I think what people mean by this dichotomy is, state control, vs markets. Even North Korea arguably the world's 'most' communist state ever, now allows some entrepreneurship. Cuba had a thaw towards small businesses but is more mixed. And I hardly need to mention that China is open to world markets, although their insistence that any company be majority Chinese owned, and threat to their citizens of unlimited detention without trial gives the Chinese state almost unlimited influence on their companies in practice - and has led to them demanding effective total state control over strategically important companies like Hui Wei, causing trade & diplomatic schisms most notably with USA & Canada (& there are wider issues about intellectual property, but that's a huge topic in it's own right).
It is common to describe these adoptions of mixed economies as communism 'failing', or no longer existing in practice. That is a mistake, and is a-historical. The converse parallel is state ownership of industries and nationalised healthcare in European countries, which mix more socialist strategies into their capitalist economies (look at Iceland's refusal to bail out banks, in the name of enforcing fairness, vs UK taking state ownership of banks supposedly in defence of capitalism). In actual practice every country, even the 'uber-capitalist' USA has a mixed economy, with aspects of state control, eg ownership of roads, the military(I have had people say all militaries are centralised by default, compare feudal levies, British state-sanctioned freebooter pirates, and East India Company troops); AND markets, eg market traders (there is analysis out there of the substantial role of black & grey informal markets in the USSR, which may not have been legal but were impactful & largely tolerated).
The supposed absolute dichotomy between capitalist states and communist states is totally a product of the Cold War, and the terms are really used to mean, NATO members or aligned, and Warsaw Pact members or aligned. This lives on in our language as the zombie concept 'the Third World' originally coined by analogy to the French 'Third Estate', their proletariat. People using Third World invariably don't realise Second World doesn't mean developing economies, it means allied with the USSR. The realpolitik of the Cold War forced developing economies to pick sides, and to shape their policies accordingly.
For wealthy highly educated Western European countries which tolerated protests and unions, alignment & realignment largely turned out well. For South American countries subject to the Wolfowitz doctrine of unlimited US interference, and African countries, this worked out as a half century of military coups, mass graves, and funding death squads to execute leaders showing any interest in serving their people. The low point in US foreign policy has to be the Iran-Contra scandal under Reagan, where the CIA created a slush fund to arm insurgents by tolerating the trade that caused the US crack epidemic, because the leadership of the CIA were racist enough to consider sacrifice of overwhelmingly black inner cities tolerable, even desirable (Johann Hari's 'Chasing The Scream' is great on the motivation & consequences of US-led substance prohibitions).
Lastly in the scene setting, I would point out that Marx cannot be allowed uncriticised to say socialism is a stepping stone leading inevitably towards communism. This is like Nazi's choosing to be called 'National Socialists', or North Korea being 'The Democratic People's Republic'. Socialism predates Marx (in fact, so do forms of communism, like the Diggers), and it was already leading to successful reforms in Marx's time. Attention should be drawn to the fact, that although capitalism is called ideological, communism has been much more so, that is: ideas-led, essentially - utopian. Compelling analysis suggests it was actually this disposition of the Eastern Block to see an 'end of history' that saw the end of the Cold War with a substitution of the future communist utopia, with a hoped for liberal democratic utopia a la Fukiyama's analysis (and fed by the USA pumping money into strategic opponents like West Germany). In countries with weak institutions, like Russia, the change largely did not generate improvements, or even anything more than superficial change.
So, texts. I would start with anthropologist David Graeber's 'Debt: The First 5000 Years'. This makes the case that currency has always been founded, fundamentally, in reciprocal social obligations. He highlights periodic crisees requiring debt forgiveness. And draws attention to a pendulum swing between fiat currencies and intrinsic-value currencies, pointing out blockchain sees us returning to the latter, and the implicit problems we may be in for there. I see the understanding of wealth and trade as the accumulation of relationships of mutual benefit as a key point. You can see him take possibly the longest view of any of these authors here in his analysis of Madagascar and indigenous cultures more generally. In the same area, Joseph Tainter's 'The Collapse of Complex Societies' looks at how solving social/economic problems involves creating greater social complexity, and that has real costs, and finite capacity to do it may lead to 'rapid simplification', or, civilisational collapse. That has to be tempered by how global trade can be shown to be driven by development, maturity and decay of new technologies, though increasing numbers of sceptics doubt our ability to innovate our way out of existential threats like climate change.
It is a widespread view that historically only war epidemics and crisees have generated increases in equality, otherwise it has only been a matter of how much hold on these gains in maintained, and their erosion until new crisees are triggered. This inability to reform without crisis is hugely wasteful & counterproductive, but it does point to how ecologies of ideas before a crisis often get selected from at those moments, like Cuba's 'Special Period' and their food production autarky, or British Chartists and the right to affordable land to grow food, and parallel Russian granting of dachas. New York has the 596 Acres project. I would argue these cultural more than economic systems and institutions provide a significant bulwark against the damages of 'rapid simplification', as reservoirs of skills, and social network/hubs. I would point to an analogy with the evolutionary biology concept of punctuated equilibria.
Next I'd point to Wilkinson & Pickett's books 'The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better' & 'The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone's Well-Being'. These use data on the consequences of inequality for wellbeing, and social cohesion, to draw conclusions about the biology and psychology of economics. I would add in the same area Kahneman's 'Thinking Fast & Slow' even though it's not an economics text, he did win the Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on psychology of judgment and decision-making, largely what is in this book. I also really like this article which identifies loss of emergent 'metis' or tactics for easing social stresses to rapid social change, as the driver of social decohesion. And more broadly Durkheim's analysis of (eg The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, see discussion of here) the formation of moral communities based on holding 'sacred' or inviolable values the dissolution of which tends to dissolve their communities (eg habeus corpus, free speech, right to assembly). Hari's 'Lost Connections' covers parallel ground to both, imho.
Kate Raworth in 'Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist' seeks to reframe economics, especially the idea economies are separate from the societies they belong too, and to analyse how traditional economic thinking has led us astray, especially as regards natural resources and the tragedy of the commons. It's important to note the idea of 'steady state economics', a reform aimed at adjusting to acknowledgement of non-renewable resources, and to populations remaining stable or dropping as they are nearly everywhere except Subsaharan Africa - which is likely to see a major part of the next century's economic shift, and either a huge powershift, or massive proxy wars between current powers. Thomas Piketty's work, especially 'Capital In The 21st Century', also takes the long view of economics to reframe our understanding.
These writers are all considered left wing, though for me their virtue is evidenced-based policy development. I also want to highlight basically everything by Jonathan Haidt, considered to be a rightwing thinker. His analysis of the broader moral matrix and moral palette in relation to recent success of rightwing polutics to my mind echoes the above thinkers, and I'd piont to Tony Blair's overt monarchism and seizing of the cultural moment when Diana died, vs Corbyn's unwillingness to sing the national anthem, as examples of the source of their relative appeal to working class voters. The dynamic of educated middle classes being ready to rely on a state they feel ready to influence, vs working class reliance on family and community they feel are their only real sources of support in crisis, is a major driver of left vs right politics, loss of working class votes by the left, and rise in rightwing nationalism, globally.
Haidt evidences another source of cultural difference, between largely agrarian cultures who have to sow & harvest together like rice-growing China Korea Vietnam and Japan with ethics focused on trustworthiness, and herder cultures who could lose all wealth in a single raid and with focus on honour and ability to threaten feuds, like Mongolia & the Middle East. It is notable that Mesopotemia, Mayan culture, and Europe had a very integrated mix of farming styles, and cultures. A legacy of these varying cultures can be seen in 'cowboy culture' in Argentina, Southern Brazil & Texas, vs grain growing Canada, or arguably 'too-cohesive' rice-growing Thailand. There is a phenomenon of increased geographical sorting by politics globally, magnifying the urban-rural divide, which was a major source of the tension that led to the US Civil War, & is fueling polarisation there again. This will likely be the major dynamic of the future century, with the threshold of 50% of global population moving to cities in our lifetime, and that trend only set to dramatically increase - it's currently 68%. I like Joe Walston's analysis of how to positively reduce global peak population, meet our ethical obligations to poor people around the world, and have the best influence on environmental and biodiversity impacts, through fostering development of healthy effective cities, and the demographic transition we have moral obligations to support and he argues is inevitable without worse consequences.
Lastly I draw your attention to this interview with futurologist Cory Doctorow on Mindscape podcast, where he compellingly makes the case that powerful effective state oversight of markets, especially anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws are key to long term economic success, and that lack of public trust in this fuels conspiracy thinking. Conspiracy thinking having real-world consequences is far from new, and when we recognise this we see many aspects of the formation of effective modern states depend on addressing the causes of this. We look at China's food scandals, but UK food laws were pushed by the bones of cholera victims being dug up from a burial pit and ground up to adulterate flour. UK health & safety law was pushed by the match industry's unwillingness to go from yellow to red sulphur because of a tiny difference in cost, even though yellow sulphur killed employees and red did not. Sadly legislation is typically only reformed in the face of scandal, collapse, and mass deaths - just like epidemic preparedness will only now be reformed. I add the caveat that state-controlled economies are generally even worse at this, Foxconn only reformed unfair pay rules and horrific conditions in the face of mass-suicides - and seemed to focus more on suicide nets than those changes. The British state went through it's industrial revolution as an authoritarian centralised state slow to act on issues like child labour also, though. And in the US, a few hugely dominant companies are suppressing the Silicon Valley innovation ecology by destroying copying or buying any challenger. I would point to governance for business ecologies, rather than by blanket appeal to ideologies - especially the fine grained data-driven impacts of government policy. Nowhere is that more dramatically illustrated than by the global failure to tax the most profitable companies in the world, this is driving inequalities and instability. We can see it magnifying instability in the current epidemic, where capacity for capital flight leads to the I think valid criticism that 'a citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere'. Cyprus, & India, have taken tough action on this. Blockchain currencies will make it harder to do.
Definitions of capitalism, communism, and socialism as used now are largely incoherent and formulated as pejoratives, with ideological motivations behind that on all sides. So, focus on state ownership, state control, state oversight, effective institutions, separation of powers (especially judicial from executive). Reform has always had better impacts than revolution, if there is an active civil society developing and proposing policy ideas, and enough social mobility in the face of crisees to get some implemented. Effective strategy for positive change has to be as much social as political, and we should focus on preventing erosion and slow cultivation of rights in good times, and dynamic abd vision led policy development for times of crisis, which may become the almost permanent state of our near-future. Historical economics has been based on ideas like independent rational agents only very recently being questioned in academia, by the likes of The Post Crash Economics Society and Jonathan Haidt-led The Heterodox Academy. The failure of economic theory to predict or explain the 2008 crash will hopefully prove a key moment of change of and regrowth of, economic thinking from more fundamental principles. It has to be a crucial priority to move towards evidenced based policy and away from tribal-based values-led policy, though to do that we need powerful narratives that point towards strengthening rather than eroding existing bonds, sources of cohesion, and moral communities within our societies.
Apologies for not being more concise, this is by far my longest post on here. Well done anyone who made it through! Feedback will be gratefully received.