Critically analyse the major distinguishing features of the capitalist and socialist economic systems.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most critical differences between both economic systems is the notion of who controls wealth.  In a capitalist system, economic wealth is something that can be controlled by individuals.  Wealth is seen as a private issue, something towards which external intervention is not needed.  It is this private notion of wealth maintenance and control that becomes essential in the capitalist system.  This is not the case in the socialist system.  In a socialist configuration, the ownership of wealth is a "social" issue.  It is something that is meant to be shared by the greater community.  Wealth is to be something that is controlled by the public entity.  Socialism predicates its understanding on the collective being, whereas capitalism tends to focus on the individual acquisition of wealth.  Within this difference in perception lies a critical difference in how the world is viewed.  Capitalism is rooted in privacy and in the individual, while socialism tends to laud the collective element and see the individual only in the context of this broader configuration.