I’m just going to start calling it “democratic capitalism.”
Welcome to the post-meaning era. I don’t have an identity. You don’t have an identity. Our jobs are virtual. Our friends our virtual. We’re not sure if movie theaters still exist. Nothing is real. Meaning doesn’t matter. And if there’s one thing the whole GameStop situation proved, it’s that the economy is just plain made up.
So my question is: if we can make up the economy, why can’t we just make up definitions of economic structures too?
As a socialist, I have noticed that conversations with capitalists about the benefits and drawbacks of capitalism never seem to get anywhere useful. As soon as one starts criticizing “capitalism,” let alone mentioning the word “socialism,” tempers instantly flare, like waving a red (hammer and sickle) flag in front of a (Wall Street) bull.
I can say with complete certainty that I’ve encountered far more people who tell me that capitalism is good than can define what capitalism is. I don’t just mean slightly more people; I mean a difference in orders of magnitude. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the only people I’ve ever met beyond economics professors who can actually give capitalism a correct, comprehensive definition are anticapitalists. When asked about the virtues of capitalism, lovers of capitalism almost invariably just talk about the virtues of the market. More often than that, the just say that socialism is worse. But — Venezuela!
To clear things up very quickly, these are the defining features of capitalism: 1) Property is held privately. 2) The owners of an enterprise buy labor from workers in exchange for wages. 3) Enterprises exist to make a profit. 4) Enterprises compete with one another for consumers’ business. 5) Consumers can choose which enterprise to buy from.
On the other hand, socialism is an economic system in which enterprises are owned socially and managed democratically by their owners. Government ownership is one possible form of social ownership. Cooperative, collective and community ownership are other forms. I will also say here that I believe government ownership, when that government is anything other than a direct democracy, cannot be real socialism because it does…