Whenever an economic crisis occurs, such as that of today or the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s, people start to question capitalism and look to other forms of economic development for answers to economic problems of the day. Essentially, these questions are questions about ideology; about which political, economic and social system should govern our society. Capitalism is arguably the dominant economic system in the world and it is based upon the notion of private poverty. Private poverty is at the core of capitalist ideology and it is arguably the most basic tenant of the modern Western world. Socialism, on the other hand, is based upon collective ownership and the idea that communitarianism and public ownership of goods and property reign supreme. China, an avowedly socialist country, just recently legalized private property in 2004. As the BBC reports, “members of Chinas National Peoples Congress have introduced a proposed amendment to the constitution, which will legally protect private property rights for the first time since 1949” (BBC, 2003). For someone who lived and grew up in a capitalist society it is incredulous to think that private property, an idea so basic in the Western world, was not made official in China until 2004. Unbelievable really. This essay will explore capitalism and communism in comparative perspective. We now turn to an overview of capitalism and private ownership (Hobsbawm, 1994).
Capitalism is arguably the most well-known model of economic development and growth and is responsible for the globalization of international trade, foreign capital and the growth and development of much of the Western world (excluding Cuba and including Australia, which is commonly included in economic analyses of the “West”). Capitalism advocates free market economic principles of development and believes in deregulation, a belief in the invisible distributive hand of the