Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Prosperity Project Initiative

Explore Research

Filter By:




Enter comma-separated ID numbers for authors

Support the Hoover Institution

Join the Hoover Institution's community of supporters in advancing ideas defining a free society.

Support Hoover


How Freedom Is Caught Between Socialism And Capitalism In The Indo-Pacific

by Michael R. Auslinvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Monday, October 12, 2020

The world is about to witness a demonstration of whether an authoritarian state can take over a free society and keep it economically flourishing while individual rights are increasingly extinguished. If that sounds like a paradox, it is, given that the historical record includes no examples of such a transition to authoritarianism where, ultimately, economic growth and development continued while freedom languished.

The Human Prosperity ProjectFeaturedVideos

Lessons From Socialism In East Germany

by Russell A. Bermanvia PolicyEd
Thursday, October 8, 2020

The experiences of East and West Germany after World War II offer an insightful comparison that highlights socialism’s empty promise of prosperity.

EssaysAnalysis and Commentary

Our Socialist Future?

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Thursday, October 1, 2020

After the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd while in custody of officers of the Minneapolis Police Department, protesters demanded the fair prosecution of those responsible. Yet quickly the demonstrations devolved into a veritable cultural revolution, spearheaded by two groups, Antifa and Black Lives Matter, both with strong socialist origins and agendas.


Leaving Socialism Behind: A Lesson From German History

by Russell A. Bermanvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The well-known images of East Germans eagerly pouring into West Berlin on the night of November 9, 1989, have become symbols of the beginning of the end of the Cold War and, more specifically, evidence of the failure of Communist rule in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) and its socialist economic system. Yet that historic moment was only the final dramatic high point in the long history of dissatisfaction with living conditions in the eastern territory of Germany, first occupied by the Red Army during the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 and, four years later, established as the GDR when, in Winston Churchill’s words, the Iron Curtain fell across the continent.


India’s Long Struggle With Socialism

by David C. Mulfordvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Thursday, September 17, 2020

This paper on India has been included in the Hoover Institution’s important project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism, The Human Prosperity Project, because India represents a unique case of socialism and democracy in conflict. Following India’s birth to freedom and independence in 1947, its democracy was dominated by socialist, planned-economy policies that failed for nearly seventy years to achieve the levels of growth its people desperately needed to rise out of poverty.


Innovation, Not Manna From Heaven

by Stephen Habervia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The United States is an outlier in the distribution of prosperity. As figure 1 shows, there is a small group of countries with per capita incomes above $40,000 that stand out from all the others—and the United States, with a per capita income of nearly $66,000, stands out even within this small group. How can it be that the United States has a per capita income roughly 50 percent higher than that of Britain, its former colonizer? 


In An Emerging New World, Choose Economic Freedom

by George P. Shultzvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Thursday, September 3, 2020

The world is on a hinge of history. The future is going to be different from the past in major ways. At the end of the Second World War, people such as Dean Acheson, George Marshall, and Harry Truman sat atop another hinge of history, though they may not have realized it at the time—you can know something is important without knowing exactly what it is that you are dealing with. But when they looked around at the devastation that had been wrought across the globe, with tens of millions of lives lost and the economies of allies and adversaries alike in ruins, they saw how the United States could work with both to help. 


Environmental Markets Vs. Environmental Socialism: Capturing Prosperity And Environmental Quality

by Terry Andersonvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

It is hard to date the beginning of environmentalism. It might have started when the Reverend Thomas Malthus in 1798 penned An Essay on the Principle of Population. Therein he postulated that humans would continue to reproduce until the population demands exceed their ability to produce food, after which famine, disease, and pestilence would check population growth in a “Malthusian trap.” His postulate continues to permeate environmental thinking. For example, in the 1970s, the Club of Rome, armed with data and computers, predicted precise years when we would reach the limits of the world’s resources.


Obstacles To Free-Market Capitalism That Help Make Way For Socialism

by John B. Taylorvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Monday, August 31, 2020

In a book that George Shultz and I published this year, we explained why one must choose economic freedom, meaning basically the opposite of socialism. Economic freedom, or free-market capitalism, the term of art used in this important Human Prosperity Project, means a rule of law, predictable policies, reliance on markets, attention to incentives, and limitations on government.


Socialism And The Constitution

by Michael McConnellvia Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously described the US Constitution as “made for people of fundamentally differing views.” (Lochner v. New York dissent) By that, he meant that the Constitution does not commit the nation to any particular ideological or economic theory, including laissez-faire capitalism. Instead it leaves decisions about national policy to the democratic process, subject to the constraints of the Bill of Rights. Within the range of ordinary politics, Holmes was correct: Americans can decide, through their elected representatives, to have high taxes or low, generous welfare payments or a basic social safety net, government-owned enterprises or privatization, heavy-handed or light-touch regulation. That is the difference between democratic socialism and a largely free-enterprise economy.


Robert Wesson Senior Fellow
Research Fellow
John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow
Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia
Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Rose-Marie and Jack Anderson Senior Fellow
Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow
Robert and Carole McNeil Senior Fellow
Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Tad and Dianne Taube Director | Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy
John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow
Senior Fellow
George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics
Visiting Fellow
Blank Section (Placeholder)

Socialism And Free-Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project

Monday, July 20, 2020
Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution presents an online virtual speaker series based on the scholarly research and commentary written by Hoover fellows participating in the Human Prosperity Project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism.
Monday, July 20, 2020 at 11:00 am PT.

Blank Section (Placeholder)FeaturedEconomy

The Human Prosperity Project On Socialism And Free-Market Capitalism

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Hoover Institution, Washington DC

The Hoover Institution launched a new initiative, The Human Prosperity Project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism on Socialism, a discussion with leading scholars was hosted, on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM EST.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Hoover Institution Launches New Initiative Aimed At Educating Americans About Socialism And Free-Market Capitalism

Monday, February 24, 2020
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

The Hoover Institution has established a new initiative aimed at educating Americans about the arguments and consequences of the modern world’s dominant, conflicting, and most fiercely debated economic systems: socialism and free-market capitalism.

Press Releases


Free-market capitalism and socialism are polar cases of government and economic form that have dominated the past century.

Free-market capitalism is characterized by private ownership of the means of production, where investment is governed by private decisions and where prices, production, and the distribution of goods and services are determined mainly by competition in a free market. Socialism is an economic and political system in which collective or governmental ownership and control plays a major role in the production and distribution of goods and services, and in which governments frequently intervene in or substitute for markets. Proponents of capitalism generally extoll the economic growth that is created by private enterprise and the individual freedom that the system allows. Advocates of socialism emphasize the egalitarian nature of the system and argue that socialism is more compassionate in outcomes than is the free market. The Hoover Institution’s Prosperity Project on Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism investigates in an objective and scholarly manner the historical record to assess the consequences for human welfare, individual liberty, and interactions between nations of various economic systems ranging from pure socialism to free-market capitalism.