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Capitalism vs. Communism


There's an important article in The Public Discourse by Adam J. MacLeod that explains why capitalism and charities are vital for communities. MacLeod's idea ties in nicely with this commentary by Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship, regarding Mitt Romney's tax returns and America's little platoons.

MacLeod compares and contrasts America with Cuba, capitalism with communism. Capitalism tempered by faith-based charities greatly benefits society. Here's the really interesting part: Faith-based volunteers, writes MacLeod, "sacrifice in some degree their individual autonomy for the sake of some good greater than themselves. They are, in short, communal beings who act through communal means for common goods."

In an aside, I like the term free market better than capitalism because it comes with less baggage. Also, as BreakPoint Blog commenters have pointed out, the term social justice carries baggage too.

Comments:

The term social justice doesn't so much have baggage, as it just makes no sense, and it's code word for those who use it that they're more enlightened and compassionate than those hard-hearted self-centered capitalist conservatives. That's of course a partisan overstatement, but there is some truth to that. The author of the piece states:

"If social justice is primarily a matter of equal distribution of resources. . . ."

Then social justice is wrong and could be argued is evil, because the only way to have an "equal distribution of resources" is by coercion and primarily of the state. Why is it that every study of giving and charity shows that liberal left types give less than conservative/religious folks? Because they are compassionate with other peoples money. Look at what Gore and Kerry gave to charity compared to Romney, for example. There is no comparison.

Justice is primarily a legal concept in the Bible, not the distribution of wealth. Egalitarianism is not justice and has nothing to do with justice.
Kenosis
Hmmm - Kim, you wrote:
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Here's the really interesting part: Faith-based volunteers, writes MacLeod, "sacrifice in some degree their individual autonomy for the sake of some good greater than themselves. They are, in short, communal beings who act through communal means for common goods."
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I gather that this is interesting to you because under communist and/or socialist governments, individuals are forced to be communal beings. Under free market societies, individuals can voluntarily be communal beings. Likewise, "the common good" is determined by some central authority in communism and socialism, while in free societies each individual can determine what is good for all.

Many of us are quite willing to have someone make the case that some action is for the common good. However, we resent having that action forced upon us. This is especially true when "all are equal, but some are more equal than others", as recently noted about taxation, by Mark Steyn:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/289409/we-are-zero-percent-mark-steyn

I have great joy in supporting PFM as I am able. If it were made a part of my Federal income tax, I would see it very differently - especially if those who made it so did not also contribute.
Kim, I have almost finished reading Kevin Williamson's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism", and it leads me to think that you're absolutely right - not "capitalism vs. communism", but "free markets vs. central planning".

And Kevin, I agree. I've even noticed that Swedes have less concern for helping others that Swedish-Americans do. I think once a people turn responsibility for other people over to government, everyone suffers. Interestingly, those who could help but who do not are suffering themselves - for the same reasons that Fred pitied his Uncle Scrooge.
Communism, to me, seems like it would be more appropriately compared to a free-market monarchy or dictatorship. I'd not be real happy in one of those, either.

In reality, we have to deal with two separate issues: personal rights + civil liberties, and the size of government + taxation. I know many very happy Europeans who think we're crazy for how we do things over here, and even though they have much more "oppressive" taxation, they have similar civil liberties. On the other hand, if I lived in a country where I could start my own business and pay little taxes, but there was no free speech, no freedom of assembly, and/or one religion was mandated.. Uh-uh, not happy.

I'd like both sets, please - lower taxes, smaller government, as well as more civil rights - but if I had to choose between the two sets, I'd pick the human rights and civil liberties. And that's where Soviet-style communism goes the most wrong.
I was siting another source and was pointing out that she said ONE of the problems.
I realize there is a distinction between the economic system and the political systems, nevertheless I think it is very instructive to talk with people that have lived under Communist rule. I've talked with two refugees from Vietnam, a woman from Estonia, and a woman from Czechoslovakia, and in each case they have NO fondness for Communist rule. In addition, they are astonished that anyone in America would have any admiration in the least for Communist rule.
The exception to this-- somewhat-- is people from China. But then, I'm still trying to get a handle on how people from China view "the government," because it does seem to occupy a unique place in their thinking. I've talked with two self-admitted Chinese Communists, both of whom seemed rather apologetic and abashed, and seemed to see Party membership as a necessary requirement for any kind of advancement within China.
In Systems of Survival, Jane Jacobs says that one of the problems of Communism was that it attempts to apply the values proper to statecraft to commerce.