Capitalism is both an economic and political system in which the financial market, production, and concepts of private ownership are driving factors for operation and success. Power in a capitalist society is held and maintained by those with wealth. Although capitalism is not a government system, it often interacts and influences with the government the likes of Democracy. Since the social system of capitalism is based on the market, most political decisions and policies are both influenced by and have an effect on economic market fluctuations and its many indicators (Nolt, 2017). Thus, those with considerable wealth at all levels of society, local, state, and national, can significantly influence policy and power dynamics.
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The social order of capitalism is based on the possession of private property which can come in the form of wealth, production capabilities, or infrastructure and real estate. The possession of private property creates socio-economic classes which hold their places in the market-based system. While the lower class are basic, often non-specialized workers, the middle class are specialists of some sort, while the upper class is the wealthy elite of managers, highly specialized professionals, and leadership.
In turn, each class has its share of wealth that they can afford to spend and matching access to resources. Another perspective is that the system is inherently divided into capitalists who control all the means of production, and the workers who are essentially gears in the system.
Justice and the legal system in capitalism are based on objectively defined laws focused on individual rights. The system is based on the rule of law or legislation, rather than the rule of man (regulation), in which anyone has freedom to act as they want as long as it does not impede the rights of others. The government serves as an impartial judge and a paid public servant to deliver justice based on written laws, but it is not a regulator or dictator. Justice is dependent on a contractual society as individuals regulate their own affairs and voluntarily associate and exchange wealth with others on a mutual basis (“What is capitalism?,” n.d.).
Capitalism promotes the public good by creating a socio-economic system where individuals are provided with the freedom, resources, and often opportunities to thrive and develop, in any sense of the word, including personally and professionally. A market system enables progress and prosperity, allowing society to develop to a level of wealth and resource availability that was unimaginable centuries ago. The capitalist system, despite its flaws, ensures prices are affordable, products are of higher quality, and there are certain laws and standards which are adhered to and enforced. In turn, this increases the standard of living and the general incentive for innovation in a society driven by its market functions.
Nolt, J. (2017). Power in capitalism. Web.
What is capitalism? (n.d.). Web.
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Benefiting the Public Good
Socialism is a theoretical economic and political system which is often considered to be the antithesis to capitalism. Socialism is categorized by a collective and public approach to economic ownership and self-management with subsequent rewards equally distributed among the general population. In socialism, the power lies with the people, particularly, with workers who unite and integrate to create governing bodies. These groups elect representatives to the government or committees to manage and facilitate production. The government in socialism is fully accountable to people and must dedicate its service to society (Edwards, 2918). Therefore, if the majority of people lose trust in the government, it will be easily removed as the political and economic power is fully in the population’s hands.
Socialism was created by Karl Marx as the opposition to capitalism which consists of the two-class social order of capitalists (bourgeoise) who control the means of production and the workers (proletariat) who work on this production. In capitalism, the bourgeoisie put in little work but reap most of the benefits. However, in socialism, this is seen as exploitation of workers, and the social order consists of a universal class of the proletariat.
Socialism attempts to eliminate the idea that workers can exchange their labor and, in turn, be controlled. Instead, workers work together and enjoy the benefits and rewards together, establishing a system of absolute equality from any political or economic perspective. Socialism establishes a framework of the common or state ownership of production and enterprise (Edwards, 2018).
Justice in socialism is essentially focused on the equal distribution of resources and wealth among the population. It attempts to eliminate and prevent any given individual from having considerably more wealth than others. Distributive justice often practiced in socialism attempts to fairly distribute rights, duties, and responsibilities along with benefits and rewards. Citizens are expected to uphold the social and political order along with any laws that were passed as a collective or by the state.
Distributive justice in capitalism takes on several forms. It can be egalitarian, regardless of any premises or characteristics of individuals. It can be based on the principle of need, like those in greatest need benefit the most. Finally, there is the proportion of contribution where wealth is divided based on input but avoids the pitfall of capitalism by focusing on manual labor (Edwards, 2018).
It can be argued that the whole system of socialism is created for the public good as it seeks to eliminate the unfairness, socio-economic disparity, and a disproportionate division of resources concentrated in the hands of the wealthy elite. While the bourgeoisie uses money for self-indulgence and luxury, many people from the working-class struggle with basic human and social needs. Therefore, in the socialist system of governance and distributive justice, the needs of the many are looked out for before the needs of the few.
Edwards, L. (2018). What Americans must know about socialism. Web.