The Capitalism Portal
Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
Economists, political economists, sociologists and historians have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free market capitalism, welfare capitalism and state capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership, obstacles to free competition and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. The extent to which different markets are free as well as the rules defining private property are matters of politics and policy. Most existing capitalist economies are mixed economies, which combine elements of free markets with state intervention and in some cases economic planning.
Market economies have existed under many forms of government and in many different times, places and cultures. Modern capitalist societies—marked by a universalization of money-based social relations, a consistently large and system-wide class of workers who must work for wages, and a capitalist class which owns the means of production—developed in Western Europe in a process that led to the Industrial Revolution. Capitalist systems with varying degrees of direct government intervention have since become dominant in the Western world and continue to spread. Over time, capitalist countries have experienced consistent economic growth and an increase in the standard of living.
Critics of capitalism argue that it establishes power in the hands of a minority capitalist class that exists through the exploitation of the majority working class and their labor; prioritizes profit over social good, natural resources and the environment; and is an engine of inequality, corruption and economic instabilities. Supporters argue that it provides better products and innovation through competition, creates strong economic growth, and yields productivity and prosperity that greatly benefits society as well as being the most efficient system known for allocation of resources.
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|Norwich Market (also known as Norwich Provision Market) is an outdoor market consisting of around 200 stalls in central Norwich, England. Founded in the latter part of the 11th century to supply Norman merchants and settlers moving to the area following the Norman conquest of England, it replaced an earlier market a short distance away. It has been in operation on the present site for over 900 years. |
By the 14th century, Norwich was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in England, and Norwich Market was a major trading hub. Control of, and income from, the market was ceded by the monarchy to the city of Norwich in 1341, from which time it provided a significant source of income for the local council. Freed from royal control, the market was reorganised to benefit the city as much as possible. Norwich and the surrounding region were devastated by plague and famine in the latter half of the 14th century, with the population falling by over 50%. Following the plague years, Norwich came under the control of local merchants and the economy was rebuilt. In the early 15th century, a Guildhall was built next to the market to serve as a centre for local government and law enforcement. The largest surviving mediaeval civic building in Britain outside London, it remained the seat of local government until 1938 and in use as a law court until 1985.
|Karl Marx (/mɑrks/; German pronunciation: [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈmaɐ̯ks]; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic thought. He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894). |
Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Trier in the Prussian Rhineland, Marx studied at the Universities of Bonn and Berlin where he became interested in the philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians. After his studies he wrote for Rheinische Zeitung, a radical newspaper in Cologne, and began to work out the theory of the materialist conception of history. He moved to Paris in 1843, where he began writing for other radical newspapers and met Friedrich Engels, who would become his lifelong friend and collaborator.
Marx's theories about society, economics and politics—the collective understanding of which is known as Marxism—hold that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production. States, Marx believed, were run on behalf of the ruling class and in their interest while representing it as the common interest of all; and he predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism. He argued that class antagonisms under capitalism between the bourgeoisie and proletariat would eventuate in the working class' conquest of political power and eventually establish a classless society, communism, a society governed by a free association of producers. Marx actively fought for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organized revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic change.
|“ ||The hope that poverty and ignorance may gradually be extinguished, derives indeed much support from the steady progress of the working classes during the nineteenth century. The steam-engine has relieved them of much exhausting and degrading toil; wages have risen; education has been improved and become more general; the railway and the printing-press have enabled members of the same trade in different parts of the country to communicate easily with one another, and to undertake and carry out broad and far-seeing lines of policy; while the growing demand for intelligent work has caused the artisan classes to increase so rapidly that they now outnumber those whose labour is entirely unskilled. A great part of the artisans have ceased to belong to the "lower classes" in the sense in which the term was originally used; and some of them already lead a more refined and noble life than did the majority of the upper classes even a century ago. |
This progress has done more than anything else to give practical interest to the question whether it is really impossible that all should start in the world with a fair chance of leading a cultured life, free from the pains of poverty and the stagnating influences of excessive mechanical toil; and this question is being pressed to the front by the growing earnestness of the age.
| ||— Alfred Marshall (1842 – 1924)|
Principles of Economics , 1890
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