At almost every level, politics is intertwined with economics. For instance, election results are widely thought to be determined by economic factors, and party politics is invariably dominated by economic issues: parties compete against each other by promising higher rates of economic growth, increased prosperity, lower inflation and so on. The influence of economics has been no less significant in political theory. For almost two hundred years, ideological debate revolved around a battle between capitalism and socialism, a clash between two rival economic philosophies. This struggle was regarded as fundamental to the political spectrum itself, right-wing ideas being sympathetic towards capitalism, left-wing ones being broadly socialist. In effect, this tendency reduced politics to a debate about the ownership of property and the desirability of one economic system over another. Should property be owned by private individuals and be used to satisfy personal interests? Or should it be owned collectively, by either the community or the state, and be harnessed to the common good? Questions about property are closely related to conflicting models of economic organization, notably the rival economic systems that dominated much of twentiethcentury history: market capitalism and central planning.
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