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The “C” Word

July 9th, 2012

For (probably not) the last time…

The liberty movement would be in a far better place if they stopped clinging to “capitalism”, if they stopped trying to rehab the word “capitalism” and if they stopped trying to convince the rest of the world that the Randian “Unknown Ideal” version of “capitalism” — despite being predated by at least a century — is the one and only true definition of “capitalism”.


Extra Credit: Free Market Capitalism is an Oxymoron



  • FSK says on: July 9, 2012 at 11:42 am


    I always add other adjectives to describe it. “Crony capitalism” is a better way to describe what we have now. “Real free market” is a better way to describe the goal.

    • David Z says on: July 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm


      Definitely. That’s why I try not to use the word at all. It’s just not precise enough, it means wildly different things to different people and context.

  • Paul Hakel says on: July 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm


    Ehhh, but that’s what it is – capitalism. I do like this idea very much though; I was thinking that we should rehab the words “conspiracy theory” as well so it isn’t outright dismissed. Play some linguistic wars here; why not call capitalism “Free Economics” or something like that. Look up some old Latin word, think up something novel, start spreading it around. Chomsky talks about some of his theories being “institutional analysis” rather than “conspiracies”. They are indeed conspiracies, i.e. a small group of people making decisions behind doors, but the word “conspiracy” to many just means “crazy”. Likewise with capitalism, many associate it with “crony capitalism” or greedy Republicans. Would “libertarian economics” be better? “Limited Government Interference Economics”. Needs some sex appeal, etymologists unite!

    • David Z says on: July 10, 2012 at 10:52 pm


      It’s funny you bring up conspiracy theories… I was drafting something about those recently which I might have to revive!

      Ehhh, but that’s what it is – capitalism.

      According to whom?

      Historically, this is completely inaccurate. The reader’s digest version goes like this: Some 19th century lefties who observed what they perceive as exploitative system of usury, state-granted monopoly/oligopoly, etc. and they call this system “capitalism”.

      In order for anyone to argue tthat definition of capitalism, they need to challenge the perception did not match the reality, that is, they must argue that what these 19th century lefties observed was in-fact not an exploitative system of usury and state-granted monopoly/oligopoly. I think this is demonstrably false, bearing in mind things like the enclosures act and what with the Trail of Tears on this side of the pond and chattel slavery up until 1865 (and the remnants thereof for another century +) and countless other acts that would violate any pretense of a “free market”.

      No, what the 19th century lefties observed was in fact an exploitative system — and they called it “capitalism”. Why the hell anyone genuinely interested in advancing the cause of “free markets” would ever want to adopt that term is beyond me.

      The clowns over at Bill Wurst’s post didn’t get it. I wish I would’ve bothered to follow up on the comment I posted there. Then again, I probably would’ve been better off smashing my face in to a wall, than trying to argue with them. But I can’t really blame them; I once used these terms interchangeably, too, and I’m certain that on occasion I would have defended my misuse of the word “capitalism” just as vigilantly.

      I learned I was mistaken. I still support free markets. I no longer find any value in using the term “capitalism” to advance that cause, though :)

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