Readers reply: are any countries neither capitalist nor communist? | Life and style

Are there any countries that are ultimately neither capitalist nor communist? Becky Jackson, Dorset

Send new questions to nq@theguardian.com.

Readers reply

China manages to be communist and capitalist. CaressOfSteel

Perhaps the question should be is there any nation in which all residents are treated equally. A nation that accords everyone their basic dignity as a human no matter who they are or what they believe. bodfishbiker

Stone age people shared resources, but they also traded goods with other groups. Trade is the most basic form of capitalism. Even modern communes need to trade: the population of a kibbutz cannot make all the things needed in the modern world themselves.

True communism has never existed on a national basis. Human nature is such that there will always be people who will want more than an equal share. If anyone knows of a country whose leaders live in the same sort of accommodation, and have the same income as everyone else, without any perks, I would be interested to know where it is. ClareM8

Not all market economies are capitalist. Capitalism is a form of market economy, but they are not synonymous. This is an error I see over and over again. I suspect it’s a deliberate conflation by capitalists, as it allows things to be attributed to capitalism that it is not responsible for.

Market economies cause innovation and lift people out of poverty. Capitalism does this, but to a much lesser effect than other forms of market economy and with many undesirable side-effects not shared with other forms of market economy. ReidMalenfant

I’d turn the question round and ask whether there are any countries that are either purely communist or purely capitalist? In reality, almost everywhere has a mixed economy of some form. In the decades after the second world war, the UK and many similar countries had a mix where the government took an active role in the economy, but then there was a shift to a more free-market model and a lot of industries were privatised. However, for example, we still have a state military, a state welfare system and state education, as do most countries, and we also have the NHS (for now). JohnI

Most countries are neither capitalist nor communist. When we talk about “capitalism” or “communism” (or any other system), we are talking about concepts, not the real world. Even the term “mixed economy” is abstract, because the mixes vary so much. In my country, France, more than two-thirds of the economy is in various forms of public ownership (including co-operatives); in the US, I think this percentage is less than one-third. In Norway – one of the richest and happiest societies in the world – more than three-quarters of non-home wealth is owned by the state, including more than 70 of its biggest companies. Capitalist or communist?

What I think is clear from economic history is that capitalism doesn’t work – it leads to violent social conflict. It has to be strictly regulated in some kind of mixed economy to be sustainable. In view of the need to curtail economic growth (to mitigate climate-ecological breakdown), the extent of public intervention in the ownership and governance of our economies must move towards the Scandinavian mix. GeofCox

England is still mostly feudal. neilgander1

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