I always get people telling me, “Capitalism just means free trade.”
No it doesn’t, that’s just some stupid nonsense libertarian types started saying a few years ago. Capitalism means what the Marxists who coined and popularized the term have been saying it means since the 1800s: the owners of the means of production exploiting workers by paying them a fraction of the wealth they generate. Capitalism is a system which financially coerces those who have nothing to sell but their labor to sell it to the owners of the means of production, necessarily at a price that is far below the amount of value they generate and with no influence over the industries they are powering with their work. It is inherently exploitative, and leads to corporations with no human interest pursuing profit at all cost even at the expense of the ecosystem we all depend on for survival.
Even those who support capitalism understand this distinction if they’ve done a tiny bit of research outside their partisan echo chambers. You don’t get to just change someone else’s definition of words to defend your belief system from their criticisms; that’s not a thing.
By distorting this definition, supporters of capitalism can object to its critics with “This isn’t real capitalism, because trade and finance are regulated by corrupt governments.” No it’s capitalism. Real capitalism is not just entirely compatible with the corruption of capitalist governments but an unavoidable component of it. Saying “It’s not capitalism that’s the problem, it’s crony capitalism” or “It’s not capitalism that’s the problem, it’s corporatism” is the same as saying “It’s not my chain smoking that’s
— source caitlinjohnstone.com | Caitlin Johnstone | Oct 26, 2021