Why Is Socialism Bad?

why is socialism bad

As the World Economic Forum in Davos draws to a close, and illustrious political and business power brokers leave the snowy town, one wonders where this leaves the rest of us. Although some NGOs also made representations, only a handful of small anti-globalisation protests took place. Have people suddenly got the answer to the question why is socialism bad and decided to stay away?

In recent times, socialism has become a dirty word, one associated with an unruly far left. Is this tarnish justified? Let’s look at the dictionary definitions of socialism and pitch it against the capitalism-definition.

Socialism Definition

This is the definition you will find in the Cambridge Dictionary:

socialism 

noun [ U ] 
UK  /ˈsəʊ.ʃəl.ɪ.zəm/ US  /ˈsoʊ.ʃəl.ɪ.zəm/
C2 the set of beliefs that states that all people are equal and should share equally in a country’s money, or the political systems based on these beliefs

Cambridge Dictionary

Reading this definition, one wonders, what’s wrong with socialism? What’s wrong with equality? What’s wrong with sharing equally in a country’s money? Staunch capitalists will cite examples of countless failed socialist regimes and emphasize that socialism simply doesn’t work.

The current upheaval in Venezuela is a prime example of what divides the right and the left. While the US supports and recognizes the opposition leader and calls Maduro out as a undemocratic socialist leader, Maduro supports blame economic sanctions for the dire state of the Venezuelan economy.

How Did Socialism Get Such a Bad Name?

Capitalists don’t like the restrictions socialism places on economies. Instead, they propagate free market rules designed for growth and economic freedom. Needless to say, they also like low tax rates.

Perhaps one ought to take a brief look back at the history of socialism to understand how this political philosophy came about in the first instance. What’s more, it’s important to understand that socialism has many different applications.

What is socialism?

The examples in the video illustrate the vast differences in the application of the socialist model. It appears that the nations combining capitalism and socialism like Denmark and Sweden have been the most successful in promoting economic growth while also ensuring a decent degree of equality.

A Brief Look at Capitalism

Let’s take a look at the Cambridge Dictionary definition of capitalism first:

capitalism

noun [ U ] 
UK  /ˈkæp.ɪ.təl.ɪ.zəm/ US  /ˈkæp.ə.t̬əl.ɪ.zəm/
C2 an economicpolitical, and social system in which property,business, and industry are privately owneddirected towards making the greatest possible profits for successful organizations and people

Cambridge Dictionary

The USA and Europe illustrate the workings of capitalism, although some countries incorporate elements of socialism into their political system. Countries like Sweden have excellent public services to cater to those who may not be able to afford private healthcare or education.

The 2008 Financial Crisis – Capitalism Goes Socialist

After the 2008 global recession, countless financial institutions required state financial support in what appears to be a contradiction in terms.

If you wear your socialist hat for a moment, you’d have to ask yourself how financial institutions arrived at asking for and taking government bailouts. While sticking to strictly capitalist principles when profitable, the banks suddenly put on a socialist hat and gladly took the cash.

Many governments feared the mayhem that may have been associated with the collapse of the banking sector and jumped in to help without delay. Who footed the bill? The taxpayer, stupid!

The Basic Principles of Socialism v Capitalism in Brief

So, how do the two systems impact on the everyday workings of a society?

SocialismCapitalism
Ownershipgovernment or
Co-ops
individuals or
Businesses
Wealth
Distribution
government
controlled
determined by
people or companies
Taxeshigher taxes for
public services
lower taxes to
stimulate
economic growth
Equalitygovernment ensures
greater equality
wealth gap
Pricesless competition,
higher prices
more competition,
lower prices
Public
Services
substantial
government
investment
limited government
spending
Disadvantagesslower economic
growth
inequality
Advantagesequality and better
public services
stronger economic
growth

This is a simplistic view of capitalism and socialism. The real impact also depends on world economic factors, political stability, and international relations. Moreover, most economies combine the two political philosophies, each creating and implementing its own socialism&capitalism cocktail.

Socialism – Good or Bad?

In theory, socialist principles are worthwhile. Unfortunately, its pure application is nigh unachievable.

Capitalism – Good or Bad?

One only needs to bring to mind the ever-widening wealth gap to grasp the very serious and catastrophic downsides of pure capitalism. Only one year ago, the Guardian reported that 42 individuals held the same amount of wealth as 3.7 billion of the world’s poorest people.

Socialism v Capitalism

Socialism and capitalism are wide open to abuse. In its principles, socialism promotes equality and fairness – something that no one can argue with.

Smartly combining capitalism and socialism appears to be the best way to provide citizens with a decent standard of living while promoting economic growth.




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