Heroes and Villains: The Word “Capitalism” Clarified in Seven Short Paragraphs

(Revision One, copyleft 3-26-2016 by Peter Voluntaryist Walker)

The word “capitalism” means so many different things to so many different people that to say it without specifying which version is the logical equivalent of saying “Those bad guys are really bad” for some and “Those good guys are really good” for others. This is because capitalism is a social institution the same way the family is: Both institutions go back to when our ancestors were covered with fur and first bartered food for sex as do our close relatives the bonobos. There are voluntary and involuntary versions of capitalism just as there are for marriage, so one way to make sense of the word is to say “voluntary capitalism” (called by some “free market”) or “involuntary capitalism” (called by some “crony capitalism”, where justice is just-us; for instance corporatism):

– An example of voluntary-versus-involuntary is the marriage contract. As it presently exists in most of the first-world, it’s voluntary capitalism because it’s a voluntary economic contract. Within most reasonably functioning marriages and especially with children, the internal workings are a form of socialism or communism; but the marriage contract between the partners/parents (two or more, after all I am anarchistic) remains voluntary capitalism. If they get divorced through the social institution of The State, it often changes from free market capitalism to crony capitalism because representatives of The State get at the least a cut of the loot.

– Add “ism” to the end of a root word, and you’re in sophist heaven because unspecified isms are so spinnable. Despite the sophist slants, “capital” simply means a resource that can be invested into the future; logically it ranges from the small to large:

— Small: Seemingly insignificant instances of delayed gratification that when made habitual greatly determine who does and doesn’t become economically successful.

— Mid-Range: An economically modest but cooperative extended family intelligently investing in their next generation.

— Large: Multi-million dollar speculation in commodities such as land or pseudo-legal crime such as buying politicians.


Voluntary capitalism isn’t limited to economic exchanges seen as roughly commensurate advantageous (like if I’m willing to pay $50 for a cell phone and the store is willing to sell it for $50) to those involved. Voluntary capitalism (VC) can be I give the cell phone to a friend for free and tell him to “pass it forward” — which I know he may never do. VC can be the 100% no charge (to the best of my knowledge) Ubuntu Linux running on my computer as I write this competing with Microsoft, Apple, and others.

– VC simply means there’s capital involved and it’s being used in a voluntary way.

– Persons disagreeing with the above, and I welcome them when they do so logically rather than through sophism or other forms of escalation, often argue nothing is voluntary because we live in a society where you either play by the rules or starve, and that’s coercion. I agree about human society in general because as a species we’re exiting out of the superstitious phase of our evolution, and our nonsuperstitious phase is just a speck on our timeline; but discussions such as this are a part of the progress and as with my above marriage example, there are pockets of voluntary actions/organizations in society.
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