Nationalism, Communism, Socialism and Capitalism: Explained
Introduction The concept of the state is comparatively modern and owes its origin to Machiavelli who expressed this idea as the power which has authority over men. In other words, the state is no more than the rule of the stronger. The power which has authority over men is the government and the purpose of this government is… Read More »
The concept of the state is comparatively modern and owes its origin to Machiavelli who expressed this idea as the power which has authority over men. In other words, the state is no more than the rule of the stronger. The power which has authority over men is the government and the purpose of this government is to establish the terms under which people will live together. There exist numerous ideologies, which are known as various “isms” i.e. Socialism, Nationalism, Capitalism, etc. which lay down the manner of the ruling of the state.
‘Nationalism’ is the patriotic feeling or love towards our nation or country. It indicates respect, freedom and development. Nationalism is a spiritual concept which originates in the people of having the same race, language, traditions and culture, religion, politics, inhabiting a territory of geographic unity. Flags, national anthem, songs, etc represent nationalism. In short, it is associated with the feeling of being a part of a nation and dedicated to the growth of our own nation.
E.g: If you live in a society and the main occupation in that area is farming. When the crops are sold, you make sure that neither these crops nor any profit derived out of this sale should leave the country.
Origin of Nationalism
From a political or sociological perspective, there are two main perspectives on the origins and basis of nationalism;
- The primordial perspective describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth.
- The modernist perspective describes nationalism as a modern phenomenon that requires the systemic conditions of modern society to exist.
- Nationalism preserves national culture.
- It inspires people to succeed.
- It gives a nation a position of strength.
- It creates love for the country.
- It develops the infrastructure of the nation.
- Nationalism creates a healthy spirit of national rivalry.
- Nationalism breeds legitimate pride and self-respect in a country.
- Nationalism offers dynamic forces of cultural and economic creativity.
- Nationalism helps in promoting internationalism.
- It often leads to separation and loneliness.
- It can lead to socioeconomic cliques.
- It can lead to war.
- According to Hayes, nationalism has been “a curse and nothing but a curse.”
‘Communism’ comes from the Latin word, ‘communis’ which means ‘common.’ It is any political or any social society whose end goal or aim is to set up or to make a communist government or communist society; built upon the common ownership of the means of production and the non-appearance of social classes.
Here, society has organised itself into a system whereby everybody works as much as they can, and receives whatever they need. The principle followed in communism is, ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’
Karl Marx was a great supporter of communism because it supports the idea that inequality should not be promoted in society.
Eg: if you live in a society and the main occupation in that area is farming. When the crops are sold, whatever profit is received will be shared among all the members living in the area equally.
But this also sometimes promotes lethargy, since people have it in their minds that everything will be taken care of by the government they don’t find the need to work hard.
Karl Marx on Communism [Ideal State]
Karl Marx wanted to set up an ideal society, where no room for inequality existed. For an implementation of the same, he produced 2 important books; Das Capital and Communist Manifesto. In his communist manifesto, he laid down the stages to form a communist society. He said that there existed 2 kinds of classes, the haves and have-nots. The haves was the capitalist and then they forced the haves not who he called the “proletariat (working class),” to work for them. This situation was unfair in the distribution of wealth within a society.
The main problem arises when the capitalist pays very low wages to the working class and keeps the chunk of profit for themselves. This situation would frustrate the working class and therefore rise up to “seize the means of production.” The purpose of the uprising by the workers would be to distribute the wealth in a fair way among all members of society. This stage of historical evolution would be called “socialism.”
In a socialist state, the workers would own the means of production and all would share the profits equally. All the workers will work for themselves leading to the disappearance of governments, as the workers have understood the benefit of working for the good of each other. Once this model state of affairs occurred, his ideal society i.e. Communism would exist.
- Promotes nationalism
- Focus on a strong military
- Equality; as it favours classless society
- State supplies many public goods including; housing, employment, healthcare, etc
- Meets everyone’s needs
- Job security
- Government transitions are usually violent
- Government rules through propaganda and fear
- Redistribution of income
- Limited decision-making power
- Lack of motivation or incentive
- High taxes
‘Socialism’ means the society whose large heavy industries are controlled by a government, not by an individual or any person.
The state is responsible for organizing the economy and society so that there are no capitalists, and the workers run the place. Eventually, this organisation will become less and less as Communism begins.
Eg: if you live in a state and the main occupation there is farming. When the crops are produced, the state gives a portion of them to its neighbour.
- Economic Equality
- Lower unemployment
- More public goods and services
- Meets the needs of the majority of people
- Redistribution of incomes
- High taxes
- Less freedom
- Lack of incentives
- Lack of motivation
- Government sets prices for government-owned resources
- Government decides the allocation of government-owned resources
‘Capitalism’ means the society based on individual rights or private ownership is allowed in this type of system. It is the opposite of socialism.
The Macmillan Dictionary of Modern Economics defines capitalism as a:
“Political, social, and economic system in which property, including capital assets, is owned and controlled for the most part by private persons. Capitalism contrasts with an earlier economic system, feudalism, in that it is characterized by the purchase of labour for money wages as opposed to the direct labour obtained through custom, duty or command in feudalism… Under capitalism, the price mechanism is used as a signalling system that allocates resources between uses. The extent to which the price mechanism is used, the degree of competitiveness in markets, and the level of government intervention distinguish exact forms of capitalism.”
The above definition pinpoints capitalism as a social, political, and economic system that succeeded feudalism based upon recognition of the rights of private parties to choose how to employ their labour and capital in markets as indicated by market forces and not traditions.
One group of people own what’s called the means of production (land, factories, etc.)these are the capitalists. Another group of people work in these factories etc., and the first group pay them some money for their work, but take much more for themselves, these are the workers.
It is based on the principle that, ‘rich becomes richer and poor becomes poorer’ thus promotes inequality.
Eg: If you live in a society and the main occupation in that area is farming. You have two cows on this farm. You sell one and get a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You sell them and live comfortably.
History of Capitalism
- The development of capitalism as a system dates only from the 16th century but antecedents of capitalist institutions existed in the ancient world too. The development of capitalism was spearheaded by the growth of the English cloth industry during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
- In the ethic fostered by the protestant reformation of the 16th century, hard work and frugality were given a stronger religious sanction. Economic Inequality was justified on the grounds that the wealthy were more virtuous than the poor.
- Europe’s supply of precious metals and the resulting inflation in prices was also a contributing factor. In this period, the main beneficiaries of the inflation were the capitalists, as Wages did not rise as fast as the prices. The policies of national power followed by these states succeeded in providing the basic social conditions necessary for economic development and eventually made possible the shift from public to private initiative.
- Beginning in the 18th century in England, the focus of capitalist development shifted from commerce to industry. The ideology of classical capitalism was expressed in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations (1776), by the Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, which recommended leaving economic decisions to the free play of self-regulating market forces.
- The growth of industrial capitalism and the development of the factory system in the 19th century inspired the revolutionary philosophy of Karl Marx. Karl Marx was against this very concept and hence advocated communism, which promotes equality for all.
“The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.” ― Karl Marx
- World War I marked a turning point in the development of capitalism. After the war, trade barriers multiplied. In the decades following World War II, the economies of the major capitalist countries, which had adopted some genre of the welfare state, performed well, restoring some of the confidence in the capitalist system that had been lost in the 1930s.
- Market efficiency
- Economic prosperity
- Personal freedom; freedom of choice, products, careers, location, etc
- Private property
- Competition; lower prices, better quality and more variety
- Economic inequality
- Goods do not meet everyone’s needs
- Fewer public goods and services
Although the above-mentioned ideologies seem to have many similarities, however, at the same time, differences between them are also many and cannot be ignored. To choose any one of them would be really difficult even after knowing the differences as whatever it is but, in the end, it is all tyranny.