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

Is Capitalism an Inherently Exploitative System

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/13/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,025 times Debate No: 61659
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




Capitalism- An economic and political system in which a country"s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit
Exploitative - describing the treatment of someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.



I'll begin by outlining the pros of capitalism, and why (I believe) that it is not an exploitative system.

Benefits of Capitalism

One significant pro of capitalism is the fact that economic freedom helps political freedom. If the government owns the means of production and set prices, it invariably leads to a powerful state and creates a large bureaucracy which extends into other large areas of life.


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 have historically been known to be more inefficient, for example by being less willing to get rid of surplus workers and less incentives to try new innovative working practices.

Economic Growth

With firms and individuals facing incentives to be innovative and work hard this creates a climate of invention and economic expansion. This helps to increase real GDP and lead to improved living standards. Thus meaning that everyone can benefit from this increased wealth and there is an improved standard of living for the general population.

Other Alternatives Have Failed

One only has to study socialist/communist politics and economics to conclude that they are an inferior alternative. They have created less wealth (thus less opportunity and more poverty for the working class) and have resulted in oppressive, bureaucratic political systems.


Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting! Good Luck.

If you work a job I'm sure it wouldn't take you very long of think of times that your employer has taken liberties - trimmed down break and lunch times, asked you to do unpaid overtime etc;etc. And yet individuals in the west who work low paying jobs are the "lucky ones" globally. "Sweatshops" in the developing world are infamous examples of the injustices of capitalism. One need not be a socialist to be disgusted by the unfair conditions these worker endure an think the should get a fair wage. However not many people know that there is no such thing as a fair wage - at the very core of capitalist system is exploitation, turning the labor of the many into profits of the few.

A Wage is what a capitalist pays the worker for their a certain period of time for a specific amount of his labor power the price of a commodity is always higher than the worker's wage because the capitalist don't sell labor but labor power. This is because how wage is determined. The capitalist thinks of the worker much like a machine. For a machine to maintain its production it must be fueled, serviced, and eventually replaced by newer ones. It is the same for workers. The boss pays the amount needed to become a worker (the training needed), the amount needed to survive so the worker can come back to work the next day, and the amount needed to raise children, who will later become workers. They feel they don"t need to pay any more, and if they pay too much then workers won"t have reason to return to work the next day in order to survive. This may seem like a fair deal between a worker and his boss - like a contract. in reality this a form of exploitation called wage slavery. Labor power is different from all other commodities it can increase the value of other commodities. If we"re only paid for our ability to work, and not the work we do, then where does the surplus value (extra value) go?

For sake of simplicity let us consider "surplus value" to have three components: profit, interest and rent. All are based on payment for letting someone else use your property. Rent is what we pay to be allowed to exist on part of the earth Interest is what we pay for the use of money. Profit is what we pay to be allowed to work a farm or use piece of machinery. Rent and interest are easy to define, they are payment for using someone's property and have existed long before capitalism. Profit is trickier to define although, ultimately, is still a payment for using property.

The term "profit" is often used simply, but incorrectly, to mean an excess over costs. However, this ignores the key issue, namely how a workplace is organized. In a co-operative, for example, while there is a surplus over costs "there is no profit, only income to be divided among members. Without employees the labor-managed firm does not have a wage bill, and labour costs are not counted among the expenses to be extracted from profit, as they are in the capitalist firm." "economic category of profit does not exist in the labor-managed firm, as it does in the capitalist firm where wages are a cost to be subtracted from gross income before a residual profit is determined . . . Income shared among all producers is net income generated by the firm: the total of value added by human labor applied to the means of production, less payment of all costs of production and any reserves for depreciation of plant and equipment."[Christopher Eaton Gunn, Workers' Self-Management in the United States, p. 41 and p. 45]

Consequently "[The] worker, when he is able to work, finds no acre to till, no machine to set in motion, unless he agrees to sell his labour for a sum inferior to its real value." [Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, p. 55] I'll use the example of a Starbucks barista to illustrate. The average hourly wage for a barista is $8.80, the average price of a beverage is $2.50 so if a barista makes three drinks she has payed for 85% of her hourly wage any drinks over three is appropriation. The contract in which the worker allegedly sells his labour power is a contract in which, since he cannot be separated from his capacities, he sells command over the use of his body and himself. . . The characteristics of this condition are captured in the term wage slave." [Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract, pp. 150-1]

Christopher Eaton Gunn, Workers' Self-Management in the United States
The Political Philosophy of Bakunin
Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, p. 55
Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract, pp. 150-1



"If you work a job I'm sure it wouldn't
take you very long to think of times that your employer has taken liberties-trimmed down break and lunch times, asked you to do unpaid overtime etc;etc".

Invariably the same can be said for any system. If one wants to something (the case here being money) then one has to work for it, and occasionally this may require extra hours. The trimming of down of breaks and lunch times is not the case in every job, as is not unpaid time. One of the basis of a job is to earn money and get paid, and this one of the requirements an employer must meet. Additionally there's also laws put in place to protect the rights of employees and prevent exploitation.

Such As

-maximum of 48 hour weeks. Under employment law, an employer cannot compel an employee to work over this period. An employee can choose to, but the number of hours worked must not exceed 48 hours (a week) over a 17 week period.

-the right to be paid at least the national minimum wage. If a company or employer do not comply, they are breaking the law and therefore face legal repercussion(s).

-the right not to have illegal deductions made from pay. Starting from the day employee starts work.

-the right to paid holiday. Full time employees are entitled to at least 28 days per year (small variations on as to where you are) Part time employees are entitled to a pro rata amount.

-the right to time off to look for work if being made redundant. This applies once the employee has worked for two years for that employer.

-the right to time off for study and training for 16-17 year olds.

-the right to paid maternity leave.

-the right to paid paternity leave.

-the right to ask for flexible working.

-the right to paid adoption leave.

-the right under the health and safety law to weekly and daily rest breaks.

-the right not to be discriminated against. If an employer does discriminate, he/she is breaking the law and the employee is protected by anti discrimination law(s). The same is said for harassment.

-the right to claim compensation if unfairly dismissed.

-the right to claim redundancy pay if made redundant.

-the right of a part-time worker to same contractual rights (pro rata) as a comparable full time worker.

All of these are examples of employee protection, and not exploitation.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to state that my opponents arguments do not address Capitalism's exploitative nature but none the less I shall rebuke them.

"One significant pro of capitalism is the fact that economic freedom helps political freedom. If the government owns the means of production and set prices, it invariably leads to a powerful state and creates a large bureaucracy which extends into other large areas of life."

Economic freedom for whom? I consider, like other Socialist, creativity an essential aspect of human nature and so I define freedom as the state of individuals are able to express their creative without hindrance of the constraints of material scarcity or the coercion of social institutions . I stress the importance of freeing individuals from the coercive, exploitative and alienating relationship of capitalist production and the appropriation of that labor to support state apparatus where there is enough for each individual to express their genuine creative interest.

"Firms in a capitalist based society face incentives to be ...... innovative working practices."

Capitalism efficient? We can do so much better! What's efficiency got to do with capitalism? The short answer is nothing. Socioeconomic collapses in Detroit and Cleveland did not happen because of inefficient production,capitalist corporations decided to relocate production to serve the interest of share holder and directors. Profit, growth and increase of market share drive those decisions not efficiency. The factories, offices and stores abandoned by departing corporations increase the waste of resources and of workers' lives. In the surrounding communities, tax bases are eroded by capitalists' departures meaning reduced social services, public space, and qualities of life. Those vast wastes of resources and damage to lives offset whatever small efficiency gains corporate relocation claims to achieve.

"Other Alternatives Have Failed

One only has to study socialist/communist politics and economics to conclude that they are an inferior alternative. They have created less wealth (thus less opportunity and more poverty for the working class) and have resulted in oppressive, bureaucratic political systems."

I am so sick and tired of reading comments like this written by people who have never read anything by Marx or Engels (or Goldman ,Kropotkin or Luxembourg) claiming that socialism doesn't work You, as you would if you read Marx, should all realize that we cannot know that socialism doesn't work since it's never been tried in the industrialized world. Now I am an anarcho-syndicalist so i am not 100% crazy about Marxism


Emilirose forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Well I'd like to thank Emilrose for having this debate.
I guess I'll make my closing remarks by refuting the rebuttal. First you really didn't refute the main crux of my argument. Then there is the fact that all laws that protect workers had to be WON by the workers movement. They were not given freely people fought and died to win those protections.


You're welcome.

About the "forfeit", I was busy all day yesterday so did not get the opportunity to post for round three.

However, I will address some your previous statements.

My examples of law(s) were to outline that employees are in fact protected from exploitation, which by definition, is anything that does not coincide with the requirements of their position.

Capitalism is not an "inherently exploitive" system, as it is a mutual agreement in which both parties benefit from. If people did not partake in work and earn their own money, what would the other alternatives be? That individual would (most likely) resort to over-reliance on the state, I.E welfare. Which technically does classify as "exploitation" as they are providing nothing, and receiving free benefits.

Capitalism is essentially about earning your own merits, and working hard to achieve. A business employer works hard to get to his/her position, and the same goes for an employee in maintaining their position.

Additionally, I have read Marx and Engles, among others. The history of socialism concludes that in practice it is a failed and unsustainable system.

Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Jellon 2 years ago
Mind having this debate with me, Pro?
Posted by Emilirose 2 years ago
FaustianJustice, I highlighted the benefits of capitalism in my opening argument-then alluded to them in the 4th round.

The example of laws was to provide evidence to my argument.
Posted by cheyennebodie 3 years ago
In the 48 years of my work history I have never been forced to work for anyone.And I have never forced anyone to give me a job. Almost all of the jobs I worked there was a good relationship between me and the guy who owns the business.If I did not like what I was doing or who I was working for, I just simply went somewhere else. As a self-employed contractor, I did not treat anyone I had working for me unfairly. But I had to protect by business. There was one instance when I had an employee that under performed. The product I was selling I needed people to get out about 80 an hour.So I could keep my price competitive. I hired this one person that was only putting out about 14 an hour.I let her go because it was not economical for me to pay her.My business was not there to provide welfare.
Posted by cheyennebodie 3 years ago
Master. I do not have dominion over anyone who works for me. We have an agreed upon arrangment. He does what I want him to do to further my business. And I pay him accordingly.His pay is an already agreed upon price. Now I can and do give bonuses.And all the risk falls on me. If I mess up,I pay the price. If he messes up, I still have to bear the brunt of the consequences.

He is free to work for me. And I am free to find someone else.But unless someone really messes up, that does not happen.

Of course everyone has choices over their labor. I cannot force anyone to work for me.Neither can he force me to hire him. We are both in it freely and we can both hold our heads up.The only entity that gives us no choice is government. All they have to do is pass a law and they can force me to hire certain people and to pay certain wages. There is no freedom there at all.
Posted by MaesterAemon 3 years ago
Then why allow man to have dominion over other man in the work place? That what capitalism corporation are run in a totalitarian manner you have no choice over what is done with the fruits of your labor.
Posted by cheyennebodie 3 years ago
Only people who are not living in realville think that profit is a bad word. And they are people who have never and could never operate their own businesses successfully. That is why they get in government. So they can by government force ( law ) control other peoples money. Which effectively controls them.

Man was given dominion over all nature. But one thing he was not given dominion over was one another. Except for the corrupt nature from the fall.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Jellon 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to pro for cons FF. Con often got off topic discussing other systems. Even if all other systems were bad, it would not make capitalism good. Pro gave examples of abuse in some capitalist counties, but failed to show this was inherent to capitalism. Con showed examples of individual rights in capitalist countries without showing these are inherent to capitalism. It is possible they came from democracy, not capitalism.
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro does a pretty good job of grabbing the worst of capitalism, con was just not able to get past the hurdles without relying on government laws designed specifically to prevent exploitation that moves into abuse.