Horwitz on the name "Capitalism"

Steven Horwitz offers up two great pieces on whether or not the name "Capitalism" is worth keeping.

Part 1 in "The Freeman"

Money Quote: "There are at least three reasons that the terms "capitalism" and "socialism" are problematic: 1) "Capitalism" was coined by its opponents; 2) Both terms are etymologically loaded in a way that biases them against capitalism; and 3) Because no existing economic system matches either one consistently, the meaning of both has been polluted by being connected with real-world systems that have elements which are not necessarily features of the ideal. This is particularly true of capitalism."

Part 2 in "The Freeman"

Money Quote: "For example, we could substitute "markets" and "planning" for "capitalism" and "socialism." If one believes that the fundamental institutional arrangement for capitalism is the market and for socialism some form of government planning, then this pair of words might more accurately describe each system's institutional setting. These two terms are purely descriptive and don't imply a preference. Normative judgment would require additional arguments."

I learned in Part 1 that Marx is the one who popularized the term "Capitalism." That should be reason enough to drop it like a bad habit.


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