How capitalism isn’t free

When challenged that it is unjust capitalism will typically point to the extent to which in capitalist countries the people enjoy “free speech”. Capitalism can also point to the fact that the people can form political parties at will. And people can vote for them to be elected to a national assembly. This is a stumbling block for those who suspect that this is a con. Evidently the people are not free. Owning no land or capital, the majority have to work for someone else who extracts a portion of the value they create as his profit. As a result, even in successful, advanced, capitalist economies there are significant numbers of people barely managing to get by. But you can’t complain it seems. There are free elections in which anyone can stand, and free speech. If there was anything wrong with the system there is the mechanism to change it.

Why is this not true? Anyone seriously wanting to criticise global capitalism has to be able to answer this challenge. The following is just an outline sketch of where I think the answer lies.

The way capitalism works is pretty straightforward. You deprive the masses of any land / resources / property / capital and then you invite them to work for you. They have to since you own the land / capital on which they have to work. Under capitalism then you can choose your master. This is called freedom. (Obviously lucky or strong individuals can break away. Being self-employed to some extent also represents a break-away. So being enslaved in this way is not an inevitable fact at all

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer