Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Capitalism is not an ism

Jerry Stratton, September 14, 2016

Man Controlling Trade

“Man Controlling Trade”. This Washington, DC statue is how the establishment sees trade: a malevolent peasant forcing a recalcitrant beast to heel.

Capitalism is not a system. Capitalism is the lack of a system to keep people from trading their resources freely. The lack of ability to control other people’s actions is why progressives hate it.

Capitalism is a word made up to hide the fact that what it describes is not a system like other economic isms. Even the simplest and most noble utopianisms of the golden age of utopian idealism required people to set it up and make rules for it. Capitalism is not a system in the sense of something put into place, like socialism. It is just what people naturally do when they get together peacefully.

“You do this for me, and I’ll do this for you.”

That’s capitalism.

It’s don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.

Even Marx seems to agree that capitalism is not really an ism:

Free competition brings out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of external coercive laws having power over every individual capitalist.1

That is, while democratic countries do have “external coercive laws” about capitalism, these laws are not the result of experts controlling individuals, but rather are inherent in the nature of individuals, whenever people are allowed to trade what they have for what they want and are encouraged to do so peacefully.

Capitalism is not about forcing people to trade, it’s about letting them safely trade.

What Marx and other ismists don’t seem to have done is take the logic a step further. If the “laws of capitalism“ are imposed on men by their nature, then attempting to replace capitalism with man-made isms will result in natural catastrophes: black markets, corruption, and violence as nature attempts to move around those artificial boundaries.

In response to The Bureaucracy Event Horizon: Government bureaucracy is the ultimate broken window.

  1. Quoted in The Thomas Sowell Reader.

  1. <- Killing jobs swiftly
  2. Inevitable automation ->