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The World Trade Center was for many years one of the symbols of capitalism.

A famous quote from Voltaire's Lettres philosophiques illustrates capitalism: "Enter the London Stock Exchange, that place more respectable than many a court. You will see the deputies of all nations gathered there for the service of mankind. There the Jew, the Mohammedan, and the Christian deal with each other as if they were of the same religion, and give the name of infidel only to those who go bankrupt; there, the Presbyterian trusts the Anabaptist, and the Anglican honors the Quaker's promise. On leaving these peaceful and free assemblies, some go to the synagogue, others to drink; this one goes to be baptized . . ; that one has his foreskin cut off and the Hebrew words mumbled over the child which he does not understand; others go to their church to await the inspiration of God, their hats on their heads, and all are content"

Related by title: A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980) - Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari

Critique of: Society of the Spectacle (1967) - Guy Debord - Empire (2000) - Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

Compare: communism


In common usage, the word capitalism means an economic system in which the means of production are overwhelmingly privately owned and operated for profit, with privately determined investment of capital, and where production, distribution, and the prices of goods, services, and labor are affected by the forces of supply and demand in a largely free market.

Capitalism has also been referred to by the terms free market economy, free enterprise system, and economic liberalism. Although they are largely capitalist, most modern economies are often referred to as "mixed economies" because they have varying degrees of government involvement in economic activity and/or some state-owned means of production. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism [Jan 2006]


Capitalism needs more transparency. Every dollar or euro or yen spent is a political choice, a vote, an endorsement or rejection of a company or a product. However, we do not know enough about the companies or products we buy products from. Does a company employ child-labour? Is a company linked to a weapons manufacturer? Questions for which we do not have an answer when casting our votes at the supermarket. --[Jan 2006]

Term coined by Karl Marx

It was Marx who coined the term Capitalism, not Adam Smith in his 1776 book "The Wealth of Nations".

Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism?

It is surprising that intellectuals oppose capitalism so. Other groups of comparable socio-economic status do not show the same degree of opposition in the same proportions. Statistically, then, intellectuals are an anomaly.

Not all intellectuals are on the "left." Like other groups, their opinions are spread along a curve. But in their case, the curve is shifted and skewed to the political left.

By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy. --Robert Nozick

The Wealth of Nations (1776) - Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations (1776) - Adam Smith
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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist Adam Smith, published on March 9, 1776 during the Scottish Enlightenment. It is a clearly written account of political economy at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and is widely considered to be the first modern work in the field of economics. The work is also the first comprehensive defence of free market policies. It is broken down into five books between two volumes.

The Wealth of Nations was written for the average educated individual of the 18th century rather than for specialists and mathematicians. [1]

The Affluent Society (1958) - John Kenneth Galbraith

The Affluent Society (1958) - John Kenneth Galbraith
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Conventional wisdom has it that John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society spawned the neoliberalism we see in Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and other world leaders. The economist's prose, lofty but still easily manageable, laid down the gauntlet for the post-cold war class struggle that was still far in the future in 1958. Galbraith saw the widening gap between the richest and the poorest as an emergent threat to economic stability, and proposed significant investment in parks, transportation, education, and other public amenities--what we now call infrastructure--to ameliorate these differences and postpone depression and revolution indefinitely. Widely criticized by conservatives and libertarians wary of public expenditures or increased government influence, Galbraith still influences liberal and neoliberal thinking. He has acknowledged that his work, like that of most social scientists, contains flaws (like his dire prediction of an out-of-control unemployment and inflation spiral that petered out in the 1980's), but much of it remains fresh and true even today. Four years before Silent Spring, he wrote about the consumerist blight that threatened our wild lands equally as much as our cities; his hoped-for increase in environmental awareness has grown significantly in recent years. Whether you support the political implementations of his views, experiencing his writing is important to put those views in context. More than this, though, it is an honest pleasure to read such original ideas so well expressed. --Rob Lightner

The Corporation (2003) - Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott

The Corporation (2003) - Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film critical of the modern-day corporation, considering it as a class of person (as in US law it is understood to be) and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychologist might evaluate an ordinary person. This is explored through specific examples.

The film was written by Joel Bakan, and co-written and co-directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary has been displayed worldwide, on TV (sometimes in 3 parts) and is also available in DVD. The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power is also the title of a book (ISBN 0-74324-744-2) written by Bakan during the filming of the documentary.

One central theme of the documentary is an attempt to assess the "personality" of the corporate "person" by using diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV; Robert Hare, a University of British Columbia Psychology Professor and FBI consultant, compares the modern, profit-driven corporation to that of a clinically diagnosed psychopath.

The film also features interviews with prominent corporate critics such as Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore and Howard Zinn as well as opinions from company CEOs such as Ray Anderson (from the Interface carpet company), the conservative viewpoints of Peter Drucker and Milton Friedman, and think tanks advocating "free markets" such as the Fraser Institute. Interviews also feature Dr. Samuel Epstein with his involvement in the case against Monsanto using a harmful chemical called Posilac to induce more milk production in dairy cattle.

The Economist says: "Unlike much of the soggy thinking peddled by too many anti-globalisers, “The Corporation” is a surprisingly rational and coherent attack on capitalism's most important institution."

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Corporation [Mar 2006]

See also: documentary film - 2003

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