Socialism is preferable to capitalism as an economic system that promotes freedom, equality, and prosperity.

That proposition was the subject of a November 5, 2019, debate hosted by the Soho Forum, a monthly debate series sponsored by Reason. Arguing in favor of the resolution was Richard D. Wolff, an economist at the University of Massachusetts and the author, most recently, of Understanding Marxism. Taking the other side was former Barron’s economics editor Gene Epstein, who is also the Soho Forum’s co-founder and director. Reason‘s Nick Gillespie served as moderator.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event; the side that gains the most ground is victorious. It was a packed house, with about 450 people in attendance. The pre-debate vote found that 25 percent of the audience agreed that socialism was preferable to capitalism, 49.5 percent picked capitalism as the better system, and 25.5 percent were undecided. Despite a technical problem at the event itself, the Soho Forum was able to recover the final vote totals, which saw support for socialism drop by half a percentage point and support for capitalism increase to 71 percent.

Produced by John Osterhoudt
Photo Credit: Brett Raney