Capitalism is an economic system in which private citizens own factors of production and have the freedom to make economic decisions. Adam Smith, an advocate of free market economies, published a book in 1779 entitled The Wealth of Nations that illustrated his views on capitalism and brought them to the public eye. Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo were influential men who supported Mr. Smith in his ideas. Mr. Smith recognized the ills that come from too much government interference, and encouraged the spread of capitalism to keep businesses owners free. Under capitalism, a person’s income is based on his accomplishments. The harder one works, the more money he will earn, and the higher he will climb on the social status. In this economy, all officials are elected in free elections. Consumers, as well as entrepreneurs, decide what will be produced, based upon what they “vote” for with their dollar.
Socialism is a mix of market and command economies. In such an economy, the factors of production are owned by the people but controlled by the government through taxes and laws. Socialists believe government control can end poverty. This system began in the early 1800’s to offset the ills of industrialization. French revolutionists Charles Fourier and Henri de Saint-Simon preached that socialism would end opposition from employers. They believe governments are able to be more just and distribute wealth and justice better than the common man. Socialism strives for more equality in income than is common and recommends collective ownership of the factors of production. It is the border between capitalism and communism.
Marxism was begun by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the early 1800’s. Mr. Marx was concerned that the Industrial Revolution was making wealthy people richer and poor people more poverty-stricken. Marxism is a radical form of socialism. Mr. Marx and Mr. Engels wanted social equity for everyone. They believed the bourgeoisie took advantage of the working class. It was their goal to remove all poor and wealthy people, combining them into a single middle class. They wished to unite their followers and seize political power, crushing capitalism. Marxists believe capitalism will eventually destroy the economy.
Communism is as far from capitalism as day is from night. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848 which formed a truly command economy. Communism is very close to Marxism and socialism. Not only were they conceived by the same people, they also share many economic goals. All three economies try to protect the subjugated proletariat from the bourgeois, and unite the social classes. Under the communist economy, however, every worker receives the same wage, despite his efforts. Communism is based on the belief that a man’s economic history is more important than their religious, legal, or government history. The power of the government comes by seizure of power rather than...