WHP Lesson 35: Capitalism and Socialism

Capitalism and socialism are competing ideas about how we should organize our economies. They grew during this time period, and there are both fans and critics of each of these systems.

Driving Question: What are capitalism and socialism? 

  • Capitalism is based on the idea that everyone has the right to buy and sell things. This means the government is not overly involved in this system, and as part of this individuals can create wealth. Socialism has more centralized economic planning or government involvement, which ensures more economic equality. It was meant to protect the rights of workers and to make their lives better.
  • Capitalism and socialism were around well before 1750 when the long nineteenth century began. However, it was during this time that they developed into big ideas and systems and really became an established part of our world.

Word of the Day: Free Market

  • Definition: A place where people are free to buy and sell things without restrictions.
  • The idea of a free market fits more with capitalism than socialism. Sometimes this is even referred to as “free market capitalism.


Historian’s Journal Prompt

  • Are free markets today really “free”?
  • We have free markets around the world, but can you really buy and sell anything you want? Think about some of the things you (or other) might want to buy or sell, but are restricted.