C4SS Feed 44 presents “What Laissez Faire?” from the book Markets Not Capitalism, written by Sheldon Richman, read by Stephanie Murphy and edited by Nick Ford.
What, then, is this system called “capitalism”? It can’t be the free market because we have no free market. Today the hand of government is all over the economy — from money and banking to transportation to manufacturing to agriculture to insurance to basic research to world trade. If the meaning of a concept consists in how it is used (there’s no platonic form to be divined), “capitalism” can’t mean “the free market.” Rather it designates a system in which the means of production are de jure privately owned. Left open is the question of government intervention. Thus the phrases “free-market capitalism” and “laissez-faire capitalism” are typically not seen as redundant and the phrases “state capitalism” or “crony capitalism” are not seen as contradictions. If without controversy “capitalism” can take the qualifiers “free-market” and “state,” that tells us something.
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