The Instigator
Subutai
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Wocambs
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

Capitalism Is a Just Economic System

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Subutai
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/30/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,075 times Debate No: 44963
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (20)
Votes (3)

 

Subutai

Pro

Let's go with the challenge.

Full Resolution

Capitalism is a just economic system.

BoP is on pro.

Definitions

Capitalism: "A system of economics based on the private ownership of capital and production inputs, and on the production of goods and services for profit." (I'm going to specifically refer to Laissez Faire Capitalism as opposed to a mixed-economy; I'll cover that more in my opening argument.)[1]

Just: "Based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair." (This isn't the only definition I'm going to use; I'm also going to define this more in my opening argument.)[2]

Economic System: "An organized way in which a state or nation allocates its resources and apportions goods and services in the national community."[3]

Rules

1. The first round is for acceptance.
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
3. No overuse of semantics (this debate may warrant some semantics), and no trolling, or lawyering.
4. All arguments and sources must be visible inside this debate.
5. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument.

Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments (no new arguments)
Round 4: Defending your original arguments and conclusion (no new arguments)

Sources

[1]: http://www.investopedia.com...
[2]: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[3]: http://www.businessdictionary.com...
Wocambs

Con

I accept your challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
Subutai

Pro

I would like to thank Wocambs for accepting this debate.

Definitions

As I mentioned in the first round, I'm first going to go a little deeper into what I mean by capitalism and how fair should be defined.

Here is how Laissez Faire Capitalism is defined: "...[It] describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies. I post this mainly to caution my opponent when he draws conclusions from prior events, and not mixing up so-called crony capitalism with the capitalism I am arguing is just.[1]

I will also go deeper into how I think "just" should be defined. If you look back, I defined just loosely as, "Based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair." Another way to define it is, "Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions." Overall, I will be arguing that capitalism is morally right and fair, and also showing how capitalism is the best economic system because of certain characteristics of it.[2][3]

The Morality of Capitalism

One of the major virtues of capitalism over most other economic systems is the ability for individual choice and liberty to make one's own economic decisions instead of such being dictated by a government or even collectively. While collectivism may seem more cooperative than individualism, and thus more moral, collectivism, as preached by communists, is flawed in the understanding of cooperation. In fact, in a novel titled Flowers in the Mirror, we see that a business deal where both parties look out for each other reach consensus and a just deal while a business deal where both parties look out for the interests of each other never reach consensus. What is left is a society in chaos because no business deal can be reached "If things were to continue in that way, the Gentlemen [the good people in the story] would likely die out and be replaced by the Inconsiderate and Coarse. From the above point we can see that humans can only co-operate when they seek their own interests. That is the secure foundation on which humanity is able to strive for an ideal world. If humankind were to directly and exclusively seek the benefit of others, no ideals could be realized."[4]

Contrary to what my opponent might claim, capitalism does not function as some sort of anti-cooperative system where a kind of law of the jungle characterized by survival of the fittest prevails. Quite the contrary, in fact, because capitalism can be a benefit to all: "The wealth and technology that capitalism creates — e.g., the medical miracles that now routinely save previously "unfit" people — demonstrate that capitalism's benefits are not restricted to the fittest... That means that virtually all survive better, making capitalism dramatically anti-Darwinian." How exactly could a system that benefits everyone be a dog-eat-dog system?" While capitalism does spread benefits unequally, it benefits everyone, whereas most other systems result in a net cost to society.[5]

The Virtues of Capitalism

Capitalism has a number of benefits that make this cooperative and fair forces work. These forces help to make capitalism a just economic system. I've left out raw empirical evidence, but if my opponent requests some, I'll post some in one of the next two rounds.

I. Supply and Demand

If there's one thing people know about economics, it's supply and demand - as the supply increases, the price falls because (assuming the demand stays the same) the overall worth of the product is less; as the demand increases, the price rises because (assuming the supply stays the same) the overall worth of the product is more. Because businesses seek to maximize profit, they seek an equilibrium point of supply and demand. What all this means is that surpluses and shortages, which are very common in other types of economies, are not generally found in Capitalistic economies because of the laws of supply and demand.

"At this point, the allocation of goods is at its most efficient because the amount of goods being supplied is exactly the same as the amount of goods being demanded. Thus, everyone (individuals, firms, or countries) is satisfied with the current economic condition."[5]

II. Competition and Innovation

Capitalism, because of its inherently competitive nature, creates a sense of competition (i.e. for the most profit). What this means is that companies will produce the best products (to maximize sales) for the most efficiency (to minimize costs from inefficiency). "Competition in the marketplace is good for consumers and good for business, too. It benefits consumers by keeping prices low and the quality and choice of products and services high. It benefits businesses by promoting innovation's improvements to make products different and often, to make them better in ways that consumers want."[6]

Competition therefore leads to innovation, and it is innovation that has been the driving force behind the industrial revolution and subsequent rapid increase in technology. In other words, capitalism breeds innovation, which improves the lives of everyone. "Capitalism has made advances possible, not solely in providing life's necessities, but in science, technology, and knowledge of all types upon which human society depends. Freedom attracts innovators and explorers and gives life to their ideas. Freedom for people to act in their own self-interest is the mainspring for a diversity of ideas, innovations, and experiments that lead to the discovery of new products, services, and other means of production."[7]

In general, capitalism encourages efficient enterprise, which inevitably leads to a more wealthy society capable of expanding its economy, and ergo its wealth, even further.

III. Private Property

One of the many advances in human civilization has been the advent of private property. Private property allows for rights to be endowed upon people, where people can keep what they earn. In the words of Ludwig von Mises, "...[private property is the basis for] joint action and cooperation in which each participant sees the other partner's success as a means for the attainment of his own." This goes back to the laws of supply and demand mentioned earlier - whereas in other economic systems, shortages are common, capitalism's need for private property allows for one to satisfy needs and wants because of certain rights.[8]

"In enriching most those who are most productive, capitalism allows the survival of billions of people who would not otherwise have survived. In fact, capitalism gives everyone, particularly the weakest, whom it is accused of harming the best chance not just to survive but to thrive. One of many ways this is revealed is the vast increases in leisure that markets have made possible, while real incomes dramatically increased at the same time."[8]

Conclusion

Capitalism is an inherently moral system because of its reliance on cooperation and fair business deals, making it a just system. The three things I mentioned above show how this system does this. Because each individiual is capable of making his or her own decisions, everything works out in the end because every person's net benefit is maximized.

Sources

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
[3]: http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[4]: Llosa, Mario Vargas et al. The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won't Tell You. p. 43-46.
[5]: http://www.investopedia.com...
[6]: http://www.ftc.gov...
[7]: http://mises.org...
[8]: http://mises.org...
Wocambs

Con

Private Property

Private property is often considered a ‘natural right’, along with all of the others we take for granted.[1] Chomsky begs to differ:

“Property rights are not like other rights… If I have the right to free speech, it doesn't interfere with your right to free speech. But if I have property, that interferes with your right to have that property”.[2]

An individual’s right to private property is a right held against another individual. This may not invalidate it per se, but it does mean that it is a positive claim to authority, or domination, and all positive claims must be justified – a basis for most rights.

What kind of domination is that of private property? “Property, the dominion of a man’s needs, the denial of the right to satisfy his needs”.[3] The thought that you may not pick fruit from a tree to satisfy your hunger because that tree is my property is very strange, yet it also seems strange to say that it is a free-for-all. Since the debate is about establishing the defensibility of capitalism, I will argue only this: extreme intuitive disgust is no rational argument, even if it is near universally felt. Moral philosophy is concerned with what may be justified - not with justifying what we think must be the case. (I do not advocate a free-for-all, but it stands that desiring something only makes it right pro tanto)

The capitalist says: “Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property”[4]

Unfortunately:

1. This argument merely shifts the burden of proof to self-ownership
2. ‘Mixing of labour’ is vague

The idea that you can ‘own yourself’ is prima facie absurd in that it requires that you be both the dominator and the dominated; by ‘vague’ I mean the statement has no meaning other than a ‘common sense’ interpretation, which is hardly analytic.

Labour

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

To this I feel Kropotkin answers most adequately.

“If you enter a modern coal-mine you will see a man in charge of a huge machine that raises and lowers a cage… Should he waste three seconds at each touch of the lever,- the extraction, in our modern, perfected mines, would be reduced from twenty to fifty tons a day. Is it he who is the most necessary man in the mine? Or, is it perhaps the boy who signals to him from below to raise the age? Is it the miner at the bottom of the shaft, who risks his life very instant, and who will some day be killed by fire-damp? Or is it the engineer, who would lose the layer of coal, and would cause the miners to dig on rock by a simple mistake in his calculations? Or is it the mine owner who has put his capital into the mine, and who has perhaps, contrary to expert advice, asserted that excellent coal would be found there?”[5]

Kropotkin further explains the “absurdity” of it all. How can the miners claim that they alone are responsible for the coal they produce, when thousands before them contributed to the technology and expertise of the mining industry?[6] They live because others are willing to feed them for their coal, which is only in such great demand because of the steam engine. Forget preconceptions and it will become clear that every individual’s prosperity is dependent on the community in which he lives, and the past he has inherited – we all stand on the shoulders of giants.

Finally: “human society would not exist for more than two consecutive generations if everyone did not give infinitely more than that for which he is paid in coins, in “cheques”, or in civic rewards. The race would soon become extinct if mothers did not sacrifice their lives to take care of their children, if men did not give continually, without demanding an equivalent reward, if men did not give most precisely when they expect no reward”[7] Wage slavery a poor incentive – if every citizen worked only as much as he or she was compensated for, we would live in a terrible society indeed. Valuing what one’s labour produces is all the incentive required, quite evidently.

Capitalism and the Environment

“This is an anti-ecological society. It is an anti-ecological society because it forces the great majority of people to function in an anti-ecological way”.[8] Profit cares not for environmental crises, which is why some believe that only a catastrophe would be able to change our ways, because this would force capitalists to save themselves. While they are not immediately in danger, they will continue to profit from destroying the environment, and anyway, they won’t live forever. Human industry has the power to destroy this planet, indeed, it currently is destroying this planet, and so we cannot let individual profit be the driving force of the economy.

Further Considerations

It is said that capitalism is greatly efficient at enriching society. I disagree, for both economic and moral reasons:

1. Advertising: the capitalist tells you that you need to buy something, and then sells it to you. People are pressured into buying cosmetics and ‘status symbols’, which in turn means that large industries are created to satisfy artificially high levels of materialism, which, incidentally, can cause incredible damage to someone’s self esteem. The consumer, when he has his needs dictated to him, becomes merely a tool for the enrichment of the capitalist; the capitalist, by dictating needs, can create useless, perhaps even harmful, products, in order to profit. It is snake oil chicanery on a grand scale, and an absurd amount of labour is invested in sustaining it.

2. “Which works better, competition or cooperation? The answer, without equivocation, is cooperation”.[9] “Results indicate that (a) cooperation is considerably more effective than interpersonal competition and individualistic efforts, (b) cooperation with intergroup competition is also superior to interpersonal competition and individualistic efforts, and (c) there is no significant difference between interpersonal competitive and individualistic efforts”.[10] Pharmaceutical research illustrates the terrible damage caused by competition and ‘intellectual property’: organisations waste both time and money pursuing the same routes only to find failure, because they do not share what they learn. “It’s absolute madness”, says Dr. Bountra, “All these organisations are working in parallel on the same disease, the same target, and one by one these assets fail”.[11]

3. “The most rapid growth of capital, however much it may improve the material life of the worker, does not abolish the antagonism between his interests and the interests of the capitalist”[12] If a worker increases his productivity, the capitalist may decide to reward him accordingly, if he so chooses. However, rewarding him less than the increase in productivity nets him greater profit, and not rewarding him at all even greater. Considering that the ‘income of the top 0.01% of earners has increased at a 6% annual rate since 1979 (compared with a 1% increase for the bottom 90%)’ while “Output per hour worked is up 94% since 1979”, the capitalist pursues what his economic system dictates: profit is God.[13]

To close:
Examine many of the arguments for capitalism – it is essential to productivity, the people will not work, some are superior to others – and you will find the same was said of slavery, for they are both based on the same principle: human beings exist for profit.


[1] S. Adams, The Rights of the Colonists
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] E. Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, p.59
[4] J. Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, Chapter V
[5] P. Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, p.152
[6] Ibid. p.153
[7] Ibid. p.154
[8] M. Bookchin - http://tinyurl.com...
[9] Dr. Buffington - http://tinyurl.com...
[10] http://psycnet.apa.org...
[11] http://tinyurl.com...
[12] K. Marx, Wage Labour and Capital
[13] http://tinyurl.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
Subutai

Pro

I would like to thank Wocambs for presenting his arguments. This round will mainly be for rebuttals, but due to the nature of my opponent's argument, a short defense of my original arguments is necessary.

I. Private Property

My opponent's sole argument against private property is that it is a positive right, meaning that it is held against another individual. I could argue the merits of individualism, but there's a different, much shorter track that I will take. I have already argued how private property encourages cooperation, and now, I will argue that private property is the starting point for other moral conduct and social service.

"When effectively protected, it secures for human individuals a sphere of personal jurisdiction, the right to acquire and hold the props, as it where, with which to order one’s life. Moral virtues such as generosity, kindness, courage, moderation, prudence and the rest are all imperatives the practice of which engage one with the natural world. If one is not in charge of some of that world, at least oneself, one cannot conduct oneself virtuously." Private property allows for moral conduct because it allows a base for such conduct to occur. Without private property, things like generosity would be nearly impossible because it would be collectivized, and therefore much harder to do. "In other words, private property rights are the social precondition of the possibility of a personally guided moral life."[1][2]

But private property is even more important than that. While private property disallows other people to own and produce on that property, individualistic production better benefits society because they are better able to serve the needs of the public. But also, private property forces people to better serve the needs of the public: "In the market society, the proprietors of capital and land can enjoy their property only by employing it for the satisfaction of other people's wants. They must serve the consumers in order to have any advantage from what is their own. The very fact that they own means of production forces them to submit to the wishes of the public."[3]

What all this means is that private property is the first step in establishing cooperation (mentioned in the last round), and thus good moral conduct and just, efficient social service. In such, it is better off that others are denied such. If my opponent has objections to private property and cooperation, I will defend that point in the next round.

II. Labor

Capitalism is very dependent on demand, but I have already argued that that was a good thing. There is always going to be demand for a variety of products, no matter the time, and this is what drives the capitalist system to result in individual and general prosperity. In a capitalist business, no one effectively owns, fully controls, or determines every part of the business. Each employee is important because whatever job he or she is doing is important. A rudimentary analogy would be a deck of cards - all of them contribute to the final structure, and if one is taken out, it all crumbles down. There is always enough demand (in the true Capitalistic society) to match the demands of others, and this is where businesses come in - profiting off demand to give to employees to satisfy their own demands, ad infinitum throughout the whole economy. I think this addresses my opponent's first concern.

The wonderful thing about a capitalist society over, say, a socialist one is that there is a great ability for income mobility. "...60% of the bottom 20% still move up into higher income groups because of income mobility. Interestingly, 40% move down from the top 20%." This importance on income mobility allows people to control their own destiny.[4]

Further, "Being among the poorest 10% in the least-free countries means an average annual income of $910 per year, while being among the poorest 10% in the most-free market economies means an average annual income of $8,474. For those who are poor, it seems far better to be poor in Switzerland than in Syria." Everybody, even the poor, benefit from capitalism. Capitalism also reduces the work loads off of people in time. Every new generation puts in a smaller amount of work for greater production.[5]

This can be shown here. Economic growth correlates with general prosperity, and freer economies have greater economic growth rates:



[10]

Freedom accounts for prosperity.

III. The Environment

This point again misconstrues how capitalism works - because capitalism is the most cooperative of economic systems, it is capitalism that does its best to prevent environmental problems. When one looks around the world, the majority of environmental problems are in countries where socialism or big government rule. People have a bigger say in a capitalistic society, and the environment is no exception.

"Like all consumption goods, you cannot purchase more environmental protection until you can afford it, and you cannot afford it without economic growth. Economic growth, not legislation, is the key driver to improvements in environmental quality." Capitalism is the basis for a clean environment.[6]

This can be shown here. Capitalistic countries naturally have a greater per capita income rate, and greater per capita income rates correlate with decreases in environmental pollutants:



[9]

Again, it is the poorer countries that generally emit the most per capita emissions and cause the greatest environmental disasters.

Not only this, but Capitalism can also help reduce innovation through marketing. Dematerialization, or the agglomeration of different devices into one, helps reduce waste and increase efficiency, making for a better environment.[8]

IV. Advertisements

This is not a very good argument to begin with - my opponent is confusing demand with capitalism. Such products only exist because there is a demand for them. My opponent may counter that such a mentality only exists in capitalism. However, customers buy things of higher quality, and this is the main point of advertising. In other words, advertising can never succeed in supplanting better or cheaper goods available and offered for sale.

"In order to succeed, advertising must be adjusted to the mentality of the people courted. It must suit their tastes and speak their idiom... The restriction of the right of businessmen to advertise their products would restrict the freedom of the consumers to spend their income according to their own wants and desires."[7]

V. Quality of Life

As I mentioned in my refutation in argument two, the poor in freer economies are significantly better off than the poor in more nationalized economies. That is the disparity that one should be most concerned with; not the disparity between the rich and poor in the same economy. Milton Friedman once said that one that an economy that places freedom above equality has a high degree of both, and I contend that capitalistic countries are more equal (in wealth and power) than their counterparts in nationalized economies.

Real hourly wages track with productivity increases:



[11]

Overall, greater productivity allows for greater earning potential, which increases prosperity.

Conclusion

Overall, capitalism encourages a clean environment and promotes prosperity.

Sources

[1]: http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[2]: http://www.hoover.org...
[3]: http://mises.org...
[4]: http://www.policymic.com...
[5]: Llosa, Mario Vargas et al. The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won't Tell You.
[6]: http://mises.org...
[7]: http://mises.org...
[8]: http://www.cato.org...
[9]: http://www.ncpa.org...
[10]: http://www.youngresearch.com...
[11]: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov...
Wocambs

Con

Freedom and Self-Interest

Bakunin: “liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice… socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality”.[1] I gather this concept is new to you, because your notion of ‘non-capitalist society’ seems to necessarily involve some kind of authority imposed upon the individual; it does not.

Kropotkin discusses the ‘needs’ of humanity; however, as the needs of humanity are but the conglomeration of each individual’s desires, we must strive to satisfy not only what is “necessary to material life”, but “all manifestations of the mind” too.[3] The society these men dream of is not the annihilation of the individual, but one of the greatest liberty. You choose to associate with whichever democratic community you wish, if none satisfy you, then you are free to create your own, even if it is composed solely of yourself, and interact with other communities on equal standing. I don’t mean to make this about anarcho-communism – it merely illustrates a model of society where people are not subject the injustice of private property and other forms of authoritarianism.

Supply and Demand

Kropotkin defines his ‘economic science’: “The Study of the Needs of Humanity, and of the Economic Means to satisfy them”.[3] How infinitely more just than ‘profit’, as we shall see.

There is great demand for food in the world, even in the United Kingdom half a million rely on charity to feed their families.[4] Are we unable to produce enough? No. Americans waste 40% of all the food they produce.[5] Similarly, what must the homeless and the crowded think of the fact that there are 330,000 houses in the UK which have not been lived in for over six months?[6]

What ‘demand’ does capitalism meet then? That of profit alone, the satisfaction of any other demand is incidental. Any sane society would structure its economy around meeting the needs of its citizens, not letting houses remain empty and food rot, not wasting labour producing junk items (e.g. penis pills) which the producer knows will not work, all in the interest of capital.

Competitive Markets and Innovation

That quote from the Federal Trade Commission establishes only the benefit of a competitive market to a monopoly, and cannot hope to touch the efficiency and bounty of an economy structured around meeting needs, for profit is obviously nothing but a distraction or an unnecessary middleman in comparison. I believe it is correct to say that you wrongly conflate every ‘non-capitalist’ society with a ‘state monopoly’. State monopolies, absolute in their power, are easily corrupted, and centralised power is very ineffective indeed, as well as being an obvious imposition upon liberty. Let us hear from Lenin: “State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our Soviet Republic… It is not state capitalism that is at war with socialism, but the petty bourgeoisie plus private capitalism fighting together against state capitalism and socialism”.[7] This is the arrogance of the ‘socialists’ who believe not that capitalism is wrong, but that they should be in control of every aspect of production.

As I stated in my first argument, capital and intellectual property are nothing but a hindrance to progress. The free exchange of ideas simply cannot fail to lead to a greater rate of innovation, and the stranglehold of capital is costing us dearly, certainly in medicine, and almost certainly other sciences too. Furthermore, I believe that the evidence against competition, as I showed previously, is repudiates the claim that producers or inventors work best when pitted against each other. I find it the most insane arrogance of the highest order to declare that capitalism, not the ingenuity, passion, and ambition of multitudes of individuals, has brought us up from the dirt.

Private Propert and Cooperation

The right to private property is not the right to satisfy your needs, it is the right to dominate an item, an area, an idea, etc. so that all must submit themselves to you in order to access it. The concept that the ability to do this is the ‘basis of cooperation’ is complete nonsense. Familial households, groups of friends, and volunteer communities cooperate perfectly well without each of them claiming to own things. Presumably we don’t need to consider the needs of a community composed of people who do not want to work with each other.

Concluding Remarks of a General Nature

I would characterise Subutai’s argument as that of ignorance, for the most part - abolishing capitalism does not mean bowing down to a Stalin. Private Property is not what we should describe as a ‘basic human right’ as it is an imposition of authority, and one he primarily justifies through the rejection of a ‘state authority figure’ who would steal his produce. Again, this authoritarian exploiter of gigantic proportion is hardly a necessary constituent of a society without capitalism. Another source of fear for my opponent is the ‘oppressive, demanding community’ which would restrict his freedom and take from him all that he produces. A ‘non-voluntary’ community is not necessitated by a society without capitalism either. I think it is quite apparent that his first round has been mostly dedicated to dismantling authoritarian alternatives to capitalism, but I don’t see that as particularly fruitful as libertarian socialism / social anarchism are perfectly legitimate alternatives to capitalism which do not require a Dictator or a tyrannical community. The ‘benefits’ of capitalism are for the most part the benefits of technology, which would only count in its favour if capitalism could be shown to promote technological advance – yet empirical evidence seems to disconfirm this hypothesis.


[1] http://www.marxists.org...
[2] P. Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, p.93
[3] P. Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, p.43
[4] http://www.theguardian.com...#
[5] http://www.emagazine.com...
[6] http://www.emptyhomes.com...
[7] http://www.marxists.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Subutai

Pro

I would like to thank Wocambs for this wonderful debate. This has definitely been the best capitalism debate I have had on my two years on this site.

I. Freedom and Self-Interest

One of the main problems with socialism is that it requires an authoritarian rule, making my opponent's entire argument here fall apart.

Merriam-Webster first definition of socialism is: "A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies." Even if we use the definition without a formal state: "A system of society or group living in which there is no private property," we see that this latter definition still requires a "ruling elite" of sorts.[1]

In order for socialism to be maintained, a "government" is required, because free market forces will eventually turn a socialist economy into a capitalist one. For example, Under socialism, India kept Hindustan Motors protected from competition, while the same time in Japan Toyota was forced to compete in free markets because of government "negligance" (of socialism, if you will). A further point of note is that Toyota is a prominent company in the capitalist west because capitalism requires a better, more efficient product, whereas socialism seeks to purely benefit the worker in every industry, which makes the net benefit lower.[2]

Further, "Ludwig von Mises argued that a socialist economy was not possible at all, because of the impossibility of rational pricing of capital goods in a socialist economy since the state is the only owner of the capital goods. Hayek further argued that the social control over distribution of wealth and private property advocated by socialists cannot be achieved without reduced prosperity for the general populace, and a loss of political and economic freedoms."[3]

In general, while capitalism is sustainable, and works best in a government-free society, socialism requires a government, and thus does not have either the best interest of the individual in mind, or the best interest of society as a whole in the long run either.

II. Supply and Demand

Supply and demand can only work its best in a purely capitalist economy. I will note two things here. One, people who immigrate to other countries come from even worse conditions in their home country, which most likely has a socialist economy with a repressive government. It is certainly an improvement of their lives, albeit it still looks bad to capitalist eyes. In time, immigrants will have an average income, as they get more acclimated to the economy. And two, in most countries where there is a famine problem, there is the very thing that the supply and demand system works against - shortage. While not everyone gets as much as they need, the resources are allocated most efficiently for the greatest societal benefit and shortage is reduced to its minimal level.

The beautiful thing about a capitalist economy is that the consumers in general set the price: "Producers set the price, but consumers, by buying or abstaining from buying, are the final decision-makers as to whether the price set will lead to a profit. Producers in this regard are at the total mercy of consumers. If, at a set price, a producer cannot make a positive return on his investment because not enough people are willing to buy his product, the producer will be forced to lower the price to boost turnover."[4]

III. Competitive Markets and Innovation

My opponent makes a grave error when he mentions that capitalism requires intellectual property. Quite the contrary, intellectual property is a staple of protectionism created by people colluding with the government; in fact, pure capitalism does not have intellectual property, nor does it support, or even allow for, monopolies.

"Firms in a capitalist based society face incentives to be efficient and produce goods which are in demand. These incentives create the pressures to cut costs and avoid waste. State owned firms often tend to be more inefficient (e.g. less willing to get rid of surplus workers and less incentives to try new innovative working practices.)" Competition encourages the best idea, because it is the one that nets the most profit. It may pit producers or inventors against each other, but in the end, it helps the consumer, and the individual, the most, and this is the goal of any sensible economic system, icnluding the one my opponent advocates for.[5]

As for monopolies, "The theory of natural monopoly, Demsetz pointed out, fails to '...reveal the logical steps that carry it from scale economies in production to monopoly price in the market place.' If one bidder can do the job at less cost than two or more, '...then the bidder with the lowest bid price for the entire job will be awarded the contract, whether the good be cement, electricity, stamp vending machines, or whatever, but the lowest bid price need not be a monopoly price. … The natural monopoly theory provides no logical basis for monopoly prices.'" Overall, there is no basis for the idea of a "natural monopoly".[6][7]

It is capitalism that allows for the best use of ingenuity, passion, and the ambition of multitudes of individuals and makes sure it best serves society.

IV. Private Property and Cooperation

I feel like my opponent dodges my arguments and refutations here and just mentions that my argument is ridiculous. Again, private property is the basis of moral behavior and of economic growth and overall prosperity because it guaruntees the individual the share of his profits to keep, which better serves society.

"While this correlation is not strong and is merely suggestive of an underlying relationship between private ownership and mobility, the graph illustrates that those regions with greater levels of privatization in 2000 subsequently experienced greater declines in unemployment during 2000-2007.":



[8]

"In fact, a characteristic of the classical liberal political ethos is that one scrutinizes a society for its quality, its goodness, and its justice on the basis of how loyal it is to the mission of securing the rights of individuals to their liberty and pursuit of happiness." This explains how an individualistic society which features private property can be just.[9]

As for cooperation, "Despite socialism’s refusal to recognize it, capitalism is founded on cooperation, and not only between capitalists within a given industry who might seek to regulate their markets and freeze out competitors... Consumers have cash to pay for what they buy because they have cooperated with their employers by showing up for work on time and performing labor, for which the employers cooperate by paying them. Consumers also cooperate with supermarkets by buying the products and paying cash (and sometimes even by returning shopping carts to the rack)." Capitalism is built completely on cooperation, unlike any other economic system.

Conclusion

Capitalism is definitely a just, if the the most just of any economic system that has ever been formulated. Its emphasis on individualism and private property help to create a base for moral behavior and societal prosperity, and the features of capitalism, such as supply and demand, an emphasis on innovation, and a stance against authoritarianism. Overall, capitalism allows for the greatest net benefit for society, and also best allows for moral behavior.

Sources

[1]: http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3]: http://www.diffen.com...
[4]: http://mises.org...
[5]: http://www.economicshelp.org...
[6]: http://mises.org...
[7]: Demsetz, Harold. "Why Regulate Utilities?" Journal of Law and Economics, April 1968, pp. 5565.
[8]: http://freepolicybriefs.org...
[9]: http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[10]: http://www.fee.org...
Wocambs

Con

Private Property and Alternatives

Unfortunately it has become clear that your argument is not only made on the assumption that the only alternative to capitalism is authoritarian control, but in fact almost completely dependent on it. Everywhere we find that capitalism is defended as ‘freedom’ – so how can you hope to establish it as just if it is not the freest system?
It is my understanding that the socialism to which you refer, or ‘non-voluntary, coerced association’ is associated with socialism only because certain individuals, such as Lenin, believe that socialism can only be achieved through ‘state capitalism’.

“Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. It is inconceivable without planned state organisation which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution. We Marxists have always spoken of this, and it is not worth while wasting two seconds talking to people who do not understand even this (anarchists and a good half of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries)” – Lenin [1]

That is an extract from a pamphlet in which Lenin advocates ‘state capitalism’. He makes huge mistakes: capitalism does not nourish genius, authoritarian control of industry is brutal and inefficient, and there is no such thing as a ‘critical value’ at which the wealth and productivity of society suddenly allows for socialism. Why would worker self-management require a certain level of productivity? It is insanity.

I can only assume that ‘keeping millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard’ is what you refer to when you assert that capitalism, the alternative, is what allows for moral behaviour. Apparently I am not allowed to address your final round but I simply must for the sake of keeping this debate sane – if you read the Wikipedia page for ‘Socialism’ you will see that it is explicitly outlined that “"Social ownership" may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these”.[2] I cannot help but feel that, upon realising that your entire argument was predicated upon the idea that the only alternative to capitalism is ‘state ownership’ that you dishonestly sought to find a source which would legitimise your ridiculous argument.
If sufficient numbers of the population understand that all people are political equals and that private property is immoral, then there is no reason to think that libertarian socialist societies would be ‘unfeasible’, just as laws against rape would be unfeasible if everyone desperately loved the idea. To argue that since not everyone will understand moral concepts that therefore they are theoretically flawed are the most disgusting fallacy.

What you are saying is that cooperation necessarily requires that individuals have the right to dominate things. You seem to be so caught up in your economic religion that the absurdity of this is somehow obscured. Very well; if you are stranded along with your father on an island, would it be required that you each owned various parts of the island in order to cooperate? Evidently not, and as societies exist as on a continuum, to declare that at some point they need capitalism would be completely indefensible.

Strangely, your argument that ‘socialism naturally becomes capitalism’ is dependent on a ‘state capitalist’ system. Fantastic…

Visions of a Free Society

‘Income’ does not have to exist. Let us imagine a society where you work to provide the ‘necessities’ for your life, and the rest of your life is leisure. Those who dedicate leisure time to accumulating shiny trinkets or hot tubs will have them, and their ability and dedication will directly benefit this pursuit, naturally! Similarly, those who dedicate their leisure to writing poetry will have poems (we hope), and again, their ability and dedication will directly benefit this pursuit. It is my understanding that you misconceive ‘equality’ (a typically anti-capitalist principle) as some kind of relentless homogeniser, taking from the strong and hard-working and giving to the weak and lazy in order to ‘equalise’ them. This is absolute nonsense. I feel no need to covertly drug the strongest people at the gym with catabolic steroids, or secretly give the weakest anabolic steroids in order to ‘equalise society’. What I am attempting to explain here is that socialist societies need not divide society into the ‘rich’ and the ‘poor’, merely those who choose to accumulate material wealth and those who choose other pleasures. This, to me, constitutes the greatest ‘control over one’s destiny’ that an economic system could produce.

The Environment

Again, “people have a bigger say in a capitalistic society” assumes that the only alternative to capitalism is a Leninist dictatorship. If we imagine, again, that expropriation has occurred, how would a group of individuals be able to destroy the environment, seeing as the environment is the property of all? The fact of the matter is that in a capitalist society, protecting the environment is a personal choice which is only effectual to the extent that you command industry. If the industrialists and sufficient numbers of consumers do not care about the environment, they are perfectly entitled to destroy it under capitalism. Under certain alternatives to capitalism, it would be seen as obviously impermissible to destroy what all are entitled to. Furthermore, I would make the rather educated guess that poorer countries are less likely to care about the environment due to necessity and lack of education, while they are also more likely to have industry-centric economies, rather than service-centric economies, and lawyers seem to produce less carbon dioxide than steelworkers. I apologise for the lack of sourcing but I’m lazy and this seems apparent enough.

Advertisements

The statement “advertising can never succeed in supplanting better or cheaper goods available and offered for sale” makes me wonder if you inhabit the same world as I do. I will guess that you have heard of Red Bull, but not Emerge. Why is this, considering that they taste practically identical and Emerge is significantly cheaper (30p vs £1.19)?[3] Branding! Examine Coca-Cola’s advertisement, arguably the most successful marketer of all time, and you will see that the ‘idiom’ they speak is that of happiness – but entirely irrelevant to their product![4] Advertising portrays attractive, happy people, romantic, comic, artistic scenes, rarely the quality of the product itself. In this way advertising often makes the consumer feel inadequate in order to sell products.[5]

The waste of advertisement - $500 billion globally![6] Could any reasonable person believe that this money is spent simply informing the consumer? No, rather, it is invested as a means to generate profit by creating a ‘brand’.

In Conclusion… this scattered section of argument has arisen because my opponent does not have an understanding of political philosophy beyond a ridiculous binary opposition. His arguments have consisted of attempting to illustrate that capitalism is superior to authoritarian control of the economy by a centralised group, for which I care not, and the argument that this is the only form of ‘socialism’, which he has supported with a dictionary and an analysis of state-controlled ‘socialism’, thereby making his entire argument nonsense. Have we seen a justification of private property without reference to despots? No. Is capitalism free, according to his argument? Only in reference to despots. Unless you ignore the burden of proof and assume that the only alternative to capitalism is authoritarian control, then you must vote in my favour.

[1] http://marxistsfr.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk...
Debate Round No. 4
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
Yeah, very few people ever vote, and even fewer vote well on my economics debates. My science and religion debates usually do pretty well (one had no less than 30 votes), but I can't even ask people to vote on these. I don't get it.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
Thanks for the opportunity, Subutai. I certainly enjoyed the debate itself. Neither of the votes were particularly valuable unfortunately.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
Had I been completely unresponsive to the attempt to establish a binary opposition between 'free Western capitalism' and 'authoritarian Leninist socialism' then I may as well have forfeited the debate, and I feel quite sure that in order to deconstruct that opposition some exposition concerning socialism was required. In that sense socialism was 'on the defensive', but I think it was mostly appropriate, just as if I was arguing against God I might reference Buddhism as an example of 'spirituality' without a god. I'll accept it was perhaps a little more necessary, but I don't think I deserve such a haranguing.
Posted by ZenoCitium 3 years ago
ZenoCitium
I do think that black_squirrel was right about the debate topic. This was a great debate for sure, but it seems like socialism was on the defensive and I don't see why it was even part of the debate. This makes Guardian_Rock's vote completely erroneous.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
Did my report vote request not go through? Attempting again.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
That's definitely an intriguing vote, especially since it comes from someone who agrees with you. Is RFD makes a horrible assumption on how each side can win the debate. In the future, wocambs, utilize the "report this vote" function on the upper right hand corner of each vote.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
That is probably one of the most insane votes I have ever seen, black_squirrel. Because my criticism of private property was a philosophical argument rather than an emotional appeal to 'fairness' I put forward a weaker argument, and furthermore apparently if the voter thinks that a stronger argument could have been made for my side of the debate I automatically lose despite that fact being entirely irrelevant and the burden of proof resting on my opponent.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
Thank you for the kind words.
Posted by Wocambs 3 years ago
Wocambs
I'm sorry, things came up and I didn't have very much time at all to write that.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Gaurdian_Rock 3 years ago
Gaurdian_Rock
SubutaiWocambsTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro used the Merriam Webster version, of Socialism which imo was the wrong choice, our who concept of "modern socialism" comes from Marx and his works like Das Kapital, and The Manifesto of the Communist Party. The definition pro used for socialism should have come from either works.
Vote Placed by black_squirrel 3 years ago
black_squirrel
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Reasons for voting decision: A lot of the debate was about whether capitalism or socialism is better. But the debate should just be about capitalism and whether it is fair. Con did argue that private property may be unfair, but he did not make the strongest case. I think it is fundamentally unfair that a person born into a poor family gets fewer opportunities than a person born into a rich family, because a rich family can afford better private education. I think CON did not make the strongest argument, so I give arguments for PRO. Both did a good job, but a found that the debate could have focussed more on the central proposition.
Vote Placed by kbub 3 years ago
kbub
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Reasons for voting decision: This was an excellent debate. I've read it through briefly once, but I don't want to make any mistakes so I will do so again. Please message me a reminder if I fail to do so. I am already leaning one direction, but I will review.