Top ten arguments against capitalism and how one can answer them
TOP TEN ARGUMENTS AGAINST
CAPITALISM AND HOW ONE CAN
Martin F. Johansen (PhD Student at UIO)
Goal of this talk
A 45 minutes talk cannot, and should not, convince
anybody on such a complicated topic
Those who are interested can find more complete
arguments in the books that are listed on the last slide
The full understanding of the theoretical and practical
case for capitalism requires years of study
Those who advocate the welfare state should adopt the
same standard! There is no reason to think that it is
easier to understand the welfare state than to
An argument is put forth in a discussion
A discussion involves two (or more) people who want to
identify a truth
If two people come to an agreement, and if they are
right, they are both winners: one has learned that he
was wrong, the other has convinced the other.
The world is round.
No, the world is flat.
But often, identifying truth is not the goal.
Sometimes, it is possible to obtain agreement by using
Coming to an agreement using a fallacy has two losers.
One still believes a falsehood, the other was convinced
of something without sufficient reasons.
Common logical fallacies are “straw man”, “argument
from popularity”, “argument from authority”The world is round.
No, the world is flat.
Straw man example
“The US has a worse health care system than Norway;
therefore, capitalism would give us a worse health care
The best way to counter a straw man is to identify what
something really is.
In capitalism there are no public hospitals, and this is not the
case in the US
Therefore, the US’s political system is NOT capitalism;
therefore the conclusion is wrong.
What is capitalism
All property is privately owned
The government is there to protect individual rights
To ban initiation of force in human relationships
Three primary parts
The police, to protect against domestic use of force
The military, to protect against foreign use of force
The courts, to resolve disputes among men without using
Complete equality before the law
What is capitalism
A complete separation between religion and state and
economy and state
Freedom of speech
A night watchman state and not a nanny state
A night watchman is someone you call if there is a problem
A nanny is someone who constantly watches and interferes
with all your actions
What is capitalism
A constitutional republic
Constitution: A definition of what the government can and
The people elect the president and the congress
The congress can make laws
The president can ensure that the laws are enforced
The supreme courts decide if a law is constitutional
Separation of powers – invented by Montesquieu
The only power individuals can have is economic power
Political power is reserved for the government and thus
limited by the constitution
What is capitalism
Hospitals and schools are private
The government does not seize money in order to give
to the people
The money you make, you keep
Money will be issued by private banks – no central bank
Hang up a name-sign on your door and you have
started a company
If you are in need, you ask for help from others
Individuals will take up insurance to protect against
Arguments against capitalism
the top ten arguments
no particular order
you will probably have heard them before
if your favorite one is not here, we can take it in the
Under capitalism, employers will exploit their workers
by giving them low wages, long hours and bad working
To exploit is to force, force is not allowed between people in
a capitalist system, it is the primary role of government to
protect against the use of force!
Workers can simply change jobs
Good pay, normal hours and good working condition will
attract the best workers
“Beggars are not choosers” – a motivation for you to take
your education seriously
Under capitalism, the gap between the rich and the
poor will increase.
Is it better if the poor has $1 and the rich $10 than if the
poor has $10.000 and the rich $500.000? Clearly not.
This is not a problem: economic difference is not an
indication of quality of life.
One person’s wealth does not affect another person’s.
The rich get rich by production, and not from stealing from the
Unsafe food and medicine
Under capitalism, we will get unsafe food and medicine
because greedy businessmen will try to make quick
profits without caring about the safety of their
customers and because there are no government
organization to certify food and medicine.
It is not profitable to poison or kill your customers.
If you misrepresent what you are selling, you will be sued.
Goodwill is worth a lot, greedy businessmen wants goodwill.
New businesses will have to build up trust over a long time.
The slightest mistake will cause the media to go berserk, and
they have to start a long process to rebuild their reputation.
Under capitalism, greedy businessmen will pollute
rivers, forests and the air we breath.
You will only be allowed to pollute your own property, and
that reduces its value, which is not greedy
all property is privately owned
stopping global warming requires voluntary cooperation
Under capitalism, companies that become monopolies
will be able to keep prices high and restrict competition
by lowering prices or taking over other companies.
A monopoly is a company with exclusive rights to operate in
a market – the government can only protect individual
rights, and not grant such right to any company.
Keep prices high by keeping prices low? Either they are high
One is free to deny being taken over.
If a company has 99% of the market, and the customers
only wants stuff from that company, then what is the
Under capitalism, people are free to discriminate
based on handicap, gender, viewpoints or skin color.
A consequence of the principle hat human relations are
People are responsible for their own actions and choices.
Since difference in gender and skin color does not matter, it
will not be profitable to act as if they do.
There is legitimate reasons to not hire an anarchist as a
watchman or a communist as a factory manager.
Under capitalism, some will be so poor that they cannot
go to school or get the healthcare they need.
This may also be problem in the welfare state. The welfare
state only guarantees these things as long as there is wealth
Making it easy to produce goods and services is the best
guarantee of making them widely available.
There will be charity available for those who simply cannot
Under capitalism, people cannot get the same offers if
they live on the country side than if they live in the city.
True, but that is their problem, and not the problem of those
who do not want it.
It is a feature and not a problem of capitalism that people
get only what they are willing to pay for.
Under capitalism, people will do stupid things such as
taking narcotics, gambling away their money and
medicate themselves wrongly, because there is no
restrictions on these things.
People do not stick a knife in their eye just because it is
Who are to decide what should be illegal?
In the welfare state, the very people who, assumedly, are so
stupid they cannot take care of themselves.
You are the best person to decide what is good for you.
Under capitalism, society will be unstable because
businessmen will do anything in search to satisfy their
own short sighted greed.
Swindling is illegal
The government does not have unlimited power
Changes are more predictable
One is free to trade with anyone one likes – do not trade
with people with a dishonest agenda.
Being short sighted gives you a bad reputation and low
Your ability to affect anything goes down.
Top ten arguments against capitalism
1. Labor exploitation
2. Economic difference
3. Unsafe food and medicine
7. The poor
8. The countryside
9. Irresponsible behavior
Capitalism: the unknown ideal
Frihet, likhet, brorskap:
Kapitalisme i teori og praksis
A treatise on political economy
Arguments against the welfare state
How do you explain to a person who has never done
anything wrong that he has to pay for the
irresponsibility of another person?
What can a person do if the government is forcing him
to act against his best judgment? (if he disagrees with
How can rewarding bad actions and punishing good
actions help promote good actions?
Which principle delimits the welfare state? (unless we
have this, the government will expand without limits)