Capitalism vs. Socialism: Comparing Economic Systems

Course No. 5006
Professor Edward F. Stuart, Ph.D.
Northeastern Illinois University
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Course No. 5006
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What Will You Learn?

  • Understand the differences-and surprisingly similarities-between economic systems and their underlying philosophies.
  • See why there is no pure capitalist or socialist economy working in the world today.
  • Explore the history and evolution of economic thought from the late 18th century to the current day.

Course Overview

All of the tradeoffs in competing economic systems—capitalism, socialism, and communism—are controversial. These systems and ideologies have undeniably shaped the way people view both the world today and modern history. But where does capitalism begin and socialism end? In short, it’s about choice and compromise.

Capitalism and socialism turn on the major societal issues of education, healthcare, social services, and taxation. And they raise civil liberties tradeoffs that weigh individual freedom against the social safety net and collective security. Because economics focuses on these pocketbook issues, many people believe the field is simply about money when, in reality, money is merely a means to an end. Economics is really about people and their lives, and societies have been in pursuit of the ideal system for centuries, one that can balance these ongoing, competing desires for freedom versus security. No one has found perfect equilibrium—the debates rage on and economies are in constant flux—but some major contenders have emerged, all of which are variations of capitalism and socialism in differing degrees and combinations. Determining which, if any, is the best possible option in a definitive way, however, is a Sisyphean task and one riddled with complications.

Understanding and endeavoring to solve these perpetual dilemmas is the job of comparative economics. By looking at the many economies around the world—their histories, their failures and successes—comparative economics attempts to uncover the influences, systems, and decisions that can do the most good for the most people. Guiding you through this complex web of values and theories is Edward F. Stuart, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Northeastern Illinois University, who is a specialist in both comparative economics and Russian and Eastern European studies. Professor Stuart has been traveling, teaching, and learning about these economic systems—in the former Soviet Union, the former Eastern Bloc, China, Scandinavia, and Europe—for more than 30 years. It could even be argued that he was born to be a comparative economist, raised in a household defined by the very debates he analyzes as personified in the libertarian views of his father and his mother’s social progressivism. This familial link to his subject offers a personal dimension to his approach, one that demonstrates his ongoing passion for the ways these debates play out on a global scale.

Economists venture to understand immensely complex systems that encompass not only finance and trade, but social structures, governments, family arrangements, geography, and more. The illuminating 24 lectures of Capitalism vs. Socialism: Comparing Economic Systems will show you the many ways the most influential modern economic theories were developed, how they function (or don’t), and how they manage to operate both together and in opposition to each other, from the rise of Soviet communism to the future of the European Union and beyond. As you compare and contrast the many ways societies tackle economic issues, Professor Stuart demonstrates that even the most controversial economic decisions boil down to a deceptively simple question: What makes a good society?

Measuring Success

One of the first misconceptions Professor Stuart clarifies is that there is no definitive way to determine if an economy is objectively “good” or “bad.” Rather, there are many statistics and data points economists can use to measure the relative health of a given system. From gross domestic product (GDP) to unemployment rates to inflation and even life expectancy, there is no shortage of measuring tools. The greatest difficulty lies not just in translating complex metrics, but in choosing which of these measurements matter. While discussion of GDP is common in the news, not everyone holds it as the absolute yardstick for economic success. And while few people would argue that low unemployment and low rates of inflation are good things for an economy, even fewer can agree as to whether either is a significant statistic to measure prosperity. As Professor Stuart notes, “people can argue forever using whatever statistics prove their point.”

If there are no foolproof conclusions to draw from the wealth of information available, how do we know when an economy “works”? What is more important, economic equality or rapid growth? Low inflation or infant mortality rates? As you progress through the history of capitalism, socialism, communism, and mixed-economies—and look at their manifestations across the world today—Professor Stuart will demonstrate that absolutes in economics are much like those in culture or politics: impossible and ultimately unhelpful. Rather, it is in finding balance, making comparisons and compromises, that economies discover how to prosper, stagnate, or, in some cases, collapse.

The Paradoxes of Prosperity

On the surface, the study of economics can seem like purely a numbers game, relying as it does on large-scale, impersonal statistics to focus attention on broad trends. This “big picture” approach can sometimes mean that the human costs of prosperity can be dismissed as simply the cost of doing business. Slavery and exploitation. Unsafe working conditions. Child labor. Government oppression. Rather than gloss over these and other issues, Capitalism vs. Socialism will take you across centuries and around the world to show you both sides of the story, diving into the history of economic systems and the individuals and groups that shaped them, whether they be famous industrialists like Josiah Wedgewood, notable economic thinkers like Adam Smith and Karl Marx, political leaders such as Stalin, FDR, or Otto von Bismarck, or the many nameless workers and citizens whose time and labor form the backbone of any economy.

If people are the real heart of economics, then it should be unsurprising that there are many paradoxes inherent in economic systems. Professor Stuart takes you through the many developments of modern economics and highlights that, while there are a host of advantages and disadvantages that must be balanced in any system, some roadblocks can arise from unexpected or counterintuitive elements. Some of these paradoxes include:

  • The necessity of strong government in free market systems. Successful, large-scale capitalist enterprise requires a strong central government to enforce property and contract laws.
  • The “paradox of thrift.” While it is smart for individuals and businesses to save and build up cash reserves to survive a recession, when the behavior becomes widespread it will eventually negatively affect total spending, incomes, production, employment, etc.
  • More money doesn’t equal more spending. Known as “marginal propensity to consume,” wealthy individuals demonstrate unstable spending habits, while poor people will almost always spend 100% (or even slightly more) of their income.
  • “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Professor Stuart highlights how, in his allegorical novel Animal Farm, George Orwell underscores an irony of communism in practice, wherein everyone is said to be equal but a rigid hierarchy of power exists nonetheless.

Economic History

Capitalism and socialism (and by extension, communism) are often treated as if they are always in opposition to each other, but by looking at their origins and development, you will discover that this is far from the truth; they are, in fact, inextricably connected. Many social, political, and even religious factors intersected to support the birth of capitalism at a time when new, more democratic political systems were emerging from under the oppressive shadow of feudalism. In turn, modern socialism is the direct result of the pitfalls of free-market capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries—the exploitation and dangerous, impoverished conditions workers were often subjected to inspired reformers and political thinkers to envision new ways to create a better, more equal society. Meanwhile, other nations took socialist ideology to an extreme in various forms of authoritarian communism. Professor Stuart looks closely at these systems and their histories, revealing their strengths and weaknesses and demonstrating why there is no pure capitalist (or pure socialist) system working in the world today.

As Professor Stuart guides you through the origins and evolutions of economic thought, you will look at some of the greatest experiments and failures of the last few centuries, including the creation of early American socialist experiments, the far-reaching economic implications of World War I, how the Great Depression highlighted the instability of post-war markets, the rise and fall of Soviet communism, the mixed-model economies of Europe, the rising tide of Asian market economies, and much more. Along the way, he also shares insightful personal stories and reveals unexpected connections between economics and other facets of modern life and culture. Throughout the lectures, you will find answers to questions like:

  • Where do phrases like “when my ship comes in” and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” originate?
  • What is the correlation between the average physical height of a population and economic growth?
  • Why are the goldsmiths of the middle ages so important in the history of modern economics?
  • Where does the concept of the money-back guarantee come from?
  • What is the link between a 19th-century socialist experiment and the microwave?
  • How did novelists like Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair, Charles Dickens, and George Orwell influence the arguments surrounding various economic systems?
  • What can rock music and the Rubik’s cube tell us about post-World War II capitalism?

The End of History?

In the end, what does make a good society? If every nation, every community, and even every individual across the globe assigns a different value to the tradeoffs of social solidarity and individual freedom that define economic systems, how do we predict the future of world economies? Hundreds of economies operate side by side and every single one has advantages and disadvantages that cannot be objectively measured.

As Professor Stuart observes, we are not at the end of history; many of the questions we ask today will continue to be asked far into the future. What comparative economics promises is not a “final” form of human government or the ultimate economic plan, but rather the opportunity to uncover the ways societies have shaped—and will continue to shape—the world to fit the boundless ideals that make a good society, and what each option can tell us about ourselves, the world we live in, and the world we want to create.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Gorbachev's Hello and the Soviet Goodbye
    Begin your foray into comparative economics with a look at the USSR in the final few years before its collapse and the restructuring known as perestroika, which led to an increased interest in the study of capitalism versus socialism in the U.S. Examine some of the major questions that shape economic systems and close with a brief overview of the goals and scope of the course. x
  • 2
    Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Keynes, and Friedman
    Meet four of the most influential economic thinkers in history: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keyes, and Milton Friedman. As you examine their individual philosophies and influences across three centuries, you may be surprised by how many of their ideas overlap even as their philosophies differ. x
  • 3
    How to Argue GDP, Inflation, and Other Data
    From GDP and inflation to unemployment and standard of living, there is no one absolute measurement that determines the health of an economy. Get an overview of the different metrics for economic success and a general understanding of how they are calculated and interpreted—and why these data points can start more arguments than they resolve. x
  • 4
    British Revolution: Industry and Labor
    Travel to the birthplace of industrial capitalism: Great Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. A fortuitous meeting of politics, technology, and economics would shape the future and give the world innovations like insurance, corporate ownership and investment, and extended payment systems. It would also inspire writers like Charles Dickens to reveal the horrifying social repercussions of unregulated industrialization. x
  • 5
    American Capitalism: Hamilton and Jefferson
    Modern capitalism may have been born in England, but America would be defined by it from the very beginning. Look at some of the paradoxes inherent in free market systems and how Protestant religious philosophy played a significant part in the direction of the economy. Then, see how founding figures like Hamilton and Jefferson set the course for American economic dominance in the years to come. x
  • 6
    Utopian Socialism to Amana Microwave Ovens
    The many opportunities and innovations of capitalism in the U.S. did not come without a cost. Religious and political thinkers alike turned to new solutions to alleviate the often horrible conditions many workers experienced, resulting in socialist projects that fell into two camps: utopian and scientific. Close with a look at the difficulties inherent in running socialist systems in a largely market economy. x
  • 7
    The Bolsheviks: Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin
    Examine the ways Stalin sought to exercise complete control of the Soviet economy, focusing on his Five-Year Plan for production—an object lesson in the complexities of anticipating and satisfying the material needs of a society. Professor Stuart also gives you an eye-opening look at the ways economics and politics can feed off of one another. Or, in this case, starve each other. x
  • 8
    Soviet Planning and 1,000 Left-Foot Shoes
    Examine the ways Stalin sought to exercise complete control of the Soviet economy, focusing on his Five-Year Plan for production- an object lesson in the complexities of anticipating and satisfying the material needs of a society. Professor Stuart also gives you an eye-opening look at the ways economics and politics can feed off of one another. Or, in this case, starve each other. x
  • 9
    Economic Consequences of European Peace
    The end of World War I illustrates one of the iron laws of capitalism: upheavals in one part of the world have repercussions all around it. Understand how the Treaty of Versailles set up harsh terms for a depleted Germany and why shortsighted leadership from the Allied powers led to economic fallout and, eventually, the second World War. x
  • 10
    How FDR and Keynes Tried to Save Capitalism
    Was the stock market crash of 1929 the cause of the Great Depression? Find out why Black Tuesday was actually a symptom rather than a cause and trace the origins of the Depression in the U.S. to events and policies of the 1920s, both domestic and international. Then, look at the ways FDR applied the ideas of John Maynard Keynes to help America recover from economic devastation. x
  • 11
    Social Democracy in Europe
    In the wake of economic and social turmoil in the 19th century, some European countries sought to reform the capitalist system and make it more sustainable. Examine the different motives behind the reforms, understand the differences between public and private goods, and compare and contrast the myriad ways economies can blend capitalism and socialism. x
  • 12
    Sweden's Mixed Economy Model
    Called “The Third Way” by some economists, the economic system of Sweden is perhaps the best example of a philosophy that falls between the extremes of free market capitalism and government-controlled socialism. Professor Stuart explains the many factors that have contributed to Sweden’s relative economic success and what it can teach us about mixed economies. x
  • 13
    French Indicative Planning and Jean Monnet
    Discover why France, a latecomer to industrial capitalism, was vital in shaping influential socialist theories, and how centuries of political upheaval can leave distinct impressions on a nation's economic history. From the French Revolution to World War II and beyond, France is a strong example of the ways economies are shaped by both internal and external forces. x
  • 14
    British Labour Party and National Health
    The British economy has vacillated between privatization and nationalization over time. Here you will look at one of these shifts by first examining the socialist programs introduced by a post-World War II Labour Party government (including the National Health Service), followed by the Margaret Thatcher era of deregulations and privatizations. x
  • 15
    Social Welfare in Germany: Bismarck to Kohl
    Socialist policies are not limited to the realm of idealists and reformers. Germany under Otto von Bismarck shows how socialist policies like public education, unemployment benefits, and tax-funded healthcare can be used to create more efficient workforces. See how Bismarck's ideas were used to help Germany achieve greater political power and trace the echoes of his legacy into the 20th century under Chancellor Helmut Kohl. x
  • 16
    Soviet Bloc: Conformity and Resistance
    After World War II, the Allied powers were divided by their economic policies, resulting in a divided Europe. Examine the ways Soviet Russia dominated the nations of Eastern Europe, bringing them under the umbrella of authoritarian communism, and which nations pushed back against this takeover. In contrast, also look at the policies and institutions put in place by the Western allies to rebuild Europe. x
  • 17
    Two Germanies: A Laboratory in Economics
    The post-war occupation of Germany by four separate powers—and the difficult question of how to avoid the problems that stemmed from the Treaty of Versailles just a few decades earlier—created a division that would dominate Europe for more than four decades. It also created a unique opportunity for direct comparison between communist and capitalist enterprise, which you will take advantage of here. x
  • 18
    The Soviet Union's Fatal Failure to Reform
    Despite attempts by some Soviet leaders in the mid-to-late 20th century, Russia was never able to successfully reform the oppressive and increasingly inefficient Soviet communist system. Professor Stuart shows how the authoritarian government encouraged dysfunctional behavior in production and why the resulting scarcity of decent goods and services ultimately became unsupportable. x
  • 19
    “Blinkered and Bankrupt” in Eastern Europe
    In retrospect, it would seem that communism in Eastern Europe was doomed to fail. However, when the communist governments began to collapse in the 1980s, it took many people in the West by surprise. Trace the ways Soviet communism's failures were replicated over and over again in the Eastern Bloc nations, with nearly the same results for each of them. x
  • 20
    From Chairman Mao to the Capitalist Roaders
    Professor Stuart turns his attention to China, focusing on the 20th-century influence of Soviet communism under leaders like Mao Zedong. Look at the ways China was shaped by its earlier history to be especially unprepared for industrialization on the Soviet scale and how the cultural revolution under Mao further impeded progress, eventually resulting in an overthrow of his ideas after his death. x
  • 21
    After Deng, China Privatizes and Globalizes
    How was China able to make the dramatic transformation from a nation in decline to a global economic powerhouse in just a few decades? Contrast the economic reforms under “capitalist roader” Deng Xiaoping against the earlier communist strategy under Mao, as well as against the unsuccessful attempts at similar reform in Russia under Gorbachev. Close with a look at China’s economic influence on the world stage. x
  • 22
    Asian Tigers: Wealth and State Control
    Reveal the secrets behind the remarkable transformations of the “Asian Tiger” countries of South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore from poor countries to high-income economies in the span of 50 years. Starting with their shared features, trace their progression from authoritarian regimes to more democratic governments and compare and contrast their concentrated efforts to shape their economies. x
  • 23
    European Union: Success or Failure?
    While the European Union has been a spectacular success in its fundamental mission—preventing war between major European powers—here you will also look at the other ways it could be considered a failure. Professor Stuart presents the post-war conditions under which the EU was created and the dimensions of its economic influence, for good and ill, throughout Europe. x
  • 24
    Both Sides Now: Experiment in Slovenia
    What does the future hold for economies around the world? Using Slovenia as a model, explore some of the crucial questions concerning the evolution of world economies. Are economies becoming more similar? Or are they diverging? Is there even a clear-cut answer? The issues and debates that opened the course come full circle here; definitive answers remain elusive, but the tools provided open up a world of possibilities. x

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Your professor

Edward F. Stuart

About Your Professor

Edward F. Stuart, Ph.D.
Northeastern Illinois University
Edward F. Stuart is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Northeastern Illinois University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1986. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Oklahoma, specializing in International Economics and Russian and Eastern European Studies. He teaches courses in international economics, the economics of the European Union, comparative economic systems, European economic...
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Capitalism vs. Socialism: Comparing Economic Systems is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 51.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good compliment to Thinking About Capitalism I absolutely loved the Thinking About Capitalism course and thought this course was enjoyable. Both courses do explain the role government intervention has played in capitalist economies with either direct nationalization of industries, protection for workers or the welfare state in general. I personally love free market capitalism but these two courses have sought to show there is more than a capitalism (private) or socialism (government) dichotomy in the reality of economics. All capitalist systems have a form of welfare state capitalism that provides social services for their respective populations and pure socialism often has a hint of capitalism or market functions in them. Professor Mueller talks about that by saying it's ideology that wants to call the Nordic countries socialist rather than capitalist societies and Prof Stuart does the same thing when saying those same countries depend on private enterprise. Prof Stuart spent a lot of time in Communist countries so his insight into their economies were interesting. Unlike many of the negative comments I have seen here, I do not think he completely whitewashes the atrocities or negative aspects of Socialism. After hearing his lectures on the Soviet Union and the shortages their system had, I would not want to live in that. He talks about the disasters of Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, especially from an economic perspective. And when talking about the large social safety nets of European countries (which he does praise), he also talks about how much those people pay in taxes to get to that. The guy clearly favors Keynesian economic policy, but I feel he was not as biased as people have suggested. It is a good compliment to Thinking About Capitalism where Prof Mueller has more sympathy to Hayek and the Austrian or Chicago Schools of thought. As far as presentation and delivery, Prof Stuart had a great delivery and good personal anecdotes of his own experiences which help us relate to the topics being discussed. I enjoyed this course and felt it could have been longer.
Date published: 2019-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was an exceptional course in simplifying the various economic systems of the world. It is all too common to refer to any one of them without really understanding what they are about. Professor Stuart is a great communicator and never boring. He reduces complexity and makes learning a pleasure.
Date published: 2019-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super value I love listening on a long or short trip. It makes the time go by and is interesting to listen.
Date published: 2019-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best of the best I read first the book and then I listened to the lectures. The analysis and comparison of the economic systems-capitalism versus socialism is outstanding. I was born and grew up in Greece.I came to USA at the age of 24 to continue my education. Through my life, I am 74 years old, I have lived under different economic systems and governments. I have experiences the pro and con of socialism and capitalism. During my years in Greece we moved from Democratic free market government to dictatorship by the Generals back to free market economy, changing to socialism, later on joining and becoming a member of EU. Presently Greece has a socialistic government, and is financially bankrupt . The professor is doing an outstanding job comparing the different socioeconomic systems indicating the strengths and the weakness of the different systems. The information of this course is very valuable and it will provide the reader with an accurate knowledge of the different economic systems.
Date published: 2019-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fair comparison I enjoyed the course. Dr. Stuart delivers the material well.
Date published: 2019-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presentation I bought this to obtain a greater understanding of the contrasts between Socialism and Capitalism. The material is presented by country and provides an interesting history of each philosophy and the blending of the two philosophies in many countries.
Date published: 2019-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course But Mistitled I agree with those reviewers who found Prof. Stuart to be a witty, articulate lecturer with a smooth and pleasant speaking style, and I think he has done an admirable job in this course of providing a series of recent economic histories of various countries around the world. What I expected but is largely missing is a qualitative comparison of the economic systems of those countries, a more direct examination and analysis of more capitalist-oriented systems versus more socialist-oriented systems, and a discussion of the course title's competing economic theories (the TGC's Thinking About Capitalism course is far better on this latter point). That said, the material is well-presented, expertly chosen, and very interesting and informative. While Prof. Stuart is clearly not an apostle of laissez-faire capitalism, he avoids overt politicization of the material. For those without a need for a map, I think the audio version of the course is entirely adequate. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-01-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful, One-Sided As someone who passionately studies economics as a hobby, I'm very disappointed in this course. There were about 100 times where the professor committed a basic economics fallacy, almost always neglecting hidden "opportunity costs" in his analysis, which is something you're supposed to learn in the first chapter of any econ textbook. And, sometimes he even neglected the application of Comparative Advantage, only one of the most central teachings of economics. There were so many times when he made an argument which I've heard other prominent free market economists handily and clearly refute, but this professor didn't even mention the opposing arguments. It's like he was purposefully trying to neglect the best arguments that free market economists use. Plus, the whole course was more of a broad superficial summary of history of economic thought and practices; it didn't include any of the argumentative tools necessary to actually evaluate whether the ideas and practices implemented were beneficial ON NET. He doesn't dive into the types of arguments which economists use to actually evaluate the two systems. It was definitely one-sided by a govt-intervention-loving economist. They need to have multiple economists arguing in this lecture so people can see what competing views are, including an economist who actually understands the free market arguments which this professor didn't even mention. Yes, I'll admit that I'm an advocate of free markets and so I'm biased (everyone is biased; it's better to admit bias openly than pretend we're neutral), but I can honestly tell you that this course does not show you the best arguments that free market economists have.
Date published: 2019-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative, easy to watch, not much wasted time Most Great Courses are excellent and I had come to expect all of them be. This one was no exception. He gave enough background for the totally ignorant but not so much as to bore the better than average educated American. I trust no specialists in economics would learn much.
Date published: 2019-01-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Extremely poor DVD's Printed books seem fine. The DVD's are worthless! The introductory music is not of Great Courses quality. The intro music repeats continuously, stops the lecture and playback creating constant frustration. The DVD's have been returned for disposal. In sum, the course is not worth buying - and I say this after buying many courses over the years.
Date published: 2018-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick Review of World's Economies. I learned about economic developments. This could have been boring but the professor avoided this problem.
Date published: 2018-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear, concise explanations We thoroughly enjoy this course. With a wonderful and unexpected, but timely, sense of humor, the instructor provides clear and concise explanations of some rather complicated concepts. At the same time, he provides the historical and substantive background required to fully understand the material. His effective use of examples and/or personal experiences to illustrate his points make this course both informative and worthwhile. We've already learned a lot and continue to learn from it.
Date published: 2018-12-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wide Range of Economic Systems Covered I accidentally bought this course as a CD instead of a DVD. But I think that was fine with this one. I enjoyed listening to the different ways countries incorporate their economic systems with their societies. Definitely an eye opener on what works and what doesn't with each countries system.
Date published: 2018-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting! I usually watch the history courses, but my husband wanted to try this and I’m so glad he did. I feel like I learned a lot, and I really enjoyed this professor. He was knowledgeable but also included a lot of humor.
Date published: 2018-11-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Qualitative history commentary, sparse economics I had the expectations of formal discussions about the different European countries and Asian countries with their experience of socialist economics, and their quantitative outcomes, not the initial 4-5 lectures of common knowledge history. I wanted to know things like how socialist economics quantitatively restrict economic growth, (just as an example). Yes, I get that the GDR was dirty, common knowledge, I get that there were queues for bread in the GDR (common knowledge!) , but I wanted to see outcomes of studies on productivity for example, (there was only 1 direct paper mentioned!) I don't just want you to tell me that there was decreased efficiency of agricultural production - show a proof, quote the study! Show me the evidence! I wanted to know about the corollaries of the move towards social democracy as say, compared to the more pure capitalism of the 19th century. He could have made modern vs. historical capitalist examples, not just 20th century western vs 20th century socialist examples. I liked the anecdotes of the lecturer's travels in the former Eastern bloc, which are very humorous and revealing as to the every day life of the poor citizens there. This broke up the material pretty nicely, but for my money it was just pitched too low. Summary: The course is too qualitative in nature, and the lecturer does not attempt to prove things quoted in the course. There needs to be FAR LESS historical discussion, which I believe anyone coming into this course should be aware of!
Date published: 2018-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging Comparison Great professor with lots of real world examples alongside historical ones.
Date published: 2018-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Balanced presentation of a usually biased subject. If more people understood the information presented in this course, I believe the dialogues concerning economics would be far less vitriolic and far more intelligent and civil. Professor Stuart explains the advantages and disadvantages of both capitalism and socialism with numerous examples from history...often fairly recent history.
Date published: 2018-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first Econ course Although I have a business degree, since I've retired and started to accumulate Great Courses I've went for mostly liberal arts courses. Of my 35 Great Courses CDs and DVDs this was my first from the Business Section. I found this course to be very professionally done and interesting, especially for someone who was determined to never take another business class. This course also had the bonus of also fitting very well into my intense interest in history. I very pleased that I ordered this course.
Date published: 2018-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course I have been intrigued by economics for some time. A liberal arts major and recently retiring from career in state government, I have had limited exposure to economics. This course has been a welcome introduction to many interesting concepts and developments in economic thought. Dr. Stuart is clear and knowledgeable. He does not condescend. His wry down-to-earth humor adds to the overall quality of his presentation.
Date published: 2018-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Presentation I bought the CDs to listen in the car with my teenage son on a road trip. We both loved the course. The professor does a great job weaving interesting stories into the economic concepts. I highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2018-07-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I failed the Test Course subject matter did not seem to me to be well organized. At least I did not get a sense from the first 4 lectures where the course was going. In addition, the lecturer's style of including complete citation information for each quote so interrupted my train of thought that I could not follow his topic. With my inability to retain any of the content we stopped watching after 4 lectures.
Date published: 2018-07-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting topic but with key flaws and much redu This is a fascinating topic. Unfortunately, there is a lack of precise definitions of critical words which may have "loaded" meanings; e.g., "social justice." Unfortunately, people have abused the words with little understanding of meanings. It would be better is these definitions were carefully given and examples of the range of uses also given. What is "socialism"? "Democratic socialism?" "National Socialism?" "Fabian Socialism? " How are these similar to or different? etc. Tables would have been useful. What is "capitalism?" "welfare capitalism?" Why should one care about the well being of others? Why should one care about economic efficiency? What is money? What is a tax? etc. For example, in China there were payments made to the government in various forms, but when an Emperor changed them to be made only in silver, there was in effect a much increased tax burden on many due to the need to use markets. As a statistician, I appreciated the use of Gini coefficients. It would have been nicer to see how these have evolved over time. The use of graphs would have been helpful. Also an analysis of growth rates as a function of Gini coefficients would have been interesting.
Date published: 2018-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Capitalism vs Socialism : comparing economic syste It is an excellent course, with good content & presentation.
Date published: 2018-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Capitalism vs. Socialism Although I haven't had time to completely view all the courses, I have purchased varies courses from The Great Courses. And I have yet to be disappointed. I have just recently Graduated from college, and the courses here help understanding complicated subjects much easier. I highly recommend.
Date published: 2018-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course for the Political Novice This course is much more interesting than I expected. The instructor is outstanding, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of political systems in very clear easy to understand language. Especially recommended for high school and college students, who generally are uninformed about politics.
Date published: 2018-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Capitalism and socialism with a wealth of humour. Prof Stuart is the stand-up-comedian of capitalism and socialism. He makes these heavy economic systems lighter with his sense of humour while at the same time not diminishing their heavy importance. And, yes, the applause of listeners is more important than any kind of canned recorded one. Thanks to The Great Courses for an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from no epiphanies here History, history, history -- very little theory. I was hoping for some insight into the theories of socialism vs capitalism but there is little of it here. At first I was disappointed but it is hard to be truly disappointed with "The Great Courses". The fact is history is the economist's laboratory. What has worked and what hasn't is important to know. That is where this course gets its value. Professor Stuart emphasizes that there has never been a purely socialist nor a purely capitalist system, all systems have had their failures, and which system is the best depends on what ends you value. That perspective distinguishes this economics course from others in "The Great Courses". My main criticism of this course is that, using the word from the introduction, I experienced no epiphanies here, as I have in so many other of The Great Courses. This course is worthwhile but others economics courses may be better.
Date published: 2018-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course!! Economist Dream! if you want to learn Econ history, take this class
Date published: 2018-05-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Whitewash of the Greatest Mass Murder I watch this in horror in how it looks past and whitewashes the Red Terror, the Great Purge, the Great Leap Forward, the Killing Fields, etc. Capital S Socialism is universal theft, coerced labor, and ends in Gulags and body bags. The Teaching Company should be ashamed to put this out with so much left out.
Date published: 2018-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid Educational Value It's easy to argue capitalism is better than socialism. The problem is that many free-market capitalists believe any kind of government interference will only make things worse. Professor Stuart amply demonstrates that this reasoning is simplistic. He gives numerous examples, exploring the economic policies of Germany, Slovenia, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore among others, where heavy government involvement was a key element in raising productivity and the general standard of living. Along the way he examines the development and theories behind the rise of both systems, their strengths and weaknesses. He explains the difference in values that underpin capitalist and socialist ideologies, and in the process, draws a connection between Catholicism and egalitarianism. I was very impressed with Professor Stuart . He is concise and engaging. He covers a wide range of material rapidly and keeps the subject matter easily accessible to the general public. He is also widely traveled, having visited or worked in many of the countries he discusses. Almost invariably, he adds personal anecdotes that spice up the commentary or serve to emphasize a point. I thoroughly enjoyed his lectures. They were informative and entertaining.
Date published: 2018-05-18
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