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.
- Socialism is not the invention of an individual. It is essentially the outcome of economic and social conditions. The evils that Capitalism brings differ in intensity in different countries, but, the root cause of the trouble once discerned, the remedy is seen to be the same by thoughtful men and women. The cause is the private ownership of the means of life; the remedy is public ownership.
- Clement Attlee, The Labour Party in Perspective (Left Book Club, 1937), p. 15
- Trump would have us believe that these are our only two choices: We can either have smash-and-grab capitalism, where so many hands in the cookie jar has resulted in so many government scandals, and where the top 1 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, or we can have what’s happening in Venezuela, where the economy has collapsed and humanitarian and political crises have ensued.
- '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
- But if capitalism had built up science as a productive force, the very character of the new mode of production was serving to make capitalism itself unnecessary.
- John Desmond Bernal (1959) Marx and Science. p. 39
- In the aftermath of 10,000 years of incessant growth and endless wars that humanity waged upon itself, other species, and the earth, we now live amidst unsustainable global capitalism and a system of growth that is driving natural systems to an irreversible tipping point.
- Steven Best, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century (2014), p. 162
- 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"
- There was a time when people of the rich nations of the world regarded poverty as a "natural condition" for those living in the poor nations of the world. ... Today we have largely been stripped of this pseudo-innocence. We know that the poor are so poor because the rich are so rich, that the causes of poverty can be traced to deliberate decisions and deliberate economic and political policies designed to benefit the rich and powerful. We know that poverty and unemployment are not just accidents of history but deliberate, even indispensable, components of capitalism as an economic system.
- Allan Boesak, Comfort and Protest (1987), p. 67
- 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.
- Giannina Braschi, "United States of Banana," AmazonCrossing, 2011.
- One of the most prevalent ideological mantras of Western capitalism is that the market should rule. But as the latest health and economic crises demonstrate, capitalists soon forget their worship of the market when times get tough. They scream for government money, and plenty of it. It turns out that “the market” is fine when it comes to whipping workers to accept lower wages, but when it comes to lower profits, the market can go hang.
- But there’s another angle to this. Capitalists preach “the market” for the working class – stand on your own two feet, don’t rely on the government – but themselves sponge off the public big time. Just look at the billions in subsidies and tax concessions the fossil fuel companies, huge enterprises for the most part, extract from state and federal governments in Australia. The vehicle manufacturers raked in hundreds of millions a year from the Australian government for decades until deciding it wasn’t enough and went overseas. This is why big companies and industry groups hire armies of former politicians to lobby on their behalf in the offices of premiers and prime ministers – there’s money in government coffers and they want it. And while the capitalists talk about “the market” setting wages for workers, in reality, they don’t really allow the market to do the job. They use the whole apparatus of state repression, the industrial tribunals, the police, the courts to suppress workers’ rights to organise to pursue their demands. But when a crisis hits all the bullshit about the market is thrown to the winds. And that is just what we are seeing now. Faced with the collapse of the capitalist economy, for the second time in a dozen years, with massive bankruptcies on the table and the stock market plunging by more than 30 percent and more to come, fervent advocates of the free market are now embracing government intervention to save their skins.
- Workers every day face their own personal crises – lack of money to pay the rent or the possibility of defaulting on their mortgage because the boss didn’t call them in for work this week, overdue utility bills that must be paid or risk being cut off, expenses for children’s education that fall due, the fear of redundancy. These are crises that are experienced personally but are really a collective crisis of everyday life for working class people. But when we ask for governments to respond, we are told that addressing these things collectively is not possible, and that this is just the way things are. But when the capitalist system goes into crisis, governments act promptly. It turns out that political decisions about the economy are possible and it is wholly possible for governments to tell the markets to go jump. [...] So, in an economic emergency, few of the usual rules apply. Governments can marshal the resources and can threaten the narrow interests of private businesses. Hardcore libertarians despise these measures as rampant socialism. From their perspective, they’re right: the very existence of such programs is condemnation of the free market capitalist model that they promote. But they are best seen only as another approach to the management of the capitalist economy. The fact that governments across the OECD are now prepared to spend trillions of dollar to save the financial system from collapse only confirms that the world economy cannot be left safely in the hands of “the market”. And, the situation clearly confirms that when the capitalist class and governments deem it necessary to save their system, lots of measures they once denounced as “unaffordable”, not permitted by the condition of “the economy”, are actually affordable and permitted. Governments can act when required. The ideological justifications of yesterday are revealed as threadbare. But nor are government interventions of this nature geared towards the interests of the working class, only the interests of the bosses.
- Like cancer, capitalism grows until it murders the host body. During this pandemic shutdown, it’s not getting the growth it needs and parts of it are becoming benign...For years...we’ve been lost in the frenetic pace of lives based on non-events, never pausing to reassess or recess. The spastic motion of avoidance filled the ether — afraid if we stop to truly think about it, we may find our scant few years of consciousness are pissed away as slaves at often meaningless jobs. They, the pustulant corporate owners, suck away our lives...And now, with life on holiday, we see almost none of it was essential... As our planet disintegrates under the weight of consumption and greed, most people are trapped in extreme poverty. And that’s how the system of capitalism is designed. Slightly altering capitalism will not change this reality... If we take away the false promises of capitalism and just say to people, “Private luxury is only for a few humans. You will never have it and won’t even have the chance at getting it” – if we admit that – then the entire justification for capitalism evaporates... The pandemic shutdown has shown us the problem. It has revealed what the world looks like without as much pollution, without the chaos and roar of mostly meaningless “work” performed by the exploited, using materials stolen from the abused, for the benefit of the pampered and oblivious. Another world is possible, and we’ve just gotten a glimpse of it.
- Lee Camp, Pandemic is Not Just a Crisis, It’s Also a Gift, Consortium News, (23 April 2020)
- Let’s cut to the chase — and I’m sorry if the next statement upsets you — but in order to stop climate change and create a sustainable world, it requires the end of capitalism. I know I’m not “allowed” to say that. Saying such a thing would be heresy on one of the corporate media dog-and-pony bullshit infotainment hours. If I spoke that unholy fact on CNN or Fox News or CBS or NPR, a tranquilizer dart would immediately hit me in the neck, and they’d cut to a commercial while my lifeless body was dragged off. But let’s take our intellectual honesty out for a spin, shall we? As Guardian columnist George Monbiot said, “Capitalism has three innate characteristics that drive us towards destruction… firstly, that it generates and relies upon perpetual growth.” Endless growth on a planet with finite resources. Such a thing is physically impossible, no more scientifically feasible than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touching his toes. The reason we’re now in the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression is because capitalism requires nonstop growth, much like cancer. Also, like cancer, it grows until it murders the host body. And during this pandemic shutdown, it’s not getting the growth it screams out for. During this brief respite, many parts of capitalism are benign.
- Lee Camp, Pandemic is Not Just a Crisis, It’s Also a Gift, Consortium News, (23 April 2020)
- 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
- Capitalism has neither the capacity, nor the moral, nor the ethics, nor the will to solve the problems of poverty.
- Capitalism is a system based on blind, destructive and tyrannical laws imposed on the human species.
- It is really impressive what a filth system capitalism is, that can't guarantee its own people employment, nor health, nor adequate education; that cannot prevent youth from being corrupted by drugs, gamble, and all kind of vices.
- Everyday I become more convinced, there is no doubt in my mind, as many intellectuals have said, that it is necessary to transcend capitalism. But capitalism can not be transcended through capitalism itself; it must be done through socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. I’m also convinced that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of democracy being imposed by Washington.
- 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, Utopia of Usurers (1917), pp. 33-34
- I hear Republicans and Libertarians and so forth talking about property rights, but they stop talking about property rights as soon as the subject of American Indians comes up, because they know fully well, perhaps not in a fully articulated, conscious form, but they know fully well that the basis for the very system of endeavor and enterprise and profitability to which they are committed and devoted accrues on the basis of theft of the resources of someone else. They are in possession of stolen property. They know it. They all know it. It's a dishonest endeavor from day one.
- Ward Churchill, in Z Magazine, vol. 8, p. 32
- 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.
- Clifford D. Conner, A People's History of Science (2005)
- 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?
- If you see a nation as a cart, it must have two wheels; otherwise it will not go. If one wheel alone is capitalism, it will not move. If one wheel alone is socialism, it will not move. The only thing that will make the cart, that is your political/economic structure, work properly is to have the best of socialism and the best of capitalism. The Masters advise 70 per cent socialism to 30 per cent capitalism as the best proportion.
- The new politics will no longer be molded by the ‘isms’ of capitalism or socialism, but created from self-respect in individuals and nations.
- Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two p. 90 (1993)
- Capitalism, in its pure form, is at an end in Europe. It has no future whatsoever. Instead, countries will model their governments on a form of democratic socialism. Gradually this will become the model for all nations as the most effective way to ensure that the voice and will of the people is properly represented.
- Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two, Share International p. 131 (1993)
- Capitalism without socialism is like a great shark in the waters that will eat up everything in sight, and has no group sense or social responsibility. We need to take the best of both systems and bring them together....a fusion of the best aspects of both. Both are necessary. The sense of justice, brotherhood and social caring... is necessary for the West, but the sense of freedom of the individual in movement, expression and thought is necessary in the East. That is something which will... gradually become the norm in Europe and eventually throughout the world.... not capitalism or communism, but social democracy or democratic socialism with full participation of all peoples in their own government.
- Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two p. 155 (1993)
- Whereas Marx identified the essential condition of capitalism as one of enforced servitude (wage slavery), the Frankfurt School alluded to something even more insidious: a willingness in people to inscribe themselves within the very system that oppresses them; to defer to the widespread mythology of those who have 'made it': the rags-to-riches millionaire, the lottery winner, the pop/sports idols and so on. Contemporary subjectivity is thus one of perverse collaboration. ... Late capitalism is a kind of Stockholm syndrome writ large: a skewed and rather desperate faith in our own socio-economic betrayal.
- Glyn Daly, in The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory (Routledge: 2013), p. 42
- 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)
- Racism is integrally linked to capitalism... it’s a mistake to assume that we can combat racism by leaving capitalism in place... The Industrial Revolution, which pivoted around the production of capital, was enabled by slave labor in the U.S... we have a long way to go before we can begin to talk about an economic system that is not based on exploitation and on the super-exploitation of Black people, Latinx people and other racialized populations... We now have the conceptual means to engage in discussions, popular discussions, about capitalism... The notion of the prison-industrial complex requires us to understand the globalization of capitalism. Anti-capitalist consciousness helps us to understand the predicament of immigrants, who are barred from the U.S. by the wall that has been created by the current occupant. These conditions have been created by global capitalism. And I think this is a period during which we need to begin that process of popular education, which will allow people to understand the interconnections of racism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism.
- Capitalism is not necessarily more immoral than previous social systems with regard to cruelty to humans and the gratuitous destruction of nature. As a mode of production and a social system, however, capitalism requires people to be destructive of the environment. Three destructive aspects of the capitalist system stand out when we view this system in relation to the extinction crisis: 1) capitalism tends to degrade the conditions of its own production; 2) it must expand ceaselessly in order to survive; 3) it generates a chaotic world system, which in turn intensifies the extinction crisis.
- Capitalism is clearly and undeniably failing. It’s directly responsible for the climate catastrophe and everybody knows it.
- The issue is Socialism versus Capitalism. I am for Socialism because I am for humanity. We have been cursed with the reign of gold long enough. Money constitutes no proper basis of civilization. The time has come to regenerate society — we are on the eve of universal change.
- Eugene V. Debs, in an open letter to the American Railway Union, Chicago Railway Times (1 January 1897).
- Ignorance alone stands in the way of Socialist success. The capitalist parties understand this and use their resources to prevent the workers from seeing the light. Intellectual darkness is essential to industrial slavery. Capitalist parties stand for Slavery and Night. The Socialist Party is the herald of Freedom and Light.
- Eugene Debs, "The Socialist Party and the Working Class" (1904), in Classics of American Political and Constitutional Thought, Volume 2: Reconstruction to the Present, p. 288
- Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Yes? Well socialism is exactly the reverse.
- Hey Gorby, did you hear this quote ... "Communism is the most painful path between capitalism and capitalism."
- As for the explanation that fascism is a last desperate attempt of capitalism to delay the socialist revolution, it simply is not true. It is not true that ‘big business’ promoted fascism. On the contrary, both in Italy and in Germany the proportion of fascist sympathizers and backers was smallest in the industrial and financial classes. It is equally untrue that ‘big business’ profits from fascism; of all the classes it probably suffers most from totalitarian economics and Wehrwirtschaft.
- Peter Drucker, The End of Economic Man, The John Day Company, The End of Economic Man (1939) p. 7
- [P]rofits are so completely subordinated in [Nazi] Germany and [Fascist] Italy to requirements of a militarily conceived national interest and of full employment that the maintenance of the profit principle is purely theoretical. Profits have lost their autonomy as an independent, not to say the supreme, goal of economic activity.
- Peter Drucker, The End of Economic Man, The John Day Company, The End of Economic Man (1939) p. 149
- We face a probable future of nuclear-armed states warring over a scarcity of resources; and that scarcity is largely the consequence of capitalism itself. For the first time in history, our prevailing form of life has the power not simply to breed racism and spread cultural cretinism, drive us into war or herd us into labour camps, but to wipe us from the planet. Capitalism will behave antisocially if it is profitable for it to do so, and that can now mean human devastation on an unimaginable scale. What used to be apocalyptic fantasy is today no more than sober realism. The traditional leftist slogan "Socialism or barbarism" was never more grimly apposite.
- Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right (2011), p. 8
- 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 because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.
This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists
- 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...
- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
- Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo
- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
- 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.
- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
- 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.
- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)
- Prostitutes are the inevitable product of a society that places ultimate importance on money, possessions, and competition.
- Jane Fonda, in Thomas Kiernan, Jane: An Intimate Biography of Jane Fonda (1970).
- Less than two decades into the twenty-first century, it is evident that capitalism has failed as a social system. The world is mired in economic stagnation, financialization, and the most extreme inequality in human history, accompanied by mass unemployment and underemployment, precariousness, poverty, hunger, wasted output and lives, and what at this point can only be called a planetary ecological “death spiral.” The digital revolution, the greatest technological advance of our time, has rapidly mutated from a promise of free communication and liberated production into new means of surveillance, control, and displacement of the working population. The institutions of liberal democracy are at the point of collapse, while fascism, the rear guard of the capitalist system, is again on the march, along with patriarchy, racism, imperialism, and war.
- To say that capitalism is a failed system is not, of course, to suggest that its breakdown and disintegration is imminent. It does, however, mean that it has passed from being a historically necessary and creative system at its inception to being a historically unnecessary and destructive one in the present century.
- Indications of this failure of capitalism are everywhere. Stagnation of investment punctuated by bubbles of financial expansion, which then inevitably burst, now characterizes the so-called free market. Soaring inequality in income and wealth has its counterpart in the declining material circumstances of a majority of the population. Real wages for most workers in the United States have barely budged in forty years despite steadily rising productivity. Work intensity has increased, while work and safety protections on the job have been systematically jettisoned. Unemployment data has become more and more meaningless due to a new institutionalized underemployment in the form of contract labor in the gig economy. Unions have been reduced to mere shadows of their former glory as capitalism has asserted totalitarian control over workplaces. With the demise of Soviet-type societies, social democracy in Europe has perished in the new atmosphere of “liberated capitalism.” The capture of the surplus value produced by overexploited populations in the poorest regions of the world, via the global labor arbitrage instituted by multinational corporations, is leading to an unprecedented amassing of financial wealth at the center of the world economy and relative poverty in the periphery.
- 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.
- Francis Fukuyama, as quoted in "Fukuyama: 'Putinism', Radical Islam No Alternative To Liberal Democracy" (30 January 2016), by *Charles Recknagel, Radio Free Europe: Radio Liberty.
- 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 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.
- "Capitalism," says Irving Kristol, "is the least romantic conception of a public order that the human mind has ever conceived." The reason it's so unromantic is that it doesn't tell people what to do and that can be very frustrating for intellectuals who want to tell people what to do.
- 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.
- Alan Greenspan, The Assault on Integrity (1963).
- Those of us now in isolation, in spite of our fear and frustrations, in spite of our grief — for those who have died or may die, for the life we once lived, for the future we once hoped for — there is also a sense we are cocooned, transforming, waiting, dreaming. [...] But when the Spring comes, as it must, when we emerge from hibernation, it might be a time of profound global struggle against both the drive to “return to normal” — the same normal that set the stage for this tragedy — and the “new normal” which might be even worse. Let us prepare as best we can, for we have a world to win. [...] I imagine that struggles to come will be defined by either the desperate drive to “return to normal,” or a great refusal of that normal. But this is no manichean melodrama. On the one hand, there will be those who seek to return us to the order of global revenge capitalism to which we had become accustomed: a nihilistic system of global accumulation that appears to be taking a needless, warrantless vengeance on so many of us, though without any one individual intending any particular malice, and one which breeds the worst kind of revenge politics.
- Max Haiven on the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, No return to normal: for a post-pandemic liberation (March 23, 2020), ROAR Magazine
- We should expect the demand that we return to the vindictive normal from the beneficiaries of that system — the wealthy, the political elite — who have everything to gain from business as usual. But we should also expect it from millions of those oppressed, exploited, and alienated by that system, whose lives have been reduced to slow death under it. After months of chaos, isolation and fear, the desire to return to normal, even if normal is an abusive system, may be extremely strong. The stage is set for this desire to be accompanied by a frantic revanchism. Will we want someone to blame, especially those of us who lose loved ones? Must there be blood, figurative or literal?: a baptism by fire so that the old order — which, of course, created the conditions of austerity and inequality that made this plague so devastating — can be reborn in purified form.
- Max Haiven on the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, No return to normal: for a post-pandemic liberation (March 23, 2020), ROAR Magazine
- Things will never be “normal” again: some of us, the privileged and wealthy, may be afforded the illusion, but this illusion is likely to be carried on the backs of the vast majority who will work harder, longer and for less, suffer greater risks and fewer rewards. The debts of the pandemic, literal and figurative, will have to be repaid. On the other hand — or maybe at the same time — we can also expect that, among the powerful and among the rest of us, there will be calls to reject the “return to normal,” but in order to embrace something even worse. It is likely that the chaos and deaths of the pandemic will be blamed on too much democracy, liberalism and empathy. Now that states are flexing their muscles and taking full command of society, there will be many who do not want the sleeve to be rolled back down. We may yet see, in this crisis, the use of repressive force on civilians — as it is already being used on migrants and incarcerated people — and I fear that it will be seen by many as justified, a human sacrifice to feed the Gods of fear.
- Against all these fateful outcomes there will be those among us who refuse to return to normal, or to embrace the “new normal,” those of us who know that “the trouble with normal is it only gets worse.” Already, in the state of emergency that the crisis has unleashed, we are seeing extraordinary measures emerge that reveal that much of the neoliberal regime’s claims to necessity and austerity were transparent lies. The God-like market has fallen, again. In different places a variety of measures are being introduced that would have been unimaginable even weeks ago. [...] We are discovering, against the upside-down capitalist value paradigm which has enriched the few at the expense of the many, whose labor is truly valuable: care, service, and frontline public sector workers. There has been a proliferation of grassroots radical demands for policies of care and solidarity not only as emergency measures, but in perpetuity. Right-wing and capitalist think-tanks are panicking, fearful that half a century of careful ideological work to convince us of the necessity of neoliberalism — the transformation of our very souls — will be dispelled in the coming weeks and months. The sweet taste of freedom — real, interdependent freedom, not the lonely freedom of the market — lingers on the palate like a long-forgotten memory, but quickly turns bitter when its nectar is withdrawn. If we do not defend these material and spiritual gains, capitalism will come for its revenge.
- 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
- Capitalism is the greatest social technology ever invented for creating prosperity in human societies, if it is well managed, but capitalism, because of the fundamental multiplicative dynamics of complex systems, tends towards, inexorably, inequality, concentration and collapse. The work of democracies is to maximize the inclusion of the many in order to create prosperity, not to enable the few to accumulate money. Government does create prosperity and growth, by creating the conditions that allow both entrepreneurs and their customers to thrive. Balancing the power of capitalists like me and workers isn't bad for capitalism. It's essential to it. Programs like a reasonable minimum wage, affordable healthcare, paid sick leave, and the progressive taxation necessary to pay for the important infrastructure necessary for the middle class like education, R and D, these are indispensable tools shrewd capitalists should embrace to drive growth, because no one benefits from it like us.
- The problem isn't that we have some inequality. Some inequality is necessary for a high-functioning capitalist democracy. The problem is that inequality is at historic highs today and it's getting worse every day. And if wealth, power, and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top, our society will change from a capitalist democracy to a neo-feudalist rentier society like 18th-century France. That was France before the revolution and the mobs with the pitchforks. So I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality.
All highly prosperous capitalist democracies are characterized by massive investments in the middle class and the infrastructure that they depend on.
- I am a capitalist, and after a 30-year career in capitalism... I'm not just in the top one percent, I'm in the top .01 percent of all earners. Today, I have come to share the secrets of our success, because rich capitalists like me have never been richer... How do we manage to grab an ever-increasing share of the economic pie every year? ... here's the dirty secret. There was a time in which the economics profession worked in the public interest, but in the neoliberal era, today, they work only for big corporations and billionaires... We could choose to enact economic policies that raise taxes on the rich, regulate powerful corporations or raise wages for workers... But neoliberal economists would warn that all of these policies would be a terrible mistake, because raising taxes always kills economic growth, and any form of government regulation is inefficient, and raising wages always kills jobs.
Well, as a consequence of that thinking, over the last 30 years, in the USA alone, the top one percent has grown 21 trillion dollars richer while the bottom 50 percent have grown 900 billion dollars poorer, a pattern of widening inequality that has largely repeated itself across the world. And yet, as middle class families struggle to get by on wages that have not budged in about 40 years, neoliberal economists continue to warn that the only reasonable response to the painful dislocations of austerity and globalization is even more austerity and globalization.
- Greed is not good. Being rapacious doesn't make you a capitalist, it makes you a sociopath. And in an economy as dependent upon cooperation at scale as ours, sociopathy is as bad for business as it is for society.... Neoliberal economic theory has sold itself to you as unchangeable natural law, when in fact it's social norms and constructed narratives based on pseudoscience. If we truly want a more equitable, more prosperous and more sustainable economy, if we want high-functioning democracies and civil society, we must have a new economics.
- The landlord, qua landlord, performs no function in the economy of industry or of food production. He is a rent receiver; that, and nothing more. Were the landlord to be abolished, the soil and the people who till it would still remain, and the disappearance of the landowner would pass almost unnoticed. So too with the capitalist. ... By capitalist, I mean the investor who puts his money into a concern and draws profits there from without participating in the organisation or management of the business. Were all these to disappear in the night, leaving no trace behind, nothing would be changed.
- Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism (1907), p. 11
- Imperialism, taking tribute from conquered races, the accumulation of great fortunes, the development of a population which owns no property, and is always in poverty. Land has gone out of cultivation and physical deterioration is an alarming fact. An so we Socialists say the system which is producing these results must not be allowed to continue. A system which has robbed religion of its saviour, destroyed handicraft, which awards the palm of success to the unscrupulous, corrupts the press, turns pure women on the streets and upright men into mean-spirited time-servers, cannot continue. In the end it is bound to work its own overthrow. Socialism with its promise of freedom, its larger hope for humanity, its triumph of peace over war, its binding of the races of the earth into one all-embracing brotherhood, must prevail. Capitalism is the creed of the dying present; socialism throbs with the life of the days that are to be. It has claimed its martyrs in the past, is claiming them now, will claim them still; but what then? Better to "rebel and die in the twenty worlds sooner than bear the yoke of thwarted life."
- Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism (1907), p. 103–104.
- [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.
- David Harvey The Condition of Postmodernity. p. 180
- As the Marxist movement splintered and mutated into new forms, Left intellectuals and activists began to look for new ways to attack capitalism. Environmental issues, alongside women’s and minorities’ issues, came to be seen as a new weapon in the arsenal against capitalism.
- Stephen Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism, p. 154
- The enormous dynamic and creative, as well as destructive energy of capitalism... is written up with more praise and more respect by Marx and Engels in the 1848 Communist Manifesto than probably by anyone since. I don't think anyone has ever said so precisely and with such awed admiration how great capitalism is, how inventive, how innovative, how dynamic, how much force of creativity it unleashes.
- 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.
- Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world.
- Fredric Jameson, "Future City", New Left Review (May-June 2003)
- There are no good aspects of monopoly capital, so no reservations need be recognized in its destruction. Monopoly capital is the enemy. It crushes the life force of all of the people. It must be completely destroyed, as quickly as possible, utterly, totally, ruthlessly, relentlessly destroyed.
- George L. Jackson, Blood in My Eye (1971), p. 109
- The essence of a U.S.A. totalitarian socio-political capitalism is concealed behind the illusion of a mass participatory society. We must rip away its mask. Then the debate can end, and we can enter a new phase of struggle based on the development of an armed revolutionary culture that will triumph.
- George L. Jackson, Blood in My Eye (1971), p. 138
- We are quite obviously faced with a need to organize some small defenses to the more flagrant abuses of the system now. ... While we await the precise moment when all of capitalism's victims will indignantly rise to destroy the system, we are being devoured. ... Some of us are going to have to take our courage in hand and build a hard revolutionary cadre for selective retaliatory violence.
- Most of the fascist functionaries live as unguarded as I do. I could slip a knife between Max Rafferty's ribs. The Agnews and Du Ponts, the Rockefellers and Morgans, all of the Getty, Hunt, and Hughes types who sneak around in armored cars and jets are just as reachable. ... Hell will be their reward.
- When you are poor you don’t have any social respect or social worth because everything is defined in terms of money and how much of it you have. This is what capitalism does. It turns all values into commercial values, even the value of life itself.
- Kevin Rashid Johnson, Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin Rashid Johnson (2010)
- The failure of capitalism is still much better than the success of socialism.
- 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.
- Nikita Khrushchev, quoted in Edward Crankshaw, Khrushchev: A Career (1966), p. 12
- The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Speech to SCLC Board (30 March 1967)
- 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." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, "This is not just."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam (1967)
- 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
- When socialist Cuba houses the homeless, feeds the hungry, cures cancer, and educates the entire population, that's "authoritarian", but when the capitalist US allows millions to suffer or die simply because they're poor, that's "freedom"? Freedom for who?
- We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings.
- 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.
- The widespread assumption that big business and big government are fundamentally at odds, and that big business supports a free market, serves to maintain the ruling partnership in power. ... The establishment left disguises its government intervention on behalf of the rich as government intervention on behalf of the poor, while the right disguises its government intervention on behalf of the rich as an opposition to government intervention per se – and each side has an interest in maintaining the myth propagated by its nominal opponent. For those who are repelled by the realities of corporate capitalism are lured into becoming opponents of the free market and foot soldiers for the left wing of the ruling class, while those who are attracted by free-market ideals are lured into becoming defenders of corporate capitalism and foot soldiers for the right wing of the ruling class. Either way, the partnership as a whole has its power reinforced.
- Roderick T. Long, "Left-libertarianism, market anarchism, class conflict and historical theories of distributive justice," Griffith Law Review, Vol. 21 Issue 2 (2012), p. 422
- Under a capitalist economy such as that of the United States, employers profit by working their employees as hard as they can for as many hours as possible and for as little pay as they can get away with. Their goal is to exploit us. Our lives reflect that reality. Many of us don't enjoy our work. We don't get paid enough. We have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet if we have a job at all. Our bosses treat us like garbage and we don't feel like their is anything we can do about it. We face the threat that machines will replace us. Our jobs are moved overseas, where employers can generate even higher profits. Sometimes a job at Wal-Mart is the only option we have.
- Erik Loomis, A History of America in Ten Strikes (The New Press, 2018) p. 3
- Thus every Part was full of Vice,
- Yet the whole Mass a Paradise;
- Bernard de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (1714), line 155, p. 9
- Private Vices by the dextrous Management of a skilful Politician may be turned into Publick Benefits.
- Bernard de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (1714), line 155, p. 428
- [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)
- In bourgeois society... the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. 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)
- “So what’s wrong with capitalism?”
He sighs. For a minute I wonder if maybe he’s a capitalist. But then he says, “It’s not a fair system.”
“That’s stupid,” I say. “Things aren’t fair. Only little kids expect things to be fair.”
- Maureen F. McHugh, Protection, in Gardner Dozois (ed.) The Year's Best Science Fiction: Tenth Annual Collection, p. 323 (Originally published at Asimov's Science Fiction April 1992)
- So he starts by asking me what I know about capitalism.
“People were rich and there was a lot of corruption and a lot of crime,” I say. “And now we have socialism and people are poor and there’s a lot of corruption and a lot of crime.”
He laughs. Anything I say about politics makes him laugh.
- Maureen F. McHugh, Protection, in Gardner Dozois (ed.) The Year's Best Science Fiction: Tenth Annual Collection, pp. 323-324 at Asimov's Science Fiction April 1992)
- Capitalism has really been responsible for all the progress of the modern age. Better than any other system ever devised, it provides leisure for large numbers of superior men, and so fosters the arts and sciences. No other system ever heard of is so beneficial to invention. Its fundamental desire for gain may be far from glorious per se, but it at least furthers improvement in all the departments of life. We owe to it every innovation that makes life secure and comfortable.
Unfortunately, like any other human institution (for example, Holy Church), capitalism tends to run amuck when it is not restrained, and democracy provides inadequate means of keeping it in order. There is never any surety that democracy will throw up leaders competent to discern the true dangers of capitalism and able to remedy them in a prudent and rational manner. Thus we have vacillated between letting it run wild and trying to ruin it. Both courses are hazardous and ineffective, and it is hard to say which is more so.”
- H.L. Mencken, Minority Report (1948).
- 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
- Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity.
- George Monbiot, "Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it", The Guardian (25 April 2019).
- Bail out the people, not the corporations. Bail out the living world, not its destroyers. Let’s not waste our second chance.
- 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.
- I have no doubt that the revolution will triumph. The people of the world will prevail, seize power, seize the means of production, wipe out racism, capitalism.
- 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.
- 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, Against Empire (1995)
- Just as in the 1930s, world capitalism, as it had existed until then, had reached a dead-end, and the need for it to be altered for the sake of preserving the system itself, was emphasised by many perceptive bourgeois thinkers, exactly in a similar manner contemporary world capitalism too has reached a dead-end and cannot continue as before. [...] Any change in capitalism, however, including a revival of the so-called "welfare capitalism" of the post-War period, will entail a loosening of the hegemony of international finance capital and hence will face stiff opposition from it. The fact that the need for such change is clear to bourgeois thinkers, does not mean that finance capital will simply voluntarily make a sacrifice of the hegemony it currently enjoys. Indeed the history of the 1930s itself bears witness to this fact. [...] Boosting aggregate demand for overcoming mass unemployment finally got accepted as government policy only after the war when the weight of the working class in the advanced countries became much greater than before (of which the victory of the Labour Party in the British post-war elections and the vastly increased strength of the Communists in France and Italy were obvious markers), and when the Red Army came right up to the very doorsteps of Western Europe creating fears of a “communist takeover”. This conjuncture finally forced concessions from finance capital that had been unobtainable till then. Finance capital, in other words, does not voluntarily make concessions even when such concessions are seen by major pro-capitalist thinkers as being essential for the preservation of the system itself.
- It is real-life class struggle, informed no doubt by ideas, that ultimately determines which way the world will move. Hence even for altering contemporary capitalism in the direction of the so-called “welfare capitalism” of yore, it would be essential to have the working class fighting for such an agenda. But when it does so, and when international finance capital resists such an agenda, we would be in the thick of class struggle. Time alone will tell whether this struggle would remain merely at the level of achieving a revival of “welfare capitalism” or whether it would go beyond capitalism altogether towards a socialist alternative. Once class struggle, for changing the system in its present form, acquires momentum, its outcome would depend on praxis and may not necessarily remain bounded within the system itself.
- 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.
- The moment that the Chinese scientists and doctors announced that the coronavirus could be transmitted between human beings on Jan. 20, 2020, the socialist governments went into action to monitor ports of entry and to test and trace key parts of the population. They set up task forces and procedures to immediately make sure that the infection would not go out of control amongst their people... in stark contrast to governments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, and other capitalist states, where there has been a hallucinatory attitude towards the Chinese government and the WHO. There is no comparison between the stance of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and U.S. President Donald Trump: the former had a sober, science-based attitude, while the latter has consistently laughed off the coronavirus as a simple flu as recently as June 24.
- 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.
- George Reisman Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics
- 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.
- Murray Rothbard (2011) Economic Controversies. p. 671
- Capitalism’s gratuitous wars and sanctioned greed have jeopardized the planet and filled it with refugees. Much of the blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the government of the United States. Seventeen years after invading Afghanistan, after bombing it into the ‘stone age’ with the sole aim of toppling the Taliban, the US government is back in talks with the very same Taliban. In the interim it has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives to war and sanctions, a whole region has descended into chaos, ancient cities—pounded into dust. Amidst the desolation and the rubble, a monstrosity called Daesh (ISIS) has been spawned. It has spread across the world, indiscriminately murdering ordinary people who had absolutely nothing to do with America’s wars. Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged, and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the US Government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state.
- Well.. for so many years, people—let’s say in India—have been fighting this very idea of progress, of infinite growth, of this form of development which has resulted now in what we call jobless growth, what everybody knows to be the case. You have nine individuals who own the same amount of wealth as the bottom 500 million. This is what infinite growth has led to—infinite growth for some people.
So this idea that you will never question your idea of progress, you will never question the comfort of the Global North. And by Global North—now and the elite South, and the downtrodden North, you know?...Years ago, I wrote an essay which ended by saying, “Can we leave the bauxite in the mountain?”...Can you look at the mountain and not just calculate its mineral worth? Can you understand that a mountain has much more than just the value of the minerals in it? And there is—it’s a civilizational issue, right? That for people who have lived there, have known that mountain, they know it sustains not just the people. It’s not just a question of who is getting displaced. But how does, for example, that bauxite mountain—which stores water and waters the plains all around it, which grows the food, which sustains a whole population—but it’s meant for a corporation that is given the mining contract. It’s just, how much does that bauxite cost? Can we store it and trade it on the futures market?
- It is like what I said, that the elite of the world have all seceded into outer space, and they have a country up there, and they look down and say, “What is our water doing in their rivers, and what’s our timber doing in their forests?” So there is a psychotic refusal to understand that the survival of the species is connected to the survival of the planet, you know? Because this sort of progress is a kind of church now. It is not amenable to reason. So it is very difficult to know how any real conversation can happen...
A month or two ago, the Supreme Court of India...said that two million indigenous people should be evicted from their forest homes... Because that forest needs to be preserved as a sanctuary. But when, for the last 25 years, people were fighting against projects which were decimating millions of hectares and acres of forest, nobody cared... And when you are talking about evicting two million of the poorest people, stripping them of everything they ever had, there is little outrage. Any sense of talk of equality or justice seems to just have the same effect that blasphemy has in religious societies. That is what capitalism has become—a form of religion that will brook no questioning.
- 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.
- Bertrand Russell Sceptical Essays (1928), Ch. 13, Freedom in society
- I dislike Communism because it is undemocratic, and capitalism because it favors exploitation.
- Bertrand Russell, Unarmed Victory (1963), p. 14
- We have to talk about democratic socialism as an alternative to unfettered capitalism, where the rich get richer and almost everybody else is getting poorer... the average worker in America is making, in inflation-accounted-for dollars, and despite a huge increase in technology and worker productivity, exactly the same amount of money that he or she made 43 years ago. That’s incomprehensible.
- There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the working class of this country to the top 1 percent. And at the end of the day.. the media doesn’t talk about it, the corporate media does not talk about it—nobody can defend three families in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. Or that 49 percent of all new income today goes to the top 1 percent. That is indefensible. That is outrageous. That is immoral. And I think the American people understand that has got to change...
- Donald Trump himself, of course, is a major beneficiary of the massive amounts of corporate welfare. If you are the Trump family, you receive $885,000,000 worth of tax breaks and subsidies for your family’s housing empire that, among other things, was built on racial discrimination.… What Trump is about is socialism for the very rich. We are about socialism for working families. That’s the difference.
- 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.
- If ... the tax scheme allows enormous intergenerational wealth transfers within families, some families will maintain considerable socioeconomic advantages over others, which allows them to provide better educations and better environments (both residential and familial) for their children, and their children's children. ... Even in a constitutional democracy in which each citizen has a publicly recognized claim to all the basic political and civil liberties, these socioeconomic inequalities would create an informal social hierarchy by birth: some would be born into great wealth and other social and political advantages while others would be born into poverty and its associated disadvantages. ... If, because a social scheme had the characteristics described above, the life prospects of some children were vastly inferior to those of others, it would be reasonable to regard these disadvantaged children as members of the lowest stratum in a descent-based social hierarchy. When such a hierarchy is, and has long been, marked by racial distinctions, equal citizenship, in any meaningful sense, does not obtain. In a society with an established democratic tradition, such a quasi-feudal order does not warrant the allegiance of its most disadvantaged members, especially when these persons are racially stigmatized. Indeed, the existence of such an order creates the suspicion that, despite the society's ostensible commitment to equal civil rights, white supremacy has simply taken a new form.
- I have repeatedly stressed that the rape of the Earth and rape of women are intimately linked - both metaphorically, in shaping world-views, and materially, in shaping women’s everyday lives... When we wrote Ecofeminism we raised the issue of reductionist, mechanistic science and the attitude of mastery over and conquest of nature as an expression of capitalist patriarchy. Today the contest between an ecological and feminist world-view and a worldview shaped by capitalist patriarchy is more intense than ever. This contest is particularly intense in the area of food. GMOs embody the vision of capitalist patriarchy.
- The national accounting systems which are used for calculating growth in terms of GDP are based on the assumption that if producers consume what they produce, they do not in fact produce at all, because they fall outside the production boundary. The production boundary is a political creation that, in its workings, excludes regenerative and renewable production cycles from the area of production. Hence all women who produce for their families, children,community and society are treated as ‘non-productive’ and ‘economically inactive’.
When economies are confined to the marketplace, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency. The devaluation of women’s work, and of work done in subsistence economies of the South, is the natural outcome of a production boundary constructed by capitalist patriarchy. By restricting itself to the values of the market economy, as defined by capitalist patriarchy, the production boundary ignores economic value in the two vital economies which are necessary to ecological and human survival:nature’s economy and the sustenance economy. In these economies, economic value is a measure of how the Earth’s life and human life are protected. The currency is life-giving processes, not cash or the market price. Second, a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women’s work and wealth creation in the mind deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend -their land, their forests, their water, their seeds and biodiversity.
- Vandana Shiva in Ecofeminism, Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, 1993, (2014)
- It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book I
- 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.
- Werner Sombart Der Moderne Kapitalismus
- 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.
- Capitalist enterprises buy components from others who have lower costs in producing those particular components, and sell their own output to whatever middlemen can most efficiently carry out its distribution.
- Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics, 4th ed. (2010), Ch. 6. The Role of Profits—and Losses
- Violence, fraud, the prerogative of force, the claims of superior cunning—those are the sources to which titles may be traced. The original deeds were written with the sword, rather than with the pen; not lawyers, but soldiers, were the conveyancers; blows were the current coin given in payment; and for seals, blood was used in preference to wax. Could valid claims be thus constituted? Hardly. And if not, what becomes of the pretensions of all subsequent holders of estates so obtained? Does sale or bequest generate a right where it did not previously exist?
- Herbert Spencer, Social Statics, First Edition (1851), Chapter 9
- 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.
- Olaf Stapledon, Last Men in London (1932), Chapter II
- 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.
- Joseph E. Stiglitz, Whither Socialism? (1994), chapter 16, p. 271
- 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
- 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.
- Immanuel Wallerstein (1979) The Capitalist World-Economy. p. 15
- Socialism is the total opposite of capitalism/imperialism. It is the rejection of empire and white supremacy. Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit. Socialism means control of the productive forces for the good of the whole community instead of the few who live on hilltops and in mansions. Socialism means priorities based on human need instead of corporate greed. Socialism creates the conditions for a decent and creative quality of life for all.
- The Weather Underground, Prairie Fire (1974)
- 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.
- Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: 1948), p. 32
- 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
- It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for this very reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relationships that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed but all the more strongly felt, of ethical religions. For every purely personal relationship of man to man, of whatever sort and even including complete enslavement, may be subjected to ethical requirements and ethically regulated. This is true because the structures of these relationships depend upon the individual wills of the participants, leaving room in such relations for manifestations of the virtue of charity. But this is not the situation in the realm of economically rationalised relationships, where personal control is exercised in inverse ratio to the degree of rational differentiation of the economic structure.
- 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.
- Simone Weil, "The Power of Words" (1937)
- 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.
- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (1972), p. 140
- 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 maximization 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
- The desperate policies of panic-driven governments involve throwing huge amounts of money at the economies collapsed in response to the coronavirus threat. Monetary authorities create money and lend it at extremely low interest rates to the major corporations and especially big banks "to get them through the crisis." Government treasuries borrow vast sums to get the collapsed economy back into what they imagine is "the normal, pre-virus economy." Capitalism's leaders are rushing into policy failures because of their ideological blinders.
- The problem of policies aimed to return the economy to what it was before the virus hit is this: Global capitalism, by 2019, was itself a major cause of the collapse in 2020. Capitalism's scars from the crashes of 2000 and 2008-2009 had not healed. Years of low interest rates had enabled corporations and governments to "solve" all their problems by borrowing limitlessly at almost zero interest rate cost. All the new money pumped into economies by central banks had indeed caused the feared inflation, but chiefly in stock markets whose prices consequently spiraled dangerously far away from underlying economic values and realities. Inequalities of income and wealth reached historic highs. In short, capitalism had built up vulnerabilities to another crash that any number of possible triggers could unleash. The trigger this time was not the dot.com meltdown of 2000 or the sub-prime meltdown of 2008/9; it was a virus. And of course, mainstream ideology requires focusing on the trigger, not the vulnerability. Thus mainstream policies aim to reestablish pre-virus capitalism. Even if they succeed, that will return us to a capitalist system whose accumulated vulnerabilities will soon again collapse from yet another trigger.
- In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, I focus criticism on capitalism and the vulnerabilities it has accumulated for several reasons. Viruses are part of nature. They have attacked human beings—sometimes dangerously—in both distant and recent history. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed nearly 700,000 in the United States and millions elsewhere. Recent viruses include SARS, MERS and Ebola. What matters to public health is each society's preparedness: stockpiled tests, masks, ventilators, hospital beds, trained personnel, etc., to manage dangerous viruses. In the U.S., such objects are produced by private capitalist enterprises whose goal is profit. It was not profitable to produce and stockpile such products, that was not and still is not being done. Nor did the U.S. government produce or stockpile those medical products. Top U.S. government personnel privilege private capitalism; it is their primary objective to protect and strengthen. The result is that neither private capitalism nor the U.S. government performed the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be what it has been since December 2019: too little, too late. It failed. It is the problem.
- The second reason I focus on capitalism is that the responses to today's economic collapse by Trump, the GOP and most Democrats carefully avoid any criticism of capitalism. They all debate the virus, China, foreigners, other politicians, but never the system they all serve. When Trump and others press people to return to churches and jobs—despite risking their and others' lives—they place reviving a collapsed capitalism ahead of public health.
- The third reason capitalism gets blame here is that alternative systems—those not driven by a profit-first logic—could manage viruses better. While not profitable to produce and stockpile everything needed for a viral pandemic, it is efficient. The wealth already lost in this pandemic far exceeds the cost to have produced and stockpiled the tests and ventilators, the lack of which is contributing so much to today's disaster. Capitalism often pursues profit at the expense of more urgent social needs and values. In this, capitalism is grossly inefficient. This pandemic is now bringing that truth home to people.
- A worker-coop based economy—where workers democratically run enterprises, deciding what, how and where to produce, and what to do with any profits—could, and likely would, put social needs and goals (like proper preparation for pandemics) ahead of profits. Workers are the majority in all capitalist societies; their interests are those of the majority. Employers are always a small minority; theirs are the "special interests" of that minority. Capitalism gives that minority the position, profits and power to determine how the society as a whole lives or dies. That's why all employees now wonder and worry about how long our jobs, incomes, homes and bank accounts will last—if we still have them. A minority (employers) decides all those questions and excludes the majority (employees) from making those decisions, even though that majority must live with their results. Of course, the top priority now is to put public health and safety first. To that end, employees across the country are now thinking about refusing to obey orders to work in unsafe job conditions. U.S. capitalism has thus placed a general strike on today's social agenda. A close second priority is to learn from capitalism's failure in the face of the pandemic. We must not suffer such a dangerous and unnecessary social breakdown again. Thus system change is now also moving onto today's social agenda.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let's take the case of slavery. While capitalism legitimizes itself as the economic system that implies and furthers personal freedom (as a condition of market exchange), it generated slavery on its own, as part of its own dynamics: although slavery became almost extinct at the end of the Middle Ages, it re-emerged in colonies from early modernity till the American Civil War. And one can risk the hypothesis that today, with the new epoch of global capitalism, a new era of slavery is also arising. Although there is no longer a direct legal category of enslaved persons, slavery acquires a multitude of new forms: millions of migrant workers in the Saudi peninsula (UAE, Qatar, etc.), who are deprived of elementary civil rights and freedoms and subjected to restricted mobility; the total control of millions of workers in Asian sweatshops, often consciously organized as concentration camps; the massive use of forced labor in the exploitation of natural resources in many Central African states (Congo, etc.). This new de facto apartheid, this systematic explosion of a number of different forms of contemporary slavery, is not a deplorable accident but a structural necessity of today's global capitalism.
- Slavoj Žižek, The Courage of Hopelessness: A Year of Acting Dangerously (2018), p. 29