Definitions of Capitalism

Capitalism is:

  1. Bitcoinist-Anarcho-Capitalism an economic system characterized by private ownership of the means of production and free trade, with no government intervention in either.
    The theoretical definition, aka laissez faire, capitalism as ideal or model, like "democracy" or "equality."

  2. an economic system characterized by mainly private ownership of the means of production and more or less free trade.
    The descriptive definition, aka the economics definition, a technical operational definition.

  3. a resource usage system based on de jure private ownership of the means of production.
    The legal definition, focusing on the legal fiction rather than actual control by government. Used in ideology map.

  4. socialism-symbol
  5. having ownership of capital
    The original definition, used by novelist William Thackeray in 1854, derived from "capitalist."

  6. an economic system characterized by accumulation of capital in the hands of the few.
    A socialist definition, aka the 19th century definition, still used by some leftists.

  7. Marxist definitions
    1. an economic system characterized by privately owned means of production for profit.
    2. an economic system characterized by employment ("wage slavery") and collusion between wealthy capitalists and the State.
      The Marxist definition, used by many leftists, especially communists.

  8. dunce the economic system which currently prevails or historically existed in the US, Germany, Japan, and other "developed" countries.
    The naive definition, aka actually existing capitalism, more accurately known as a mixed economy.

  9. the economic system of industrial revolution era Britain.
    A historical socialist definition.

  10. rule of workplaces, society, and if there is one, the State, by capitalists (that is, by a relatively small number of people who control investable wealth and the means of production)
    The conspiracy definition, used by Gary Chartier.

Compare with the definitions of socialism. Also see Conflicting Definitions of Capitalism.

Sometimes these definitions are combined in a self-contradictory manner. For example, (1) and (7) are often combined in a package deal. Cf: Roderick Long's comments in his essay on Rothbard's "Left and Right": Forty Years Later.

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