What Are the Essential Differences between Communism and Capitalism?


Maung Zarni – TRANSCEND Media Service

I offer my thoughts on Communism versus Capitalism (and everything in-between).

This morning I woke up with some (naturally partial) answers to the question that has for decades pricked my mind: what really is the essential difference between the two extremes of Unfettered Capitalism – which we have – and Statist Communism which collapsed?

For 25 years, I lived under two radically different systems (mildly Communist system in Burma under the banner of Burma Socialist Programme Party) and the latter half of my life has been spent inside the Global Engines of Unfettered Capitalism – US and UK.

As incomplete as it is I am jotting my own understanding down.

Communism treats the notion of Private Property as a major obstacle to building its classless heaven on earth attempts to make Saints out of humans. In the process the Beasts inside fought back and destroyed the Communist Mission and devoured its Missionaries.

In sharp contrast, Capitalism rests on the Inalienably Holy Idea of Private Property attempts to pursue its Sacred Mission of Wealth Accumulation by unleashing the Beasts in humans, thereby triggering the unstoppable process of all around destruction.

Capitalism has proven far more capable of sustaining itself than Communism as it aligns its systematic interests and those of individual System Managers with the beastly side of Humans.

Neither system, in effect, is rational, democratic or humane.

Both systems have developed elaborate theoretical justifications for their existence. Communism has lost out in its battle against its Arch Enemy. Capitalism has been too successful for its own good: It has become a Mammoth Frankenstein on an autopilot defying human managers.

These two systems have common features: both rely on what academics call “the State”.

Communist Missionaries attempted to make the State evangelical in its mission to turn beastly humans into Saints. The State was assigned to regulate individual behaviour, from cradle to grave, from (theoretically) once-in-a-life-time marriage to daily-diet.

Capitalist Missionaries too use the State to work for their Mission of Eternal Wealth Accumulation as evidenced in such as Biblical words as “economic growth” “development” “sustainable development” “investor friendliness” “trickle-down” “Free Market” “deregulation”, etc.

Both also claimed to offer the Masses, the target populations to be Saved from themselves in the case of Communism and to be Empowered to pursue Wealth to their hearts’ content, “democracy”.

Again here Capitalism has proven far more successful and effective than its arch enemy, so much so that its Adherents have come to equate Capitalism with Democracy, hence ‘Capitalist Democracy’ – even when in such a promised land the interests of the rich and the powerful, the two allied classes, typically prevail vis-a-vis the vast majority, known referred to as Ninety-Nine Percent (99%).

Communism has met its eventual fate: it suffocated itself to death.

Capitalism is still emitting Poison, both literally and ideologically, on an unprecedented industrial scale, which is in turn consumed, wittingly or unwittingly, by the great majority of half-humans, half-beasts.

Of course, there are other variations on these two extremes, on a single continuum.   The much-touted Scandinavian models of “social democracy”, for instance.  Even these venerable systems have long been sliding towards Capitalist Right.   Regardless, beyond academic fascinations, these models don’t make a dent beyond their icy cold geographic boundaries as far as Ruling Elite Circles with their icy cold attitude towards what they consider quaint anomalies of the formerly Viking worlds.

One Frankenstein, Statist Communism, has killed itself.

The other has cleverly invited all its adherents to pursue wealth over welfare, promising Eternal Life via technology (anti-ageing, cloning, etc.) and Eternal Growth.

How and when – not if – this Capitalist Frankenstein will breath its last breath remains to be seen. But what is certain is when this System goes so go all of us, little Frankensteins who have participated in the growth of the Mammoth Frankenstein.

As the iconoclastic father of GAIA, James Lovelock, has ruefully said in the context of Environmental Destruction, “enjoy the ride downward!”

I would only add the sage’s wise word to this:

“Enjoy the sideshow of “democracy” along the way!”


Dr. Maung Zarni is a Burmese activist blogger, Associate Fellow at the University of Malaya, a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, founder and director of the Free Burma Coalition (1995-2004), a visiting fellow (2011-13) at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics, and a nonresident scholar with the Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia. His forthcoming book on Burma will be published by Yale University Press. He was educated in the US where he lived and worked for 17 years.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Aug 2017.

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