When people in the United States are introduced to the concept of socialism - whether in the popular media or in a high school class - they are presented with a simple equation: socialism = a crippled economy that fails to meet people's basic needs + a totalitarian government. Stalinism, for example, is invoked as a model socialist government, one that brutally murdered anyone who dared oppose it, while the Soviet economy is repeatedly and incessantly visualized in terms of weary consumers standing in endless lines in order to purchase dull, defective products.
Consequently, if the question is raised concerning the relative merits of capitalism versus socialism, we discover that capitalism is the undisputed winner every time, provided that capitalism's version of socialism is the definition employed. And that is about as far as the investigation proceeds within the few venues for public discourse afforded by capitalist society today.
But with the world economic order in an increasing state of disorder as the U.S. economy falls back into a recession and Japan cannot seem to crawl out of one, a disorder where many countries throughout Asia have just experienced their worst economic crises in recent history and Argentina's economy has almost ceased to function, a disorder which promotes and intensifies world poverty and world war, it becomes increasingly urgent to raise the question that capitalism always prefers to dodge: Which system is superior, capitalism or socialism?
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