My socialism is bigger than yours

Socialist Apples versus Capitalist Oranges: The One Thing the Debaters Are Getting Wrong

In the socialism versus capitalism debate the defenders of the Left usually make a basic mistake right off the bat. Socialism is an economic and political system, while capitalism is only an economic system. Apples and oranges.

In socialism (and its cousin, communism) everything's been worked out in advance: there is no private property, rule of law, free elections or freedom of expression.

In contrast, capitalism can exist under a variety of political regimes. Capitalism can be found in republics, parliamentary systems, monarchies and even under dictatorships. Capitalism is concerned with economics, not politics.

If you want do discuss politics, do not compare socialism with capitalism. Compare it with a republican or parliamentary system, or with a monarchy. Compare socialism with democracy to understand what a nonsense it is to use the expression “democratic socialism”. Socialism and democracy are incompatible.

Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson, who wrote “Why Nations Fail”, classify political and economical institutions in two categories. An institution is extractive when it takes wealth from society to concentrate it the hands of a few people. An institution is inclusive when it allows many people to share in the wealth.

Capitalist institutions can be of either kind, depending on the degree of freedom in the economy and in politics. But socialist institutions are always extractive.

In capitalism you have a chance for a better life, depending on the political system and on the quality of the politicians.

In socialism and communism everything’s been decided for you in advance. And it was not decided in your favor.

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Roberto Motta is a Rio de Janeiro-based entrepreneur, consultant, lecturer and writer. He writes on LinkedIn, Medium , Facebook and Quora. He also blogs in Portuguese in his own blog Seis Por Meia Dúzia

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