Similarities between Capitalism and Socialism: Compare and Contrast Essay

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There is an ongoing debate about the two economic systems namely, Socialism and Capitalism. The main difference between these two is the ownership of the assets. In Capitalism, assets are owned by private companies, while in Socialism they're owned by the government (Pettinger, 2017). According to Tejvan Pettinger (2017), capitalist societies' income depends on the market forces of the economy while socialist societies are more into the redistribution of resources. There are a lot of controversies that circulate these two economic systems, and numerous people have voiced their opinions on the said debate (Hayek, 1996). One of which is the famous scientist, Albert Einstein. He is known as one of the world’s greatest scientists. He has received numerous science degrees from both American and European universities (Nobel Lectures, n.d). Aside from his achievements in the science world, he has also made a fair share of contributions regarding social and political issues. Einstein heavily opposed the concept of capitalism, and he made it clear in the article he made for the Monthly Review. In the year 1949, Albert Einstein wrote an article titled, “Why Socialism?”. This article contained his personal thoughts and arguments about the economic system, Socialism. This economic system was his proposed solution to capitalism. Einstein has made a series of agreeable points while defending his claim. He made points that can really persuade people into considering the idea of Socialism. Although Albert Einstein has made some remarkable points in his article, “Why Socialism?”, he failed to structure his paper in a clear and concise manner.

“Why Socialism?” revolves around the idea that capitalism is bad, and the way to solve this problem is through socialism. In the first part of the article, he enumerates a few points that relate to why he believes that the whole society should be given the opportunity to state their thoughts on Socialism. He claims that Socialism’s goal is to overcome the predatory phase of human development, and it is focused on social-ethical ends. He believes that science is not capable of reaching such ends. Einstein also reminds his readers that science and scientific methods should not be overestimated, especially when talking about human society. He further explains that humans are solitary and social beings. As solitary beings, humans are expected to protect themselves and the people around them, while as social beings, they attempt to feel accepted in the society they live in. The reliance of humans on society gives them the right to talk about societal matters. As the paper develops, Einstein talks about the different downfalls of Capitalism. He believes that Capitalism is a source of evil. He talks about the unfair treatment that workers get. Workers, who produce the goods sold by the owners of the means of production, do not get paid for how much they produce, but rather, they are given an amount that is considered as their minimum needs. He then goes on to express how Capitalism mainly benefits the rich and not the underprivileged. Einstein also explains how the means of production are all privately owned, and the owners are able to dispose of them whenever they please. The production of goods and services is done for profit and not for use. Therefore, workers can always be unemployed depending on how many workers the firm deems fit since the owners only require a certain number of laborers to reach their profit-maximizing quantity. Einstein further explains that one way to solve this problem is through the establishment of a socialist society. This would entail that every single person has equal rights on property as it is owned by society. All members of society would be granted livelihood. However, the author ends by stating that Socialism is not a planned economy yet. There are still some problems that revolve around the idea.

Albert Einstein starts his paper off with the question, “Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism?”, and the first paragraph of his paper ends with his answer to that question. This misleads the readers into believing that his response, agreeing that even people who are not experts in certain fields should be given the chance to express their opinions on Socialism, is the thesis statement of the article. His answer to the question serves as the main topic of the first few paragraphs of the article, but it does not apply to the succeeding paragraphs. Einstein believed that individuals, despite their status, should be allowed to express their views on socialism. His first few lines talk about historical facts about the science of economics. He talks about how economics was heavily influenced by events in the past and the “predatory phase” of humans. Although he did not really define what this “predatory phase” is, it is clear that Einstein refers to capitalism. He believed that the only way to overcome this phase is through socialism. He then develops his paper by talking about how socialism is directed at a social-ethical end. He reminds the readers that they should not overestimate science and scientific methods. Einstein states, “We should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of the society,”. He proclaims that experts should not be the only ones who have the capability to have discussions about this problem as it is a concern of the whole society. He then goes on by recalling a personal experience relating to humans being hostile toward each other. Einstein had a visitor that questioned him about why he opposed the disappearance of the human race. He believes that this question was brought about by the hope that was lost. Einstein goes on by explaining how man is a solitary being, one who takes care of his own existence and those around him, as well as a social being, one who requires attention and affection from other humans. This puts into words how humans heavily rely on society, which means that man’s expression of his thoughts can influence those around him.

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The second half of Einstein’s article talked about why capitalism was not a good thing. In order to back this up, he states, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of evil,”. He elaborates on the relationship between the workers and the owners of the means of production. The value of these workers does not depend on the value of what they produce, but rather on the minimum wage. The owners of the means of production have full power over the laborers which means that they have control of the number of workers they want to hire and the number of workers they have to let go of. Workers are in constant competition to work hard since capitalism is not generous toward those who lack skills (Amadeo, 2018). Einstein then opens up the topic of private capitalism. Private capitalism brings inequality to society as the rich benefit from it more than the underprivileged. He shares that private capitalists control the main sources of information, which makes it difficult for other members of society to express their thoughts regarding the said problem. Furthermore, Einstein develops his paper by noting, “Production is carried on for profit, not for use,”. He relays to the readers that the reason why these owners of production produce goods is for their own benefit. If businesses are not in the right financial position, they can cut back the number of employees that they have (LWO, 2016). As mentioned previously, people compete for jobs, and this competition is what Einstein considers to be one of the worst evils brought by capitalism. He supplies this claim by mentioning, “An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career,”. With these problems revolving around Capitalism, Einstein believed that there was only one way to solve these problems, and it was through a planned economy which will eventually lead to socialism. In this economic system, society has equal rights with regard to the means of production, and they would be distributed fairly. This system would guarantee work and livelihood for all of the members of society. Socialism paves way for workers to not be exploited anymore as they own the means of production (Amadeo, 2019). Einstein then reminds his readers that the planned economy is not yet socialist. In order to fully achieve socialism, society must first fix socio-political problems.

Albert Einstein gave out a strong message regarding socialism, but the structure of his article made the messages unclear. He talked about how each member of society should be given the chance to express their views regarding socialism. He made points that persuaded readers into sharing the same thoughts with him. Einstein also gave his opinion on the capitalist system. He expressed the evils that the system brought, and he gave examples and explanations for each point he made. However, Einstein could have improved the structure of his article more by arranging his thoughts properly and establishing a clear thesis statement in order to make the readers know more about the article. He could have made “Members of the society should be able to express their views on socialism, and capitalism brings inequality to the society,” as his thesis statement. Overall, 'Why Socialism?' expressed a great message regarding economic systems, capitalism, and socialism.

The process of writing this journal article critique was quite challenging. Mainly because there was a huge struggle in trying to understand the article given. It took a series of analyses and a few videos before I was able to fully understand or at least get a gist of the article’s message. However, when I finally understood the article, it was easier to write about it, and the words flowed more freely in comparison to when I wasn’t able to get the main idea of the article. Overall, it was an experience that was without a doubt challenging, but at the same time, it was an experience that taught me a lot about writing a journal article critique.

References

  1. Amadeo, K. (2018, December 29). How Capitalism Works Compared to Socialism and Communism. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from https://www.thebalance.com/capitalism-characteristics-examples-pros-cons-3305588
  2. Amadeo, K. (2019, January 17). 8 Types of Socialism. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from https://www.thebalance.com/socialism-types-pros-cons-examples-3305592
  3. Hayek, F. A. (1996, May 01). The Use of Knowledge in Society | F. A. Hayek. Retrieved January 25, 2019, from https://fee.org/articles/the-use-of-knowledge-in-society/
  4. Nobel Lectures (n.d.). The Nobel Prize in Physics 1921. Retrieved January 27, 2019, from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1921/einstein/biographical/
  5. Pettinger, T. (2017, October 28). Capitalism vs Socialism. Retrieved January 26, 2019, from https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/glossary/capitalism-v-socialism/
  6. Retrenchment - what? when? how? (2018, November 19). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from http://lwo.co.za/retrenchment-what-when-how/?fbclid=IwAR3_0RN8dA0bhXCEIOmiKORHozYm8A3Hy1btxZArmLoGbHDvPMK4KuXbys8
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Similarities between Capitalism and Socialism: Compare and Contrast Essay. (2023, August 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/similarities-between-capitalism-and-socialism-compare-and-contrast-essay/
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Similarities between Capitalism and Socialism: Compare and Contrast Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Aug 29 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/similarities-between-capitalism-and-socialism-compare-and-contrast-essay/
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