Dyspepsia Generation points to a piece at reason.com, which explains that capitalism is a Marxist coinage. In fact, capitalism
is what the Dutch call a geuzennaam—a word assigned by one’s sneering enemies, such as Quaker or Tory or Whig, but later adopted proudly by the victims themselves.
I have long viewed it that way. Capitalism conjures the greedy, coupon-clipping, fat-cat of Monopoly:
Thus did a board-game that vaulted to popularity during the Great Depression signify the identification of capitalism with another “bad thing”: monopoly. And, more recently, capitalism has been conjoined with yet another “bad thing”: income inequality.
In fact, capitalism
is a misnomer for the system of free markets that could deliver abundant prosperity and happiness, were markets left free. Free does not mean unfettered; competition for the favor of consumers exerts strong discipline on markets. And laws against theft, deception, and fraud would serve amply to keep markets honest, the worrying classes to the contrary notwithstanding.
What the defenders of capitalism are defending — or should be — is voluntary, market-based exchange. It doesn’t roll off the tongue, but that’s no excuse for continuing to use a Marxist smear-word for the best of all possible economic systems.
More Commandments of Economics (#13 and #19)
Monopoly and the General Welfare
Monopoly: Private Is Better than Public
Some Inconvenient Facts about Income Inequality
Mass (Economic) Hysteria: Income Inequality and Related Themes
Income Inequality and Economic Growth
A Case for Redistribution, Not Made
McCloskey on Piketty
Nature, Nurture, and Inequality
Diminishing Marginal Utility and the Redistributive Urge
Capitalism, Competition, Prosperity, and Happiness
Economic Mobility Is Alive and Well in America
The Essence of Economics
“Rent” Is Indispensable
One thought on ““Capitalism” Is a Dirty Word”
Agree on the provenance and usage of the word “capitalism,” and thanks for the introduction to “geuzennaam.” The class designations — upper class (or “elite”), upper-middle class, middle class, working class, etc. — are also Marxist concepts.
Not a fan of their ubiquity in American political discourse.
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