You can find this storyboard in our teacher guide for The Cold War: 1945-1962.

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Comparative Grid - Cold War - Communism vs. Capitalism/Democracy

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Storyboard Description

Communism vs. Capitalism - For this activity, students will compare and contrast the ideas and ideologies of both democracy and capitalism with communism and command economies. This will allow students to explain, analyze and synthesize what actually defined each superpower’s belief system in terms of society, economics, government, and what they eventually sought to spread influentially across the globe. In addition, students will be able to connect how such differences in societal theory with why the Cold War was more so an ideological war, defined by propaganda, espionage, and aim for global control.

Storyboard Text

  • CAPITALISM / DEMOCRACY
  • POLITICAL IDEOLOGY
  • POWER
  • ECONOMIC IDEOLOGY
  • INDIVIDUAL GAIN = WEALTH = BUYING POWER = FUEL TO ECONOMY
  • SOCIETAL IDEOLOGY
  • Freedom of speech! Religion! Ideas!
  • AIMS AND GOALS
  • DEMOCRACY
  • CAPITALISM
  • COMMUNISM / COMMAND ECONOMY
  • Exercise your right to vote!
  • Polls
  • The political ideology of democracy lies in the belief that the power of government ultimately falls into the hands of the people. As a democratic republic, America believed that free elections and voting were defining cornerstones of how government should operate. Furthermore, with a democratic, free-market system, Americans, and others, could dictate their own freedom and the future of their country.
  • PEOPLE
  • COMMUNIST EAST
  • America functions under a capitalist economic system. Although there are government regulations on business and trade, Americans are free to develop, grow, and sustain whatever type of business or service they desire. In turn, this plays into the belief that individual freedom to economically sustain oneself fits with the idea of also having a say in one's government.
  • EQUAL WEALTH
  • Under a democratic republic, America's societal beliefs stayed true to the ideas of less invasive, oppressive governments, individual freedoms, and individual ability to expand one's wealth. Society in America aimed to be as true to the ideas of natural rights as possible. Opportunity was there; however, one had to achieve personally to get there. Despite concerns like the wealth gap, and poverty, as a society, Americans believed they were truly free.
  • ONE PARTY
  • I love my guaranteed freedoms!
  • ONE NATION
  • Goals and aims under America's democratic and capitalist society are to preserve and expand those freedoms and rights. Ideas of natural rights, individual success, and freedom from oppressive government measures were all aims and goals of the democratic nation. In addition to this, they aimed to preserve democracy where it existed, and also for countries who were under the threat of oppressive governments.
  • THE STATE IS GREATER THAN THE INDIVIDUAL
  • The defining ideas of communism lies in the belief that everything is directed towards the state. Personal wealth, individual freedoms, and personal choice were all secondary to the health and growth of the nation state. They believed in a one-party system of government that merely served to operate based on what was all ultimately contributed to the state. Equality, in a literal sense, defined communism.
  • DEMOCRATIC WEST
  • VS
  • Under communism, specifically under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union operated under a command economy. In essence, under Stalin's "Five Year Plan", the nation would produce and manufacture a certain number of goods to meet specific quotas. Although this put much pressure on workers and industries, the Soviet's economy grew tremendously. In essence, the government "commanded" the economy to produce what it needed, to be where it needed.
  • Society under communism is essentially that all are equal. Everything, again, is aimed at contributing to the state. The government is fully involved in economic and societal affairs. Because of this, there are no classes or levels of wealth. Instead, all enjoy equal pay, treatment, benefits, and enjoy strong ideas of nationalism.
  • Aims for communist nations were to preserve and solidify complete equality, as well as the strength of the nation. It was to avoid problems seen in capitalist societies, such as wealth disparity and class warfare. Furthermore, communist regimes believed communism could only survive on a global scale, and therefore spreading it and its influences were crucial.
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