The Main Debate: Communism Versus Capitalism

The Main Debate: Communism Versus Capitalism

The Main Debate: Communism Versus Capitalism

The Main Debate: Communism Versus Capitalism

Excerpt

There are numerous books available about capitalism, and others about communism; this volume will not be an addition to either of these sets of literature. I know of no volume that tries to bring together contributions from supporters of both theories of capitalism and communism. That is what this book does. It aims to present a reasonably fairminded face-off.

Capitalist theorists in this book tend toward supporting the kind of political economy implicit in the works of John Locke and Adam Smith. Yet capitalism's supporters may not see eye-to-eye on the system's details. Capitalists in this book tend, also, to stress individuality, believing that individuals possess rights to personal sovereignty and private property that clearly block certain grand social purposes, however desirable these may be. Thus a supporter of capitalism would not favor coercive redistribution of wealth for the sake of advancing the arts or even social welfare for the poor.

Communist theorists in this book are mostly Marxists or neo-Marxists, those who see Marx's understanding of human life as largely correct. They see communism or socialism, understood in Marx's terms, as the most advanced human community. They tend also to emphasize the social or communal side of human nature and understand the human individual as inherently communal: the individual's full development depends on the full development of everyone else.

Capitalists, as understood here, do not regard the United States or Great Britain as fully capitalist systems, though they would agree that these countries have been among the closest to capitalism to date. Consistent capitalism does not admit of government regulation of the economy, subsidies to business, or trade restrictions. Such a system institutes the principles of the right to private property, as understood in the Lockean tradition, throughout the society. For . . .

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