Capitalism and Socialism

Even though he was but a callow youth when The Smiths’ sang their rebellious Shoplifters of the World Unite ,the song’s allusion to the Communist slogan: ‘Workers of the world, unite’ was not lost on Mr Bryant.  Bring your understanding of these ideologies up to his level with the following material.


Watch John Green’s ‘Capitalism and Socialism: Crash Course World History #33’ whirlwind 10 minute lecture on the history of capitalism and socialism.  Be prepared to rewatch and pause to let the learning sink in.

Consider the following and answer them after(or while) watching the film:

  1. What is the definition provided by Green of capitalism?
  2. How did capital investment and advances in technology help to grow?
  3. What are some of the advantages of early capitalism outlined?
  4. What are some of the disadvantages of early capitalism outlined?
  5. What are some of the capitalist values that evolved from early forms of capitalism?  How did these values promote the idea that individuals were born consumers?
  6. What were some of the problems associated with capitalism in the 19th Century?
  7. What were some of the beliefs of the 19th Century socialists?
  8. What were some of Karl Marx’s main criticisms of capitalism?
  9. What is class consciousness?
  10. What is class struggle?
  11. How did Marx’s view of humans underpin his socialist ideas?  How do these ideas oppose the versions of capitalism that promote life and the economy as a competition and that humans are inherently self-interested?
  12. What does green see as the areas in which industrial capitalism and socialism are still competing?

To consolidate your understanding of these ideas watch ‘What is Capitalism? Parts 1 & 2 by The School of Life.

What is Capitalism? PART 1

  1. What is the video’s definition of capitalism?
  2. According to the video, how did capitalism evolve from feudalism?

What is Capitalism? PART 2

  1.  What does the video suggest are some of the reasons for the success of capitalism?
  2. According to the video what are some of the more sinister aspects of the capitalist model of success?


Considering God Bless You Mr Rosewater:

  1. Which characters do you believe Vonnegut has associated with some of the capitalist ideals outlined in the videos.
  2. Which characters do you believe Vonnegut has associated with some of the socialist ideals outlined in the videos?



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