Corrie holds master's in elementary education, taught elementary ESL in the public schools for 5 years, and recently was teaching EFL abroad.
Imagine you owned a farm with many cows. Some cows you sell for the profit of their meat, and some cows you keep so you can sell their milk. Either way, they're your cows, so you get to keep all the money you make. But you're also responsible for the upkeep of your farm, feeding your animals, and taking care of your family. This is capitalism, and it's how we function in the U.S.
Now imagine you had the same farm with the same number of cows, but the government took half of them and gave them to people who didn't have any cows. Now everyone would have some cows that they could use to make money and live. This is socialism.
This time, imagine the government took all your cows and promised to provide you with meat and milk from those cows so you and your family could live. But instead of just giving your family meat and milk from those cows, everyone got meat and milk from those cows, leaving only a little bit for each person. This is communism.
Let's take a closer look at socialism and communism.
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Unlike capitalism, which is based on competition, socialism is based on the idea of cooperation, sharing equally, and decisions being made by the people. Every citizen in a socialist society is equal, regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality. Every person is guaranteed a home, food, water, clothes, adequate medical care, and a decent education. These are the foundations of socialism.
Communism is often thought of as a more intense version of socialism, but the major difference is that in communism the government owns everything and is responsible for providing equally for all; but, like socialism, every citizen is still promised a home, food, clothes, medical care, and education.
Socialism vs. Communism
While socialism seems like a good system, it doesn't always work out so well. Many people believe that socialism won't work because if your job is guaranteed, then you won't be a good worker. Under socialism there are no wealthy people, because the money is spread evenly, and excess money is used to provide things like healthcare for all. However, if you want to have your own things, like a home, clothes, and toys, you still must keep your job.
Many people think communism doesn't function well because you don't even have to work at all. The government has promised to provide you with a home and food, regardless of whether or not you keep your job. However, these things are not guaranteed in good quality. You're not even guaranteed your own home; you might have to share with other families. You will only be provided with very basic food to eat, and you don't get to choose. Additionally, a major flaw with communism, which has played out in many communist countries throughout history, is that the government isn't always honest. Because they make all the decisions without the input of the citizens, it's very easy for them to lie. This obviously isn't a good thing.
Remember our example of your farm and cows? In socialism, the government takes some of your cows and gives them to people who don't have any. Well, in real life, this is much easier said than done, because some people don't want to give up their cows, shattering the entire focus of cooperation. The same is true with communism - because the government only gives so much, people become greedy, again shattering the idea of cooperation. So, it's important to keep in mind that while cooperation and equality are the guiding philosophies of both models of government, and you may like the sound of one or both of them, they can be a bit more complicated in practice.
Both socialism and communism value the idea of cooperation, but it plays out in very different ways in the two systems. Under socialism, decisions are made by the people, for the people; under communism, decisions are made by the government, which can easily lie. Now that you know more about these models of government, what do you think?
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Communism vs. Socialism Lesson for Kids
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