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The Nature of Capitalism: The Debate

From a Socialist, Capitalist, and Anarchist perspective.

That's the title of this debate I will participate in held at a local community college.. I'll be taking the Capitalist perspective. I'm really an Anarcho-capitalist, but the people representing the Anarchist perspective will be Anarcho-left....

Anyways I'm pretty comfortable with what I'm going to say and I want to educate the crowd as much as I can while keeping it simple... Here is the outline I have so far:

1. Capitalism vs socialism defined
private ownership vs state ownership

2. The concept of the state/government
Discuss the idea that the government does not perform magic and does not create something out of nothing; it only redistributes wealth. The value that free people create is used to enable the very existence of government.

3. The ethical argument: Capitalism enables the natural mechanism of voluntary exchange. Socialism requires stealing.

(I might throw in this quote from Rand I came across on capitalism.org: The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve “the common good.” It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.)

4. What is money? How does money work today?
(Discuss fractional reserve fiat-based central banking from the Austrian perspective and how our current system is contrary to free-market capitalism)

5. The practical argument: Socialism encourages a race toward mediocrity.

6. Historical accounts of true free market capitalism/statelessness...
-a thousand years in ancient Celtic Ireland: Rothbard wrote about this..
-early years after the American Revolution...
-modern examples??: New Zealand years ago, Hong Kong, Switzerland??

7. Historical examples of socialism/communism/Marxism:
Soviet Union - Stalin
China - Mao

Anyways... if any of you guys have resources or historical examples for points 6 and 7 that would help out... the more the better!.. Also for point 5 I'm looking for examples of how socialism encourages a race toward mediocrity (I think I remember a story of how a teacher gave everyone equal grades regardless of performance and after people realized this everyone got poor grades because no one had the incentive to study...... I thought that was good one..) Any thoughts or comments are welcome... Thanks!

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the classroom/grades example is a good one...

though if you'd like a more historical story, I've always used the one of how the pilgrims came to the country, and everybody had to put whatever crops they grew into the public 'kitty', and then it was distributed 'fairly'. Well, of course, most of the pilgrims had reasons why they didn't need to or couldn't work, and the burden grew too heavy on the ones who did. The mortality rate grew until they were in danger of complete elimination, when they changed the rules so that each got to keep the fruits of his labor and decide what to do with it. Consequently, the settlements flourished.

Don't know how accurate my rendition is, if true at all, but it is certainly believable and analogous.

Good luck, tell a few jokes, and most importantly, imagine them naked.
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner
We can't pay the cost
'Cause there's a monster on the loose

'Cause there's a monster on the loose

That's a good one...

Here is a link I found as a reference:

I'm terrible with jokes... trying to get better at public speaking... imagining people naked? I heard that one before... actually I think that could be pleasantly distracting or unpleasantly distracting... either way I might have to pass....


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Unless you go to a private college

they are coproratists (big gov't welfarist) themselves, hahahaha.

Good luck winning -- don't get upset if logic fails.

You will lose if they can show that you are "heartless" -- even if you make all the logical points in the world.

Cut their legs out by reminding the audience, a head of time, we've always had gov't invovled with our purchasing power and with health care.

As welfarism goes up -- purchasing power goes down -- lobbying goes up -- purchasing power goes down -- regulation (protectionism) goes up -- choices (variety) goes down.

Keep your argument simple as you have and address the hot button issues: healthcare, internet freedom, and the enviroment first -- then show it's relationship too Fiat Credit / Printing and Subsidization.

The boys will resonate with free-porn, I mean free-internet and the girls will coo at you over better healthcare and enviroment.


yes I do expect that....

I see your 'heartless' point so I think the idea that socialism requires stealing will address those sentiments... I agree also about reminding people we do not have true free markets in much of anything right now.. ie healthcare ..

I might also discuss how true free market capitalism enables free choice, the pursuit of happiness and peace... from within and without.......

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heartless and greedy

You will lose if they can show that you are "heartless" -- even if you make all the logical points in the world.

Here's my try at a logical point:

greed + democracy = people voting to steal stuff for themselves - such as corporatism and welfare.

greed + capitalism = in order to obtain wealth you have to trade a good or service that you produced. Therefore the more greedy you are, the more you have to give others what they want or need in order to increase your wealth.

Interesting Debate.

For me it boils down to the left and to the right, capitalism and communism, and the centralization of wealth and power into the hands of a few. Now on the one hand we can have anarcho-capitalism or corporate fascism and on the other we can have National Socialism (communism) or anarcho-communism. We all know what happens with fascism and Nazism and frankly (in my opinion) what we have today is a combination of both.

Anarcho-capitalism = individualism, contracts, "capital", free association and free markets.
Anarcho-Communism = collectivism, citizen initiatives, "bread", free association and planned markets.

Both are some what Utopian in nature with the idea of achieving a high standard of living for all who will work. Neither of which forces you to do so however it is a fundamental law, per say, no work no eat.

In capitalism it's individual and some may prosper while others may not, However It is hoped that all who work will prosper (at various levels), with the idea of order out of chaos. "all will have bread" Rothbard

Communism is collective and that the people will all prosper or they will all starve, with the hope that all will work towards prosperity with planning in stead of the idea of order out chaos. "all will have bread" Kropotkin

Point is neither system has been tried, at least not for very long. Some one, some group always comes along and stomps them out. So who knows? Personally I like the idea of everyone working together for the common good and with our technology, I believe we could indeed achieve a high standard of living for all. Utopia for me: an anarcho-democratic-technocracy. (without rulers-citizen initiative-merit) Oh well.

One thing is for sure though what we got going on today has to go. Some how some way. So whether we restore this republic or institute something new all I want is liberty mixed with a lot of love!

Anyway just my thoughts and views good luck with the debate!


I agree that's a good perspective you have and I share similar sentiments... I'm more an Anarcho-capitalist/propertarian/voluntarist.. you can always help change the culture of humanity to give, help, and love more.. and maybe there should just be more of that....as long it's voluntary...

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Here it is...

Here is the teacher example you're referring to.

Also, be ready to explain and demonstrate that we don't have a free market and that we don't have pure capitalism. Instead, we have corporatism -- where government legalizes certain initations of force or threats of force on behalf of corporations.

I like to define capitalism as private property + voluntary interactions and trade. When you have coercion or violations of property rights, you don't have capitalism.

From an article on Adam Smith:
Charity, while a virtuous act, cannot alone provide the essentials for living. Self-interest is the mechanism that can remedy this shortcoming. Said Smith: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

Good one.. thanks..

On the Adam Smith quote and the teacher example..

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Capitalism IS Anarchy

Not sure if it will help but when speaking with anarchists (or those who believe they are and whom are usually anti-capitalist from my experience) I like to draw the parallel between anarchy and capitalism. In reality, capitalism is anarchy in the economy. Order through chaos. Everyone purchases whatever they want individually and through that chaos stems order (the invisible hand). Consequently, the most perfect system of commerce is no real system at all. Socialism or communism is a system that centrally manages an economy (and subsequently the people) which runs counter to their beliefs. I find that while many proclaimed anarchists support communism in some degree (again, from my experience with them) this argument often makes them stare blankly at me for a moment and rethink their stance.

Agreed! Good luck convincing most people though.

The inevitable Microsoft or Wal-mart army excuses as to why WE simply must have a government to control these evil corporations always seem to crop up. And in every case where I've seen this, the person arguing fails to make note of the fact that corporations are created by government, granted as measures of protection for those controlling those corporations to protect them from personal liability.

Anyway, I agree with your statement. True capitalism is market anarchy.

The One Aspect of Capitalism

that I've never been able to resolve is the idea of trans-generational wealth.

Let's say "Grandpa" was a very smart man. Grandpa marshalled his resources, rallied his intellect and created some product or service that the market couldn't get enough of. The market bought millions of Grandpa's product and consequently, he rightfully became a go-zillionaire. Grandpa took the well-earned profit/reward from this successful venture and bought ten thousand acres of land and had a billion dollars in the bank.

Then Grandpa died.

Now all of that land and all of that money (Grandpa's capital) is the property of "Junior". Junior's an idiot and a lay-about. But now, he's a very rich idiot and lay-about. He's the one now in control over a vast percentage of the available capital resources. He didn't earn this money, but he'll hand it down to his kids and it'll get handed-down to his kid's kids- again, none of whom have earned a penny yet enjoy tremendous advantage over the rest of society. Some who may be infinitely more capable will be denied opportunity because they didn't have access to capital (because it's tied-up in the hands of people who are automatically priveleged as the coincidence of their birth).

Much of western capitalism is the "echos of Monarcies", hundreds of years old. Money, power and control handed-down, unearned through generation after generation. The "Bill Gates" of the world are anomolies- most wealth is structural and high ground is hard to overcome.

I agree with what was written below in response...

Capital is always at risk....so the grandchildren will either increase it or lose it and without the talents of the grandfather they will more likely lose it or spend all the wealth......

It is interesting to think about things like this... land rights and the idea of land monopolies is also interesting and I'm open to the idea of homesteading... However I'm not sure it's necessary if people have alloidal titles.... and non-income producing vacant land trends toward zero..... I think it is government ownership of land that make artificial prices for land...(Henry George??).. anyways I think we have something called fee-simple land titles right now.. the state government ultimately has alloidal title though I believe...and I don't know the details of how county property taxes work based on these property titles without doing more research...

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trans-generation wealth

Why would the grandkids have an advantage over the rest of society? The rest of society will always have the same opportunity to use their intellect and create a useful product or service, just like Grandpa did.

Grandpa earned the land and he's entitled to do what he wants. If he doesn't want to put it to "better" use, that's his business. He is entitled to give his rightfully earned property as a gift to anyone he wishes.

If trans-generational wealth prevents a higher standard of living, then here lies an opportunity for someone to persuade the grandkids to use the land differently, in return for something they want that cannot be obtained by money alone, such as a scarce resource which the grandkids may desire.

reedr3v's picture

At this point it looks like most of the

obscenely super-rich got that way through government special favors, including corporations, or banking special priviledges; and of course the bailouts of today funneling even more wealth to the elite.
There are a few old landed wealth families, but a lot of them, due to dullard heirs, have dissipated. It may take generations to fritter away the really big inheritances, but so what?
The lean young entrepreneurs won't be held back if the government's boots aren't on their necks.

Your'e outline is great!

Capitalism is a word is often misused. I would immediately explain this and define a Bastiat-like free market. You may want to explain that our current crisis is not a result of the free market.

Many people hear capitalism and think corporatism. This must be clarified.

I like to take the Bastiat approach and focus on the moral reasoning behind being able to keep the fruits of your own labor without being forced at gunpoint to pay for someone elses health insurance.

Also, Bastiat's legal plunder is always good to point out. In this I mean the opportunities Government always provides for special interest groups.

3. Government stealing (or killing as in Iraq) for the benefit of their friends is very immoral.
4. Fiat money is more legal plunder, gov't and friends stealing.
5. And is contrary to our instinct.
6. ?
7. Cuba

How about...

...Thou shalt not steal (capitalism)


....Thou shalt steal a little (socialism)


....Thou shalt steal all (communism)

Remember this:

Capitalism is still a theory.

It has never been practiced.

One must have a free market currency before true, free Capitalism is practiced.

Don't let them get away with citing examples where Capitalism has failed.

It has never failed and it has never succeeded to date.


Ayn Rand told Alan Greenspan

"You don't know what capitalism is."

She was correct, because the war on drugs provides the capital to establish a prison state. Here's what Greensap says


Now here is another look;


I don't believe you are being fair to yourself

1. I would not pit capitalism against socialism. I would start with Mises Vs Keynes economics. Mises is money backed with something tangible, like gold. Keynes is fiat money that assumes debt, and this is the system the central bank has chosen for America, which is why we have credit cards, and debit accounts when withdrawing cash.

2. You mean, what is a republic with a federal government, claiming to represent "private" interests through a democractic process, opposed to a communist republic or monarchial empire, or UN created non states?

3. I like #3 and suggest this Rand quote

The essence of capitalism’s foreign policy is free trade—i.e., the abolition of trade barriers, of protective tariffs, of special privileges—the opening of the world’s trade routes to free international exchange and competition among the private citizens of all countries dealing directly with one another.

“The Roots of War,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 39

I believe it's important to point out that PRIVATE to Ayn Rand is personal, citizen, individual, not corporation. A corporation is a collective and it is called private, but it is not private for the individual. This is why Ayn Rand defines Lassize faire capitalism. not corporate capitalism, which is communism or fascism. Ron Paul quotes Ronald Reagan saying, "we are all Keynesians now". Translation, we are all communists/fascist now. Democrat party communist, GOP fascist.. same party Keynes We need a Mises Party

4. looks good to me

6. The free market exists, they're illegal. Illegal drugs, arms on the BLACK MARKET is capitalism today. There are no taxes, regulations, license, permits, just risk of getting busted for trading without paying the government. Ending the war on drugs is beginning a capitalist society.

7. Marxism/socialism is the same thing.. communism is defining what kind of marxism socialism, so communism, fascism are both corporate governments, IOWs governments run by corporations, not individuals. The Peoples Republic of Communist China just celebrated the Communist party's 60th anniversary.


I'm not sure why this keeps being repeated, but the phrase, "We are all Keynesians now," is not from Reagan but Milton Friedman and it's also a misquote. Friedman's original quote was, "In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian." Friedman's quote seems to imply that while we are all living under policies which employ Keynesian economics, Keynesianism has actually been thoroughly and empirically discredited scientifically through the failure of said policies.

The president this quote has been associated with is Nixon, who actually said, "I am now a Keynesian in economics." Well, we see how well that worked for him.

I thank you for the correction

The reason I use that quote, dispote wrongly giving credit to RP for the quote, is that I heard it first, from RP who was quoting... Friedman? Fine, the point is Keynes is in control and not Mises, so capitalism is being controlled.

I wonder, would Keynes economic survive without wars or war on drugs? I don't believe it would.


The three speakers have 12 minutes each and then it's Q&A...

I don't think I need to use all the time alloted.... just hope to communicate some of the concepts of liberty effectively...

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Use ALL the time, wisely

"To say nothing is also a lie" Miquel de Unamuno