Introductory Economics: CONCEPTS, CAPITALISM, AND CONTROVERSIES

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The anti-Communists are also deeply divided in their ideas of the economic system they would prefer to Communism. They range from champions of the free market to left-wing Socialists, with every variety of New Dealer, planner, and statist in between. The New Dealers seem as eager to repudiate "laissez faire Capitalism" as they do Communism. And when it comes to the basic economic organization they propose, the Socialists are actually at one with the Communists against Capitalism. These violent divisions within the ranks of the anti-Communists have led to conflicting ideas concerning the proper "strategy" against Communism.

There are those who think that "anti-Communism" is itself a sufficient ground for unity. Communism, they say, is not a doctrine that needs to be dissected, but a conspiracy that needs to be suppressed. What we must do is to ferret out the Communists — in the government, in the armed forces, in the U.

Anything else, they contend, is either unimportant or a diversion. There is another group that is not satisfied merely with being against Communism, which concedes that the opponents of Communism must have a common positive philosophy, but which thinks that belief in "Democracy" is enough. This has been substantially the position of the State Department and the Voice of America under Truman. It is the position of the major part of the American press. It does not stand up under serious analysis. It can be stretched or compressed, like an accordion, to meet the controversial needs of the moment.

Absolute advantage

To some it means a political system under which the government depends upon the uncoerced will of the people in such a way that it can be peaceably changed whenever the will of the people changes. To others it means anything down to a system of unrestrained mob rule in which everyone is declared by fiat to be equal in merit and influence to everyone else; in which a minority has no rights that a majority is bound to respect; in which anyone's property can be confiscated at will, and distributed to those who did nothing to earn it; in which incomes are to be equalized in spite of glaring inequalities in ability, effort, and contribution.

This second concept of Democracy must lead inevitably into a Communist system and not toward a free one. The enemy has taken it over and used it for his own purposes. The Communists call their own system tautologically but beguilingly a "people's democracy," and argue that capitalist democracy is a contradiction in terms.

Even if the concept of "Democracy" did not suffer from a fatal ambiguity, it would still refer primarily to a political system. But Communism stands primarily for an economic system, of which the political accompaniment is mainly a consequent or superstructure. Therefore "Democracy" is in any case a false antithesis to Communism.

It is like declaring west to be the opposite of north, or cold to be the opposite of black.

Labor Theory of Value

The true opposite of Communism is Capitalism. The Communists know it, but most of the rest of us don't. This is the real reason for the ideological weakness of the opposition to Communism, and for the ineffectiveness of most of the propaganda against it — particularly the official propaganda, up to now, of the State Department and the Voice of America , and of the Western governments generally.

All these set up "Democracy" as the antithesis of Communism, partly because they are confused enough to believe it is, and partly because they have neither the will nor the courage to defend Capitalism. There are several reasons behind this reluctance. To begin with, the very word "Capitalism" was coined and given currency by Marx and Engels. It was deliberately devised as a smear word. It was meant to suggest what it probably still does suggest to most minds — a system developed by and for the capitalists.

The overwhelming majority of bureaucrats in the Western countries do not really believe in the basic principles of Capitalism.

The economic freedom it involves is alien to their minds. Examine some of the major questions that shape economic systems and close with a brief overview of the goals and scope of the course. As you examine their individual philosophies and influences across three centuries, you may be surprised by how many of their ideas overlap even as their philosophies differ. From GDP and inflation to unemployment and standard of living, there is no one absolute measurement that determines the health of an economy. Get an overview of the different metrics for economic success and a general understanding of how they are calculated and interpreted—and why these data points can start more arguments than they resolve.

Travel to the birthplace of industrial capitalism: Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. A fortuitous meeting of politics, technology, and economics would shape the future and give the world innovations like insurance, corporate ownership and investment, and extended payment systems.

It would also inspire writers like Charles Dickens to reveal the horrifying social repercussions of unregulated industrialization. Modern capitalism may have been born in England, but America would be defined by it from the very beginning. Look at some of the paradoxes inherent in free market systems and how Protestant religious philosophy played a significant part in the direction of the economy.

Then, see how founding figures like Hamilton and Jefferson set the course for American economic dominance in the years to come. The many opportunities and innovations of capitalism in the U.

Religious and political thinkers alike turned to new solutions to alleviate the often horrible conditions many workers experienced, resulting in socialist projects that fell into two camps: utopian and scientific. Close with a look at the difficulties inherent in running socialist systems in a largely market economy. Examine the ways Stalin sought to exercise complete control of the Soviet economy, focusing on his Five-Year Plan for production—an object lesson in the complexities of anticipating and satisfying the material needs of a society.

Professor Stuart also gives you an eye-opening look at the ways economics and politics can feed off of one another. Or, in this case, starve each other.

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Examine the ways Stalin sought to exercise complete control of the Soviet economy, focusing on his Five-Year Plan for production- an object lesson in the complexities of anticipating and satisfying the material needs of a society. The end of World War I illustrates one of the iron laws of capitalism: upheavals in one part of the world have repercussions all around it.

Understand how the Treaty of Versailles set up harsh terms for a depleted Germany and why shortsighted leadership from the Allied powers led to economic fallout and, eventually, the second World War. Was the stock market crash of the cause of the Great Depression?


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Find out why Black Tuesday was actually a symptom rather than a cause and trace the origins of the Depression in the U. In the wake of economic and social turmoil in the 19th century, some European countries sought to reform the capitalist system and make it more sustainable.

Examine the different motives behind the reforms, understand the differences between public and private goods, and compare and contrast the myriad ways economies can blend capitalism and socialism. Discover why France, a latecomer to industrial capitalism, was vital in shaping influential socialist theories, and how centuries of political upheaval can leave distinct impressions on a nation's economic history.

From the French Revolution to World War II and beyond, France is a strong example of the ways economies are shaped by both internal and external forces. The British economy has vacillated between privatization and nationalization over time. Here you will look at one of these shifts by first examining the socialist programs introduced by a post-World War II Labour Party government including the National Health Service , followed by the Margaret Thatcher era of deregulations and privatizations.

Socialist policies are not limited to the realm of idealists and reformers. Germany under Otto von Bismarck shows how socialist policies like public education, unemployment benefits, and tax-funded healthcare can be used to create more efficient workforces. See how Bismarck's ideas were used to help Germany achieve greater political power and trace the echoes of his legacy into the 20th century under Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Examine the ways Soviet Russia dominated the nations of Eastern Europe, bringing them under the umbrella of authoritarian communism, and which nations pushed back against this takeover.

In contrast, also look at the policies and institutions put in place by the Western allies to rebuild Europe. The post-war occupation of Germany by four separate powers—and the difficult question of how to avoid the problems that stemmed from the Treaty of Versailles just a few decades earlier—created a division that would dominate Europe for more than four decades.

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It also created a unique opportunity for direct comparison between communist and capitalist enterprise, which you will take advantage of here. Despite attempts by some Soviet leaders in the mid-to-late 20th century, Russia was never able to successfully reform the oppressive and increasingly inefficient Soviet communist system. Professor Stuart shows how the authoritarian government encouraged dysfunctional behavior in production and why the resulting scarcity of decent goods and services ultimately became unsupportable.


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In retrospect, it would seem that communism in Eastern Europe was doomed to fail.