A Critique of the Capitalist System Essay


Since the early clip, there has been no clear cut definition of the construct, Capitalism. It has frequently been assumed by economic experts and theoreticians that it has existed if non everlastingly, so for most of human history.

Harmonizing to the Oxford English Dictionary the term Capitalism was foremost used by novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, in 1854 in his novel ‘The Newcomes ‘, where he referred to the term as “ holding ownership of capital and non as a system of production ”. However, in the nineteenth century, capitalist economy was defined as “ an economic system characterized by private or corporation ownership of capital goods, by investings that are determined by private determination instead than by province control, and by monetary values, production and the distribution of goods that are determined chiefly in free market ”[ 1 ].

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Basically, Capitalism is a private ownership based on the agencies of production and distribution of goods characterized by a free competitory market and motive by net income, in other words, an economic science system based on endurance of the fittest.

History of Capitalism

Some theoreticians are of the sentiment that there are three periods of Capitalism known as early, in-between and late periods, while others consider capitalist economy to be a societal facet that can non be bounded by historical epoch, but instead by the acknowledgment of dateless elements of the human status.

The earliest signifiers of capitalist economy originated in the 14th century crisis, a struggle that developed between the land-owning nobility ( the Godheads ) and the agricultural manufacturers ( the helot ). Feudalism inhibited the development of capitalist economy in a figure of ways. The helot were forced to bring forth sufficient nutrient for the Godheads as a consequence of this the Godheads had no involvement in the promotion of engineering, but instead expanded their power and wealth through military agencies. There was no competitory force per unit area for them to introduce because they were non bring forthing to sell on the market. The passage from feudal system to capitalist economy was chiefly driven by the machinist of war and non by the political relations of wealth and production techniques.

However, modern capitalist economy arises in the early center ages, between the 16th and eighteenth century, when mercantile system was established. Mercantilism is defined as a distribution of goods that are bought at a certain monetary value and sold at a higher monetary value in order to bring forth net incomes. It provided the basic rules of capitalist economy in that it was the “ large-scale realisation of a net income by geting goods for lower monetary values than to the sell them ”[ 2 ]. In eighteenth century mercantile system declined when a group of economic theoreticians led by Adam Smith challenged mercantilist philosophies. They believed that a province could merely increase its wealth at the disbursal of another province ‘s wealth while the sum of the universe ‘s wealth remained changeless. Besides, as a consequence of the diminution in mercantile system, Industrial capitalist economy arises in the mid-18th century due to the huge accretion of capital under the stage of merchandiser capitalist economy and its investing in machinery. Industrial capitalist economy marked development of fabricating mill system and led to the planetary domination of capitalist manner of production.

During the nineteenth century capitalist economy allowed great addition in productiveness. It triggered great societal alterations, which remained in topographic point during the 20th century where it was established as the universe ‘s most prevailing economic theoretical account after the prostration of the USSR. By the clip the 21st century approached us, capitalist economy had become a widely permeant economic system worldwide.

Discrepancies of Capitalism

From our readings, we have uncovered that throughout history there have been legion types or discrepancies of capitalist economy in being around the universe. However, the dominant signifiers of capitalist economy are as follows:

Anarcho Capitalism

This is built around free market capitalist economy. Anarcho capitalists claim that free trade and trade understandings are facilitated, without any trust or intercession form the province.


This is the earliest from of capitalist economy, developed by Adam Smith. Smith stated that Mercantilism is where economic production and trade is controlled by the province who embraces the chief end of exporting as many goods as possible, whilst importing few goods as possible.

Free Market Capitalism

Free Market Capitalism entails in private owned production endeavors, restriction of province to merely enforcing belongings rights and the free monetary value system. This system is where demand and supply are allowed to change until their point of equilibrium is met, without any authorities intercession.

Social Market Economy

This is a capitalist economic system where authorities intercession is kept at a lower limit in the formation of monetary value but plays a important function in supplying societal public assistance inducements.

State Capitalism

This system can either mention to one of two definitions:

( 1 ) In this economic system there are chiefly private endeavors, where the province intervenes to protect peculiar concerns.

( 2 ) An economic system that involves net income seeking endeavors that are province owned and operates in a capitalist mode.

More exactly, province capitalist economy exists when ; the province becomes a major stockholder in private endeavors.[ 3 ]

Corporate Capitalism

This refers to a mixed of free market dominated by corporations that are lawfully inclined to prosecute net incomes.

Market Economy

To some extent, capitalist economic systems are defined as assorted economic systems characterized by private ownership. However, harmonizing to the Collins English Dictionary, 10th Edition, assorted economic system is an economic system in which some industries are in private owned and others are publically owned or nationalized.

Features of Capitalism

Capitalism, normally known as a free endeavor economic system, is regarded as an economic system distinguished by certain features, whose development is status by still other elements. The chief features of capitalist economy are as follows:

Private Ownership

Private persons are the proprietors of the agencies of production, which is, land, labor, capital, entrepreneurship ( as opposed to province ownership and communist ownership ). It is they who decide what to bring forth, in what measures, how it is traveling to be produced, and the wagess of labor. It is demand and supply that determines the monetary value of the finished good ( s ).

Decentralized Decision Making

Within a capitalist economic system, the procedure of determination devising takes the construction of manipulative decentalisation. Persons, instead than the authorities make the determination through prosecuting self involvement. However, the authorities controls these determinations by pull stringsing its several environment that is, impacting monetary values, revenue enhancements, subsides etc.

Freedom of Choice

Capitalism, sometimes referred to as a market economic system, emphasizes on the freedom of the person, both as a consumer and as a proprietor of the factors of production. Basically, an person can work where he or she wants, while enterprisers are besides free to put up endeavors of their ain pick. Within a market economic system, determinations or picks are chiefly driven by stuff inducements.

Review of Capitalism

The General Benefits of Capitalism include:

Economic growing by supplying an unfastened competitory market which provides persons with far better chances of raising their ain income ;

Capitalism consequences in a decentralized economic system which is considered one of the greatest advantages of capitalist economy where persons are exposed to a assortment of options which can take to competition therefore taking to houses bring forthing merely the best ; and

A capitalist economic system is believed to promote inventions in engineering and industry.

Benefits of Capitalism harmonizing to Adam Smith

When we hear the term capitalist economy, two celebrated economic experts should come to mind and they are: Adam Smith and Karl Marx. These two economic experts have beliing positions of the term capitalist economy which has groomed and shaped many economic systems in the universe either for or against capitalist economy.

Adam Smith ( 1723-1790 ), a Scots economic expert and moral philosopher is considered to be one of the bow male parent ‘s of capitalist economy and the universe ‘s first true economic expert. Smith championed the thought that laissez just economic sciences would profit its practicians while besides advancing society ‘s general public assistance. He believes that persons are normally best left on their ain devices without the heavy manus of the authorities steering their actions which is critical to the prosperity of a state because the demand brought about by free trade will ensue in the production of more goods. He believes that persons who act in their ain self-interest accidentally promote the populace ‘s involvement often more efficaciously than when they deliberately pursue it. By this he is stating that participants in the economic system are motivated by opportunism and that the ‘invisible manus ‘ of the market topographic point guides this self-interest into advancing general economic wellbeing.

Merely as the market regulates both monetary values and measures of goods harmonizing to the concluding go-between of public demand so it besides regulates the income of those who cooperate to bring forth those goods. If net incomes of concern are unduly big there will be a haste of other business communities into that field until competition has lower excess. If rewards are out of line in one sort of work there will be a haste of work forces into the favorite business until it pays no more than comparable occupations of that grade of accomplishments and preparation. Conversely if net incomes or rewards are excessively low in one trade country, there will be an hegira of capital and labour until supply is better adjusted to demand. In all of this Adam Smith has found in the mechanism of the market a self-acting system of society ‘s orderly provisionary.

Although the nature of the market has immensely changed since the 18th century, the Torahs of the market can still be spoting if we study its operations.

The General Drawbacks of Capitalism include:

Capitalism makes an economic system money oriented. Businesss look at the economic system with a mercenary point of position. Profitableness remains there merely primary concern end. Business giants take over smaller companies. Employment rights are compensated with the exclusive purpose of higher productiveness and some believe that because of ferocious competition in capitalist economic systems it can give rise to unjust competition. There are different positions about capitalist economy ; some believe in its strengths, while others complain about the unjust distribution of wealth it may take to.

Drawbacks of capitalist economy harmonizing to Karl Marx

The antithesis of capitalist economy is Marxian Economics, named after Karl Marx. He believes that capitalist economy brings about category segregation i.e. there are two categories the capitalist category and the on the job category. Under capitalist economy, economic personal belongings, such as trade goods or the agencies of production may be withheld from others by its proprietors this is done so as to give higher net income borders. Example ; say the Demerara Harbour Bridge was in private owned, the proprietor of the span may decline transition to all but those willing to pay an exhorbitly high monetary value. Anyone unwilling or unable to may non utilize the span.

Exploitation of the excess value of labor is another drawback of capitalist economy harmonizing to Marx. At the most basic degree, all healthy ( able-bodied ) people possess personal belongings or capital in the signifier of their labor. Workers enter the market topographic point with the option of keep backing their services from any employer unwilling to run into their monetary value. But by selling their labor to other individuals, workers enter into pay labour contracts. The workers profit from their labors and may utilize the subsequent net incomes to purchase necessities. The employer, nevertheless, besides earn a net income from the workers labour. Example ; A cement doing company hires workers for boxing the cement and so sells the cement pokes for a monetary value that exceeds the cost of rewards and stuffs, therefore supplying a net income to the enterpriser. Through this pay labor contract, nevertheless, a net part of the workers surplus value becomes the belongings of the enterpriser ( employer ). This is fundamentally stating that when an employer, employ ‘s person he does non give them their full part to the concern and by this Marx argued that this system alienated workers from the excess value of their labor. Marx was slightly awed by the ability of capitalist economy to bring forth great personal wealth but he felt it was however a system based on societal domination instead than rational exchange.

Capitalism Marx declared would bring forth its ain devastation. Marx argued that the capitalist economic systems would weaken in systematic crises. These crises would do societal perturbation in which capital would be recognized and economic systems would fix for subsequent rhythms. Wealth would go more and more concentrated into the manus of even more privileged category. Marx felt that crises would go more serious overtime and finally would animate a revolution in which the laborers who were alienated from their net incomes would prehend wealth from the higher categories and set up a society in which all belongings was communally owned and want was eliminated or at least norm.

Case Study

It is accepted public cognition that the United States of America is one of the largest Capitalist states in the universe. This state was selected to briefly analyze a few countries of how runing under a capitalist economic system would impact the economic system and persons.




Private Ownership and belongings rights

Conserving scarce resources.

Exploiting Labour

Decentralized Decision Making

Government every bit good as persons have a portion in doing determinations

Freedom of Choice

Promotes innovation and encourages invention

Promotes the freedom to piece

Choice of work

Private Ownership and Property rights

Conserving Scarce Resources

Property rights play a major portion in the motive needed to conserve resources in the United States. Take for case, the air around them. They do non have the air around them therefore moving in their ain ego involvement, they freely pollute the air. However, those persons that own a vehicle take particular attention in keeping the air inside their vehicle, via air fresheners, air conditioning, etc. So how do we command the sum of pollution in the air? Simply enforce a belongings right that states all exhausts emitted from the vehicle must now be emitted inside of the proprietor ‘s vehicle. It is without a uncertainty that vehicle proprietors will instantly get down to drive a more resourceful vehicle, devour better fuels, etc, all of which would take to farther invention and the decrease of emitted exhausts. This illustration is extremely unlogical ; however, it is utile in doing the point that persons conserve and maintain their belongings if threatened by a belongings right.

Exploitation of Labour

As antecedently mentioned, private ownership entails the enterpriser holding control over the agencies of production. In the United States there are over 30 ( 30 ) million corporations or concerns that are net income seeking entities, which is most likely dominant in the capitalist system. In a capitalist economic system, harmonizing to Marx ‘s theory, merely the workers are taken advantage of by the wealthy. Recently in the United States, a major Marine industry, Signal International was sued for importing approximately 5oo Indians. Complaints were made against the company for atrocious lodging quarters, really low rewards, and psychological maltreatment among others. This is a typical illustration of the wealthy taking full advantage of the on the job category.

Decentralized Decision Making

As a capitalist economic system, the United States maps under manipulative decentalisation. This is to merely state that any determinations that are to be made the authorities or the province play a portion. These determinations are controlled by the authorities and it is they who manipulate the market or environment. However, it is the persons who by pick and rational thought, are the determination shapers and put the result of the determination. Take for case, if the authorities were to raise the income revenue enhancement or the monetary values of goods and services, as a agency of raising financess, as President Ronald Regan did in the 1980 ‘s. This automatically indicates that though the the authorities is geting financess, the persons have no choose to cut down disbursement. This leads to consumers salvaging more and thereby supplying the authorities with extra financess.

Freedom of Choice

Promotes innovation and encourages invention.

Persons are granted the freedom of pick within the United States, as of such this encourages persons both consumer and enterpriser to contrive or make mechanisms of work outing jobs that will do legion undertakings easier. Take for case, Bill Gates, cofounder and CEO of Microsoft Corporation ‘s merchandises. In 1980, he developed runing systems for IBM ‘s personal computing machines, which are called Windows. This is an operating plan that features simple bids, striking artworks, etc. Hence, it is enterprisers such as Bill Gates that are one of the drive forces behind alteration in a free endeavor economic system.

Promotes the freedom to piece.

Even though Smith was non a protagonist of Trade Unions or labour brotherhoods, he held the dream that workers should be permitted to fall in together and talk up against the unjust and cold interventions that may be forced upon them by their employers. Within the United States there exists over 90 Trade Unions and organisations that represent legion employees and guarantee that their rights and comfy on the job conditions are are properly upheld. One of such organisations is The American Federation of Labour Congress of Industrial Organizations ( AFL-CIO ) of which encompasses 50 seven ( 57 ) brotherhoods and represents over 12.2 million members countrywide.

Choice of work

In Marx ‘s epoch, persons were free to take their country or topographic point of work. However, they were made to work in foul, cold and improper working environments. They were paid low rewards for working long hours and after specialising at one undertaking for drawn-out periods of clip, workers became like automatons. He subsequently stated that workers were limited in occupation motion because their occupations were the lone beginning of income for their household. In the United States of America there are some towns that portray this sort of action. Harmonizing to the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis such towns are Kiryas Joel, New York ; Allen, South Dakota ; Tobin, California all of which have really low per capita income.


From our readings and research we have discovered that capitalist economy existed centuries ago but in its early signifier viz., Feudalism and Mercantilism. It was these economic systems that led to the development of Capitalism today. Over clip, many bookmans, economic experts, theoreticians and other superb persons have questioned the formalities of a Capitalist province.

An economic system, though driven by net income maximization, greed and self involvement, transformed to one that allows for both categories, if non all, to hold a say in the development and betterment of one ‘s ain state. Additionally, the instance survey has revealed that The United States of America is a state that demonstrates both the high spots and mistakes of Capitalism.


The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd Edition. Copyright A© 2005 by Houghton Mufflin Company. Published by Houghton Mufflin Company.

Collins English Dictionary- Complete Unabridged, 10th Edition. Copyright A© 2009 Harper Collins 2009.

Brief Principles Of Macroeconomics, Second Edition, by N. Gregory Mankiw, Harcourt College Publishers, 301 Commerce Street, Suite 3700, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Adam Smith and the Origin of Capitalism: Excerpt and condensation of Chapter 4 from & lt ; i & gt ; The Worldly Philosophers: The Lifes, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers & lt ; /i & gt ; by Robert L. Heilbroner, 7th ed., 1999.

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