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:
“Fact is Our Lord knew all about the power of money: He gave capitalism a tiny niche in His scheme of things, He gave it a chance, He even provided a first instalment of funds. Can you beat that? Its so magnificent. God despises nothing. After all, if the deal had come off, Judas would probably have endowed sanatoriums, hospitals, public libraries or laboratories.”
—Georges Bernanos (18881948)
“Im afraid for all those wholl have the bread snatched from their mouths by these machines.... What business has science and capitalism got, bringing all these new inventions into the works, before society has produced a generation educated up to using them!”
—Henrik Ibsen (18281906)
“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)