Floated for response

Had a fairly random, albeit particularly interesting IMO, thought and felt like hoisting its flag out to see if it catches return fire. So here:

Consider the varying definitions used for “capitalism”.  People use it to refer to everything from a system of inherent state-collusion in the favor of connected interests, to the anarcho-capitalist definition of an ideal open market order, to the simple (and simplistic) “anything involving prices”.  These are about the process, but what about the root?  That is, what about Capital?  Economics textbooks routinely say that Capital is not — NOT! — a reference to money, but to basically Stuff that can be used to make other Stuff.  Yet, significant portions of modern economic activity have pretty much jack squat to do with this anymore, to an extent where that textbook definition is alien to most: when you say “capital” to the general public, they generally respond “money”.  The influence of finance looms large here.

This poses a dilemma with regard to that textbook definition: stick to it, and it is arguable that modern economies approach a post-capitalist state.


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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2 Responses to Floated for response

  1. Interesting point. The genius of capitalism is the invention of capital, which is money spent on stuff that is used to produce more stuff, and thereby increase the total amount of stuff in the world. The problem of capitalism is that our laws and our language don’t clearly distinguish between investment that actually generates more stuff, and investment that just shifts money from Pocket A to Pocket B.

  2. DBake says:

    Well, given that the first people to systematically use the term ‘capitalism’ were critics, I don’t think that what we have now falls outside of the textbook definition. Marx would have no problem applying the term to our current system.

    You could call it post-free market, I guess. But then that implies an earlier period that was free market.

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