Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit. Other elements central to capitalism include competitive markets and capital accumulation. There are multiple variants of capitalism, including laissez-faire, welfare capitalism and state capitalism. Capitalism is considered to have been applied in a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics, and culture. There is general agreement that capitalism became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. Competitive markets may also be found in market-based alternatives to capitalism such as market socialism and co-operative economics.
Economists, political economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Economists usually emphasize the degree to which government does not have control over markets (laissez faire), as well as the importance of property rights. Most political economists emphasize private property as well, in addition to power relations, wage labor, class, and the uniqueness of capitalism as a historical formation. The extent to which different markets are free, as well as the rules defining private property, is a matter of politics and policy. Many states have what are termed mixed economies, referring to the varying degree of planned and market-driven elements in a state's economic system. A number of political ideologies have emerged in support of various types of capitalism, the most prominent being economic liberalism.
The term capitalism gradually spread throughout the Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries largely through the writings of Karl Marx.
Famous quotes containing the word capitalism:
“Capitalism is an art form, an Apollonian fabrication to rival nature. It is hypocritical for feminists and intellectuals to enjoy the pleasures and conveniences of capitalism while sneering at it.... Everyone born into capitalism has incurred a debt to it. Give Caesar his due.”
—Camille Paglia (b. 1947)
“The man who is admired for the ingenuity of his larceny is almost always rediscovering some earlier form of fraud. The basic forms are all known, have all been practicised. The manners of capitalism improve. The morals may not.”
—John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908)
“The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing the gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of ones own destruction, has become a biological need.”
—Herbert Marcuse (18981979)