Capitalism is a social system that unleashes the power of the human mind by protecting the individual’s right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
Capitalism is the social system of the Enlightenment, founded on a philosophy based on reason, egoism, and freedom. The term capitalism (from the Latin word capta, meaning “head”) is used here in the broader political sense, and not in the narrower economic sense, i.e., a free market. Capitalism is not just an economic system that can be grafted onto any political structure. Capitalism is an integrated social system that depends on a specific ethical, political, legal, economic, and cultural foundation.
A Moral Foundation of Rational Self-Interest
Ethically, the animating force behind capitalism is the moral philosophy of rational self-interest: a code of morality based on what human beings require to achieve happiness living on earth.
The Politics of Individualism
Politically, capitalism regards the individual as a sovereign being with an inalienable right to take the actions necessary to support one’s life (freedom), so long as one respects the equal right of others to do the same. It is the political system based on the individual’s right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
A Legal System of Objective Law
Legally, capitalism operates according to a rule of objective law, with a government whose purpose is to protect individual rights.
The Economics of the Free Market
Economically, freedom protected by objective law, applied to the sphere of production and trade, results in a free market in material and spiritual values.
A Culture of Innovation
Culturally, this freedom in the economic and personal sphere leads to innovation in the arts, technology, and sciences, leading to peace, progress, and prosperity for all.
A capitalist is an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, regardless of how economically rich or poor they are.
Within the specialized domain of economics, a person who owns a business is recognized as a capitalist, regardless of whether one advocates capitalism politically or not. As an illustration, factory-owner Friedrich Engels is regarded economically as a capitalist, though politically — as co-author of The Communist Manifesto — Engels is a communist. Similarly, philosopher Ayn Rand is regarded economically as a novelist, though politically, Rand is a self-described “radical for capitalism.”
Though billionaires Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and George Soros are regarded economically as capitalists, philosophically, they are not capitalists but advocates of “mixed economy” statism (capitalism combined with anti-capitalist elements) to various degrees. Soros is more anti-capitalist than Buffet; Engels is more anti-capitalist than both. Soros, like billionaire Ted Turner and politician Elizabeth Warren, is a “socialist at heart.”
Friedrich Engels is a communist, and Ayn Rand is a capitalist, not because of their wealth, but because of their ideas.
Capitalism is attacked because it is regarded as immoral.
Ayn Rand observed that no political-economic system in history has been so beneficial to humanity as capitalism—and no system has been more unjustly attacked, viciously condemned, and dishonestly smeared. Though capitalism has proven to be materially beneficial to human flourishing, morally, it is regarded as evil.
To remedy this alleged moral deficiency, anti-capitalist elements — such as rights-violating laws and regulations — are grafted onto its structure. The result of these interventions are hyphenated-capitalisms such as so-called ‘state-capitalism,’ ‘anarcho-capitalism,’ ‘crony-capitalism,’ ‘stakeholder capitalism,’ ‘welfare capitalism,’ ‘compassionate capitalism,’ etc. These “mixed economies” are not forms of capitalism but are capitalism crippled by anti-capitalism. It is these non-capitalist, statist elements, that are responsible for capitalism’s alleged “failures” from financial crashes, great depressions, and mass unemployment, to out of control medical costs, racism, and wars.
Without a rational, moral defense of its foundation, capitalism is like a skyscraper built on quicksand.
The battle for capitalism is over the fate of human civilization.
The battle for capitalism is not just an argument over wealth; but a philosophical fight over the individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of their happiness.
The battle for capitalism is one on which the fate of civilization hangs in the balance. It is not merely a discussion that can be left to intellectuals in ivory towers, talking heads in the press, and mobs in the street.
The battle for capitalism is one from which no thinking individual — who chooses to live as a human being — may abstain. It is a battle that one must engage in not as an unchosen “duty,” but as a matter of selfish importance.
The battle for capitalism is a matter of life and death: your life and your death.
If you wish to join the intellectual battle and learn more, then take the Capitalism Tour.
Mark Da Cunha
p.s. If you have a question, comment, or correction, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Frequently Asked Questions About Capitalism
Before you browse the questions in this FAQ, please go through the Capitalism Tour. This FAQ assumes you are familiar with the material provided in the Tour.