selfishness....etc

          This is an absolutely brilliant observation. But might I suggest another reason for it? If there is one thing that man has truly mastered, it is his undeniable ability to forget. And perhaps, that forgetting in itself, is a natural part, not without reason, of a much larger process playing itself out. A verse in a much larger and much more subtle symphony.
          Yubal, I believe you are onto something here. :)
    • May 8 2013: I think Marx ought to be looked at purely from an historical perspective. He could never have imagined the kind of technological innovations we have today.
      Back then a lot of manual labour was required so someone had to be mugged into doing it.
      Most things are mechanised, most labour intensive jobs have disappeared so we ought to be sharing the work load and spreading the wealth.
  • thumb
    Apr 17 2013: Of course it would be better. Every one would have what they need, no one would lack anything. Just that would make communism better than capitalism.

    I know every one are being taught the opposite in school, you learn at a very young age that communism is evil, and now you automatically associate communism with Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia, you've been brainwashed that way by your education system policy, the mistake with this association is that it's not communism's fault it's the police state's fault and a police state can appear in any form of government.

    Communism isn't not evil, it's a fair economical system for everyone, all humans are equal, almost every one will agree on this but for some reasons like the "human nature" if you live in an environment in which there are rich and there are poor, you will want to be rich, but in an environment in which there are humans and only humans, no rich, no poor it will become irrelevant to be rich.

    This human nature you think you know all about, is only due to the fact that you live in an unbalanced economical system with rich and poor.

    Give every one water, food, shelter, education, healthcare, proper transportation and free time to enjoy breathing and give the menial work to automates machines and you will see the human nature become more natural and less unnatural or greedy, because greed is more than a problem, it's a dead end.
    • Apr 20 2013: Yes it is a noble goal to make every human being equal, but communism is no the answer... I don't remember anyone saying communism was evil, who told you that? in school? are you kidding? communism is not evil it is just inefficient to the point of making it unsustainable and the prof was the felt of the USSR and almost all the communist block.

      If communism is so good, then why the USSR was unable to surpass American and Japanese and German cars in fuel efficiency? if like most people say the electric car is being held by "imperialist interests" then why the USSR or any other communist country was unable to make just one?... the reason: communism makes you inefficient, lazy and dependent of the government.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2013: Everyone in this pointless situation would "have what they need." If I had all that I needed, I would have no purpose. If I had no purpose, my life would be meaningless. I would prefer to live rather than exist.

      The police state is to blame.

      All humans are not equal-- choices distinguish individuals. In your earlier paragraph, you listed two dictatorships that were ruled by dick-tators and composed of an idiotic, murderous flock of sheep. I value the life of a spider more than theirs. If you would counter this statement by saying that these people are "inhuman," I'll play semantics with you no problem. But I stand by my original assertion.

      Moving forward, wealth would indeed become irrelevant in such a dystopia-- but unless you are the first humanoid autotroph (which would be awesome), the basic needs would eventually be unmet. I realize that I contradicted your initial statement, that "no one would lack anything," but come on, that is simply unobtainable and therefore illogical to discuss.

      We do live in an unbalanced economical system. Help me change it.

      Who is doing this magical giving? Free water, I'm sold. "Pun"ters not getting paid to play football, I'm fine with that. Free transportation... ok? Free computers? Why do we need computers? Free education? What is the point? Somebody knows how to fix my brain tumor, right? And that sh*t is free... bonus. Free Hat? But he is a convicted baby killer!

      All you speak of is give me this.... give the the people that... you have no plausible scenario to enable this. In this machine, everyone will have but one function. Unfortunately, I am poop shoveler and I am sad. Maybe I can trade with the kitten petter. I am sure he would be down with that. Bah. I would love to be kitten petter. Perhaps I should learn to be a better kitten petter and win the affection of all the kittens! Maybe I should build an automate to be poop shoveler! I could program it to do many things. Now we have a bunch of functionless people. Bah.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: The giving would be done by the State, or by the "name" of the State.

        Healthcare will be made by automates, the education system would be available for those who wish to learn, eventually we will see the chemical learning, from that moment schools will become irrelevant.

        I understand that you consider communism to be a bad thing for you, you probably have your own company that works for you, maybe you employ some people, but soon enough an high tech device will allow you to fire all your employees. And this is sadly what is happening everywhere, step by step with every new gadget that do something someone was doing.

        I'm personally trying to find a way out so this system of rich thieves gaining more everyday while the rest of us are losing more everyday. I understand it does not concern you personally, or not yet but in the case you are not a entrepreneur in your own ivory tower, soon enough you will get lay off, because it's inevitable, all workers are soon to be lay off, replaced by high tech AI gadgets.

        So capitalism is about to hit a wall, it's done, this system is flawed, a new system must be put into place to replace the capitalism, that new system maybe something close to communism.

        For others who cannot live with this stupid idea of humans being equal, a simple rope and a tree can do.
  • May 7 2013: As a political system both capitalism and communism fail for the same reason. Society improves and grows by encouraging its people to work cooperatively and motivating us to work harder. Without rewards for individual effort there is no motivation to create and work harder. Ask yourself which political system does a better job? In practice, power gets concentrated in both systems thereby over time the general population is over regulated/controlled. Freedom is the key word in any political system. Freedom must be protected and systemic. Cameras, electronic monitoring and a false sense of security will ultimately result in loosing the thing we all want a - Better Life.
  • Apr 30 2013: Human collective intelligence is not developed enough to fully implement a social system of complete equality.

    I believe that USSR/Eastern bloc states/North Korea are actually bad examples to use when discussing the implementation of communism.

    Yugoslavia, however, had a different story to tell. If anyone cared to discuss this theme, I would gladly join.
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: Tell us the story of Yugoslavia. I love to hear "insider perceptions" from different countries and different eras. E.g., having grown up in Soviet Ukraine in Brezhnev time, I have a totally different experience than my parents who were born under Stalin, went through WWII as children, and Khrushchev/Brezhnev as adults. It's also different from today's 20-30 year-olds born at the end or after Gorbachev's reign.

      People watch North Korea on TV now with hundreds of people in uniform marching in military parades and think that the country is full of schizophrenics dreaming of attacking the U.S. It's not true. I'm sure, they are scared to death of the U.S. destroying them and have no doubt that they are the most peaceful country in the world, trying to protect itself from the imperialist aggressors who hate working people. If not for the nuclear weapons, they would have been crushed by the U.S. military long ago.

      Tell us, what Yugoslavia was like.
      • May 1 2013: Indeed, being in a constant state of war alert for more than 50 years bends the collective mind.

        Yugoslavia, unlike the majority of other communist states, was in relative peace after WII. Interestingly enough, it is the only communist state to break of from the grasp of USSR (which, of course, enraged Stalin so much he nearly invaded the Balkans in the mid 60s). In the grand scheme of things in the Cold war, Yugoslavia was meant to be a buffer zone between the West and the East. Churchill openly supported Tito, and didn't help reinstate the royal family of Kingdom Yugoslavia (that fled to England when the war broke out).

        After WWII ended, Tito, the supreme leader, thoroughly obliterated the middle class in every Republic, as it was seen as a prime threat to the stability of a communistic state. In the last days of the war, students and intellectuals were deliberately sent to the front lines, only to be mowed down by the Germans. Infamous secret services had a tight grip on everyone's life during the 60s.

        However, things began to cool down during the 70s. Democratic freedoms were far from being fully implemented, but the entire population had it's basic existential needs met, unemployment was more or less non existent and there was a significant economical progress.

        In the 80s, Yugoslavia looked a lot like a decently developed Western state, with an interesting cultural scene. For example, despite the omnipresence of communistic ideology there was a strong and widely accepted rock/punk scene fairly similar to the equivalents in the UK or US. Multi-ethnicity was embraced, but religion was looked down upon. Nevertheless, Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims co-existed peacefully. Yugoslavia was supposed to be one of the first states to enter the (today known as the) EU.

        Tito died. Then the 90's came.
      • May 1 2013: Were nationalistic fires and old quarrels burning quietly, ready to explode in a moment of weakness? Was the whole concept of unity a lie?

        Or did the few leaders manipulate the masses, only to create unimaginable hate between yesterday's brethren, utilizing savages to pursue their ambitions?

        The outcome is tragic. Twenty years after the civil war, young people not even born in the period are still poisoned with hate, against people they never had a real confrontation with. And the older ones, being nostalgic and spiteful.

        Yugoslavia, as an experiment of communism, has ultimately failed.
        • thumb
          May 1 2013: Communism, as laid out by its theorists Marx and Engels, is based on the concept of "class struggle". Intrinsically, it antagonizes society and pits people against each other. It divides people into "camps" - "rich and poor", "bourgeoisie and proletariat". I see this as the main flaw. It's impossible to build a harmonious society on antagonism, struggle, and hate. Finger pointing and blame games, arms race, ethnic and religious feud, walls dividing society, literally and figuratively, seem to be a logical consequence of such ideology.
  • thumb
    Apr 27 2013: The current problem capitalism has is the same problem communism had - its utopian ideology was infiltrated by psychopaths. I'm serious.

    People with psychopathic tendencies are attracted to power and prestige - they climb the greasy pole, by whatever means, and when they get power or influence they use it for their own gratification, glorification and empowerment. They lobby for the relaxation of regulation, and once they achieve this they exploit it ruthlessly. You cannot expect a psychopath to have self restraint or feelings of remorse - they are relentless - they want it all.

    Corporation directorships, government departments and politics, are disproportionally represented by psychopaths. In the population as a whole they make up 1%, within the halls of corporate and political power it is estimated that they make up to 4% (source Jon Ronson TED TALK).

    Psychopaths are very often highly charismatic and charming individuals. They are confident and excellent speakers and are highly personable. They will use information they have gleaned from people in a twisted manner for their own advantage. They will lie shamelessly. They have massive egos and are highly manipulative, with no morals, sense of guilt or conscience. They will turn on anyone at any time - they have no need or concept of true friendship. They are truly frightening to be around.

    You can spot them by looking at the emotional and mental health of those who work closely with them. Those in close proximity to them for any length of time come across as slightly deranged.
  • thumb
    Apr 23 2013: First we need to find a country that practices communisim without dictators to determine an answer to this question.
    • May 1 2013: I'm not sure if this qualifies but, Kerala India, apparently elected a Communist Government quite recently.
  • Apr 20 2013: Communism, like capitalism, had money, so it became corrupt.
    It (pure communism), probably would be better but most people in the West are so brainwashed, that the mere mention exudes words like "communism" or "socialism" from their lips as the main, immediate, non-thinking, robotic-reaction in order to dismiss a new idea as fast as possible.
    Money is the corrupter and capitalism is crooked by default.
    It is "capitalizing" on what others don't know either through ignorance, indifference or lies and deception, or it is capitalizing on the bad luck of others, sometimes which occurs through ignorance, indifference or lies and deception.
    • thumb
      Apr 20 2013: Well said sir! The good news is people are starting to criticize Capitalism everywhere.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: Money is necessary. It is imperfect and, unfortunately, most effectively wielded by the covetous and corrupt... but it is necessary.

        And Kareem, before you subjectively belittle Capitalism, remember that it, like its "utopian" brother, was once an ideal. The bastardized version you see today is often immoral and therefore deserves criticism, but it, at least, is intended to support the freedom of choice. Can you say the same about whatever system you defend?
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: When did I say money isn't necessary? Indeed wielded it is by corrupt and greedy people. Especially bankers.

          Look Hunter, continuous growth which Capitalism promises is impossible. We don't have enough resources or infrastructures. (there are thousands of articles written on the topic)

          Freedom of choice by whom? :)) I'd say it is an illusion, very nicely fabricated but a mere farce it is.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: continuous growth is perfectly possible as long as the growing variable is not attached to any specific material or other physical property of nature. there can not be exponential growth of oil usage, or farmland, mined lithium, or chopped trees or planet earth. but there can be continued exponential growth in knowledge, and knowhow. in happiness, in problems solved. and also, man can extend its reign to new territories, which pushes any physical limits outward. physical limitations does not seem to be an unsolvable problem at all, thus, it is merely a bogeyman.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: 'knowledge' 'happiness' and 'know-how' have nothing to do with Capitalism. You need to go to University of Budapest and ask random 1st year Economics grad to explain to you what means Capitalism. Because I think you are not grasping the concept here.

          "New territories" lol :))
          "physical limitations does not seem to be an unsolvable problem at all" You can add artificial +10% and sing kumbaya for 5~6 years but then bubble WILL burst.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: it has everything to do with capitalism, because capitalism creates knowhow and knowledge much faster than any other system. in comparison, every other systems is laughable in fact.

        an computer today does not have any more matter in it than a computer ten years ago. yet, it is 50 times more powerful. used farmland went down in the last 50 years, while yield tripled. we don't need to reach any hard limits, and still can increase our wellbeing. wellbeing is not directly linked to any specific material, and thus can infinitely grow.

        i could walk into any econ university, but what they teach not necessarily helps me. the track record of mainstream economics is ... well, leaves space for improvement. when it comes to economics, ecology, future trends, i'd rather listen to intellectuals like murray rothbard or matt ridley, just to name two.
  • thumb
    May 14 2013: No corrupt system is ever capable of reforming itself.
  • thumb
    May 2 2013: If catholicism was working the way its progenitors wanted it to, would it be better than atheism?
  • Apr 26 2013: I have also wondered whether its really all about failing government systems too. Do we the people need to look at ourselves as a blame for the worlds wos? If there are leaders abusing the systems, aren't we allowing it? Anyone who has stood back and observed democracy in certain western countries can see what's going on. Just like an advertising firm, politicians employ an understanding of human psychology to manipulate & bamboozle us for their own gain.
    we do things like vote for people because we like 'something' about them, without actually looking at the policies being offered, or who the person really is. I think too often its the person with money, nice cloths, an appealing vojce, & a trustworthy face etc.. Who gets voted in, & that's just poor judgement on our part. It should be policies from down to earth, intelligent individuals.... Not charisma & and an ability to talk fast, that wins elections.
  • Apr 23 2013: Where Communism fails, Capitalism begins.

    Ideally in communism there are no leaders, everything is decided by vote and everyone share the burden and rewards equally, this might actually work in a small enough group of individuals such as an expanded family where everyone know what everyone are doing and feel responsible for the greater good, and because the people are a family that like each-other they are motivated to contribute to the overall success of the communist cell vs other similar communist cells.

    You could have dysfunctional cells that contain a large quantity of non-productive members or failing cells that made poor decisions and these cells break apart.
    But what solution could be found for people who are ill, severely crippled and so on? simply giving them a free pass won't do.(even though capitalism tricks us into doing so, if we want to or not by employing tax)

    The Problem begins when you expand the communist system to a larger scale where corruption becomes possible and invisible and people are more likely to feel alienated to one another so they no longer care about others they are not related to.
    Furthermore having an overarching government that lay tax and restricts initiative would more than likely crush any communist cells regardless of size, and breeds corruption due to over-monetization of everything and accumulation of wealth. (which is really the inevitable problem in capitalism)

    In the end though, even if you have Half-communism like described above, do we really need communism? Does it really solves the core issues with having Countries, Governments and the Power Accumulation that results of both?
    • Apr 24 2013: Clearly, a communist country does not solve the problem of having countries and governments.

      For that matter, is a classless society really a desireable thing?
      • Apr 24 2013: So you really think all human beings have an inherent desire to control other people and be superior to them? but if they do then why would they desire a class system that makes them subservient to others? somewhat of a double-standard don't you think?

        So I don't buy it because I think that type of Class-society ideal is something that is bred in the minds of specific people rather than society as a whole and more often then not it is because they cannot or don't want to speculate about society in any way that is radically different than the status quo...
        • Apr 24 2013: I believe that the class system, or desire to be better than others, is a remnant of evolution - survival of the fittest. Being better than others used to ensure your survival but this is no longer necessary. We are now struggling to come to terms with this new way of living where even the un-fittest can quite happily survive. We need to grow beyond our old programming and evolve a new social paradigm. A form of communism may well be that solution as when power and money have no real meaning to your life you need a new direction.
  • thumb
    Apr 19 2013: Nah. Key to success lies in a corruption-free society which, unfortunately, we aren't.
  • thumb
    Apr 17 2013: The sole reason Communism doesn't work is the same reason we have the problems we have with capitalism, it's the nasty human traits we call " Greed " & " Corruption ". Even under a heavily regulated authority you will have the same outcomes, it places humans in any aspect of money management that involves placing people behind closed doors, giving them all the access to funds and not holding any individuals accountable for actions that results in these unpleasant outcomes.

    Basically we cannot seem to be fair to one another, or the people who can be fair, are not given the chance to. Could even boil down to, absolute ability creates Greed and Corruption. kind of like the Prison guards / Prisoners experience, no matter who you put into such a role, corruption is bound to take the place of absolute authority.
  • thumb
    May 12 2013: Communism fails because freedom flies out the window. Capitalism fails for the same reason. We, humans worship power and money as our gods instead of Love.
  • May 12 2013: This may be completely wrong or already been stated by another poster, but here goes. Communism in and of itself is not a grandiose evil that the media and other conservative capitalists have made it out to be. In it's purist sense, I personally think it is the closest that any sociopolitical model has come to developing a Utopian Society (theoretically speaking), where there are no distinctions in socioeconomic, gender, or racial classes and the vast majority of labor, knowledge, and profits are shared equally among the population. That sounds like a great idea, in practice however, it has failed miserably because of greed, corruption, and outsider interference. On a small scale, like a single community the size of a neighborhood, Communism would work. Transitioning from a Capitalist society, each individual may have skill sets that are of value to the other members of the community, and if the work were delegated to those who were A) most qualified to complete it and B) those also willing to learn how to complete it, then eventually the workload would be able to stabilize itself and the members would be able to share everything (work, labor, profits, ides, knowledge).

    Capitalism of course is different, where the "worth" or "value" of something determines success, and the more successful something is then the more entitled it becomes. Given the past encounters between capitalists and communists, it doesn't seem like the two would ever be able to coexist globally. Honestly, I think that the main reasons for failure of the coexistence of these two systems often times comes from the interaction of governments and military actions (which is typically motivated by the gaining of natural or geographic resources, and not international relations).

    In theory, these systems would both work together, or separately coexisting, or if there were only one. The problem is every other variable and influence that wants to change the system for that variable's own gain.
  • thumb
    May 11 2013: A similar case can be made for free-market capitalism. What we have today does not at all represent truly unrestrained capitalism. In a free market, the corporations we have today couldn't exist. In the US, a few major cellphone companies own the frequency ranges (given to them by the Government) and maintain dominance in the market that way. Monsanto lawyers run the FDA and allow their products that are outright banned in Europe to go completely unregulated. Milk is sold with a required notice on the container, "The FDA has found no significant difference between rBST and non-rBST treated cows." Corn is subsidized, as a result everything is made of corn. Every innovation is patented and enforced by law, in what was once known as "regulatory monopolies". Microsoft has dominated the market by relying heavily on patents. The record companies maintain power because they can own the rights to the music. What we have today isn't real capitilism, but tripartism, or neo-corporatism. Companies incorporate by assistance of the government, maintain monopolies by assistance of the government, and actively take part in the government and the forming of these regulations.
  • May 11 2013: Which progenitors? Marx? Lening? Stalin? Mao? Marx probably never thought of comunism the way it was implemented by the others. The others were power driven and replaced the previous elite by a new elite: the party.

    Although comunism has some appealing ideals, probably not one was applied. All experiments ended on policiac regimes with strong bias towards personality cults, and several quasi genocides in their records. Its main problem is not economical, it is that to sustain the system all dissent has to be wipe out and basic freedom eliminated.

    China today is not an example as it is moving out from strict comunism to a mixed system. It will be interesting to see if they can manage centralized politics with a more open economy that derives in more personal freedom.

    Capitalism is much better way to enhance personal freedom and wealth production, but it neither works well when ethics are left aside. It urgently requires containing the greed of many.
  • May 11 2013: The problem with Communism is it crumples fairly easily when one Capatilist comes along (maybe it takes a few decades). Supporting something so inherantly weak is troublesome.....sure you can get a fair bit of passive support, but it will always miss the mark. The progenitors ideals have some appeal, but any "system" has unintended consequences.....it's hard to say what "best communism" would look like. It might be stifling from excessive equality control.

    I think a better question than "does well developed Communism trump Capatilistism" is what could kick both of their asses (and smack Socialism around for fun while at it)? It seems much more interesting to accept the failure of various ideologies and look beyond them not to something that could take over, but rather something to emerge out of all these misteps. Will our species find a balance? I am encouraged by the fact that something like 90 % of us have the ridiculous carrot of prosperity pulled so convincingly from our grasp. Now if we could somehow skip the inevitable next big thing that everyone will grasp for and instead calmly wait until most of us "get it." Maybe the next big thing is patience :)
  • thumb
    May 1 2013: I don't think it could ever work because it takes away aspiration which is too big a driver in the human psyche.
  • thumb
    Apr 30 2013: Communism only works if humans aren't corrupt or greedy - would like to see it happen , would take a miracle
    • thumb
      Apr 30 2013: communism does not work even if people are not corrupt and greedy. mises explained the impossibility of economic calculation in a socialist/communist society. in 1920.
      • thumb
        May 1 2013: Shame on me. I grew up in Lviv, Ukraine, studied physics in Lviv University, and have not heard, until now, of either Ludwig von Mises or his brother, physicist Richard von Mises - both born in Lviv. May not be that surprising, though, considering their attitude towards communism. Since they are not Ukrainians, they may still be virtually unknown there. Oddly, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (another countryman) is far more famous there. Need to fill in the gaps - "reeducate myself" :-).
  • thumb
    Apr 30 2013: "...the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."

    "You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing 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. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

    In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend. "


    The idea is that private property allows people to take advantage of each other and abolition of private property would make everyone happy. I'd say, this might work with one condition: the abolition of private property must be VOLUNTARY and UNIVERSAL - by everyone in community/society/nation/world. So, everyone should be intending to do away with his own property, not with the property of his neighbor as it was done in former "communist" countries. In other words, Marx should have said "my property" instead of "your property".

    Compare this to "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." -- Matthew 19:21 - the idea of VOLUNTARY giving away property. Compare the idea of social equality with this metaphor for the ideal society: "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them." -- Isaiah 11:6

    The idea is not new. But, when these standards are applied to others instead of ourselves, nothing follows but hypocrisy and violence.
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2013: Do you mean communism or Marxism? Dialectical materialism seems to be unfolding in a most interesting fashion. Marx said "Workers of the World Unite", and it looks to me the over reach of the corporate oligarchs and enablement by the internet and mobile devices is setting the stage. The next years could see the formation of global labour organizing via twitter and other social media. There is a great deal of economic inequality and the global communication network to organize against it.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2013: how would that "against it" work? can you give us some ideas? what to do against inequality?
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: A great deal of Labour impotence is due to the divide and conquer strategy of corporations. International unionization would allow workers to attempt to set global pay parity. Currently if a company can't coerce workers into starvation wages, it can pick up and go somewhere else where workers are not organized. This is straight out of "The Communist Manifesto". The problem with Soviet and Chinese Political system is that they were un-democratic and authoritarian.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: " if a company can't coerce workers into starvation wages, it can pick up and go somewhere else"

          and the what is the proposed solution?
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: The solution is resolved by Dialectical Materialism which is where I started. It's organic pocess. Designed solutions are what ended up in 5 and 10 year plans. Total disasters.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: If we are taking about Marx and we are educated the we can use the term DIalectical Materialism.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism. And it's not a belief system. It's a process. Like biological evolution. Read the section on Hegel.
        Synthesis->Thesis ad infiniitum
        Iti's hubris to think that we can problem solve cultural processes. We can't even manage our planetary resources.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: and it is a system that disallows specific solutions? take for example a shoe factory. average wage in india for a factory worker is like 1500 usd per year. not sure it is accurate, but not too far off. average wage for the same worker in the USA is 20000 usd. now these workers come together in a super-union, and discuss the issue. what kind of solutions they can come up with?
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: It will happen the Same way that feudalism ended. The peasants revolted.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: It's not called class warfare for nothing.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: so, let's consider the best scenario, the owner of the factory is cast out, and workers take over. this is in itself a despicable notion, but let's just ignore it for a second. what's next? who will make shoes and for what wage?
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: It makes no difference. Somebody will and it be under different terms. Who won the French Revolution and who made their shoes and what did they get paid? Was France better off afterward? What happened to the losers?
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: it makes a huge difference, because so far i see no method or force in action that would change the economic situation. people in india are willing to work on shoes for much less in return, and people in the US are willing to pay much more for a pair of shoes than indians. the reasonable thing for them to do is that indians make shoes, and americans pay for it. they both benefit. it is not the "evil capitalist" that makes things that way. simply the productivity of an indian worker with the less advanced tools he has is much lower than that of the american worker. this inequality comes from the fact that europe started to accumulate huge amounts of capital, and the rest of the world lagged behind in that regard. the same is true within a country. an entrepreneur is successful if he can create value that people want, and so he can earn the profits. if people don't value his contribution, profits are not made. there are no other ways to success in free market capitalism.

          the only way capital can accumulate in the hands of someone that did not create it is violence. theft, murder, coercion. the exact same thing you are calling for. maybe you are on the wrong side?
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2013: I'm not calling for anything. And you can't tell me those people that died in that collapsed building should not have demanded safe working conditions. Whose fault was that? Do you think Children Should work? Do you think people
        deserve a living wage? or should it be ok to pay them just enough to keep them alive. What is good for everybody is if things are fair and that people are not virtually slaves.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2013: people work in whatever condition they see fit. it is money versus safety, and adult people can choose freely. children can work as long as their caretakers decide so. in many areas, it is either work or hunger, work obviously being better. people do not deserve anything at all. people "deserve" cold, hunger, disease and violent death. that is given by nature. all else must be built, created, brought about by work and effort. employers can pay as much as they desire, and employees can demand as much as they desire. if they don't agree, employment contract will not be established. similarly, on the market, seller and buyer must agree on a price, or they don't exchange. fair wages do not exist, or rather, every voluntary wages are equally fair. capitalism is not virtual slavery. in capitalism, people are freer than ever in history. during the industrial revolution, people migrated to cities. they wanted to be treated as "virtual slaves", because in the villages, where they worked as peasants, their income was much lower. in the cities, they had to work very hard to get shoes for their kids or medicine. on the farms, they simply couldn't get neither.

          tell us about your life as a "virtual slave", make us cry.
      • thumb
        Apr 30 2013: I'm underwhelmed. You are either attempting to be provocative or are simply mean spirited.
  • thumb
    Apr 27 2013: If capitalism worked the way it's supposed to work, it wouldn't be so bad either. The problem is that nothing works the way it is supposed to work, especially social theories.
  • Apr 25 2013: No matter if it's capitalism, communism, or monarchy, a system is only good when it accepts criticism and is ready to step down when the majority of the people demands it. There is no perfect system. That's why the system needs to constantly evolve toward a better one.

    And it's been a long time since the system has not evolved anymore in the west. For me, we need to do to banks and lobbies exactly what we did to religion with laïcité. We need to strip them from their political power, return the power to the people.
  • Apr 25 2013: Capitalism is the best system for society at large when all the participants in a capitalist economy are of relatively equal strength resource-wise. Resources include both hard and soft skills - education, healthcare, physical strength et al. And an enabling factor in all this is information. Even today, it would surprise most people how truly uninformed the vast majority of people are; information that will help them improve their lives. It is harsh and unfair of the lucky few who are well-off resource-wise to credit their good fortune to survival of the fittest, when what really keeps people from competing, and society from improving, is the lack of knowledge and information. Property-based capitalism, where everyone can own property, and in sufficient quantity to maintain a life of dignity, is the best system. A left-wing intervention is necessary at times to ensure that people are endowed with the resources necessary to compete in a free market.
  • Apr 25 2013: As systems of government, both communism and capitalism work best within a democratic setup. For instance, the Indian state of Kerala was the first and perhaps the only national/sub-national entity where a communist government had been elected to office, and enjoys popular support. The advent of communism led to the breakdown of multiple social barriers including caste inequality, illiteracy, gender inequality etc. Today, the population is the most well-off in India (and competes with the West) on HDI indicators. The contrast within India is communist rule within the state of Bengal, which has been a disaster for that state. There, the communists have held on to power, often through the use of violence. I guess what happened with Kerala was that communist rule gave the population that necessary re-start in terms of equality of opportunities which was needed in order to prepare the population for a more free-market, capitalist future. Mercantilist capitalism, the type which most people refer to, definitely has its drawbacks when unrestrained and when technologically mismatched people interact - this is exactly what happened with Asian countries when dealing with the European mercantile states. In direct contrast to what many people say, capitalism does not ensure the survival of the fittest - that depends on how liquid the system is - social mobility. It is amazing how people equate communism with dictatorship so simply - it is indeed possible for left-wing politics to exist within a democratic setup. Also, I doubt even in Communist countries that people actually envy the rich - it is the inability to avail of such opportunities, and the monopolisation of such opportunities in the hands of a few that really irks people and feeds the demand for equality, and in political terms, communism. While communism may not cater to whiz kids, the effort there is to try to ensure at least basic survival for the vast majority, and for most, that is enough.
  • Apr 25 2013: All is relatively both better and worse from each other...
  • Apr 23 2013: Re: the OP;
    1. Capitalism and Communism are ideals.
    In the real world, everything decays. You can't have growth without decay. Yin and Yang.
    2. Capitalism and Communism are methods for allocation of resources.
    Capitalism has a built-in feedback loop. The FREE MARKET !!
    Authoritarian Communism does not have any built-in systemic correction. As it developed, European Communism was not just Marx, but a bunch of ivory-towersaying "this is how the world should work", when in fact, they had no idea what it was like to start out in a real job, pushing a broom. The "intellectual vanguard" of the revolution did NOT know what it felt like to finish a shift at the mill, and just want to go home and have a beer. Nor did they have any idea what it was like to have to make decisions about where to send the ships to move cargo.
    That is the conceit INHERENT in "Communism".

    3. Both of these ideals are, like, sooo last century.
    When we ask, "why did the USSR collapse?", if we come up with any other answer than "defense spending", we are fooling ourselves. The USSR simply could not compete with the USA's level of military spending. We can say that was due to corruption, but in the USSR, graft was detrimental to the military, whereas in the USA, the "military-industrial complex" has benefitted greatly from corruption in the DoD's supply chain.
    The difference? Quality.
    As part of the growth of western industrialization, we have developed "Quality Management Systems".
    I am a huge fan a Quality, but in reality, we (the western world) have done amazing work developing management systems and standards in quality, environmental stewardship, and information.
    The develoment of Linux is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished with modern management tools applied across a distributed volunteer network.

    I would love to see what happens if we were to apply quality management to resource allocation, while somehow still recognizing that the people "on the ground" have the best knowledge.
    • thumb
      Apr 23 2013: There is no real FREE MARKET. A real free market would be truly transnational and would require true free movement of people.
    • Apr 23 2013: @Kevin: The so -called feedback loop of Capitalism or "Free Market" are both false, in Capitalism the competition is always manipulated which means the feedback is manipulated artificially rather than provide true feedback, furthermore, trade is Taxed and Restricted, hence it isn't really a free market.
      In the end it is a system controlled by the ones who are on top to ensure that they stay on top.

      Communism's trapping is mainly corruption, as many people are not really the ideals they claim to hold, In Reality, communism never really had a fair try and it probably never will for as long as the rest of the world around it is monetized and global exchange becomes difficult.. (Stalinism is not Communism btw)
      Capitalism already assume's moral deterioration and irresponsibility, its "quality" comes at the expense of sacrifice of part of the people that are made to become subservient to the rest..
  • Apr 22 2013: Yes I know Marx designed his version of communism for Germany and never thought about Russia, but that is not the core of my point... And forgive, I don't mean to sound rude, but your answer looks naive to my eyes.... well I read it 3 times just to make sure I wasn't mistaken your words, but you actually said: "They didn't have time to make cars"... so you mean they have the technology to design and build the Sputnik but the couldn't make even a decent car???... they made the MIG which rivaled for decades with american and british jet plain fighters and could not make a fuel efficient car??? they built the atomic bomb and they couldn't develop the electric car??? cum'on, give me very huge break... do realize the implications of just this argument???