Perhaps the better question would be Capitalism or Socialism. Seeing at how communism, based on Karl Marx's standards, have never been achieved without human nature screwing it up. My view is, none of them work. What you need to do is take the best of each of them, and base your government on what is best for the people's life style, freedom and motivation. Its how all the best countries seem to function.
This video shows change in wealth and health in countries of the world. It does not reveal political philosophy, but It is relatively easy to identify the wealth and health changes over 200 years. Sadly, it does not go past 2000 and the economy has taken a sharp drop all over the world.
Capitalism is a philosophy that favors protection of wealth over people, has booms and busts often over time leaving vast numbers of people without enough work, income, food, health care, and then with the introduction of easy borrowing, people started borrowing to keep up the "good times". This system of government is revealing itself to be a failure because of corruption, it does not incentivise labor and does not provide safety, security and stability. Booms and busts cause creating great wealth at the cost of great poverty.
Communism does not reward entrepreneurial effort, thus giving incentives that do not support individual effort. Power coming from the top presents a costly way to manage finances and industry. It is a system that has proved itself a failure in many ways, partly because of corruption, and partly because not incentivising work.
Both of these systems have proven themselves to be failures.
SteveInCO, you got it and said it exactly as I experienced it. No matter how you look at that situation, slave labor was alive and well.
G, your question, "Which is better?" has brought out some interesting views but you haven't contributed for a while.
Is there a reason?
I'm wanting to stir another view into the discussion: "Privatize the profits; socialize the costs."
It explains the environmental damage in America, which Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring shocked us into seeing.
Capitalism is not as good for polluters as it once was. It's better for people who breathe than it once was.
The curious blend of communism/capitalism in China is still pretty good for polluters but even there, changes are happening.
What say you?
What say others? We've only scratched the surface of the issue G raised.
For instance, has American capitalism contributed to American religiosity?
Capitalism does not guarantee each citizen a right to access to education, or start-up loans, or access to health care. Any one of these could knock a family off their pins and prevent good, qualified, intelligent, hard working people from getting ahead.
Capitalism protects property. That is the way it is designed, the way it is intended, and to pretend it makes possible equal access to opportunity leaves one in a very big ocean without a paddle.
Does one of these two, or a third, suck less?
I can't answer the question, having lived only under capitalism. It does seem to me that any answers here will be swayed by the politics of the government under which you live.
The problem, as I see it, is people believe their tradition is valid and appropriate, some even assume "everyone does it this way." When people in our country have a very limited exposure to other cultures, and if they grow up in a fundamentalist value system, they have very parochial beliefs. Going away to college often puts cracks in such thinking. Of going to other nations, one sees very different belief systems and sometime question their own traditions. Sadly, far too often, people's opinions become concretized, hard as rock, and blind to seeing any other way and unable to think any other thoughts.
I grew up in a small town and Baptists were right in their beliefs; Methodists thought their version was correct; Roman Catholics had yet another version; a Mormon family held still other beliefs. A little town, split four way. Going away to school, then doing some traveling convinced me they all held on to beliefs based on delusions. I go back and express my thinking that there is no god, life has no meaning, there is no purpose to life, there is no heaven or hell and they think I am insane.
Why should I expect two countries to get along when our little village has chasms?
Neither -socialism is the happy child of marriage between the two.. Threat of communism brought about socialist influences in the West first half of 20th century when capitalist power was out of control and had changed nature of work too direly in 19th centurty. Capitalism has been reclaiming the turf since the 80s from socialist influence.
Capitalists always knock the soviets but Europe would have been over-run by German facists without Russia to absorb the shock and tire out such an aggressive army. The States would have got off their back-sides too late. Thankfully we had a monster as big as Hitler on our side in Stalin. You could say communism saved the west; saved its capitalists.
The Cold War didn't kill off communism but the cronyism of its aging, stagnant beaurocracy did.
Are corporarions capitalists or a new breed? I'm getting sick and tired of hearing they have too much political, legal and financial clout to be regulated. There used to be a trickle down effect to capitalism than is missing these days. Why ask- is it even capitalism at work or do we need a new criteria to put corporations/ banking corps into?