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Stumpycoon

Time to explain what are Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Democracy, Fascism and Feudalism are..

Good morning class.  I am sure you've all hears the words Communism, Socialism, and Fascism tossed around a lot in response to almost any political debate.  I'd be very surprised if you've heard Fascism lately.    Since very few people using these words seem to know what they mean, I will give a summary of each and conclude with an explanation of their relevance to the political discussion in Western (Capitalist Democratic) nations.

FEUDALISM is the political-and-economic system when you have rule by a ruling class (usually a monarchy) and they exploit their subjects.  There are no real laws protecting the people, the state owns the land and owns the produce of the land, and the people must work the land to be allowed to live on it and (hopefully) be left enough of the fruits of their labor for them to live.  This was the system of government in Europe during the middle ages.  Unlike Capitalism (see below) there is no true economic system, with the state allowing the subjects food and other necessities

CAPITALISM is an economic system in which people trade goods and services.  'The market' determines the value of a good or service because people will only pay what they are willing to and will generally want to pay the lowest price possible, while people want to sell at the highest price possible.  This works so long as no-one has a monopoly, in which case they control the entire supply of one good or service and can dictate the price to the people who need to buy it.  One advantage of Capitalism is that people (should) have the economic freedom to start a trade or business and to compete to seek profit, an opportunity denied under Feudalism and Fascism (and some versions of Communism).
Capitalism Myth 1) A free market is always fair. False. An un-regulated market will not be fair if the person selling a good or service can force the buyers to accept a higher price (for whatever reason).
Capitalism Myth 2) A free market is always moral. False. Capitalism seeks profit, and so profitable but immoral activities like slavery, sweat-shops, selling harmful narcotics, selling weapons to both sides of a conflict, selling weapons to terrorists, trafficking children as sex slave and so on all are profitable and therefore desirable under capitalism.

DEMOCRACY is a political system in which the population vote and elect their leaders who then (in theory) represent the voters. Since the leaders depend upon the vote of the people to rule, they (in theory) must act in the best interests of the people and the nation to maintain the favour and support of the people.  One problem with democracy is the tendency to have political parties form to increase the election chances of the individual politicians seeking election and re-election.  This leads to the politicians representing the party more than the people, and often Democratic systems simplify down to two opposing political parties (major parties and the "two party system").  At this stage, instead of individual democratically elected polititians attempting to cooperate to solve political issues in the best interests of the people they represent, two opposed parties will fight over the issues to improve the political position of their party.  America is the textbook example of the two party system, the Republican party have opposed all Democrat led initiatives since the election of President Obama in an attempt to improve their future election prospects by making the Democrat party appear unsuccessful, even though this enforced political inaction has proven to be detrimental to the nation and its people.
Democracy Myth 1) Democracy and Communism are opposite. False. Currently most Communist states are Democracies. The two are not mutually exclusive.

SOCIALISM is a theoretical economic system in which people value the community as a whole and understand that if the situation of the whole community is improved then they benefit as part of the community. Since human nature (and Capitalism) create a tendency to care about oneself and one's family first, Socialism is not possible until that nature/instinct is somehow overcome. Socialism has never been practiced in reality, the best example of a Socialist society is the Smurf Village in the Smurfs cartoon.
Socialism Myth 1) Giving 'welfare' is socialism. False. Giving aid, welfare, or spending public (government) funds on the population is not socialism.
Socialism Myth 2) All government activities are socialism. False. By this reasoning any government institution is socialism, for example a national army.  
Socialism Myth 3) Socialism means no Democracy. False. Socialism like Capitalism is an economic system and independent of the political system determining who is in charge.

COMMUNISM is a political (and sometimes economic) system intended as a stepping-stone from Capitalism to Socialism. The theoretical goal of a communist state is to enable the transition to socialism but creating a society where group cooperation is forced and personal profiteering discouraged. Approaches have varied however no Communist state has transitioned to Socialism, possibly because the ruling class do not wish to relinquish power and possibly because the conditions needed for Socialism to succeed have not yet been achieved.
Communism Myth 1) A government taking from the people (for example taxation) is Communism. False. All political systems (Such as Democracy, Feudalism, and Fascism) tax the public and provide some level of public expenditure back. Even Feudalism guaranteed a state funded army to protect the people.
Communism Myth 2) There is one type of Communism. False. There are many styles of Communism, some including Democratic practices, some including Capitalist practices, and so on.

FASCISM is a variant of feudalism practiced in Nazi Germany in which the government and corporations together own the land, the means of production, and whatever is produced.  Typically Fascist regimes choose external enemies to scare the people into accepting the regime's actions in exchange for protection from the external enemy.  The fascist model most closely represents what conservative political parties (such as the Republicans) advocate, with no 'welfare', no unions, no protection for employees, minimal health care, minimal education, and so on.  The power of the ruling party is absolute under Fascism with the only value of a working class (or middle class) person in a Fascist society being what they can produce for the ruling political party and their corporate partners.
Fascism is typically masked as Democracy (but with only the ruling political party as an election option) and the economic system initially masked as capitalism, but later simplified to government hand-outs of food and necessities to maintain the work-force (equivalent to feudalism).

America is currently a Capitalist Democracy. The political system is Democracy meaning that the population vote (from a selection) on who is to lead the country and to represent the people. The economic system is Capitalism but with laws to prevent Capitalism becoming (too) exploitative and practicing immoral (now illegal) trades such as human trafficking, the drug trade, and so on.  

CONCLUSION:
When discussing politics in democratic countries such as America, Australia, and the countries of the European Union, the terms Socialism and Communism are often used, but are completely meaningless in that context.  Similarly the term Fascism is used but is not currently an accurate description of the system, and a lot would need to change for these Capitalist Democratic countries to become Fascist countries.
Viewed: 50 times
Added: 5 years, 4 months ago
 
SharakoCloudCat
5 years, 4 months ago
thanks for clearing that up for me. The More You Know... ( that is factual that is)
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
Kupok
5 years, 4 months ago
So.. Whu'cher tryin' tuh say is ya HATE FREEDOM?!?!?!! >:O
(j/k <3)
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
You can definitely make the case that democracy and capitalism offer the most freedom to the people.  Under Feudalism and Fascism the people are very restricted (with the goal of not allowing any class mobility); and under Communism there is a lot of regulation.  

But that said, the 'freedom' takes the form of extra opportunities and doesn't necessarily mean people are in position to take them.  For instance you have the freedom in America to run for public office...if you can afford it.  And you're allowed to start and run a company...if you can afford it.  The fact Americans have the freedom to do those things doesn't mean they actually can.
foxboyprower
5 years, 4 months ago
You should make this into a chart and give sources. If not, I might do it someday.
Actually this would be better in general with sources. But it's still informative and helpful. Good work.
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
That was what I remember from school and subsequent checking over the years.  I am not sure how you'd graph it (or if someone already has).  But for now let's pull down wikipedia's definitions (this is a summary, there's more on each page):

COMMUNISM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism
Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. This movement, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the "socialist world" (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the "Western world" (countries with capitalist economies).

(It then goes on to explain Marxist-Leninist communism and council communism, two different styles of communism)

SOCIALISM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy. "Social ownership" may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets or planning, how management is to be organised within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism.

CAPITALISM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalist_economy

Capitalism is an economic system in which capital assets are privately owned and items are brought to market for profit. In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged. Central elements of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets and wage labor.
Capitalism has existed under many forms of government, in many different times, places, and cultures. Following the demise of feudalism, capitalism became the dominant economic system in the Western world. Capitalism successfully overcame a challenge by communism and is now the dominant system worldwide.

FEUDALISM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudalism

Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the medieval period. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs.

FASCISM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Fascists seek to unify their nation through a totalitarian state that promotes the mass mobilization of the national community, relying on a vanguard party to initiate a revolution to organize the nation on fascist principles. Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism. Fascism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation and asserts that stronger nations have the right to obtain land and resources by displacing weaker nations.

foxboyprower
5 years, 4 months ago
I did check those. I even downloaded a book on socialism because that's a really misunderstood concept. I thought the government redistributing funds for things like schools was a socialized system.
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
Public services are not socialist but are often referred to as such.  In fact the mere concept of having a government is against socialism in which everyone would be equal.  
foxboyprower
5 years, 4 months ago
The only thing I can think of that's along the lines of the socialism you described are those solar powered walking houses that were an attempt to do away with the need for land ownership.
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
I'd never heard of those. :)  A self sufficient ship might be another solution, just sailing about living off sun and fish.
foxboyprower
5 years, 4 months ago
I think one problem with most political systems is that people can't even figure out how to run their own lives let alone run a large population of other people.
MarkoTheRat
5 years, 4 months ago
This was a very well thought out and informative post. Socialism sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice human nature always seems to get in the way. Opinions on this point may differ, but I don't think any communist country has successfully transitioned into the utopian dream of socialism. Communism in general doesn't seem sustainable either, the notable exception being China. Because they don't have to worry about genuine elections, they don't have to worry too much about keeping people happy and they can engage in genuine long term planning. So why hasn't communism worked in other countries? Maybe the Chinese mind set is better suited to it, maybe Mao was a much smarter planner? None of this means I want to live under a communist dictatorship of course; I think it would conflict with my furry lifestyle.

While it's true that capitalism and democracy are not the same thing, I don't think there's any communist state I'd consider a true democracy and all the countries I consider real democracies are capitalist or at most social democrat. I think I prefer a capitalist system with strong regulations and a strong social welfare net.
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
Thanks.  I am also not aware of any country that has successfully transitioned from communism to socialism.  

I think the difference with China is they are just trying to have reliable long term leadership and planning.  There may not be as much freedom as some would like, but the country is being led well and it benefits with stability.  Meanwhile the European communist countries seem to have been born out of revolution and then dominated by political parties trying to hang on to power rather than do what is best for the country.  

And I agree that the Communist Democracies don't seem to be open and fair Democracies.  On the other hand I am not so sure about a lot of the non-Communist Democracies nowadays.  
CptNight
5 years, 4 months ago
Technically democracy and a republic should be two different categories.

Democracy is direct vote and rule by the people, There are no law makers or representatives, the people vote and make all the laws and regulate themselves.

In a Republic you vote for officials or law makers who then would hopefully rule in the interest of the people.

It's a small difference but one that for some reason is hammered into our skulls in the US during our history classes.
Stumpycoon
5 years, 4 months ago
Good call.
GriflynReapdri
5 years, 4 months ago
well said, coony!  I also have to agree with Cpt Night there about republics and democracies.  I've seen quite a few arguments between my fellow Americans, each trying to tell the other if America was a republic or democracy.  
InannaWDraco
5 years ago
Very nice of you to post this.  LIke you said, people don't really know what these things mean, and thus there is a lot of confusion with all the various scary-sounding words being thrown around.

I would like to offer one piece of information though, if I may.  What you define as "Democracy" actually is a Representative Republic.  This is because the people elect members of their particular portion of the population to represent them to the rest of the nation's government.  Democracy literally means "Rule By The People" and is sometimes referred to as 'mob rule,' because of how it favors the majority vote of all the people and takes out the representatives altogether.
Stumpycoon
5 years ago
Right you are. ^_^  Ironically the reason I was less up-to-date about the Democracy and Republic details is those aren't usually thrown as insults, so I haven't had to explain "no, whoosit isn't a commie nazi fascist socialist because..."
InannaWDraco
5 years ago
*nodnods*  
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