G: "Which is better?" can lead to an interesting discussion if we also ask "For whom is one or the other better?"
In America, before the Civil War, capitalism was kind to wealthy folk and unkind to working folk. Taxpayer bailouts were common.
Capitalism became so unkind to so many that the government broke up monopolies, such as John Rockefeller's Standard Oil.
Labor unions formed because owners treated employees badly. The US Supreme Court ruled labor unions illegal.
Andrew Carnegie's steel mills made him wealthy. His assistant said his favorite labor negotiating tool was a machine gun.
That's an extreme case. Employees rebelled and owners hired small private "armies" to settle the issues.
Until the 1930s, the government was all but at war with working people.
Who supported working people? American communists. American capitalists hated American communists.
Search Wikipedia on "business plot" and read of a capitalist plot to overthrow the government and install fascism.
European capitalism is kinder to working people: universal health care, family leave time, longer vacations and more.
Taxpayers continue to bail out troubled businesses.
In theory, it's better for people who are not wealthy. In practice in the world, tyrants rule.
When I was in Catholic schools, a nun said convents are communist organizations. Yet, convents have mother superiors and other nuns have to obey her. Convents were/are economically communist and politically tyrannical. For whom is convent life better?
In the Soviet Union? To create communism, Stalin killed more Soviet citizens than Hitler's armies did during WW2.
In China, after WW2 the communists defeated the warlords who had ruled. Communist rule became a tyranny and millions died.
The question remains: "For whom is capitalism or communism better?"
The problem with this question is that it assumes a polarity that does not exist in the real world. There has never been a genuinely capitalist society, nor has there ever been a genuinely communist society. All real-world economic systems involve combinations of free market elements and government regulation. Historically, many have gyrated between the two, as Will Durant once noted:
Since practical ability differs from person to person, the majority of such abilities in nearly all societies, is gathered in a minority of men. The concentration of wealth is a natural result of this concentration of ability, and regularly recurs in history. The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and the laws. Despotism may for a time retard the concentration; democracy, allowing the most liberty, accelerates it... In progressive societies the concentration may reach a point where the strength in number of the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or revolution redistributing poverty.
Under capitalism, it was dog eat dog.
Under communism it is completely different, it is the other way around.
--old joke told in the Soviet Union.
Thank you, Steve, for adding some needed humor.
haha Nice Joke :-P
Perhaps the better question would be Capitalism or Socialism. Seeing at how communism, based on Karl Marx's standards, have never been achieved without human nature screwing it up. My view is, none of them work. What you need to do is take the best of each of them, and base your government on what is best for the people's life style, freedom and motivation. Its how all the best countries seem to function.
This video shows change in wealth and health in countries of the world. It does not reveal political philosophy, but It is relatively easy to identify the wealth and health changes over 200 years. Sadly, it does not go past 2000 and the economy has taken a sharp drop all over the world.
Capitalism is a philosophy that favors protection of wealth over people, has booms and busts often over time leaving vast numbers of people without enough work, income, food, health care, and then with the introduction of easy borrowing, people started borrowing to keep up the "good times". This system of government is revealing itself to be a failure because of corruption, it does not incentivise labor and does not provide safety, security and stability. Booms and busts cause creating great wealth at the cost of great poverty.
Communism does not reward entrepreneurial effort, thus giving incentives that do not support individual effort. Power coming from the top presents a costly way to manage finances and industry. It is a system that has proved itself a failure in many ways, partly because of corruption, and partly because not incentivising work.
Both of these systems have proven themselves to be failures.
SteveInCO, you got it and said it exactly as I experienced it. No matter how you look at that situation, slave labor was alive and well.
G, your question, "Which is better?" has brought out some interesting views but you haven't contributed for a while.
Is there a reason?
I'm wanting to stir another view into the discussion: "Privatize the profits; socialize the costs."
It explains the environmental damage in America, which Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring shocked us into seeing.
Capitalism is not as good for polluters as it once was. It's better for people who breathe than it once was.
The curious blend of communism/capitalism in China is still pretty good for polluters but even there, changes are happening.
What say you?
What say others? We've only scratched the surface of the issue G raised.
For instance, has American capitalism contributed to American religiosity?
Capitalism does not guarantee each citizen a right to access to education, or start-up loans, or access to health care. Any one of these could knock a family off their pins and prevent good, qualified, intelligent, hard working people from getting ahead.
Capitalism protects property. That is the way it is designed, the way it is intended, and to pretend it makes possible equal access to opportunity leaves one in a very big ocean without a paddle.
Does one of these two, or a third, suck less?