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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Economic "isms"


An economy is an institution accounting for the resources needed to create value in the forms of goods or services that people need or want within a political system. The goal, role and practice of the relevant government impacts not only on its people but also its economy. A play-safe public strategy is to retain the traditional institution and practice.

Basing on self-interest, competition and profits, capitalism practising via a non-interventionist government, recognises private (not-in-common) property rights. The divisive theory rests on the belief that free economic, political and religious markets are more efficient and also more in keeping with human nature. While the rich (in social classes) may get richer, the overall goal is to make everyone better off with possible philanthropic handouts for the poor.

Basing on common interest and planned (no-competition) economy, communism practising via central command, resolves the capitalistic evils by holding nearly all property in common. The cooperative theory derives support from the dehumanizing capitalistic exploitation with the objective to enhance society's betterment. While social classes may end without motivation of wealth, the overall goal of the coercive perfection is to establish the communist society.

Basing on egalitarian and altruistic values, socialism in the economic system continuum is between the extreme forms of capitalism and communism with no competition and no social classes. The distribution principle is: from each according to ability, and to each according to needs. While people may earn more if they work harder, the overall goal of the centralist-collective institution is to protect those who are in need.

Governments here and there captured or created societal prototypes of these economic "isms" including their variations, and have tested them with different degrees of success or setback for the past century or so. Being human, I believe communism would only work in the robotic world while capitalism in the human world. For socialism and its actual application of distributive justice, even I myself have difficulty in distinguishing my wants from my needs!

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