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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10609/why-is-capitalism-so-unpopular/

Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?

September 7, 2009 by

Henry Hazlitt once said that good ideas have to be relearned every generation. Among the intellectuals of our time, capitalism is wildly unpopular. This in spite of the fact that it is the only social system that has permitted prosperity and flourishing.

Why they continue to oppose the free market in the face of such evidence is a matter of debate. Some have argued that intellectuals dislike capitalism because they feel it doesn’t offer them just rewards for their labors. Indeed, academic books do not sell particularly well, and it is easy for the dedicated scholar to feel a degree of envy when he sees “lesser” minds like John Grisham or J.K. Rowling bringing in boatloads of money for writing relatively straightforward fiction. (And that is to say nothing of professional athletes or, those most foul of professional villains, corporate CEOs.) FULL ARTICLE

{ 41 comments }

ShedPlant September 7, 2009 at 8:15 am

Nice article to follow up listening to Ralph Raico’s MU2009 lecture on the same subject :) .

Mechanized September 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

Capitalism remains unpopular due to inability or unwillingness to think for ones self. At this point there appears no other gentlemenly method of stating it. The sin of envy should probably also be added to the list.

Mushindo September 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

I can answer your headline question: the ‘capitalism’ that most of the mainstream hates so much is not th esame animal as the ‘capitalism’ that Austrians defend so much.

The latter is ‘our’ term for a ‘pure’, intervention-free market system underpinned by firm property rights and an objective, unbiased, rule of law.

The former is, in the minds of those who hate it so much, the whole mess as it currently exists – an awkward, self-contradictory jumble of freedoms, interventions, a morass of regulation – in short, anything but a free market.

Its about time we stopped trying to defend the undefendable and started explaining why we hate capitalism just as much as the lefties do, but for different reasons: All the ills of modern capitalism as it stands are caused not by the market, but by State interference in preventing the market from working properly. And that state interference is shot right through every facet of what has become known as Western Capitalism.

So, for as long as we try to defend ‘capitalism’ by name, we have to begin by explaining what our definition of capitalism isn’t, and that the status quo is NOT capitalism despite the popular label. And faced with that, the cognitive shutters come down before we even get . We only ever end up convincing one another…..and theres not much point in that.

At root, the sentiment that leads the average naieve socialist in the street to his opinion is the same sense of moral outrage that drives any passionate libertarian/Austrian. the difference is found in the economic ignorance of the former. Leading him to a better understanding is likely to be easier if we can agree with him at the outset that the current milieu, aka western capitalism, is the problem, not the solution.

Toban September 7, 2009 at 10:14 am

I think the anti-capitalist mentality has a deeper cause. Paul Rubin’s article, Folk Economics explains that our brains evolved in tribal (collectivist) communities with very little capitalistic features (i.e., property, trade, capital, production). Our brains are wired for tribal socialism, and capitalism is a foreign thing to us. This fundamentally explains the universal psychological bias towards socialism among laypersons and academics. Of course, it can be overcome via reasoning.

darjen September 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

If I remember correctly, karl marx defined capitalism as state protection of private enterprise. In other words, government subsidy and bailouts of private enterprise. This obscures the question of how dependent any system of private capital is on the state. I think people are pushing two different definitions of capitalism, and never the twain shall meet. Personally, I try to avoid the word completely.

steve kowalski September 7, 2009 at 10:32 am

Perhaps we should consider another reason why capitalism is unpopular – because people are suspicious of capitalists. Capitalists act in their own self interest. The natural reaction to someone acting purely in their self interest is to be suspicious that your interests are potentially up for grabs. Amongst our circle of friends, are we not more disposed to be well disposed to those who are well disposed towards us, rather than those who seem purely to be governed by their own self interest? And doesn’t this make it more likely that we will also be suspicious of capitalists generally? It seems, in fact, that we could probably give good evolutionary reasons for such suspicion.

I hasten to add that I think that the human reactions outlined above are misguided at the societal level. I believe that persons are perfectly entitled to act in their self interest and that the competitive market will ensure that societies based on free trade will be superior in all sorts of ways to other sorts of societies. And that those who claim to be acting in the public interest are, more often than not, not really doing so at all.

But many persons, perhaps most, do not make the leap from what they admire in their close associates and how a different attitude is required at the level of individual rights and a society based on them. They simply remain suspicious of capitalists.

I suggest that this may be a far more potent reason as to why people remain immune to the desirability of libertarianism. We shouldn’t kid ourselves by setting up straw men – this is going to be a difficult mountain to climb.

mushindo September 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

Tobin said:
‘Our brains are wired for tribal socialism, and capitalism is a foreign thing to us’.

Having a deep interest in the literature around the evolution of the human brain, I have to disagree with this statement.

Our brains are wired for intra-tribal co-operation to mutual benefit (aka the division of labour). The very same wiring predisposes us to keep track, (in an incredibly nuanced fashion often completely unconscious), of who did what and when and for whom, and we are very very good at sniffing out free riders and ostracising them, and/or using social punishment to incentivise them to buck up and pull their weight, or leave the tribe.

UNfortunately, this capacity to keep track of intimate reciprocal activities is limited, as it evolved in the small tribal hunter-gatherer context (and may even predate homo sapiens btw), and for any particular human brain, we can’t seem to keep track of much more than 130-150 individuals without losing count.

Hence the emergence of the institutions of trade and money – these institutions are nothing more than the extension of our hardwired predisposition to co-operation, beyond the individuals we are personally acquainted with. The market effectively extends both our propensity to co-operate to mutual benefit, and our need to flush out and negate free riding, in a single institutional package.

Socialism, on the other hand, is not our natural human predisposition – for that ideology makes a virtue of free riding, and it trumps co-operation with coercion.

mushindo September 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

Tobin said:
‘Our brains are wired for tribal socialism, and capitalism is a foreign thing to us’.

Having a deep interest in the literature around the evolution of the human brain, I have to disagree with this statement.

Our brains are wired for intra-tribal co-operation to mutual benefit (this co-operation is better known to economists as the division of labour). The very same wiring predisposes us to keep track, (in an incredibly nuanced fashion often completely unconscious), of who did what and when and for whom, and we are very very good at sniffing out free riders and ostracising them, and/or using social punishment to incentivise them to buck up and pull their weight, or leave the tribe. (Much of this is driven emotively too, bypassing the neocortex altogether, so we’re not even aware of how or why we feel so strongly that somebody is a cheat, but we dislike them for it all the same).

Unfortunately, this capacity to keep track of intimate reciprocal activities is limited, as it evolved in the small tribal hunter-gatherer context (and may even predate homo sapiens btw), and for any particular human brain, we can’t seem to keep track of much more than 130-150 individuals without it getting too big to work properly.

Hence the emergence of the institutions of trade and money – these institutions are nothing more than the extension of our hardwired predispositions beyond the individuals we are personally acquainted with. The market effectively extends both our propensity to co-operate to mutual benefit, and our need to flush out and stamp out free riding, in a single institutional package which permits us to co-operate with people we’ve never met before. That marks the birth of civilisation.

Socialism, on the other hand, is not our natural human predisposition – because that ideology makes a virtue of free riding, and it overrides co-operation with coercion.

Mrhuh September 7, 2009 at 11:03 am

Excellent article. It’s true though that the term “capitalism” was invented by Karl Marx as a disparaging term. I prefer the term laissez-faire or “live and let live” as I would describe it to many anti-capitalists. It’s also true that many like the idea of big wars as entertainment rather than commerce. How many people would consider Lincoln or FDR their hero rather than the Wright Brothers for instance. Also, socialism promises something for nothing and another major reason is the overall lack of education. Many people, some supposedly intelligent and “educated”, still believe that Herbert Hoover for example was a laissez-fairest.

Franklin September 7, 2009 at 11:41 am

“Its about time we stopped trying to defend the undefendable and started explaining why we hate capitalism just as much as the lefties do, but for different reasons…. Leading [the socialist] to a better understanding is likely to be easier if we can agree with him at the outset that the current milieu, aka western capitalism, is the problem, not the solution.”

Amen to that. Nice post, Mushinod. Elegantly stated.
Sadly, I’ve oftentimes heard that regulation is required to guard against “the excesses of laissez-faire.” All terms have their own baggage. When I am confronted with the “look at what the evil corporation is doing to that little guy”, my response is usually to avoid all the economic definitions. Then assess the problem in terms of a property right. Common ground is usually reached in these cases, even with the leftist, since many present-day so-called property rights are illusory positive rights and/or monopolistic grants to the well-connected.

Matthew September 7, 2009 at 12:57 pm

That was a great article!

Othyem September 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Let me jump in here. I think much of it has to do with inequality. Capitalism, the free market, or whatever one wants to call it, naturally produces an unequal distribution of income. This notion seems to be (wrongly) equated with unfairness.

Mushindo September 7, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Drat, apologies for duplicated post (at 10.45 and 10.52). If some kind moderator would remove the first one and leave the second, I would be most grateful .

John September 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Not sure what the real number is but I would be willing to bet that between 60 and 95 percent of all hard core capitalist and libertarians are socialist to one degree or another and as the load moth Rush Limbaugh claims we give to charity all the time. I’m not sure about giving to charity all the time but in our personal lives we all like to help to some extent and that is our down fall, we think it has to be institutionalized, and our intellectuals play on our fears, (I would say so that they can do our good work the way they see it should be done and live a better life playing with our money/ capital rather than theirs) that no one will help the poor and needy.
As your post says capitalism is boring we go to work and make better stuff, and all live a lot better, I think Ayn Rand made a mistake in her atlas shrugged in only bringing up the John Galts and kind of dismissing the workers (Dagny’s assistant) as not underpinning the top, Both are needed and they both prosper in a capitalist society, but everyone is afraid to be the assistant, God forbid if I do not own the train or steel plant or our car companies today.
I for one thank the workers of whatever class and pioneers and innovators for a much higher living standard than the richest person could have enjoyed even 40 years ago.

John September 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Not sure what the real number is but I would be willing to bet that between 60 and 95 percent of all hard core capitalist and libertarians are socialist to one degree or another and as the load moth Rush Limbaugh claims we give to charity all the time. I’m not sure about giving to charity all the time but in our personal lives we all like to help to some extent and that is our down fall, we think it has to be institutionalized, and our intellectuals play on our fears, (I would say so that they can do our good work the way they see it should be done and live a better life playing with our money/ capital rather than theirs) that no one will help the poor and needy.
As your post says capitalism is boring we go to work and make better stuff, and all live a lot better, I think Ayn Rand made a mistake in her atlas shrugged in only bringing up the John Galts and kind of dismissing the workers (Dagny’s assistant) as not underpinning the top, Both are needed and they both prosper in a capitalist society, but everyone is afraid to be the assistant, God forbid if I do not own the train or steel plant or our car companies today.
I for one thank the workers of whatever class and pioneers and innovators for a much higher living standard than the richest person could have enjoyed even 40 years ago.

Lanta September 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Mushindo ,

Yes, you have answered the headline question. And you are absolutely correct in all your points. But I think you have shifted the discussion on the wrong track. The hatred of “capitalism” you are talking about is a different hatred than the one this (btw. brilliant) article is about. If people understand that “pure” or “laissez fair” capitalism that “Austrians” stand for is not the same as the status quo “capitalism” they may be more receptive to it. Sure.

But, and this is what the article is about, many (and perhaps most) people would denigrate the “laissez-faire” capitalism EVEN IF they understood it right and don’t confuse it with status quo. This is a sad fact. We shouldn’t be under illusion that people would necessarily walk with us once they understand what we stand for. We can gain support of both Common Man and Intellectual by rational argument but that would be very capricious. They are always easily won back by statists due to envy and glamour of “statesmanship” with its “greatness”.

Shay September 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

“Capitalists act in their own self interest. The natural reaction to someone acting purely in their self interest is to be suspicious that your interests are potentially up for grabs.”

Someone who claims to be acting for the good of others is even more suspicious, at least to me. He is more dangerous because he is very likely acting in his own self-interest, perhaps without even realizing it, while simply believing in a fiction that he’s helping others.

“Amongst our circle of friends, are we not more disposed to be well disposed to those who are well disposed towards us, rather than those who seem purely to be governed by their own self interest?”

Isn’t it self-interest that one has and maintains friends? By being a good friend to them, one gets all the benefits of having friends (company, someone to discuss things with, get advice, provide help when needed, etc.).

Anonymous September 7, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I am so glad I have got out of Art Carden’s mindset. “Capitalism” is unpopular because it is defined in people’s minds as economic exploitation and oppression. Also, capitalism is not freedom in and of itself, though it would probably be the most popular economic system in a free society. Rather than use confusing words and mistakenly defend corporations like Wal Mart on libertarian grounds. Especially when it clearly engages in wage slavery and prohibits workers from unionizing, not to mention benefits from the legal privilege of corporate personhood, why not use your economic knowledge to help libertarians get initiatives off the ground to advance the vision of a voluntary society? We have he theory now we need people who will advance the practice and that requires a sound knowledge in libertarian philosophy.

Bala September 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Lanta,

” But, and this is what the article is about, many (and perhaps most) people would denigrate the “laissez-faire” capitalism EVEN IF they understood it right and don’t confuse it with status quo. This is a sad fact. ”

You are right about this. In my opinion, the real problem is the prevalent moral code of Altruism. When well over 90% of the population grows fed on a moral diet of “You are your brother’s keeper” and that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to pass through the gates of heaven” and that “blood drips from the rich man’s bread while milk drips from the poor man’s bread”, it is tough to expect too much support for Capitalism.

What is required is a moral revolution. People need to be educated and weaned away from the altruistic moral code and enlightened on the virtue of selfishness. This will require, among other things, the elimination (from people’s minds) of all religions that demonise selfishness and canonise selflessness (as I understand it, it includes almost all present day religions).

When that happens, people will welcome no system other than Capitalism.

Nuke Gray September 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Gee, that last comment is most objectionable!
“Treat others as you would like to be treated”, the Golden rule, is the epitomy of libertarianism, surely?
When taken out of context, “Love thy neighbour” can sound like a command to be altruistic, but Jesus was saying this to a man who was a racist. The full context reveals that this is the parable of the good samaritan. A racist Jew was being told to think of others according to what they do, NOT what race they are!
So what are you complaining about? Jesus never actually badmouths wealth, but thinks that some people become too attached to their wealth, without thinking of others at all. Mobsters seem the sort of people he has in mind.
After all, if a good person is one who treats others as he/she would like to be treated, then evil is treating others in ways you would object to if they treated you that way!

Nuke Gray September 7, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Gee, that last comment is most objectionable!
“Treat others as you would like to be treated”, the Golden rule, is the epitomy of libertarianism, surely?
When taken out of context, “Love thy neighbour” can sound like a command to be altruistic, but Jesus was saying this to a man who was a racist. The full context reveals that this is the parable of the good samaritan. A racist Jew was being told to think of others according to what they do, NOT what race they are!
So what are you complaining about? Jesus never actually badmouths wealth, but thinks that some people become too attached to their wealth, without thinking of others at all. Mobsters seem the sort of people he has in mind.
After all, if a good person is one who treats others as he/she would like to be treated, then evil is treating others in ways you would object to if they treated you that way!

Nuke Gray September 7, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Gee, that last comment is most objectionable!
“Treat others as you would like to be treated”, the Golden rule, is the epitomy of libertarianism, surely?
When taken out of context, “Love thy neighbour” can sound like a command to be altruistic, but Jesus was saying this to a man who was a racist. The full context reveals that this is the parable of the good samaritan. A racist Jew was being told to think of others according to what they do, NOT what race they are!
So what are you complaining about? Jesus never actually badmouths wealth, but thinks that some people become too attached to their wealth, without thinking of others at all. Mobsters seem the sort of people he has in mind.
After all, if a good person is one who treats others as he/she would like to be treated, then evil is treating others in ways you would object to if they treated you that way!

Nuke Gray September 7, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Sorry about the threefold reply. I also meant to point out that I am a Free-Enterprize lover, not a capitalist. Free Enterprize is a broader term than Capitalist, since Free enterprize means you can do what you like with your land, whereas Capitalist doesn’t automatically imply freedom. Also, Bankers are seen as arch-Capitalists, and bankers are blamed for the recent economic bad news, so capitalism, and capitalists, are tainted by association.

mpolzkill September 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Anonymous,

“it [Walmart] clearly engages in wage slavery”

Not too clear for me, I don’t even know what “wage slavery” is. Could you make your blunt assertion more clear to me by backing it up? Starting with a definition of what that term means, please. Thank you.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Bala,

Zero Google hits on:

“blood drips from the rich man’s bread while milk drips from the poor man’s bread”

Ohhh Henry September 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

The answer is much simpler.

Capitalism is a system which requires hard work, thrift, patience and risk.

The anti-capitalist system promises wealth without any of those things. Just put in your time at public school and state college, apply for a job in government or in the industries which government permits to exist, and we do the rest.

The anti-capitalist system is of course a fairy tale, but central banks and inflation were invented in order to disguise its failures. They will continue to do so, right up until the very last instant when total collapse occurs and suddenly everyone rediscovers their inner capitalist.

Inquisitor September 8, 2009 at 1:58 am

Mushindo, great comments – too many people grant freely that socialism is somehow more “natural” to pre-modern humans, when it is not. Lovely article too.

Bala September 8, 2009 at 4:43 am

mpolzkill,

” Zero Google hits on:

“blood drips from the rich man’s bread while milk drips from the poor man’s bread” ”

That’s not a standard phrase but a summary of a story in 1 phrase that I cooked up. Try the following set and follow any of the first few links you get – Guru Nanak poor man bread milk.

I live in India. This is a story that forms a part of the lore of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev. (You might know that Sikhs are a religious sect originally from India. You can identify them by their bright turbans and long beards).

The story goes like this. On a hot day, when asked whether he is going to eat at a rich man’s house or at a poor man’s, Guru Nanak replies that he would prefer the poor man’s. When asked why, he picks up 1 slice of bread each from the rich man and the poor man. He squeezes both. The rich man’s bread oozes blood while the poor man’s oozes milk. The moral of the story is that it is more important to lead an honest life.

The hidden implication?? If you are rich, you must be dishonest.

Barry Loberfeld September 8, 2009 at 8:15 am

“Under capitalism, the common man does not need an intellectual vanguard or a group of virtuous surrogates to make his decisions for him or to defend him against the rapacity of his fellows. He can do just fine without our help, thank you very much, and would be much obliged if we would go back to our ivory towers and leave him alone.”

FROM HERE:

What the Left has always condemned “capitalism” for most profoundly is its legal egalitarianism, its “formal equality” — that is, its granting of political equality to moral unequals. In such a society, a Catharine MacKinnon has no more power than anyone else to censor others. Would-be Lenins and Maos and Castros are reduced to the Man on the Street. Each citizen controls his own property, and no cete of socialists is authorized to redistribute that wealth according to any scheme.
The equality of political liberty is the fundamental evil the Left opposes — and the foremost evil the Left seeks to abolish.

Lanta September 8, 2009 at 8:57 am

Bala,

No, I don’t think that endorsement of selfishness as opposed to altruism would do any good. I think too much attention is given to the distinction between those two in political economic discussions. Probably because many early influential economists (notably Adam Smith) came from Protestant background.
But laissez-faire ethic neither denounces self-interest nor does it celebrate it. And the same goes for altruism.

Then, you actually support Mushindo’s argument, even though you start with agreeing with my counterargument. You basically say: educate them right and they will be with us (“people will welcome no system other than Capitalism”). I don’t want to be unnecessarily pessimistic but I believe that we can never win ultimate support of most people. For reasons discussed by Art Carden here and Ludwig von Mises in Anticapitalist Mentality.

Bala September 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

Lanta,

” You basically say: educate them right and they will be with us ”

No. I only said what is required. I am fully aware of how near impossible it is.

Chad Rushing September 9, 2009 at 12:08 am

This quote seemed relevant to this discussion:

“The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weakness, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects – his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity.”
– Henry Hazlitt

Othyem: “I think much of it has to do with inequality. Capitalism, the free market, or whatever one wants to call it, naturally produces an unequal distribution of income. This notion seems to be (wrongly) equated with unfairness.”

I wholeheartedly agree. In a perfect free market, the most productive people and businesses would naturally and (more importantly) rightfully rise to the top and accumulate more real wealth for themselves. To those who imagine a utopian equality for all mankind or who would likely sink to the bottom in such a system, that is unthinkable.

Bardell September 16, 2009 at 3:37 am

Most folks hate capitalism because they have been indoctrinated into statism and collectivism in government schools. They are ignorant and brainwashed.I agree that there is a problem with capitalism being defined as mercantilism, but the collectivists always point to the “greed” of “capitalists” while completely ignoring/excusing the greed/corruption of the state component. It is a particularly odd and illogical selective blindness/ bias, seeing the “corporatists” and “capitalists” as evil and greedy and the state operatives as noble victims of capitalists.

fundamentalist September 16, 2009 at 8:26 am

I used to work for an electric utility that was in court being sued by someone every week of the year. The plaintiff would ask for some ridiculous settlement and the utility would offer something much less. With few exceptions, juries just split the difference. I think that happened because the juries were bored with the proceedings and couldn’t understand the arguments of either side. That’s what I think people do about the socialism/capitalism debate. They’re lazy and uninterested in economic issues, so they split the difference and think they can have the best of both worlds.

Jens Meder September 18, 2009 at 7:25 am

On the “unpopularity of Capitalism”, herewith a number of statements for to-the-point discussion, agreement or refutation, culminating in a proposal of systematic personal capitalism participation by all through a basic, all-inclusive personal saving and investments ownership rule.

1. Economically, the creation and use of capital – capitalism – began with the first laboriously polished stone axe, which means that it is capitalism – regardless of ownership patterns and legislation about it – which makes the difference between human existence and the mostly hand-to-mouth survival in the animal kingdom.

2. Use of the word Capitalism in the restricted sense of private enterprise and ownership, is an economically confusing legacy of Marx. Once it is realized that without capitalism there would be no culture nor civilization beyond hand-to-mouth subsistence, intellectuals could not really criticize capitalism nor Capitalism without being exposed as hypocrites, because education is also capital investment and PERSONAL ownership.

3. By nature, wealth gravitates towards wealth, because once a higher income is achieved, it is much easier to save, invest, and risk more without risking everything, than at a lower income.

4. Because of that, practically all civilizations move towards mutually antagonistic polarization into haves and have-nots, and stagnate or even collapse when the proportion of have-nots for whatever reason becomes too large and too poor in relation to the haves – as repeatedly has been shown by history.

5. Therefore, isn’t it in the “enlightened self-interest” of haves to promote a basic, all-inclusive (compulsory, like in Singapore) personal savings rule towards at least a minimally meaningful level of personal (retirement) wealth ownership level by all citizens eventually, as effectively described by the slogan (or principle of) “Ownership Democracy”?

mpolzkill September 18, 2009 at 8:45 am

Jens Meder,

1. Yes

2. Yes

3. Yes, but that’s not the only reason around here.

4. Here in America the problem was quite a way to being solved (leaving aside the legacy of evil racial and patriarchal theories) There was a rule of law so prevalent that it was generally understood that being a “have-not” was no ones fault but ones own. Nearly full emancipation of adult white males, circa 1850, just as Bastiat described. This has been slowly rolled back.

5. No. The big “haves” need to go back to the rule of law (universally applied this time, of course) instead of what most of them have engaged in for the last century or so: a systematic (though not uniform) bribery of the lesser “halves”. Whether caused by foolish guilt, ignorant benevolence or the desire to keep all competition at bay, the result has been mass infantilization.

fundamentalist September 18, 2009 at 9:17 am

Jens,

#1. No. Capitalism is far more than that. It is the rule of law which protects property from theft by the state, the nobility, or any other group. Capitalism didn’t come onto the scene until the Dutch Republic of the 16th century when for the first time in European history the Dutch protected the property of the middle class and poor from the state and the nobility.

3. How do you explain the fact that wealth lasts only three generations. That’s an old Chinese proverb, but it holds up well in the US. The first generation accumulates the wealth. The second spends it without adding to it. The third generation kills of what was left. In real capitalism, there is a great deal of mobility in and out of wealth.

Also, capitalists must share wealth with others. Any new invention reduces the cost of living for all consumers of the new product, increases wages and adds to the profits of the capitalists. It’s not a zero sum game.

#4. That was Marx’s idea, but history has proven him wrong time and time again. Marx’s theory applies well to traditional economies, as described by Douglass North, in which the dictator maintains power by giving his supporters the freedom to plunder the wealth of the masses. But it fits very poorly the experiences of the West.

#5. The “haves” increase the wealth of the “have-nots” by investing in new businesses and equipment which raise wages and reduce the cost of living. For example, at least one economist thinks WalMart should get a Nobel prize for helping the poor more than any state program by reducing the cost of clothing and food.

mpolzkill September 18, 2009 at 10:09 am

Jens Meder,

I much prefer what I think your definition of capitalism is to “fundamentalist’s” more narrow definition. We are a capitalist species. A lot of us ants would like to be grasshoppers though, ha ha. I’m all about discouraging that.

House Management September 23, 2009 at 4:02 am

If capitalism is a social system it is political and attempting to govern society. And that is exactly what it is doing now.

I have many reasons why I have moved away from capitalist arogance. My experiences during the dot.com crash and how executives robbed the company I was at and hurt hundreds of people. The arogant attitudes of libertarians that tell people that have had their jobs out sourced they better like it and suck it up as they deserve nothing. The hatred of all forms of government by capitalists to the point of seeking anarchy in society. Our government isn’t designed to be a tyranical business for a reason gentleman. We had tyrannical businesses before and it was called monarchy and aristocracy. Capitalism is very similar and borderlines on aristocratic feudalism.

Many people I meet daily who are hard core capitalists with money are rude and egotistical. They believe they deserve special treatment. Just watch a customer in a store. I am going to be paying $2000 dollars for blah, can I get some help! NOW! They expect everyone else to stand aside and let them move on in. And then when I chat with many of these wealthy people, as it is part of my job, I learn that most of them are “Owners” of something and they themselves didn’t actually create the business that makes them wealth. I even had a young man a few months back tell me he hoped is father died soon because he wanted to inherit his money, yet he had bucket loads of money from where I was standing. He wanted MORE and his father to die so he could get his selfish arogant hands on it. He told me he knew it was wrong but he just wanted that wealth, NOW! Capitalist greed at it’s best, yet none of you take responsiblity for what greed does to society.

Capitalists need to take responsiblity for what greed brings and does harm too. Instead of acting like a bunch of religious zealots who say that the guy that wanted his father to die isn’t a capitalists by your standards, stand up and own up for what it is. He is a capitalists who owns a business and wants more PROFITS and doesn’t care how he gets them. And the solution I hear the most is, “the free market will solve it all!” as you bow down.

The hatred for collective bargaining and workers having any say in what they do daily. The corporate arogance of guilty until proven innocent on how they treat employee’s. Standard business practice being that right from the start that we must sign documents that undermine our rights or we won’t qualify for the job. And the libertarian arogance that tells us, you can always walk away and you better not bite the hand that feeds you. And yet the capitalists have the audacity to take handouts from government and many of you say it is just smart business and you shouldn’t blame the capitalist for taking that money. So the worker has to walk away and live on the street to uphold his morality and liberty but capitalists can rob and pillage as they please all over society and never have to walk away. As you laugh and chortle behind the workers backs knowing full well they have to take the job or be a social outcast and live in poverty. But the capitalists going to government for hand outs is governments fault, not the capitalists as they couldn’t say no.

When I go to a meeting I see “How much I am costing the company!” not how much I am earning the company. I am an enemy to their profits, not a partner in it. The desire to lock down and force labor into contracts that is intellectual slavery such that workers are not allowed to compete in the market place.

The free market dogma and the desire to bust unions telling everyone it is for the best. yes some unions are garbage but if they are in the free market, who gives a damn if they exist? That arogance that the free market can do no wrong and produces the best results for everyone. Yet capital has protectism in all sorts of forms from ownership and so forth while labor doesn’t even own their own labor!!! Capital even has protectionism through copyright and patent laws, you never talk about undoing these things first for the free market so that labor can compete without fear of capitalists attacks on labor to stop them from participating in the market as you cart them off to prison. Capitalists have a government union and protectionism for capital, which is considered necessary but labor must be forced to the LCD. You believe the singular capitalist made something and so they deserve a return on what they made. Yet an individual that invests and does labor isn’t able to copyright or patent his labor, but his boss can copyright and patent this persons work and protect himself, as is the most common case.

And Wall Street itself, the slum of society. A no strings attached means of having people hand large sums of money without responsiblity in using it. And from corporate personhood, another capitalist form of protectionism, has created multitudes of fraud and shell companies, outrageous compensation and out right desire to harvest vast some of wealth from society with no intent to do anything of value for anyone. If anything of value happens that is secondary to the motivation of harvesting the wealth. I worked with a small startup which I left because they were hot and heavy into trying to get to that point where they could get their hands on all that juicy investor money. They didn’t care about the product they just wanted to get to a point where they could play with other people’s money and cut and run. Disgusting and frustrating. We could have created something amazing but because of greed it blew up in their faces.

Until capitalists start taking responsiblity and owning up to what is wrong with capitalism we have serious problems. Stop blaming government and socialism for all the failures in society and OWN up to the failures of capitalism. I doubt you can see any though as you are far to blind to find any but you will say it isn’t perfect, yet can’t point to anything wrong with it can you. Can any of you capitalists point to anything wrong with capitalism??

And the worst part of capitalism in my opinion is it undermines liberty.

Why? Because it is fundamental to the philosophy of liberty promoted by the founders of this country as they understood it that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. When the strong prey upon the weak and destroy them that is tyranny. Capitalism promotes social tyranny as it ages and moves away from the roots of liberty. It undermines society and hijacks governments through corruption and bottlenecks the ability to have real honest discussions about how to manage our society at where we stand.

Greed and liberty when taken to infinity become mutually exclusive. If capitalism embodies greed as it’s core motiviation it eventually must destroy liberty. Even worse our current capitalism promotes a social darwinistic hatred that justifies acting like animals with each other. So not only does it undermine liberty it also undermines an enlightened society as we are to busy competing with each other to actually discuss and move as a team in positive directions.

House Management September 23, 2009 at 4:07 am

Oh and I will add the main reason it is unpopular based on my impression.

Capitalism for 99% of us is the government we work for and deal with daily. It is hostile and treats us guilty until proven innocent. It has no loyalty to us, hates us and blames us for all that is wrong. When we make a mistake we pay for it! When the capitalist makes a mistake, we also pay for it yet they keep their job.

fundamentalist September 23, 2009 at 8:14 am

House Management, You’re ideas about capitalism come from socialists who would climb a tree to tell a lie when they could stand on the ground and tellt he truth. You have no idea what capitalism is. Read something and learn instead of taking socialist falsehoods at face value.

fundamentalist September 23, 2009 at 8:16 am

PS, you seem to think the society we have today is capitalist. It is not. It has a few capitalist elements still left in it, but for the most part the US is a socialist nation. You have fallen for one of the most common shell games that socialists use to fool naive people: when socialism fails, they call it capitalism.

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