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  • The possibility of co-ordination through voluntary co-operation rests on the elementary - yet frequently denied - proposition that both parties to an economic transaction benefit from it, provided the transaction is bi-laterally voluntary and informed. Exchange can therefore bring about co-ordination without coercion. A working model of a society organized through voluntary exchange is a free private enterprise exchange economy - what we have been calling competitive capitalism.


Just wondering the division of definitions by people to "Notable Individuals" and then some other groups. This suggests that the other groups are not "notable" individuals. Unless all the persons under "notable individuals" can be put under a different label, maybe move them lower and under "Other Notable Individuals"? 11:08, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Too many definitions[edit]

The quotes in "definitions" read like an essay, not like a quote collection. ~ MosheZadka (Talk) 16:58, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Blah, instead of cleanup, we now also got dictionary definitions dumped in here, way to go, RJII... Do these dictionary definitions belong to wikiquote, or wiktionary? One would assume wiktionary, but I'm not familiar with it, and when I browsed it a little now, they don't seem to include sources for the origin of each definition, unlike the ones that were added here... Opinions? Sams 00:21, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well, if I recall correctly, Wiktionary provides us with a definition, as a dictionary, not collection of (other) dictionary definitions... personally I found the dictionary definition section redundant and wonder if we need it, but anyway it is a sort of "collection of quotations". And some of definitions on dictionary or encyclopedia would be worthy to keep, specially historically notable ones (e.g. L'encyclopedie, though it lacks the capitalism article presumably). I admit the former "definition" section is too huge and need to cleanup, but not sure if it should be completely deleted. Any opinions? --Aphaia 03:20, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

My opinion is that all the definitions should be deleted. The excessive number of definitions seem to me to be a subtle way to sabotage the page. The wiktionary link should be enough if anyone wants a definition. --Teabeard 13:19, 8 January 2006 (UTC)


What the hell does that even mean? Surely there is a better word to use. --Kennyisinvisible 02:46, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Minarchism means a minimalist government. But perhaps a better word would be "Libertarian"? --Teabeard 01:21, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Adam Smith quote[edit]

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind." ~ Adam Smith

I fail to see what this quote has to do with capitalism. It rather seems to me to be extending from whoever added its' views of capitalism and the results of capitalism, not capitalism itself. I'm removing it for that reason. If someone wants to put it back please give a valid reason for doing so.

I removed this quote AGAIN for the same reason. Again I will ask anyone who wants to put it back to give a valid reason for it being on this page. -JRocket


Maybe it's just me, but is this page horribly biased in favor of left-wing economics? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 04:39, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

In favor of?! This is horribly, horribly biased against it! 06:11, 16 April 2011 (UTC)


These quotes are horribly, horribly biased. I propose closer restrictions on the posting of left wing quotes (while not removing those already there), at least until the discrepancy is resolved. Either that or (as I shall attempt now) divide the article into two halves: pro-capitalist or anti-capitalist. —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

I find any current complaints about the supposed bias of this article rather amusing... whoever did the postings might have been biased in various ways, but even after moving a couple quotes that weren't previously categorized into the anti-capitalist section during my recent cleanup the result is 16 anti-capitalist quotes and 29 pro-capitalist... hardly a ratio that supports the contention that it is "horribly, horribly biased" against capitalism or that there is need for a pruning of "left wing" quotes. To quote the great libertarian capitalist Milton Friedman: "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." ~ Kalki 10:18, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
I see a bias too. It seems that anti-capitalist quotes are given precedence at the moment. – Illegitimate Barrister, 10:01, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

Some of these quotes are not directly about Capitalism[edit]

I will cite this one by John Stuart Mill as an example: "Since the state must necessarily provide subsistance for the criminal poor while undergoing punishment, not to do the same for the poor who have not offended is to give a premium on crime."

This quote clearly advocates government entitlements to the poor; but this article is not on the topic of entitlements, but rather on the economic system known as capitalism. By almost all accounts the United States would be considered a capitalist system, and yet the USA provides entitlements to the poor. So the fact is, the two are not mutually exclusive and this quote would perhaps better be placed in an article on entitlements rather than here?

Capitalism -- by the definition in the first paragraph of the article -- is an economic system where the means of production are privately owned and is largely unregulated. It says nothing in it about entitlements one way or the other, so I don't see how that particular quote has anything to do with capitalism. —This unsigned comment is by Teabeard (talkcontribs) 19:01, 25 December 2007‎.

I agree this quote is not directly enough about capitalism and have removed it. ~ Kalki 21:28, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Capitalism (Sechrest: "You know, a free economy!") is the natural default state of voluntary human action. Every alternative to capitalism proposed — most emphatically socialism —involves coercive violent force imposed upon participants in exchanges of goods and/or services by nonparticipants who intervene to compel conduct that none of the parties directly involved require to undertake their transactions. The "largely unregulated" qualification stipulated just above is vague to the point of nonsense, inasmuch as voluntary transactions are exquisitely "regulated" by the willing participants in such exchanges, else those exchanges don't happen at all.
It is for this reason that "compare and contrast" quotations matching capitalism against its predominant modern enemy — socialism — are (contrary to Ningauble's extirpative arrogance) necessary in the consideration of capitalism, its nature, and its superiority to the violent coercion and "calculational chaos" of socialism. Thus the following quote should be restored to the section on capitalism:
  • As we know, socialism is calculational chaos. Rational appraisement and allocation are eternally elusive. It is a gigantic negative-sum game in which each player quickly grabs a piece of the pie, and all the while the pie shrinks before the players' eyes. The welfare/warfare state, the interventionist state, is no improvement. Each intervention begets yet another. Bureaucracy is the only 'industry' guaranteed to experience growth. Each new regulation taxes the private sector, relentlessly shifting resources out of the hands of the productive, and into the hands of the unproductive. Capitalism is the only positive-sum game in town.
    • Larry J. Sechrest, "The Anti-Capitalists: Barbarians at the Gate," Ludwig von Mises Memorial Lecture at the Austrian Scholars Conference in Auburn, Alabama (15 March 2008)
—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:12, 23 March 2009

Off-topic quotes, moved here from the article[edit]

  • How is property given? By restraining liberty; that is, by taking it away so far as necessary for the purpose. How is your house made yours? By debarring every one else from the liberty of entering it without your leave.
    • Jeremy Bentham, "A Critical Examination of the Declaration of Rights; Article II" in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. II (1839), p. 503
  • LAND, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.
  • We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.
    • Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice from 1916-1939, according to Raymond Lonergan in Mr. Justice Brandeis, Great American (1941), p. 42
  • A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it [...] gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want.
  • Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
    • Thomas Jefferson, Memoirs of Thomas Jefferson (1821), collected in Memoirs, correspondence and private papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, edited by T. J. Randolph, 1829, p. 70
  • Corporations care very much about maintaining the myth that government is necessarily ineffective, except when it is spending money on the military-industrial complex, building prisons, or providing infrastructural support for the business sector.
  • Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits.
  • The meaning of economic freedom is this: that the individual is in a position to choose the way in which he wants to integrate himself into the totality of society.
  • There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.
  • It cannot be said too often — at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough — that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of. Professor Hayek is also probably right in saying that in this country the intellectuals are more totalitarian-minded than the common people. But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State.
  • It is the value of the improvement, only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes to the community a ground-rent ... for the land which he holds. ... Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the Creator of the earth open a land-office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue.
  • Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), p. 48
  • The first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, thought to himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself belongs to nobody.
  • Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.
  • It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.
  • Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.
  • The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.
    • Thomas Sowell, Is Reality Optional?: And Other Essays (1993), p. 131
  • In most parts of our country men work, not for themselves, not as partners in the old way in which they used to work, but generally as employees,—in a higher or lower grade,—of great corporations. There was a time when corporations played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations.
    • Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom - A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People

Further comment[edit]

Multiple quotes are about markets/ the free market, and are added in the new article market -- Mdd (talk) 17:48, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Those (nine) quotes are used to start the article Market, see result, and removed from the listing above. -- Mdd (talk) 18:16, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Merge Definitions of capitalism into this article[edit]

After the 2005 discussion Too many definitions (see above), this article is split in two in 2006. This has lead to multiple problems. For example in this article quotes were added, not directly related to capitalism; And in the Definitions of capitalism article quotes are added which were no definition.

Now before the split in 2006 this article had a thematic division in multiple chapters, see here. The nowadays regular solution can be implemented here, to arrange all the quotes in one division by author/source. -- Mdd (talk) 17:46, 16 April 2013 (UTC)


  • An economic system in which private individuals and groups of individuals own land, factories, and other means of production. They compete with one another, using the hired labor of other persons, to produce good and services for profit.
    • Scott-Foresman Intermediate Dictionary: Lemma "Capitalism"
  • Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are privately owned and operated for profit.
    • Webster Dictionary of the English Language Lemma "Capitalism"
  • [Mommsen defined capitalism as] a system that organizes production for a distant market; where acts of production and retail sale are separated in time and space through the intervention of a wholesale merchant.

Some thoughts on neutrality[edit]

I think there is inevitably going to be some contention about the ordering of the quotations in the photo sidebar for such a contentious and important topic. My attempt in the revision of January 9, 2016 was to place quotes that described characteristics of capitalism, or synthesized the arguments for and against capitalism, earlier in the page before contentious quotes for or against capitalism. I had hoped that this approach might make the page into something more than merely a battle-ground between opposing positions.

I am concerned that with the revision of January 26, 2016 the page has become far more contentious, and in particular that the proposed new ordering places ten quotes arguing contentiously in favor of capitalism in the first ten positions. It seems to me that this ordering does not show a good faith attempt to achieve ideological neutrality, and I would like to try to achieve a consensus as to what a better ordering might be. If we can't achieve consensus, maybe it would make sense to just put the quotes in alphabetic order.

What do other editors think? ~ Peter1c (talk) 13:43, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Alphabetical order seems best. – Illegitimate Barrister, 08:09, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Communism is the most painful path between capitalism and capitalism.[edit]

There are pro communist/anti capitalism quotes+images on this page. Only fitting to have some anti communist-pro capitalist ones as well, such as Communism is the most painful path between capitalism and capitalism. by Scott Adams. --2001:8003:412B:6300:988A:1B7B:BB1C:989B 03:49, 23 October 2019 (UTC)

Thank you for your interest in Wikiquote. Content on Wikiquote is determined by consensus. Obtaining an account will permit meaningful participation in the consensus process. The Scott Adams quote is a valuable addition, but since it already appears first in the text column, I see no reason for it also to appear first in the image column. The quotations from Adam Smith and Bernard Mandeville represent the founding ideas in the Enlightenment rationalization of capitalism, an attempt to lift capital accumulation from the ignominious position of mammonolatry it had earned in the Middle Ages. I'm not sure what criteria you are using in your classification: what is more canonically pro-capitalist than Adam Smith? Thanks again for your interest. I advise you that it is not likely to have meaningful participation in consensus process without signing up for a (free) account. ~ Peter1c (talk)