The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Capitalism is inherently flawed and overall detrimental

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 439 times Debate No: 90038
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




Capitalism is a system doomed to crises. Accept if you're willing for an argument with a strong Marxist who does actually know economics. First round is just for acceptance.


I accept the debate. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


There are many reasons as to why capitalism is flawed and not something to be praised:
1. Alienation of the means of production and the commodity from the worker

Capitalism cannot exist without the means of production (i.e. the factories where one works, the tools and machines used) being alienated by someone else, the capitalist, owning them, instead of the workers using them. No longer is production something personal to the worker, but instead it is merely wage-labor. In addition, the worker often can hold no claim to the product produced because of the division of labor and the fact that all work is done in order to sell a commodity. Few people produce their own means of subsistence, instead selling their labor-power in order to produce a commodity that the capitalists sells and uses parts of the proceeds of in order to pay the worker.

2. Capitalism's basis being exploitation of the workers

It is an undeniable fact that a capitalist makes money from the profit when selling a commodity produced by his/her workers. Where does this profit come from? Quite simply, it comes from labor performed by workers that they are not paid for. In order for the purchase price of a commodity to be significantly higher than the cost price of the elements entering into it (raw materials, machinery, labor-power), there must be a part of the value entering that somehow produces extra value above what the capitalist pays for it. This seemingly magical transformation occurs through exploitation of workers by them performing labor worth in total more than the wages they receive. Thus, capitalism can only occur through exploitation of this surplus, unpaid labor.

3. Susceptibility to crises

A capitalist society is highly susceptible to crises if anything changes significantly. If prices of various commodities that either serve as raw materials or consumer goods have significant changes in price, it can result that production cannot continue on the same scale as before, for the capitalists have to either pay significantly more for the raw materials in order to produce their commodity, requiring money they don't have, meaning a fall in production, or a change in price may reduce demand and leave many products unsold. Even leaving aside inevitable crises inherent to capitalism, it is clear that the supposed balancing of the market that occurs when external phenomena occur to the economy will only occur with substantial crises in changing of production that may either exceed or fall beneath demand.

4. Necessary crises

As capitalism progresses, capital and production accumulate and expand naturally, and the amount of labor put into producing machinery and other means of production increases relatively to the economy as a whole. As a result, there may often be an over-accumulation to the point where profits fall due to an excessive supply, and in addition the fall of the consumer goods industry relatively means that the composition of social capital does not correspond to its needed demand. These necessarily occur in capitalism, especially when circulation through sale and the credit system allow the members of the economy to ignore crises in the making and pass them down the line until finally the excess in supply or lack of profits or excess of investment finds an end somewhere and the crisis triggers, successively dragging in the entire economy with it. This is essentially what is seen in the "bursting" of various "bubbles" of industry that have famously caused such crises as the Great Depression and the 2008 recession. In addition, it should be noted that the globalization of the economy drags in every nation to a crisis in one many times, meaning that the effects of over-accumulation and under-consumption spread far and wide.

5. Exploitation of less-developed nations

Capitalism, in order to produce the seemingly incredible and satisfactory results of wealth we see in Western nations, requires the antagonisms between workers and capitalists (in which wages tend to fall and exploitation finds all-new highs) is pushed from the thriving countries into other countries subsumed under capitalism as dependents. These are the countries with low-wage laborers that get highly employed when "our jobs get shipped overseas." The truth is, in order for our wealth to be so high and profits still to be satisfactory (though I will say that inequality is still through the roof in economically central countries), it is necessary for the extreme exploitation that gives us all of this wealth to occur somewhere, and with countries that refuse to protect their worker's rights this is an effortless endeavor.

6. Violation of liberalism and voluntaryism

As much as the proponents of liberalism (in the sense of individualist praise of rights and freedom) and voluntaryism praise capitalism for being supposedly the epitome of their philosophies, in truth capitalism is neither liberating nor voluntary for the majority of those involved. As said earlier, capitalism requires for workers to NOT be the owners of the means of production. It must be so expensive to operate business that someone with greater wealth, a capitalist, must be the advancer of the money in order to employ workers. The only free ones, then, are the capitalists, and not in fact the masses, who only have the choices between one exploitative workplace and the next, abject poverty, or maybe (though likely not) a rising up to the role of exploitative capitalist. In addition, capitalism is by no means voluntarily entered into by the wage-laborers, for capitalism proceeds from the point where it is impossible for the workers to work independently of wage-employment (and because some industries are not at this point some do work on their own, escaping capitalism, I acknowledge this). It is impossible for the masses to do anything but offer their labor up for exploitation by some business-owner, and thus the seeming choice disappears, for most would never choose poverty and unemployment over employment. The coercive effects of capitalist economic conditions makes the voluntaryist illusion of capitalist superiority superficial at best.

7. Racist elements

Though racism may not be an inherent element of a supposed pure capitalism, in reality the racist structure of society is emboldened and enforced through the continuation of capitalism. Through reliance on socioeconomic conditions that are stacked against minorities in order to make oneself qualified for a job, the racist economic status is perpetuated generation after generation, with limited social mobility for those whose history includes extreme discrimination and economic disadvantage. In addition, by the control of an incredibly partial class of people over the means of production and therefore employment as a whole, minorities and other victims of discrimination (e.g. women) are at the mercy of bigots, and they have the power (and often use it) to create the wage gap. It is not necessary for an economic system to so embolden racial divides.

8. Necessary corruption of politics

In any society where economic inequalities such as result from capitalism are reality, and money is capable of wresting political power, it becomes clear that quite soon the government and thus political power will soon fall under control of the wealthy and capitalist minority in order to hold even greater sway over the majority. In fact, this isn't me just rambling about possibilities, as it is proven in America as a shining example that the only people whose opinions matter are the ultra-rich. Source:

None of the above elements can really be separated from capitalism as we know it, and thus I cannot condone and must unilaterally condemn any notion of a capitalist society. I despise state capitalisms even more, such as the Soviet Union, and I highly advocate for a democratic socialism where the workers democratically control production. This would resolve many of the contradictions above. However, my position as to the attractive alternative is irrelevant to this debate, as all that is important is that the flaws outlined with capitalism must be sourcing from capitalism and not just the natural state of any possible economy. However, all the flaws above need not be an element of an economic system, and thus I strongly support the idea that capitalism is inherently flawed and detrimental to society.


Thanks to PRO for kicking this off.

I however would claim that PRO has failed in terms of addressing the topic at hand.

The issue is whether Capitalism is inherently flawed and overall detrimental. PRO has only tried to address the former and has not touched upon the latter at all, which I think is the central concern as all economic systems involve trade-offs and will have some flaws.

I believe there are two alternative ways of addressing the the points of whether Capitalism is overall detrimental and PRO has used neither of them:

1) Looking at the benefits and flaws of Capitalism in isolation and finding out if there is a net beneficial or detrimental effect.


2) Comparing capitalism to other economic systems to find out which one is best and which ones are comparatively detrimental.

Without making either of these cases, PRO fails to meet the BoP because individual listings of alleged flaws does not mean Capitalism is overall detrimental.


Briefly, as covering everything in depth would allow me no time to make claims about the positive effects of Capitalism:


A wide variety of the points PRO brings up are cherrypicked examples that, when looked at in greater detail, can be seen to not be innate flaws at all, but rather issues of circumstance and culture. Take for example the claim that "political power will soon fall under control of the wealthy and capitalist minority in order to hold even greater sway over the majority", for which PRO provides the only source of their entire argument - an article saying that this is the case in the USA.

The USA is not the only capitalist nation on earth, nor is the form of capitalism practiced by the USA the only type possible. In fact due to it's a position as an economic superpower and it's lax free-market approach, the USA is likely one of the worst example available in regards to the effects of wealth on politics and in no way representative of general trends - let alone inherent qualities to Capitalism. If such qualities were inherent, surely they would show up in places like the Netherlands where "the major source of political money in the Netherlands is membership fees".[1] As they do not, these aren't an inherent problem. It is perfectly possible to have a capitalist economic system with regulations - such as restrictions on political donations and public subsidies to parties. it is therefore not an inherent flaw.

This can also be seen in references to the employer/employee relationship. Capitalism leaves open the door for workers co-operatives[2], which can vary in size from small businesses to massive corporations[3]. Right now, PRO could get together with their friends and (assuming moderate credit worthiness) get a loan to go into business where they're all the employees and the owner - removing the dichotomy. Most people choose not to do so when they start a business, but the option is there and it is people's personal choice which drives the general tendency to businesses with employees/employers.

Minor Philosophical problems

Points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 are all points of principle with little real relevance to people's lives. As I will show later, Capitalism provides a whole host of benefits. People in the happiest countries on earth live in Capitalist countries[4] where they have an abundance of goods, long life-spans, effective health care, free time to pursue their interests and hobbies, etc. Compared to this the philosophical point that sometimes they can feel hard-done-by by their boss is fairly redundant - as is the problem that sometimes there can be economic bumps which can temporarily slow down the further growth of this abundance of riches and benefits for a short while.

I have already covered point 8 with the cherry picking, so the remaining two I will deal with below

Racist Elements

PRO claims that the racist status quo is perpetuated by Capitalism. I state that this is clearly not the case as no status quo has been maintained by anything. Taking the USA as a very clear example, the situation for black people is not the same now as it was 50 years ago which is not the same as it was 100 years ago. As no status quo has been maintained due to their actually being massive changes, it is obvious that nothing can be responsible for maintaining the status quo. Instead what we have seen is advancing civil rights and increasing economic prosperity. Although the income gap still exists, studies have found "Median family income for both black and white families has increased over the last 30 years"[5].

Although it hasn't magically fixed everything, the system is working and is making minorities more prosperous over time. The wealth generated by Capitalism is disproportionately taxed on the wealthy in most countries through progressive taxation, with this money then being redistributed through social programs like education and health care which allow the next generation of people whose parents were socioeconomically disadvantaged - minorities very much included - to prosper on more equal footing. The wealth of Capitalism is constantly harnessed for egalitarian ends all over the world.


PRO points to the "exploitation" of less developed nations. In fact this economic process is a boon to the countries involved. Countries like India and China are using these types of jobs to grow and develop [6][7], which is what should be expected. There isn't some magic formula that makes countries suddenly sprout roads, good health and education and be able to develop high-tech commodities like jet engines. They have to grow over time, which is why the process if called development. Countries take more labour intensive and less profitable work because it's where their comparative advantages lie, but use that money to develop and eventually compete with more advanced nations. In fact Capitalism is driving the increasing wealth of these poor countries and the massive reduction in global poverty that has comes with it. Indeed the World Bank (an international organisation built to help maintain Capitalism) has even committed itself to ending international poverty[8] in the next few decades!

Case for Capitalism

The massive advantages of Capitalism

Over time as countries have developed with Capitalism, they have benefited in a whole host of ways.

- People are living longer due to increased health care availability under Capitalism.[9]
Global wealth is increasing, allowing people to live in greater prosperity[10]
- People are more happy than ever. Despite tragic events happening in the world (which often have nothing to do with capitalism, like the war in Syria), when looked into it was found "The average surveyed person planet-wide reports greater happiness than 10 years ago—which was happier than many reported 30 years ago."[11]
- The massive advances in technology. I don't think I need a source to point out that the computer you're using to look at this message right now is light years ahead of anything available years ago.

These are massive advantages in day to day life that far outweigh the incorrect or minor points brought up by PRO. Therefore PRO fails to meet the BoP as per the 1st type of comparison I put forward at the start of the argument.

The utters absence of any competing system

Capitalism is now used in almost every country on Earth. Those that don't use it like North Korea are some of the worst places around. Even the countries which until recently did use non-Capitalist economic systems (like the USSR) were awful in a whole host of ways when they existed, with PRO even specifically stating that he despises them (though he uses the term "State Capitalist", a term used by modern socialists when they don't want to admit the USSR and the like were socialist). By Pro's admission, Capitalism is therefore better than the socialism practiced by the USSR and it's client states.

As I think it is clear that Capitalism is better than feudalism or ancient slave-states (and presumably PRO does not disagree), we can therefore state Capitalism is the best economic system out of all those that have been tried. Unless PRO can either bring up a different and better economic system that has been used and was better or put forward a hypothetical alternative that they state will be better, Capitalism is therefore beneficial compared to any other alternative and PRO fail to meet the BoP as per the 2nd type of comparison I put forward at the start of the argument.

Capitalism is improving and developing

Capitalism is not perfect, but then Capitalism is also not static. In my country, for instance, it was nearly 20 years ago that the UK (my country) introduced a statutory minimum wage[12] and just a few weeks ago this was upgraded in the first part of a process of turning this into a living wage.[13] Regulations like this deal with issues with Capitalism, and they do so in a peaceful democratic framework that doesn't run the risk of trying a radical socialist alternative which can end up with a vicious genocidal dictator in charge.

The issues with Capitalism are not inherent, but ones that can be fixed. Economic crises can be stopped with the effective regulation of investment. Worker's disenfranchisement can be countered with laws giving them specific rights. Money influencing politics can be stopped with laws relating to party financing.

They are situational and fixable flaws, not inherent. In many capitalist countries laws along these lines already exist. They might not in your country, but that is down to the temporal specifics of the country - not any inherent factors of Capitalism.

Debate Round No. 2


Foucault_is_relevant forfeited this round.


PRO has FF.

Hopefully you come back for the next round so we can continue the debate.
Debate Round No. 3


Foucault_is_relevant forfeited this round.


Welp, FF again.

As PRO's argument did not really deal with the topic up for debate - touching neither of the two forms of argument that would show Capitalism to be overall detrimental - and I believe my R2 response is a solid rebuttal and argument for the COn position, I don't have much to add.
Debate Round No. 4


Foucault_is_relevant forfeited this round.


Overhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Overhead 5 months ago
Which people aren't willing to do, with even the most extreme examples countries like Greece with Syriza only producing 'socialists' who toe the Capitalist line and aren't interested in actually enacting an economic socialist revolution.

As the development of advanced Capitalism as per historical materialism is meant to be the precursor which inspires and allows socialism to occur due to its development of industry along with increasing 'contradictions' and yet this has not happened, either the Marxist theory is wrong OR Capitalism is not yet advanced enough for the conditions for socialism to be viable. Either way it gives us rationale to stick with Capitalism as either the underpinnings of Marxism are incorrect or they're correct but they show that for the time being Capitalism is currently still the best approach as we'll need to continue with it to enact socialism at some point in the future.

I have more, but I'll save it for the debate ;)
Posted by Foucault_is_relevant 5 months ago
Or you know you could go for a democratic revolution instead of an armed coup.
Posted by Overhead 5 months ago
And I'd have to argue that trying to implement egalitarian revolutionary economic change and ending up with a totalitarian nation with state-owned industry is a recognised historical flaw of Marxism, the risk of which far outweighs the potential benefits of a successful non-totalitarian transition.
Posted by Foucault_is_relevant 5 months ago
@thebestdebate I'd have to argue that totalitarian state-owned industry is not the Marxist ideal.
Posted by thebestdebate 5 months ago
I would like to comment on the history of this situation. In all economic systems to ever strongly follow the Marxist ideal the economy has fallen through the floor. However, we see most capitalist markets flourish. Just my recognition on the matter.
Posted by Jason57 6 months ago
The thing is with every debate, they are both right an wrong.

Everything has pros and cons. That is just a fact; it cannot be refuted. For governmental and economic systems in particular, they are far from ideal. However, there are the most ideal.

I would have loved to particpate because to me, capitalism is the most ideal for number of different ways:

1. Incentive
2. Most historically effective
3. Gives a feeling of hope and aspiration that exponentially propels capitalist societies into advancement

Those are just a few, and since this is a comment, I'll keep it short, Good luck to both sides.
Posted by Philjenkins 6 months ago
Would have loved to Participatw. There are flaws with every economic system
Posted by jglass841 6 months ago
Seems interesting, good luck to both sides!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Reigon 5 months ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited.