Socialism and Capitalism

After you have chilled out listening to poet Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ you will be ready to read about the hefty subjects of socialism and capitalism.

Watch John Green’s crash course in Socialism and Capitalism to get a quick run down of the key differences between these ideologies.  Use the film to respond to the following questions in your blog posts.



Exam preparation for text/language analysis – whiteboard notes (7/10/2016)

Apart from the section about God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, in the exam, you will also be doing a language analysis on an article/editorial, etc.

Here are the whiteboard notes for today’s lesson:

And a few more notes (not in any order):

Part A:

When analysing an article/editorial etc., think about the language. Who is the audience for this piece?

What are the bones of this article/message?

Image – how does the image support the message?

Part B (the meaty part):

Here’s how the writer positions the audience to think or feel in a certain way.

Argument: You need a main contention and supporting statements.

If you were writing this piece, think about how you would dress up the article to position your audience to think/feel in a certain way or to do something.

How do you want the audience to feel? eg You might want them to feel sorry for you; You might want them to feel ashamed that they hadn’t spoken up earlier.

You need evidence and a case in point.


Rosewater Ch 2: Eliot pulls a Hamlet

Eliot writes to Sylvia as though he is Hamlet and she is Ophelia from Shakespeare’s play. Research the play on the internet and comment on the use of this allusion by Vonnegut.  Watch this SparkNotes video to familiarise yourself with the plot.

What aspects of the play’s themes and characters are being referenced here in the story of Eliot and Sylvia?

Money, power and the American Dream

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote God Bless You, Mr Rosewater in 1965, he was writing about an America divided by wealth.  Then, CEOs made about 20 times as much as the average worker.  By 2011 CEOs made 231 times as much as the average worker. So what has happened since then?

Check out top property prices for Manhattan in recent times (see table below) and note the sale of one of the penthouses in 740 Park Avenue, the building with the most billionaires living in it in the US.


Built in 1929 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s grandfather, this building of 31 residences is one of the world’s most exclusive places to live.


So who lives here, at 740 Park Avenue, New York?  The answer is: not just anyone.  One has to apply to buy a residence and must demonstrate a liquid net worth of 100 million dollars to be considered by the co-op.

Watch the WhyPoverty documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream to learn about how the wealth divide has deepened in America.  Find out how money talks in the halls of power in Washington and how the capacity for people born into extreme poverty to move out of their situation is now harder than ever…

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?