Definitions of Capitalism

Capitalism is:

  1. Bitcoinist-Anarcho-Capitalism an economic system characterized by private ownership of the means of production and free trade, with no government intervention in either.
    The theoretical definition, aka laissez faire, capitalism as ideal or model, like "democracy" or "equality."


  2. an economic system characterized by mainly private ownership of the means of production and more or less free trade.
    The descriptive definition, aka the economics definition, a technical operational definition.


  3. socialism-symbol
  4. ownership of a large amount of capital
    A original definition, used by novelist William Thackeray in 1854.


  5. an economic system characterized by accumulation of capital in the hands of the few.
    A socialist definition, aka the 19th century definition, still used by some leftists.


  6. an economic system characterized by wage slavery (employment) and collusion between wealthy capitalists and the State.
    The Marxist definition, used by many leftists, especially communists.


  7. dunce the economic system currently existent in the US, Germany, Japan, and various other countries.
    The naive definition, aka actually existing capitalism, more accurately known as a mixed economy.



Sometimes these definitions are combined in a self-contradictory manner. For example, (1) and (6) are often combined in a package deal. Cf: Roderick Long's comments in his essay on Rothbard's "Left and Right": Forty Years Later.

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