Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Capitalism

Is "capitalism" synonymous with "the market"? Are these identical to the "free markets"? Must competition exist if you are to have capitalism? Are all these things infused with rapacious greed? Does job insecurity necessarily exist in a capitalist society, and will people have to work unduly long hours if they live in such a world?

I don't think so. Capitalism is, surely, a term that denotes the possible, though not compulsory, separation of ownership from management of businesses. If markets can be free, then they can be unfree, otherwise the word "free" is gratuitous. Neither relate to corporate financial structures, but rather to the relationship between consumer and supplier. Greed exists in any kind of human structures. And so on. Conflating these terms is silly.

But it's widespread.

UPDATE: I'm referring to the "silly" second comment, rather than Matthew's post, though I think he conflates capitalism and the market.

2 comments:

countingcats said...

Fascist (the proper one, not the "I disagree with you so you must be a fascist" variety) is perfectly relaxed about private ownership of wealth and the means of production. However, it also requires that that productive capacity is utilised as the state dictates.

Capitalist? Yes. Free market? Not on your nelly.

dearieme said...

That just shows that the Fascists (and, indeed, Nazis) were a more-intelligent-than-usual variety of scocialist. Why go to the hassle of nationalising a company when you can just instruct it to do your bidding? We naturally tend to be fascinated by how bad or mad those bastards were, but overlook the fact that they were less dim than your bog-standard socialists.