I’ll Stick With “Capitalism”

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I’ve been impressed with some of the points made by Kevin Carson (no relation) and other “free-market anticapitalists”. Certainly it can hardly be stressed enough that the free market is a very different thing than the corporatist system of “government/business cooperation” that characterizes many aspects of our current system, (witness the desperate gov’t maneuvers to save Wall Street from itself).

But BK Marcus very correctly draws a line when it comes to the term “capitalism” itself in this great post:

The free-market anticapitalists define capitalism as any system of political privilege for current capitalists, especially as it suppresses bottom-up competition, entry-level entrepreneurship, and the rights of labor. But we already have plenty of other terms to cover that idea — mercantilism, corporatism, even fascism — but what alternative is there to indicate the universal benefits of capital accumulation, capital structure, and capital calculation — all of which result from the private ownership of the means of production?

In fact, private ownership of the means of production (that is, of capital) was the technical definition of capitalism, even among the anticapitalists who coined the term! The idea of political privilege for capital owners was just an assumed consequence, a conflation of definition and theory.

10:02 pm on April 29, 2008