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Pure Capitalism With Basic Needs vs Marxist/Social Socialism Dbt 3

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/26/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,223 times Debate No: 49944
Debate Rounds (4)
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I simply hope to, in this third debate, find an opponent who will not forfeit the debate.

To begin, I will repost my opening statement: "I will argue for the advocation of pure capitalism with the only socialism being in the providing of very minimal needs to those who need it (i.e. Education, Food, Water, Shelter, Healthcare, etc)."

As for Round 2, I will probably post my argument from the other two in hopes of finding a counter-argument.


Pure capitalism is fundamentally an amoral economic system which has the sole "advantage" that it is highly efficient at consuming natural resources. However, in a world where planetary resources are scarce and dwindling and where a single business enterprise can (inadvertently or not) threaten all of humanity with terrible harm, perhaps extinction, prudence and sanity demand that we engage in long-range planning concerning the allocation of resources so that issues of sustainability and morality are taken into account. Unlike pure capitalism, Marxism and socialism involve planned economies (the key word being "planned") which thus enables society to manage scarce planetary resources in a sustainable and moral fashion.
Debate Round No. 1


Short but quality argument. I thank my opponent for accepting the debate and for taking his time to produce a quality opening statement.

Let's start with the first line, "Pure capitalism is fundamentally an amoral economic system."

The way in which you phrase it gives it a negative denotation, so I am just a little confused. Are you saying that in the fact of allowing people to act in self-interest that we are actually doing harm? If so, I can cite many countries that have this free market system, a lot books, and one of the greatest all time economists, Adam Smith. But I suppose that in no way did you mean this to be a bad thing, you were just fueling your argument. The idea behind capitalism, and the reason it works I suppose, is because it is amoral as you put it.

Next you bring up an extremely wonderful point, one that I had not given too much thought into, but in the back of my mind I sort of knew that this was not an issue. But you forced me to think about it.

Let us talk about it in the form of an example. In our example we have an oil company, and, for some reason, it did not only monopolize oil in the country, but also in the whole world, so it is a global scale monopoly on oil. They then have two choices in terms of price. Well, three I suppose. They can either have cheap oil, expensive oil, or in-the-middle oil. The middle priced oil has the characteristics of both and thus is not entirely needed to be brought in depth, but I want to start with the expensive oil. They are a monopoly, so they have the choice of having very highly priced oil. If we don't mind paying this, or we need it, we could buy a small quantity of it, but allow me to make an educated guess based on economic theory once this happens. The company would not make much profit. Now let us suppose that the company is rich, so rich that they can afford to take such a loss. The amount of oil used in our country would go way down, leading to innovation that would have needed to happen (since oil is going to run out in about 200 years). A lot of supposes here, realize this is never really going to happen, but if it did, and of course according to statisticians there is probability, no big deal, and every "suppose" I take out the better the outcome.

Let us talk now about having very cheap prices. Having very cheap prices is going to increase the amount that people buy. People will use it up a lot quicker, yes, but in the mean-time economic progress is at its peak. A short term burst if you will, and as we come closer to the end of our resource, we will find need to innovate.

In the most extreme of cases even, this is not an issue. If we have a problem, our capitalist innovation will come to solve it. A planetary resource we need to plan for we would have simply run out of later, thus innovation would have been needed.
In terms of innovation, capitalism provides it the best (I hope this is given). Thus, socialism is actually the system that is responsible for inefficient use of resources. Also, realize that by having the socialistic plan, you either lack leadership and have the population decide, or have leadership and occur the same thing that happened with businesses: a small group of people controlling the price and wage of their resource company.

This first part does seem minor though, simply because you would likely say that it would be the community and not a group of people to decide, and that they would not be acting in self-interest so it is not greedy. Though, this does seem irrelevant, for no matter how greedy a person in control of a resource is, the resource is not distributed in an ill manner, but in a better manner than a large group of people. Do you take better care of public water, or your own?

As a recap, capitalism's self-interest concept defines capitalism, it innovates solutions for inefficiency and the running out of resources best, and it also manages them better than a community.


The notion that amorality is not a negative trait is demonstrably misguided. We have hundreds of years of capitalism which provide countless examples of how this amorality plays out in real world situations. Business make false claims about products. They rush unsafe products to market. They bribe officials to overlook problems with safety They bribe politicians to pass laws that favor their industry.

Is it not a problem that tobacco companies, driven by capitalistic greed, specifically engineered marketing efforts to target young children as future consumers? Is it not a problem that tobacco companies funded research with phony results in an attempt to conceal, for as long as possible, the adverse health risks of smoking? Is it not a problem that pharmaceutical companies have attempted to gain influence over the FDA in order to ensure their new and potentially profitable drugs get quickly to market without full and objective testing as to the safety of same? Is it not a problem that prison unions, who see that their profits have a direct relation to the number of dues-paying prison guards which, in turn, have a direct relation to the number of prisoners that need to be watched, have become the most powerful lobbying force for more and longer prison sentences out of pure financial self-interest rather than any philosophical belief that harsher punishments are morally required or better for society as a whole? Is it not a problem that we have politicians advocating for war simply to improve the economic bottom line of their relatives or patrons in the military-industrial complex? Is it not a problem that corporations that sell baby formula for profit have gone into third world countries and bribed obstetricians to tell mothers who give birth that formula is healthier than breast milk when, in fact, we know that breast milk is much healthier? Is it not a problem that oil companies, who see their profits linked to the noxious and polluting consumption of gas, have taken many measures to try to block the development of alternative energy sources, to the great detriment of all humanity and despite the fact this imperils the very planet on which we live? How many real-world, historical examples of capitalism leading to what can only be described as treasons against humanity, are needed in order to establish that the amorality of the capitalistic system is a fatal flaw in capitalism?

It appears that those who advocate for pure capitalism, or anything approaching it, are looking at mathematical models which include assumptions that the world is a level playing field, that businesses do not learn that they can enhance profits by manipulating political and legal systems to their own advantage, and generally that everyone in a capitalistic economy will play "fair." But this is never going to be the case because capitalism establishes a fear-based system. Everyone within the system has the perception that a wrong move, a wrong career choice, a wrong economic choice, could lead to financial ruin, poverty, embarrassment, ruin, homelessness, loneliness, sadness, or death. With that kind of generalized fear operating in the background, people who are relatively well-off, and not facing imminent threat of death or homelessness, nevertheless make choices as to how to behave in their professional lives as if they were on a sinking ship and fighting over the last life preserver. How else do you explain executives for a power plant to knowingly try to cover up evidence they are polluting local water supplies which is causing children to sicken and die, mothers to give birth to deformed children, and other horrors? Or chemical plant operators who save a few bucks by burying toxic waste next to a playground rather than properly disposing of it? This is the wonderful world of capitalism that you advocate, with its beneficent amorality?

Obviously, the amorality of capitalism is a flaw, and a fatal one at that.
Debate Round No. 2


I find it best to start with the statement "everyone within the system has the perception that a wrong move, a wrong career choice, a wrong economic choice, could lead to financial ruin, poverty, embarrassment, ruin, homelessness, loneliness, sadness, or death." This is incorrect. And for a lot of reasons.

For many people when they make a wrong career choice, they do not get fired. If a programmer accidentally gives his boss the wrong code, or a salesman doesn't close the sale, or an economist forgot to include China's GDP, or a computer IT installs Mac, they will not be fired. They have a lot of room for error, otherwise the business would lose money. To some businesses in very high demand such as a rich NYC law firm, they can afford to fire paralegals if they make a few mistakes, but they are not going to fire a lawyer if he makes them. Room for error allows growth, too much error, although, curtails it.

Wrong economic choice; well let's see, one would have to be extremely unintelligent for this to happen. If one invests all his money into a penny stock, then honestly, I think he should lose it all, and learn his lesson. If he is smart, he will use his money wisely, and a wrong choice or choices will not cost him much. Dave Ramsey is a great example.

He became a millionaire selling houses, but lost it all because he was buying on borrowed money. He got smart, capitalism allowed him to learn from his mistakes (another reason why having a system like capitalism that gives consequences for unintelligent choices is a good thing) and he proceeded to make over 50 million dollars. He is only one of the 80% of millionaires that are self-made.
So no, wrong economic choices do not cause ruin, but allow growth.

Now let us take the scenario that one does not speak English, or Spanish, or any language except Portuguese in a native town. There is one company, and they happen to be very greedy, telling him that if he makes a single mistake he will be fired. He doesn't have much money so he is unable to leave the state, or country, and thus he must take the job, but is fired after he spills coffee.
He still has the same rights to the community--he is not lonely. He is given benefits so he is not homeless. He has healthcare so he does not die. Embarrassment in this case is temporal and not very large--in cases of high popularity it may be larger, but that would be due to a mistake that he/she made. He has many benefits, and has it better than most countries in his upper scale poverty. And lastly, sadness, depending solely on what makes him/her happy--people and religion make me happy, so I would be perfectly content in his situation.

The other part of your argument was companies and people will kill to maintain a profit/popularity.
People still perform terrible acts in socialism, the only difference is that in capitalism people have more incentive. You may argue that the government could intervene and save lives. The Ford Pinto exploded on rear impact and Ford did not recall them, and people pay to hide detrimental effects as in your baby milk example.

But in the first example people would find out about it and not buy it, hence capitalism, or take the risk, hence freedom; and in the second, if the people don't know, how will the government.

The last thing I want to point out is freedom makes things work properly. When we intervene and try to be smarter than our human nature, things worsen. A great example is zebra mussels. We added fish to kill them after they were hurting other fish, but in-turn set up a chain reaction of events which moreso lead to the eventual deaths of the fish we tried to save, and others.

In capitalism problems will work their way out. Profit does not kill people, people do, and a way to counter this nature according to you is to take away people's freedom, everyone's freedom, and stunt the country's growth. But remember, socialism is not the remedy to the freedom that you didn't like. It will still happen!


ken2esq forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


You proposed very well thought arguments; I hope you come back for the last round.


ken2esq forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by fazz 2 years ago
Will the real von hayek please stand up?
Posted by blaze8 2 years ago
As a Final note on why Marx is close to Smith, both use the Labor Theory of Value. Their brand of Capitalism is inherently different from the brand we see from Neoclassical Utility theory or Informational Economics. So it is absolutely appropriate to say that Marx took Smith's theories and ran with them.
Posted by blaze8 2 years ago
Marx: Marx takes Labor Theory of Value as outlined by Smith, Ricardo, and the Physiocrats and runs with it. Marx's theory on exploitation is based solely around the Labor Theory of Value. Exploitation occurs because Labor power is squeezed out of the laborers to produce extra use value, leading to profits. Profits don't come from exchange, they come from a Laborer's labor power being squeezed into the good through increasing the length of the work-day, new technology, or making laborers work harder in the same amount of time. Furthermore, Marx believed that Capitalism would NATURALLY result in Socialism because rate of profits fall, and the capitalist has no choice but to squeeze the laborer harder and harder to recover profits, which in turn causes them to fall even more, finally resulting in a proletariat revolution. If the rich are supposed to be getting richer, as you claim, how does that reconcile with Marx's theory on falling rates of profits? Wouldn't they be getting poorer progressively?

Marx is close to Smith because both decry the "master manufacturer" class. Smith would not have spoken of exploitation, but they definitely coincide in their beliefs on the laborers having interests aligned with society. Also, for Marx, Capitalism does not "erupt" into class warfare. Marx provides a history according to Dialectical Materialism, his own philosophy and entirely of his devising, in which he claims to show that the class struggle has been ongoing for centuries, and that Capitalism is just a higher form of it. Of course, we can debate whether or not a class struggle even exists naturally in capitalism, but that's beside the point.

Now, if you want to use Wikipedia's definition of Capitalism, go ahead, just know that it isn't reconcilable with what Capitalists like Smith, Ricardo, and even the Marginalists wrote. Wiki seems is using Neoliberal ideology originating in the likes of Friedman, Mises, Stigler, Director, etc.that's a different capitalism
Posted by blaze8 2 years ago

I've read both, but someone clearly hasn't read Wealth of Nations closely, nor Capital volumes 1-3.

Smith:The three classes are the landowners who earn a living through rents; laborers, who earn a living through wages; and capitalistic class, who earn a living through profits (aka master manufacturers). Of the three classes, the landowners and the laborers have their interests in line with those of society, and not only that, but cannot oppose their own interests by virtue of the fact that one class doesn't do anything to earn their living, and the other has his intelligence destroyed by the division of labor, that which gives rise to wealth. Furthermore, the Capitalistic class has their interests diametrically opposed to those of society, and any political stance coming from them is to be treated with suspicion and not to be enacted until it has been thoroughly examined by all. Smith is remarkably contemptuous of the Capitalistic class. Add this to the fact that Smith advocates the Sovereign's presence in public works and infrastructure, and education, along with defense of the nation and maintenance of it's governing system, and Smith isn't exactly as pro-free market as you would think. Smith is a Classical Liberal, and the Classical Liberals believe that the government CAN interfere, in order to protect the system of natural liberties that arises from the economy. Prices don't factor at all into Smith's economics, because Smith (and Marx for that matter) believed in the Labor Theory of Value. Value is created in production, not exchange, so prices are useless in his analysis.

Ricardo is the first to side with what Smith classifies as the "capitalistic" class. So Marx really builds off Ricardo's work. Capitalism today is based off of Neoclassical Economic Theory and Utility theory, which is fundamentally incompatible with Labor Theory of Value. Furthermore, Capitalism as we know it today is more Neoliberalism, Chicago School post WWII.
Posted by Barnabas 2 years ago
Pfalcon1318, pure capitalism would be formally known as anarcho-capitalism if it were to be applied to more than simply economics. I am trying to look at the economics of the issue, and nothing else--you are correct though, I would probably go with more of a right libertarian policy if I was speaking over more than just the economy, but I was hoping for a debate more centered on economics.
With this idea in mind, the idea that most philosophers argue when in concern with economics is economic prosperity, perhaps I overlooked the common knowledge that I hoped would be understood to those who read the debate topic. To clarify, the system that will provide the most economic prosperity for the community as a whole.
Posted by Barnabas 2 years ago
Yes, that is correct.

In a matter of fact, this is what I find minimal.
3 small meals a day, water, living space (1 room is adequate) that ranges from 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, healthcare, and rights (assembly, attorney, justice, etc).
Additionally, I understand what you mean when you say direct democracy socialism. The idea here is not to go in depth with anything except the economical issue, but there does lie importance in the fact that that the power lies within the hands of the people and not bureaucrats/monarch/dictator etc. If you are interested in debating, read my round 2 from the other two and see if you can find a counterargument.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
I was saying that it is a left-libertarian concept, which is at least partially true. A pure capitalist economy would have no government agencies providing anything; it would be provided by private industry. But, at least in part, government owns the resources which it is providing. You are not advocating anarcho-capitalism, which is the only pure form of capitalism. Any government interference implies something else. There isn't an actual term which uses "capitalism", though i just went back to look over the webpage, and found out it is a RIGHT wing libertarian philosophy.

Either way, it doesn't matter what it's called, as long as everyone in the audience and your opponent understand it. Though i would like to know upon what grounds you intend to debate. What are we supposed to understand this debate to be about? Is it what would be more effective? Or what would create the most cohesive society? Or maybe whether or not the country will be prosperous?
Posted by Vantrigar 2 years ago
Hello Barnabus

So, just to clarify, what you intend to argue is that capitalism with a very minimal welfare component (basic healthcare, perhaps a small state pension, disability allowance of some kind and so on) is superior to any stronger forms of socialism - is this broadly correct? If so I would be happy to debate with you from a democratic socialist position. If I were to be positioned along your scale my asterisk would somewhat to the left of the communist line, but not too far. My position involves a political system of direct democracy which extends into the economic sphere, resulting in a kind of de facto socialism. I would argue that direct democracy is what should be actively fought for (preferably using parliamentary mechanisms but by revolution is necessary), and that socialism in the economic policy I would recommend or advocate to the newly empowered electorate. So, if you'd be interested in debating me along these lines, let me know!
Posted by Hayek 2 years ago
sorry. you simply state you are supporting pure capitalism and then have "oh, with an exception of basic need".....
Posted by Barnabas 2 years ago
So no, Marx does not like Smith"s philosophy of economics, and no, Smith does not like Marx"s philosophy. You then go on to question what kind of socialism I was referencing when I said "Socialism," giving a lot of examples of slightly different socialisms. If they fit the mold of Marxist socialism (to some known as social socialism), then you may argue it"
As for which capitalism, capitalism without other authors spin-off of it. There is a general definition, and of me not specifying any other form by any other economist, I meant the baseline capitalism, which makes sense, right, because I said "Capitalism".
Wikipedia: "An economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy."

You"re calling it left-libertarianism, it"s capitalism, and businesses do not care about those who are poor. Self-interest, that is what capitalism is based on, not self-interest and caring about everyone who is less fortunate.

Some of what I said before applies to what you said. In addition, it is not a "governance system with a tendency towards corporatism." It is free market economics"if no one wants a corporation then there is none, if everyone wants one, and they all get it, then there are a lot of them. What I argue for is capitalism with basic needs, nothing else.
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