Capitalism

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Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. ... Private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights. ~ Albert Einstein
It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common. ~ Basil of Caesarea
Capitalism is presumably the first case of a blaming, rather than a repenting cult. ... An enormous feeling of guilt not itself knowing how to repent, grasps at the cult, not in order to repent for this guilt, but to make it universal, to hammer it into consciousness and finally and above all to include God himself in this guilt. ~ Walter Benjamin
Capitalism is an offshoot of a devouring and overwhelming lust, of a kind that can hold sway only in a society that has deliberately renounced the Christian asceticism and turned away from Heaven to give itself over exclusively to earthly gratifications. ... It is the result of a secularization of economic life, and by it the hierarchical subordination of the material to the spiritual is inverted. ~ Nikolai Berdyaev
Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term "free market" in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. ... When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations. ~ Kevin Carson
The new community which the capitalists are now constructing will be a very complete and absolute community; and one which will tolerate nothing really independent of itself. ~ G. K. Chesterton
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. ... The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. ~ Pope Francis
Freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions... History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. ~ Milton Friedman
I think it is only because capitalism has proved so enormously more efficient than alternative methods that it has survived. ~ Milton Friedman
Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. ~ Alan Greenspan
The systems advocated by professed upholders of laissez-faire are in reality permeated with coercive restrictions of individual freedom. ... In protecting property the government is doing something quite apart from merely keeping the peace. It is exerting coercion wherever that is necessary to protect each owner, not merely from violence, but also from peaceful infringement of his sole right to enjoy the thing owned. ~ Robert Lee Hale
Capitalism and the market are presented as synonymous, but they are not. ~ Dave Korten
I want every man to have the chance, and I believe a black man is entitled to it, in which he can better his condition. When he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. ~ Karl Marx
The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force. ~ Michael Parenti
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based. ~ Thomas Piketty
In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions and interests dictate. ~ Ayn Rand
Capitalism is not merely the 'practical', but the only moral system in history. ~ Ayn Rand
One of the glaring failures of capitalism is the continuing widespread existence of poverty - often extreme poverty. Even in the advanced economies, many millions of people endure terrible economic and social deprivation, despite the incredible wealth all around them. ~ Jim Stanford
It's impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. ~ Malcolm X

Capitalism is an economic system and an ideology based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.

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B[edit]

  • 'But whom do I treat unjustly,' you say, 'by keeping what is my own?' Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common — this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.
    • Basil of Caesarea, Homily 6, “I Shall Tear Down My Barns,” C. P. Schroeder, trans., in Saint Basil on Social Justice (2009), p. 69
  • A religion may be discerned in capitalism—that is to say, capitalism serves essentially to allay the same anxieties, torments, and disturbances to which the so-called religions offered answers.
    • Walter Benjamin, "Capitalism as Religion" (1921), translated by Rodney Livingstone in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1 (Harvard: 1996)
  • Capitalism is presumably the first case of a blaming, rather than a repenting cult. ... An enormous feeling of guilt not itself knowing how to repent, grasps at the cult, not in order to repent for this guilt, but to make it universal, to hammer it into consciousness and finally and above all to include God himself in this guilt.
    • Walter Benjamin, "Capitalism as Religion" (1921), translated by Chad Kautzer in The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers (2005), p. 259
  • The whole economic system of Capitalism is an offshoot of a devouring and overwhelming lust, of a kind that can hold sway only in a society that has deliberately renounced the Christian asceticism and turned away from Heaven to give itself over exclusively to earthly gratifications. ... It is the result of a secularization of economic life, and by it the hierarchical subordination of the material to the spiritual is inverted. The autonomy of economics has ended in their dominating the whole life of human societies: the worship of Mammon has become the determining force of the age. And the worst of it is that this undisguised “mammonism” is regarded as a very good thing, an attainment to the knowledge of truth and a release from illusions. Economic materialism formulates this to perfection when it brands the whole spiritual life of man as a deception and a dream.
    • Nikolai Berdyaev, The End of Our Time (1919), as translated by Donald Atwater (1933), p. 92
  • Capitalism is a mode of socio-economic organization in which a class of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial institutions provide the capital with which businesses produce goods and services and employ workers. In return the capitalist extracts profits from the goods created. Capitalism is frequently seen as the embodiment of the market economy, and hence may result in the optimum distribution of scarce resources, with a resulting improvement for all; this optimism is countered by pointing to the opportunity for exploitation inherent in the system.
    • Simon Blackburn ed. (1996) Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Lemma "Capitalism"
  • The United States is the Darwinist capital of the capitalist world. A head afraid is a head haunted. A head haunted is a head hunted. Run for your life. Run from the guillotine to a head hunter who saves your head and raises your salary — so you’ll be caught in the red of the fish-market buying gadgets to distract your fragile imagination that is cut in the red market of blood—running and escaping — running again — changing your resume to update the fear you feel of being unemployed tomorrow — in the streets — and from there to welfare — and from there to begging.

C[edit]

  • Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term "free market" in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because "that’s not how the free market works"—implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations.
    • Kevin Carson, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (2007), Chapter 4
  • The new community which the capitalists are now constructing will be a very complete and absolute community; and one which will tolerate nothing really independent of itself.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The French Revolution qualitatively transformed all aspects of human culture, including science, for better or worse. The institutional ideological changes wrought in French science by the Revolution and its aftermath shaped the subsequent course of modern science everywhere. The essential underlying factor, as the Hessen thesis maintains, was the victory of capitalism, which the Revolution consolidated. The new social order spread to Europe and the rest of the world, everywhere subordinating the further development of science to capitalist interests.
  • I just don’t trust any of it. Every time I read something about how there’s been another ridiculous climb of the Dow Jones, there’s a part of me that goes, “This can’t be good.” None of this is real money. You know what I mean? It’s not like there’s actually more of anything. It’s just ideas. When people are getting richer and richer but they’re not actually producing anything, it can’t end well.
Even after 9/11, during the darkest moment of our recent history, the President told us, “Go shopping.” That’s how we were told to uphold American values; go out and fucking buy more shit. So what were we supposed to do?

D[edit]

  • "Our society is excessively individualistic. Markets reduce everything to a question of individual calculation and selfishness. We have become obsessed with money and acquisition at the expense of our social relationships and our own human fulfillment. Capitalism spreads a plague of materialism, which undermines our contentedness, leaving many of us isolated and lonely. Unless we can rediscover the art of sharing, our society will fragment altogether, making trust impossible. Unless we can recover the values associated with friendship and altruism, we will descend into a state of nihilistic ennui."
  • William Davies, The Happiness Industry (2015)

E[edit]

  • The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product. Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
  • The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labour – not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. ... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.
  • The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals. ... This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

F[edit]

  • While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
  • I think it is only because capitalism has proved so enormously more efficient than alternative methods that it has survived at all. (...) I'm not sure capitalism is the right word. There is a sense in which every society is capitalist. The Soviet Union was capitalist, but it was state capitalism. Latin American societies in the past have been capitalist, but it has been oligarchic capitalism. So what we really need to talk about is not capitalism but free market or competitive capitalism which is the system that we would like to have adopted, not just capitalism.
    • Milton Friedman, Interview with Parker in Randall E. Parker(ed.), Reflection on the Great Depression (2002).
  • It is true that if you simply have market capitalism not embedded in a true democratic system, then you will get increasing inequality... And that is why every modern capitalist system has a welfare state and in Europe these welfare states consume 50 percent of GDP, redistribute it in fairer ways. I have always thought the European Union represented a truer embodiment of what I would regard as something like the end of history... The United States' model is a little bit more liberal and therefore we do less redistribution than, let's say, Holland or Sweden, but all modern states do that.

G[edit]

  • It is rotten and dismal that a world of so many hundred million people should be ruled by a single caste that has the power to lead millions to life or to death, indeed on a whim...This caste has spun its web over the entire earth; capitalism recognizes no national boundaries...Capitalism has learned nothing from recent events and wants to learn nothing, because it places its own interests ahead of those of the other millions. Can one blame those millions for standing up for their own interests, and only for those interests? Can one blame them for striving to forge an international community whose purpose is the struggle against corrupt capitalism? Can one condemn a large segment of the educated Stürmer youth for protesting against the greatest ability? Is it not an abomination that people with the most brilliant intellectual gifts should sink into poverty and disintegrate, while others dissipate, squander, and waste the money that could help them? … You say the old propertied class also worked hard for what it has. Granted, that may be true in many cases. But do you also know about the conditions under which workers were living during the period when capitalism “earned” its fortune?
    • Joseph Goebbels letter to Anka Stalherm (14 April 1920), quoted in Ralph Georg Reuth, Goebbels (Harvest, 1994), pp. 33-34.
  • Capitalism is the immoral distribution of capital… Germany will become free at that moment when the thirty millions on the left and the thirty millions on the right make common cause. Only one movement is capable of doing this: National Socialism, embodied in one Führer – Adolf Hitler.
    • Joseph Goebbels “Lenin or Hitler” speech first delivered on September 17, 1925
  • . . . it would be better for us to go down with Bolshevism than live in eternal slavery under capitalism.
    • Joseph Goebbels, The Devil’s Disciples: Hitler’s Inner Circle by Anthony Read (2004) p. 142, diary entry Oct. 23, 1925
  • We and we alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures. Everything is done for the nation. . . .The Jews are the incarnation of capitalism.
    • As quoted in I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942-1945, Victor Klemperer, Vol. 2 , Random House, Inc. (2001) p. 317. Goebbels’ “Our Socialism” editorial was written on April 30, 1944.
  • Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear.

H[edit]

  • The systems advocated by professed upholders of laissez-faire are in reality permeated with coercive restrictions of individual freedom. ... What is the government doing when it “protects a property right”? Passively, it is abstaining from interference with the owner when he deals with the thing owned; actively, it is forcing the non-owner to desist from handling it, unless the owner consents. Yet Mr. Carver would have it that the government is merely preventing the non-owner from using force against the owner. This explanation is obviously at variance with the facts—for the non-owner is forbidden to handle the owner's property even where his handling of it involves no violence or force whatever. ... In protecting property the government is doing something quite apart from merely keeping the peace. It is exerting coercion wherever that is necessary to protect each owner, not merely from violence, but also from peaceful infringement of his sole right to enjoy the thing owned.
    • Robert Lee Hale, “Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Sep., 1923), pp. 470-494
  • [Harvey defined capitalism in terms of three features: it is growth-oriented] a steady state of growth is essential for the health of a capitalist economic system... growth in real values rests on the exploitation of living labor in production... [and it is] necessarily technologically and organizationally dynamic.
  • It is probably true that business corrupts everything it touches. It corrupts politics, sports, literature, art, labor unions and so on. But business also corrupts and undermines monolithic totalitarianism. Capitalism is at its liberating best in a noncapitalist environment.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely'", The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 50.

K[edit]

  • The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the War, is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous - and it doesn't deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.
  • I worked at a factory owned by Germans, at coal pits owned by Frenchmen, and at a chemical plant owned by Belgians. There I discovered something about capitalists. They are all alike, whatever the nationality. All they wanted from me was the most work for the least money that kept me alive. So I became a communist.
  • I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous. But Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.
The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation. This has so often happened in your nation. They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem. You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe "enough and to spare" for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.
  • True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just."
  • We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism. ... We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets. ... It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when those elites were enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s.
  • My claim is that we do not have a market economy, but a capitalist economy. Capitalism and the market are presented as synonymous, but they are not. Capitalism is both the enemy of the market and democracy. Capitalism is not about free competitive choices among people who are reasonable equal in their buying and selling of economic power. It is about concentrating capital, concentrating economic power in very few hands, using that power to trash everyone who gets in their way. … This is not a market, and definitely not a democracy. The basic principle of democracy is "one person one vote" and in the capitalistic society, we have "one dollar one vote."
    • David Korten, in an interview with Alexander M. Duke, as quoted in Globalization and After (2006) edited by Samir Dasgupta and Ray Kiely, p. 32
  • In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy and the market economy.
    • David Korten, in The Post Corporate World : Life After Capitalism (1999)
  • For over a century, popular struggles in the democracies have used the nation-state to temper raw capitalism. The power of voters has offset the power of capital. But as national barriers have come down in the name of freer commerce, so has the capacity of governments to manage capitalism in a broad public interest. So the real issue is not 'trade' but democratic governance.
    • Robert Kuttner, "Globalization and Its Critics", The American Prospect, vol. 12 no. 12, July 2-16, 2001

L[edit]

  • Capitalism attacks and destroys all the finer sentiments of the human heart; it ruthlessly sweeps away old traditions and ideas opposed to its progress, and it exploits and corrupts those things once held sacred.
  • As a poodle may have his hair cut long or his hair cut short, as he may be trimmed with pink ribbons or with blue ribbons, yet he remains the same old poodle, so capitalism may be trimmed with factory laws, tenement laws, divorce laws and gambling laws, but it remains the same old capitalism. These “humanitarian parts” are only trimming the poodle. Socialism, one and inseparable with its “antirent and anticapital parts,” means to get rid of the poodle.
  • It is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. When one starts poor, as most do in the race of life, free society is such that he knows he can better his condition; he knows that there is no fixed condition of labor, for his whole life. I am not ashamed to confess that twenty-five years ago I was a hired laborer, mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat, just what might happen to any poor man's son! I want every man to have the chance, and I believe a black man is entitled to it, in which he can better his condition. When he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system.

M[edit]

  • [Capitalism is] a system of wage-labour and commodity production for sale, exchange, and profit, rather than for the immediate need of the producers."
    • Gordon Marshall ed. The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, 2nd edition. Lemma "Capitalism"
  • In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
    • Karl Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848)
  • The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
    • Karl Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848)
  • It is true that the materialistic society, the so-called culture that has evolved under the tender mercies of capitalism, has produced what seems to be the ultimate limit of this worldliness. And nowhere, except perhaps in the analogous society of pagan Rome, has there ever been such a flowering of cheap and petty and disgusting lusts and vanities as in the world of capitalism, where there is no evil that is not fostered and encouraged for the sake of making money. We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.
  • All people, however fanatical they may be in their zeal to disparage and to fight capitalism, implicitly pay homage to it by passionately clamoring for the products it turns out.
    • Ludwig Von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method (1978)
  • The first condition for the establishment of perpetual peace is the general adoption of the principles of laissez-faire capitalism.
    • Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method (1962), p. 137
  • If we want to save the planet earth, to save life and humanity, we have a duty to put an end to the capitalist system. Unless we put an end to the capitalist system, it is impossible to imagine that there will be equality and justice on this planet earth. This is why I believe that it is important to put an end to the exploitation of human beings and to the pillage of natural resources, to put an end to destructive wars for markets and raw materials, to the plundering of energy, particularly fossil fuels, to the excessive consumption of goods and to the accumulation of waste. The capitalist system only allows us to heap up waste. I would like to propose that the trillions of money earmarked for war should be channelled to make good the damage to the environment, to make reparations to the earth.
  • Western society is relapsing at critical points into precivilized modes of thought, feeling, and action because it has acquiesced too easily in the dehumanization of society through capitalist exploitation.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934), Chapter 6, § 9, p. 302
  • Pareto, Georges Sorel, Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini were right in denouncing democracy as a capitalist method. Every step which leads from capitalism toward planning is necessarily a step nearer to absolutism and dictatorship.
    • Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and the Total War, Mises Institute (2010) p. 53. First published in 1944 by Yale University Press.
  • Western society is relapsing at critical points into precivilized modes of thought, feeling, and action because it has acquiesced too easily in the dehumanization of society through capitalist exploitation.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934), Chapter 6, § 9, p. 302

N[edit]

  • What I really believe in, first and foremost, isn't capitalism or globalization. It isn't the systems or regulatory codes that achieve all we see around us in the way of prosperity, innovation, community, and culture. Those things are created by people. What I believe in is man's capacity for achieving great things, and the combined force that results from our interactions and exchanges. I plead for greater liberty and a more open world, not because I believe on system happens to be more efficient than another, but because those things provide a setting that unleashes individual creativity as no other system can. They spur the dynamism that has led to human, economic, scientific, and technical advances. Believing in capitalism does not mean believing in growth, the economy, or efficiency. Desirable as they may be, those are only the results. At its core, belief in capitalism is belief in mankind.

O[edit]

  • Blake was not a politician, but there is more understanding of the nature of capitalist society in a poem like "I wander through each charter'd street" than in three-quarters of Socialist literature.

P[edit]

  • The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.

R[edit]

  • What they have to discover, what all the efforts of capitalism's enemies are frantically aimed at hiding, is the fact that capitalism is not merely the 'practical,' but the only moral system in history.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), p. 8
  • When I say capitalism, I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez faire capitalism, with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), p. 17
  • Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
  • In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions and interests dictate.
  • Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world. All the other social groups — workers, farmers, professional men, scientists, soldiers — exist under dictatorships, even though they exist in chains, in terror, in misery, and in progressive self-destruction. But there is no such group as businessmen under a dictatorship. Their place is taken by armed thugs: by bureaucrats and commissars. Businessmen are the symbol of a free society — the symbol of America.
    • Ayn Rand (1967), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 55
  • Capitalism is organised crime, and we are all its victims.
    • Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come.
  • Goebbels saw the ultimate enemy as international capitalism, and those who held power in Germany as its lackey, betraying their nation for personal gain. These were the traditional targets of the Communists, of course, so the Nazis and the KPD, the Communist Party of Germany, were in direct competition for the same constituency, two rabid dogs fighting for one bone… And Goebbels, who has so recently been happy to describe himself as a ‘German Communist’ led the fight with all the intensity of a religious convert.
    • Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples: Hitler’s Inner Circle, New York: NY and London: UK,, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (2004) pp. 141-142
  • Capitalism is a social system based on private ownership of the means of production. It is characterized by the pursuit of material self-interest under freedom and it rests on a foundation of the cultural influence of reason. Based on its foundations and essential nature, capitalism is further characterized by saving and capital accumulation, exchange and money, financial self-interest and the profit motive, the freedoms of economic competition and economic inequality, the price system, economic progress, and a harmony of the material self-interests of all the individuals who participate in it.
  • We must first decide what the meaning of the term 'capitalism' really is. Unfortunately, the term 'capitalism' was coined by its greatest and most famous enemy, Karl Marx. We really can't rely upon him for correct and subtle usage. And, in fact, what Marx and later writers have done is to lump together two extremely different and even contradictory concepts and actions under the same portmanteau term. These two contradictory concepts are what I would call 'free-market capitalism' on the one hand, and 'state capitalism' on the other. The difference between free-market capitalism and state capitalism is precisely the difference between, on the one hand, peaceful, voluntary exchange, and on the other, violent expropriation.
  • Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.
  • I dislike Communism because it is undemocratic, and capitalism because it favors exploitation.

S[edit]

  • It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elisabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.
    • Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1950, 3rd ed.), part II, chapter VII, p. 82.
  • Capitalist civilization is rationalistic 'and anti-heroic.' The two go together of course. Success in industry and commerce requires a lot of stamina, yet industrial and commercial activity is essentially unheroic in the knight's sense — no flourishing of swords about it, not much physical prowess, no chance to gallop the armored horse into the enemy, preferably a heretic or heathen - and the ideology that glorifies the idea of fighting for fighting's sake and of victory for victory's sake understandably withers in the office among all the columns of figures. Therefore, owning assets that are apt to attract the robber or the tax gatherer and not sharing or even disliking warrior ideology that conflicts with its 'rational' utilitarianism, the industrial and commercial bourgeouis is fundamentally pacifist and inclined to insist on the moral application of the moral precepts of private life to international relations. It is true that, unlike most but like other features of capitalist civilization, pacifism and international morality have also been espoused in non-capitalist environments and by pre-capitalist agencies, in the Middle Ages of the Roman Church for instance. Modern pacifism and modern international morality are nonetheless products of capitalism.
    • Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1950, 3rd ed.), part II, chapter XI, p. 127f.
  • Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force. But even Capitalist cynicism will admit that however unconscionable we may be when our own interests are affected, we can be most indignantly virtuous at the expense of others.
    • George Bernard Shaw, in The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), p. 214.
  • You have to choose (as a voter) between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.
    • George Bernard Shaw, in The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928), p. 263.
  • Capitalism designates an economic system significantly characterized by the predominance of "capital." Capitalism and double entry bookkeeping are absolutely indissociable; their relationship to each other is that of form to content.
  • Because the West has a property rights system, and property rights systems seem to be about ownership. What we're discovering more and more is that it's really the system that undergirds the system of values called capitalism. In other words, you have property rights in the West. In developing nations we do, too, but they're not legal. Once you legalize them and you have recordkeeping systems and you have tracking systems and you've got contracts and you're able to get all the information about somebody's ownership over an asset, all of a sudden you obtain enormous amounts of data that you do not have in developing nations. In the West, that is captured in the property system. If you are somebody that is honorable and pays their debts, which is what somebody would be interested in, that's going to be captured in your records, and your records are linked to your property records. All of these are property rights, [but we don't have them] organized in a central system … in Third World countries.
  • Capitalism works not through coercion or conquest, but through the consent of the consumer.
  • Capitalism, in contrast, has existed for fewer than 300 years. If the entire history of Homo sapiens was a 24-hour day, then capitalism has existed for two minutes.
    • Jim Stanford, Economics For Everyone (2008), Part 1, Chapter 2, Capitalism, p. 33
  • Economic systems come, and economic systems go. No economic system lasts forever. Capitalism is not likely to last forever, either.
    • Jim Stanford, Economics For Everyone (2008), Part 1, Chapter 3, Economic History, p. 43
  • Like a forensic accountant trying to solve a corporate fraud, following the trail of money around the circle is a good way to understand what actually happens as capitalism unfolds.
    • Jim Stanford, Economics For Everyone (2008), Part 2, Chapter 10, Closing The Little Circle, p. 121
  • Competition-ruthless, unforgiving, to-the-death competition-is a crucial feature of capitalism.
    • Jim Stanford, Economics For Everyone (2008), Part 3, Chapter 11, Competition, p. 129
  • One of the glaring failures of capitalism is the continuing widespread existence of poverty - often extreme poverty. Even in the advanced economies, many millions of people endure terrible economic and social deprivation, despite the incredible wealth all around them.
    • Jim Stanford, Economics For Everyone (2008), Part 3, Chapter 14, Dividing the Pie, p. 168
  • Grotesque sentiments such as the lust of business success or economic power of any kind, and indeed every purely self-regarding passion, from that of the social climber to that of the salvation-seeking ascetic, are experienced by the explorer with something of that shame which the child, emerging into adolescence, may feel toward the still-clinging fascination of his outgrown toys, or with such disgust as the youth may feel when he wakes from some unworthy sexual infatuation.
  • Capitalism prospers in an environment with a peculiar combination of self-interested behavior - enough to induce individuals to look for profitable activities - and non-self-interested behavior, where one's word is one's honor, where social rather than economic sanctions suffice to enforce contracts.
  • It is the fundamental wisdom of the capitalist system that it functions irrespective of the wisdom or the stupidity of the capitalists.
    • Gustav Stolper, in This Age of Fables (1942), Part I, Ch. 8, Sec. 10, p. 167

W[edit]

  • Production for sale in a market in which the object is to realize the maximum profit is the essential feature of a capitalist world-economy. In such a system production is constantly expanded as long as further production is profitable, and men constantly innovate new ways of producing things that will expand the profit margin.
  • The disappearance of the heroic ideal is always accompanied by the growth of commercialism. There is a cause-and-effect relationship here, for the man of commerce is by the nature of things a relativist; his mind is constantly on the fluctuating values of the marketplace, and there is no surer way to fail than to dogmatize and moralize about things.
  • In contrast to all other forms of domination, the economic domination of capital cannot, because of its 'impersonal character', be ethically regulated. ... The competitiveness, the market, the labour market, the monetary market, the commodity market, in one word 'objective' considerations, neither ethical nor anti-ethical, but simply non-ethical ... determine behaviour at the decisive points.
    • Max Weber, Economy and Society (1923), in The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America (1996), p. 143
  • We will define a capitalistic economic action as one which rests on the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange, that is on (formally) peaceful chances of profit...Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of conscious, rational, capitalistic enterprise.
    • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Thus the capitalism of today, which has come to dominate economic life, educates and selects the economic subjects which it needs through a process of economic survival of the fittest. But here one can easily see the limits of the concept of selection as a means of historical explanation. In order that a manner of life so well adapted to the peculiarities of capitalism could be selected at all, i.e. should come to dominate others, it had to originate somewhere, and not in isolated individuals alone, but as a way of life common to whole groups of men.
  • The people filled with the spirit of capitalism today tend to be indifferent, if not hostile, to the Church. The thought of the pious boredom of paradise has little attraction for their active natures; religion appears to them as a means of drawing people away from labor in this world. If you ask them what is the meaning of their restless activity, why they are never satisfied with what they have, thus appearing so senseless to any purely worldly view of life, they would perhaps give the answer, if they know any at all: “to provide for my children and grandchildren.” But more often and, since that motive is not peculiar to them, but was just as effective for the traditionalist, more correctly, simply: that business with its continuous work has become a necessary part of their lives. That is in fact the only possible motivation, but it at the same time expresses what is, seen from the viewpoint of personal happiness, so irrational about this sort of life, where a man exists for the sake of his business, instead of the reverse.
  • The impulse to acquisition, pursuit of gain, of money, of the greatest possible amount of money, has in itself nothing to do with capitalism. This impulse exists and has existed among waiters, physicians, coachmen, artists, prostitutes, dishonest officials, soldiers, nobles, crusaders, gamblers, and beggars.
    • Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p.17.
  • The struggle between the opponents and defenders of capitalism is a struggle between innovators who do not know what innovation to make and conservatives who do not know what to conserve.
  • Capitalism has brought about the emancipation of collective humanity with respect to nature. But this collective humanity has itself taken on with respect to the individual the oppressive function formerly exercised by nature.
  • [Wolf defines capitalism in terms of] three intertwined characteristics: First, capitalists detain control of the means of production. Second, laborers are denied independent access to means of production and must sell their labor power to the capitalists. Third, the maximalization of surplus produced by the laborers with the means of production owned by the capitalists entails "ceaseless accumulation accompanied by changes in the methods of production.
    • Eric Wolf, Europe and the People Without History. p. 78 cited in: Sweezy 1942: 94; Mandel 1978, 103-107.

X[edit]

  • It's impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism. You can't have capitalism without racism.
    • Malcolm X, Speech, May 29, 1964, The Harlem Hate-Gang-Scare, p. 69 as quoted in Malcolm X Speaks (1965)
  • It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it's more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody's blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It's only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely….
    • Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks (1965), March 1965, p. 199.

Z[edit]

  • Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes.
    • Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1995 edition, chapter 23.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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