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The Contender
Con (against)

A Command Economy has the Ability to be the most effective economic system

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,259 times Debate No: 101820
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My argument is that A Command Economy/ Planned Economy has the ability to be more efficient and beneficial to a Nation than a free market economy if it is implemented strategically. I would like to start out by defining what a command Economy is: It is essentially an economic system where construction, production, investment, prices, and income are determined Centrally by a government. Examples where this economic system is prevalent is Cuba, the USSR, North Korea, and Maoist China. (not very much in modern china as it has been ravaged by western corporations) While some of examples of these economies such as North Korea have proved ineffective in providing their citizens with a moderately high standard of living, in other countries such as Maoist China and Cuba it has proved more effective. My argument is basically that under the right hands, a command economy can be the most effective type of economic system. Here are the reasons:

1. A more Balanced Economy

Under A command Economy, the Government will be able to balance the economy more, if one sector of the economy was not as large and effective as it could be, then the government could simply increase it by building more factories, starting more farms, and employing more workers. This is unlike a free market economy where if a sector of the Economy was suffering, the government and general populace would be unable to change it and their only option would be to hope more privatized companies happened to pop up.

2. A quicker growing Economy

Under effective and efficient management, a command economy can create the most quickly growing economy possible. Despite his harsh domestic policies, Joseph Stalin's centrally planned economy turned Russia from a poor, backwater nation to a world Superpower by the time he died in 1953. On top of that, Mao Zedong's command economy turned China from a third world country to an Industrial and economic giant, as well as increasing the life expectancy and standard of living for Chinese Citizens. In a command economy, good leadership is essential to the success of the economy, The poor North Korean leadership has led to a highly failing economy and much poverty.

3. It is easier to fix problems

As I said before, Under a Free market economy there is only so much a Government can do to solve problems that could be easily remedied under a command economy. If there is a crisis going on, everyone can just try and hope that more privatized businesses will pop up, rejuvenating the economy. Unlike in a Command Economy, where if there is a problem with the Economy the Government can solve it relatively easily.

The main thing that has caused Command Economies to fail throughout history is poor leadership. A very good leader is essential for a command economy to be effective, but with a proper leader and much strategy, a command economy can provide a good standard of living for all of its citizens.


A big part in the idea of a command economy is that the government is a force for good, and not able to be corrupted. This is a completely wrong assumption. Throughout history, governments have turned against their people, stripping them of choice and freedom in life.

To say the general populace could not rejuvenate a struggling sector of an economy is to say the general populous is incompetent at solving issues. On the contrary, businessmen and women come from the general populace, and they are the driving force behind any economy. They are the people making, selling and improving goods and services, whether the government intervenes or not. I believe saying "the government could simply increase it by building more factories, starting more farms, and employing more workers" is a huge understatement. If part of an economy is struggling, the government does not have infinite resources to fix it. Lets say that in this command economy, everyone has jobs except for in this struggling sector. How would the government get people to switch jobs? There is less money to be made in this sector because it is struggling, and no one would want to go.

I doubt there has been a command economy of a large country that all citizens willingly participated in. People like to make their own decisions and do not enjoy the government telling them what to do all they time. That means the government has to force people into a command economy. For example, Stalin's Holodomor and Mao's "Great leap forward. The citizens are doing the work in both free and controlled economy, the only difference is that the citizens get rewarded for their work in a free economy, while the government gets rewarded in a command economy.

As for raising the standard of living, everyone is equally poor in a command economy, except for government leaders. For example a car would be considered a luxury item in Stalin's Russia, and people and to wait in line for hours just to receive some measly rations. In the 1930's "There was no improvement in the average standard of living; in fact the average non-farm wage purchased only about half as much in 1932 as in 1938. Most people survived on black bread and wore old, shabby clothing. There were constant shortages in stores, although vodka, which was heavily taxed, was always available. Millions of people were moved to cities to work in factories, but the government built few apartments, such that by 1940, there were roughly four people per room in every urban dwelling. Lucky families had one room and shared a kitchen and toilet with other families on the floor. Those not so fortunate lived in shantytowns, similar to Hoovervilles in the U.S."[1]

Debate Round No. 1


Hello, and thank you for accepting my debate. I would like to start off by pointing out that you stated that the government gets rewarded in a command economy, but this is untrue. Society as a whole gets rewarded in a command economy. The harder society works, the more they ALL benefit. Unlike in a free economy where upper class and business owners reap a largely disproportionate amount of the wealth. For example, a factory worker in Malaysia works a 10-hour shift and gets paid eight dollars, while the boss somewhere in a different country far away is probably making over 200,000 dollars a year. The idea in a command economy is that the government has complete control over the economy for the good of the people. They mostly deliver on this promise, as income inequality and unemployment are eradicated.

(Plus, You said that not all of the citizens in a command economy willingly participate in the economy, but if there are no alternatives except unemployment, I am pretty sure the majority of the citizens were pretty willing to be employed by the government rather than face starvation and unemployment.)

Also, I never said the general populace could not rejuvenate a struggling sector of the economy, or manage a successful economy themselves. In societies such as Anarchist Catalonia, they have been able to do this using a socialist/ syndicalist economic system and a virtually nonexistent government, but in a capitalist/ free market economic system most businesses don't really care about the rest of the economy, so long as their business is doing well. So as long as their sector of the economy is prospering, it doesn't matter if other parts of the economy are faltering, struggling, or even failing. So the classic capitalist inevitability of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer ensues. In a command economy, the people place the hands of the economy into efficient, reliable hands for the greatest possibility for growth and increase in the standard of living.

One example of this could be Maoist China, before the Communist party took control of China, eighty-seven percent of Chinese families lived on small, individual plots of land in farming villages. China was torn between the reactionary nationalist Kuomintang, several warlords, and about six different cultures and languages. The average Chinese individual lived to be fifty four, had never ventured more than twenty miles outside the house they were born in, made around 300 dollars a year in modern U.S money, and women could not vote, get divorced, participate in politics, sometimes not choose their spouses, and foot binding was extremely common among upper class families. Mao Zedong increased the average Chinese citizen's life expectancy by about thirty years, gave equal rights to women, unified china under one government and ideology, opened up soup kitchens where food would be freely given to Chinese citizens, provided comfortable apartments where the population could live, and completely modernized China. Also, Mao and his complete control of the economy led to China becoming the economic powerhouse it is today. Did you know China produces about 80 percent of the world's air conditioners, 70 percent of its mobile phones, and 60 percent of its shoes. Also I am aware China is not a true command economy anymore, as it has been opened to western corporations and foreign investors. The only difference between China's economy in the Mao era and now is that in the Mao era the working man's work benefitted him and the Chinese nation collectively, not western corporations.

I will counter your arguments on the Soviet Union. First off, you must realize that Stalin's planned economy was just getting started in the 1930's (yet daily life was still slightly better there than it was in the U.S in the 1930's) It took time for Stalin's planned economy to build momentum, but when it did it was highly effective. By the 1940s the plan was had greatly increased in momentum, and by the beginning of the fifties everyone's standard of living had increased substantially. By then a family would have had a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment to themselves, as well as clothes made in Russian factories, and a substantial supply of food. Of course by then the U.S standard of living was higher, but the Soviet Union was more impressive in the way that they were able to provide their people with a decent standard of living without exploiting less developed nations. If there were any Shantytowns in the USSR in the 1930's (which I am not sure there were), there were definitely not any by the time Stalin died. Even the early stages of Stalin's economic plan you are mentioning, the Standard of living was still higher than in modern day third world African countries.


To your first point, I would like to say that government does not equal good. Power ultimately corrupts, and whoever is in charge of a government will use that power to benefit them and their friends. That results in a disproportionate amount of wealth as well, so to say a command economy prevents this is wrong. I know there is some aspect of disproportionate wealth in a free market economy, but there is also in a command economy.

To your second point of a majority of citizens willing to participate in a command economy, I will to refer to the example of Stalin's Holodomor. In the Holodomor, Ukranian farmers refused to join collective farms because they thought it resembled serfdom. [1] So, Stalin responded by creating a man-made famine, killing anywhere from 3-8 million people. [2] Is this the leadership required for a command economy, is this the price people have to pay?

Saying that "In a command economy, the people place the hands of the economy into efficient, reliable hands for the greatest possibility for growth and increase in the standard of living" and "Mao and his complete control of the economy led to China becoming the economic powerhouse it is today" counter the facts. Mao's "Great Leap Forward" did well for the first year, but in 1959 things changed. The communes people were put in a precarious position when unreasonable demands were made. Each had its own furnace to make tools, but the tools made were inadequate for building and farming. Also, the trains failed because the commune's furnace's used up the country's coal. All these factors combined caused Mao to admit his great leap forward had been a failure. Thus, private property was reinstated, communes were cut down in size, and people could sell some of their own produce. When Mao tried to take over the economy, China failed. It was the reinstating of free market policies that brought it back to life. [3]

The temporary growth of the soviet union stopped after the 1950's and the country went into recession until it's collapse. [4] To say the growth of during the 50's was accomplished without exploiting less developed nations is ignoring that after World War II, Russia invaded, annexed, and took twelve eastern European countries ravaged by war and used their resources to develop the Soviet Union. [5] You may counter by saying they got to benefit by being in the soviet union. However, being part of a country that only experiences a decade of growth in fifty years after being ravaged by war is not a beneficial thing.

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