Read/review the following resources for this activity:
- Textbook: Chapter 9, 10
- Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook)
Option 1: Examine the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1980s. Include the following in your discussion:
- What were the main reasons for the collapse?
- What role did the constant state of militarism and the costs of keeping up with the U.S. military buildup have on the Soviet economy?
- What role did uprisings and rebellions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany (among others) have on the sudden collapse of the USSR?
Option 2: Examine communism and socialism.
- We hear so often today that socialism and communism are the same thing. Examine the similarities and differences between the two.
- Why do so many Americans seem to hate even the word “socialism”?
- We already employ some socialism in this country today (and for the past several decades). Examples include libraries, police departments, public education, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public parks, roads/highways, and so on. How do these services factor into arguments for or against socialism?
“Several modern countries—all ideologically opposed to capitalism—are perceived as either communist or socialist (Longley, n.d). There are very important differences between communism and socialism. ‘Karl Marx wanted to establish a classless society called communism’ (Duiker, 2015). ‘Under communism, the people get provided their needs from the government, whether that may be clothing or housing, etc’ (Longley, n.d). Therefore, the government owns a lot of the property. Also, ‘the government owns a lot of the economic resources, so the people hold no personal assets’ (Longley, n.d). On the other hand, under socialism, ‘it is more so based on the level of contribution an individual does to the economy, as well as their effort and innovation’ (Longley, n.d).
I think Americans seem to hate the word “socialism” for many reasons. First off, we are all living in a capitalist country. America is running, and socialism has failed in some countries. According to my research, some “say that socialism undercuts people’s initiative and work ethic, making people too reliant on the government for support” (Pew Research Center, 2020). Another man said, “I believe in individual freedoms and choice. Socialism kills incentives for people to innovate and climb the ladder of success (Pew Research Center, 2020). I think this man has a point and this addresses how socialism takes this away from people, and as Americans, we are taught that we can build ourselves to whatever level we want. America is a deep-rooted capitalist country which is ultimately why people may seem to think it is not right and hate the word “socialism.”
An example of socialism in this country is public libraries. Regular people are paying taxes that are funding public libraries. These public libraries are barely getting used, so people’s money is ultimately going to waste. “Libraries are often used by the homeless to warm themselves during the winter, or to nap during aimless afternoons which might better be spent looking for a job (NBC Chicago, 2011). Advocates of public libraries cite them as “community gathering spaces” — but can’t the market provide those spaces, too?” (NBC Chicago, 2011). Ultimately, the research tells that libraries really aren’t getting used properly and because of this, it really is not fair for the people to be paying the government to fund these spaces. Also, libraries have destroyed the book market. There are not a lot of bookstores that exists. Ultimately, the research tells that libraries really aren’t getting used properly and because of this, it really is not fair for the people to be paying the government to fund these spaces. This example is against socialism because the freedom of choice is not in the people’s hands. The people are not allowed to put the money where they want.
Duiker, W. J. (2015). Contemporary World Hsitory (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning
Longley, R. (n.d.). Differences Between Communism and Socialism. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/difference-between-communism-and-socialism-195448#:~:text=The%20main%20difference%20is%20that,by%20a%20democratically%2Delected%20government.
NBC Chicago. (2011, November 7). Libraries = Socialism. NBC Chicago. https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/libraries-socialism/2099983/.
Pew Research Center. (2020, August 25). Americans’ Views of ‘Socialism’ and ‘Capitalism’ In Their Own Words. Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy. https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/10/07/in-their-own-words-behind-americans-views-of-socialism-and-capitalism/.
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