What is capitalism?

I frequently identify myself as being anti-capitalist, but what does this mean? Clearly, “anti-capitalism” means “against capitalism”, but what is capitalism? I have devised the following definition:

Capitalism is an economic system in which there is a capital-holding class, the capitalists, who are separate from the working class. The workers must labor for the capitalists to survive.

Under this definition, not only is capitalism different from the free market, it is diametrically opposed to it. The free market is the exchange of goods and services without coercion. Capitalism is impossible to maintain through the free market, and exists purely through grace of the state. Without subsidies, corporate personhood, limited liability, intellectual property, borders, taxes, the land monopoly, or the currency monopoly, there cannot be capitalism. Instead, there is the free market.


About vaguelyhumanoid

Here you can see the assorted musings of a philosophically-inclined, theoretically eclectic anarchist. My blog: a grab bag of hopefully interesting rants, raves, and various other things.
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One Response to What is capitalism?

  1. Nicely put. The optimum economic model would certainly be a ‘free market’ as you described it so well, that would consist of cooperative enterprise models all trading freely with each other.

    My blog goes into this stuff in some detail http://philosophukka.blogspot.com and to my mind it is the most natural successor to the inevitable failure of the status quo.

    It’s a curious one to communicate though. The libertarian right think it’s communism and the statist left think it’s some weird Ayn Rand/Kropotkin love child and both are scared of it!

    Luckily it is the version of anarchism that has the most successful working models in terms of energy, health, banking cooperatives so it is possible to throw a lot of energy into supporting these and organically growing community enterprise projects that simply replace the existing state and privately owned apparatus, leaving it obsolete!

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