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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/11/2017 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,151 times Debate No: 100835
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
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I am challenging the user, thebestdebate, to this debate.

Rules of debate:
1) No ad hominem, personal attacks, or insults
2) The total number of rounds used for argument should be 1 less than the total number of rounds since I am not using round 1 for argument. This is to keep the number of rounds used for argument even between us.
3) The last round used for argument should just be rebuttals to your opponent's argument and/or a conclusion. No new arguments in this round. There can be new facts and statistics brought up in this round, but only in rebuttal to your opponent's arguments.

Capitalism: "an economic system based on private ownership of the menas of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets" [1]
Private Property: "a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which is owned by a state entity; and from collective (or cooperative) property, which is owned by a group of non-governmental entities."[2]

I only defined what I felt was necessary for my arguments against capitalism. If my opponent wishes to define more terms that are part of the definition of capitalism I selected, they may do so. They're not important to me for my argument though. Additionally, if my opponent has an issue with my definitions or rules, they may say so in the comments before accepting the debate, and then we can discuss alternative rules/definitions and I will change either one depending on what we discussed.



I accept. Best of luck to my opponent and happy debating!
Debate Round No. 1


Capitalism is not as productive as Cooperative Individualism/economics
I believe it is important to have the most productive economic system there is, as it will benefit society as a whole, and I don't believe it is capitalism, but rather what is known as cooperative individualism. The definition I am using for cooperative individualism, for those who do not know it, can be found here[3]. Cooperative individualism, to simplify it, is essentially an economy in which worker cooperatives are the dominant structure for businesses and corporations. A worker cooperative is basically a business which is democratically controlled and jointly-owned by all of the workers of said business/company. As you can look at in the definition of private property I provided, it excludes cooperatively owned property, which cooperatives are inherently cooperatively owned. Since part of the definition of capitalism I provided includes private property, worker co-ops are inherently not capitalistic.

Moving on, let us compare the productivity of traditional/capitalistic companies with that of worker co-ops. It has been found in a study conducted by Ben Craig, of the federal reserve bank of Cleveland, and John Pencavel, of Standford University, that worker cooperatives within the plywood industry are more materially productive than traditional firms[4, pg 124]. The reasons they believe for this are because:

1) "A co-op mitigates the agency cost associated with a corporation's division between ownership and control". Since co-ops are owned by the workers, they are much more likely to be informed about the business decisions than if they weren't owners, thus there is no need to spend extra time from business owners to educate them on this matter.[4, pgs 124-125)

2) Worker co-ops eliminate "the separation of interests between workers and owners."[4 pg 125] As one can imagine, there are many instances in which a conventional firm would be presented with opportunities where they can make a decision that more benefits them and harms the workers. The workers would be opposed to this, and normally what happens in a conventional firm, is that bargaining goes on and this takes up precious time that could be devoted to work. In a co-op, this bargaining would not take place, since worker-owners would likely choose what benefits the majority of the workers, whereas in a traditional business, the owner would choose what only benefits themselves.

3) Workers are able to monitor each other better than in traditional businesses where the monitor is a single manager [4, pgs 125-126]. This makes sense as well, since in co-ops, the workers are the ones who make the decisions of the company, and would be involved in hiring and firing other workers. Co-workers are more often among their co-workers than a manager is, so they would be able to monitor their co-workers more effectively than a manager. This provides incentive for each worker to provide their best work and not laze around.

Capitalism is immoral and the antithesis of freedom
1) Capitalism is theft. Under capitalism, it is inherently a system where some people get to make money off of other people's labor: that is what business owners do. Why is this tolerated? Shouldn't people only be given compensation for their own labor and not other people's labor? Is a person not entitled to the product of their labor? If a person is entitled to the product of their labor, then it is stealing for a business owner to take profits based off of what the workers of that company are doing. They should only be given compensation for their own personal work, and it can be argued that a business owner doesn't even do nearly as much for the company as the workers do.

Additionally, even if you argue it is not stealing, it is still preventing other people from being able to earn more money that could take them out of poverty. The fact that a business owner takes a percentage of the profits, means the workers have a lower wage. I argue the business owner is not necessary just because of the fact that worker co-ops do exist. Here's a non-comprehensive list of some worker co-ops[5]. Thus, since capitalism promotes a system where an unnecessary person gets to take a percentage of profit that could be going to the workers and helping them out of poverty, it is immoral.

2) Capitalism is undemocratic. I believe democracy is a highly-held value in America. Yet, we don't apply it to economics. Why should a business owner be able to dictate to the workers what to do without consent of those workers? Democracy is important because it gives consent to the governed. Well, a business owner is a position of power and authority. Yet, the workers are not represented at all under capitalism. It is unjust rule. Now, while a person could argue a worker chooses where they work, and thus the business owner they work under, do they really have a true choice? Have you ever tried searching for a job before? Well, first of all, it's not easy to even find out about a job, as 80% of jobs aren't even advertized[6], then when you do apply for a job, you have only a 20% chance of even getting an interview[6]. That doesn't take into account the percent of people who get an interview, get the job either. You'd likely have to apply to dozens of jobs before even getting an employer who will accept you. That's not much choice if you ask me. You're denied many choices. After such a long job search, you're forced to settle for a tyrannical or incompetent employer just because you need money in order to survive. So, how is that choice? How is that democratic?

Capitalism pretty much always has an unemployment rate
Have you ever heard of a capitalist society with 0% unemployment? Neither have I. I argue that cooperative individualism would help bring the normal unemployment rate you see under capitalism down, possibly to 0. As you can see here, the average number of positions or employees a worker co-op has is 10[7] and comparing it to the average for the traditional business, it is greater, where the traditional business has an average of around 5-6[8]. Since worker-cooperatives generally do what is in best interest of the workers, they always try to offer more jobs than traditional businesses would. Traditional businesses would employ the minimum amount of people necessary to get the job done, while worker co-ops, on the otherhand, would have more interest in employing people for the sake of employing them. This, in turn, would increase the amount of jobs if worker co-ops were to be the majority in a society. Thus, unemployment would decrease.

Capitalist businesses are not as succesful as worker coops and pay their workers less
Cooperatives are actually, in many ways, more successful than traditional business models. For example, 80% of cooperatives survive the first 5 years of being in business, compared to 41% of the traditional business model. [7, pg 8]

In a comparative study performed by Gabriel Burdin and Andres Dean, where they looked into how cooperatives performed in the Uruguayan economic crisis between 1999-2001, it was found that "average employment and wages in WCs[worker cooperatives] tend to be greater than in CFs[capitalist firms]." [8, pg. 522] The wage being higher definitely makes sense, since in a worker-cooperative, there is no person at the top taking a percentage of the business profits as their own, personal, income. Instead, this income is spread across the workers, which would mean their wages would be higher.

It is also the case that capitalist businesses do not have a monopoly on being the only business type that has multi-billion profit turnover. Mondragon Corporation is the largest worker cooperative in the world and "is the tenth-largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover and the leading business group in the Basque Country" where, in 2015, they had a revenue of 12.11 billion euros[9]

I'll admit that it's true there are many capitalist businesses with greater profit turnover and are more succesful than Mondragon. However, given my next point, you'll soon see why.

Capitalism needs government intervention to survive as well as special favors from banks
There are constantly recessions and depressions under capitalism, and under current Keynesian theory for capitalism, it is necessary for government to intervene in the economy to keep it going. Do I even need to bring up how many companies the government bails out? Would there even be that many multi-billion dollar capitalist companies if they were allowed to fail and the government didn't bail them out? In short, our system favors capitalism in many ways, and I believe this is why it is sticking around: due to outside forces and not because capitalism is staying on its own merits. First, there are government bailouts. Second, banks tend to favor capitalist firms over other forms of business, even thoug, as I pointded out, coops don't fail as much. Finally, people are kept ignorant of other options. The vast majority(89%) of people can't even define what a cooperative is[10] but everyone is fed capitalist propaganda about what capitalist businesses are.



Thank you for challenging me to this debate! I would like to start by saying that I cannot begin to describe how refreshing it is to hear solid constructive cases against capitalism that do not include insults and the words "corporate overlords" and "fascists." The quality of your opening case gives me confidence that this will be an informative and pleasant debate. I look forward to it. I will structure my response by systematically refuting and redressing the errors within your contentions in the order you have written them.

Capitalism is not as Productive as Cooperative Individualism/Economics

I must begin by further defining cooperative individualism. Quoting Con’s third source, ‘a “cooperative” is an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled business.’ The underlying philosophy of the cooperative model is a variation of economic individualism where workers share ownership of their business, hence the term “cooperative individualism.” A brief excerpt from the Economics Library & Liberty explains that “economic individualism's basic premise is that the pursuit of self-interest and the right to own private property are morally defensible and legally legitimate[1].” It is important to recognize that the private ownership of property allows individuals to share their property in the pursuit of self-interest. This is the nature of privatization; “this is my property, I can choose to share it.” Capitalism is characterized by private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets, but (as it will be further shown later) is not limited to these characteristics. Given this information, we understand that capitalism does not necessarily exclude co-ops, rather, co-ops exist predominately and typically operate more successfully among capitalist countries ranking high in economic freedom. Private property and free trade are what normally make cooperative individualism possible in the first place. New Zealand and Switzerland are ranked by the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom as 3rd and 4th, respectively, of the economically freest nations on Earth [2]. Sweden also ranks almost 40 points higher than the world average in private property rights [3]. Furthermore, because they advocate private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets [see capitalism as defined in R1], Switzerland and New Zealand both meet the defined usage of "capitalism;” still, multiple successful co-ops can be found in each country. Migros is the most successful of these. Founded in Switzerland by Gottlieb Duttweiler, Migros was first established as a privately owned retail and has expanded internationally and become Switzerland’s #1 employer and retail chain [4]. This all transpired under capitalism because private ownership allowed Gottlieb to share his business. Despite claims made by Con, capitalism clearly does not exclude cooperative individualism. Furthermore, Con sources a list of co-ops organized by country. Ironically, the majority of these nations are defined as capitalist. To deepen this notion, [5] is Wikipedia link that includes more co-ops organized by their nation of origin. This supplements my argument as the vast majority of these co-ops operate in capitalist nations (as a funny side note, ACE is an American hardware cooperative listed on both of these sources. I live right down the street from one and never even knew that they were a co-op). Because I agree, I won’t contend that co-ops are more successful than traditional business models and that a larger scale implementation of this cooperative individualism will benefit the working class; however, I don’t need to. Co-ops are acceptable and exist predominately under the defined capitalist systems.

Capitalism is Immoral and the Antithesis of Freedom

I am one sentence into this contention and I need to stop you already. I hardly ever attempt to defend capitalism from a moral standpoint, but capitalism is not theft. As unethical as it is for management to keep an unfair portion of the total earnings a business generates, this system is voluntary. First of all, wages are the compensation for one’s labor; this is known as “wage labor.” Wage labor, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer, where the worker sells his or her labor under a formal or informal contract [6].” Contracts are written or spoken agreements (voluntary), so the sale of labor is not theft (which is involuntary). Furthermore, and you guessed it, workers have the option to decide where they work. Regardless of how likely they are to get a job and how often they are advertised, options are still available for employees and they are entirely free to find new employment to sell their labor to if they do not like their previous one. By contracting their service, workers consent to whatever they are paid and however they are managed. Also, capitalism permits democratically controlled cooperatives, so the allegation that capitalism is inherently undemocratic is false. This should have been obvious, given that capitalism is an economic model and can be attached to any political model, such as a democracy.

Capitalism Pretty Much Always Has an Unemployment Rate


Capitalist Businesses Are Not as Succesful as Co-Ops and Pay Their Workers Less

I am going to combine these two contentions into one so my response is shorter and easier to understand. Your claim that capitalism always has an unemployment rate is correct, though I am confused about the relevancy of this statement. There has never once been an economy, capitalist or not, with 0% unemployment; for that reason, we can safely conclude that unemployment is not the result of capitalism. To resolve this issue, I propose two methods worth advocating.

1) We could deregulate markets and grant businesses more freedom. The World Finance Foundation has compiled a list of the five countries with the lowest unemployment rates in the world [7]. Numbers 2-4 all are classified as “free” or “mostly free” by the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom [2]; in fact, Hong Kong and Singapore rank 1st and 2nd. The exception to this trend is Thailand, who ranks 55th and is “moderately free;” however, figures from the Bank of Thailand suggest that working hours in the country are extremely low, with many people working fewer than 20 hours a week [7]. It seems to me that a simple government hands-off policy (which I will speak on later) would be an effective tool for reducing unemployment.

2) We could reduce unemployment through the means of co-ops. I wholeheartedly agree that co-ops are successful and that a larger scale implementation of this business model will reduce unemployment and result in workers being paid more; but again, this model is most prominent in capitalist nations. What is necessary for this proposal is a cultural reform advocating the implementation of this model on a large scale. But perhaps even better, we could combine these two proposals. As earlier demonstrated, co-ops are not a contradiction of private property and they exist predominately in capitalist nations. So rather than abolishing/attacking capitalism, we should simply educate people on what cooperatives are and encourage entrepreneurs to prefer that model over more traditional hierarchal models. I feel that this is much preferable to the total abrogation of capitalism.

Capitalism Needs Government Intervention to Survive as well as Special Favors from Banks

Recessions are a natural phenomenon of all markets and nothing is going to solve that, not even cooperative individualism. This fact of economic nature occurs in every form of market, what differs are their responses to them. Keynesians do argue that it is necessary for a government to intervene in the economy to keep it going, but Keynesianism is not the only capitalist theory. For example, Rothbardian economists argue that government interference in the market is detrimental to an economy and that bailouts only create harmful dependency. I normally take a more Austrian/Rothbardian approach to economics due to its success. Good examples of this would be nations such as Switzerland and Hong Kong. The governments in those nations are not very involved in regulating their economies, especially compared to the US and Sweden, who both impose a fair amount of regulation. What is important to note is that the GDP per capita of countries with Austrian-style economics is typically higher than those with high regulation [3, 8, 9, 10]. It is only fair to say that not all capitalism is created equal and Keynesianism is not as successful as the more hands-off policies of Austrianism. It seems to me that capitalism is not the issue, but rather restricted economic freedoms.

Due to space reasons, I will have to write more constructive cases sometime later. I await your response!












Debate Round No. 2


I am glad I can offer a worthwhile debate for you, I see you are also offering quality arguments, which is good. I would like to state one thing though, DDO has in its official guide to debating, that unless specified in the introductroy round, burden of proof would be shared between pro and con[11]. It appears that in this round, you chose to rebut all of my statements. To fulfill your burden of proof, you would need to do more than just rebut my statements but offer arguments in favor of capitalism too. Just rebutting my statements(if all of the rebuttals are founded and people agree with them) would be reason to vote for a tie between us, because all of my arguments would have been illegitimate and you didn't offer any of your own in favor of your position. I would recommend offering arguments of your own in the next round in favor of Capitalism, otherwise it may be clear to voters that they should either vote for me(if at least one of my arguments is sound, and you don't offer any arguments that are pro-capitalism yourself) or make it a tie(if none of my arguments are sound, and you don't offer any arguments but rebutted succesfully everything I say). I'm just basically saying it would be in your interest to offer an argument or two that is pro-capitalism before we reach the last round(as one of the rules of this debate is you can't use the last round for new arguments, only rebuttals). However, if your goal is to make the debate a tie, then I suppose you don't need to offer arguments of your own that are pro-capitalist, but I think it would still put you at a disadvantage.

Now, I will begin a defense of my original arguments that my opponent rebutted:

Capitalism is not as Productive as Cooperative Individualism/Economics
Yes, I know worker cooperatives can exist within a generally capitalist economy, However, because the property of the business is cooperatively owned, as opposed to privately owned, it wouldn't fall under the definition of capitalism itself. Even if the property was privately owned, and then transfered to be cooperatively owned, it would still be outside of the capitalist system. I would argue that, the more worker cooperatives there are which make up a percentage of the economy, the less capitalistic the economy is. So, most economies in the world are capitalistic because they have a vast majority of capitalist businesses as opposed to worker coops or state-owned businesses. But, some economies are less capitalistic than others and more cooperative individualist. For example, Italy is a country with a higher percent of worker coops(possibly the country with the highest percent of worker coops), and so their economy would be less capitalistic than the US who has an abysmally small amount of worker coops.

Now, I do have an issue with you using the economic individualism definition that you provided. I honestly don't know about the reason why Cooperative individualism was chosen for the name of this economy type, but I feel like the individualism part of it came from individualism in general: the idea of doing what benefits the individual. Private property wouldn't necessarily be in that definition, because cooperative individualism argues that cooperatively owning things is more beneficial to the individual than private property. Again, cooperative property is different from private property.

Capitalism is Immoral and the Antithesis of Freedom

A side note: I'll be quoting my opponent a number of times in the defense of this contention. I will put their quotes in italics, and that will be what I'll do for all quotes from here on out.

As unethical as it is for management to keep an unfair portion of the total earnings a business generates, this system is voluntary.
I wish to ask this question: how voluntary is it when there is no other option in improving your lot in life? Capitalism, currently, is the predominant system in the world and most countries. There is no other option but to work for someone, or make other people work for you. Either you're the one who is being stolen from, or the one doing the stealing. Increasing the amount of worker cooperatives in an economy, would, at least, give people another option to the capitalist system that we live in. While you can say people do have the choice of joining a worker coop, I argue that most people don't have that choice, since, as pointed out before, most people don't even know what a worker coop is. To have choice, you need to know that there are other options first. If you don't know there are other options, do you really have choice?

So, I argue it is not actually voluntary. On the surface it appears voluntary, because a person seems to choose what person they work for, but all of them are the same: all of them prevent the workers from owning all of the fruits of their labor(a fruit of the worker's labor is the growth of the company, and that would give them right to own the company jointly with everyone else who contributes to the company growth). I argue that, denying the person the right to have the fruits of their labor, is stealing from them de facto.

Capitalism Pretty Much Always Has an Unemployment Rate
& Capitalist Businesses Are Not as Succesful as Co-Ops and Pay Their Workers Less
There has never once been an economy, capitalist or not, with 0% unemployment; for that reason, we can safely conclude that unemployment is not the result of capitalism.
The problem with concluding that, actually, is that it's possible that every single type of economy that has been tried results in an unemployment rate. Just because other economic forms result in unemployment, doesn't mean capitalism isn't a reason for it. All of them can be a reason for unemployment, which would make capitalism a reason for it. It should be noted, however, that cooperative individualism has never been attempted on a nation-wide scale. We can't conclude whether it would have an unemployment rate, but we can conclude it would likely have a lower one(though maybe non-existent) for the reasons I said previously.

We could deregulate markets and grant businesses more freedom...
I actually completely agree with this. If you've ever read a number of my debates, you'll see in them that I actually advocate deregulation. It might seem odd that I do, given I'm a socialist, but socialism isn't necessarily about regulating the market to death like some on the right would have you believe. Socialism is a very broad term that encompasses many things, and I would argue it would encompass cooperative individualism, but that would be an argument for another debate.

So, I would suggest implementing both ideas: deregulating the market and increasing the amount of worker coops. I would actually want to increase the amount of worker coops to the point where capitalist businesses are a thing of the past.

Capitalism Needs Government Intervention to Survive as well as Special Favors from Banks
Recessions are a natural phenomenon of all markets and nothing is going to solve that, not even cooperative individualism.
I would argue recessions would be minimized if we had cooperative individualism, though I wouldn't necessarily argue it would get rid of them entirely.
Rothbardian economists argue that government interference in the market is detrimental to an economy and that bailouts only create harmful dependency. I normally take a more Austrian/Rothbardian approach to economics due to its success.
I would agree to this notion too. I would likely apply Rothbardian economics to cooperative individualism. That is where I think GDP/capita would be increased the most and we would have the most stable market there is: applying both ideas. Again, I'm unsure if recessions would be completely out of the picture if both ideas were implemented, but I think it would keep the economy much more stable than it usually is under any type of capitalism.

Re: libertarian socialism (you didn't mention this, but I thought I'd bring this up to give you a better idea about myself)
I imagine you've probably never encountered an individual like myself. I'm not trying to brag, it's just that I'm probably very unusual. I agree with you at times, such as where we agreed on deregulating the market, but I would still be considered a leftist in that I support a left-wing economy. I identify as a Libertarian Socialist. As a Libertarian, I oppose government involvement in just about everything. As a socialist, I support the democratic control of the means of production. Having an economy of worker coops would be the democratic control of the means of production. It would just be a very decentralized democratic control of the means of production, for every business would be democratic. I don't support the centralized forms of socialism: where everyone in a society gets to vote on the decisions of every company. I only support the idea that the workers of that company, themselves, should get to vote on the decisions of that company. Thus, the form of socialism I support is decentralized. Usually libertarian socialism is a decentralized form of socialism. Many people may not even consider us socialist or libertarian, but I would argue we are.

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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
Oh, I didn't see your comment until now. I'll issue a debate challenge to you again and we can just copy and paste our current arguments in and then start from there.
Posted by thebestdebate 3 years ago
I was actually going to ask if that might be possible. I ended busy all day yesterday and didn't have time to start yet.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
If it's an issue of that you didn't have the time to respond, we can just let this debate forfeit and start over again. I'd suggest just copying and pasting the arguments from this one, and start where we left off.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
You will be responding soon right? I hate when debates are forfeited. If you think you can't win, it would be more courteous to concede the debate. I've done that before.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
Something I will probably reiterate next round is that capitalist businesses fail at a 59% rate, while cooperatives do at a 20% rate. This would, I believe, make cooperative individualism more stable in terms of recessions and economic downturns than capitalism. I agree that having less government intervention would help stabilize things and increase the GDP/capita, but I think this can be even more improved by having cooperative individualism.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
Also, it may be a little confusing in my first part I just noticed. I said "I would recommend offering arguments of your own in the next round in favor of Capitalism..."

However, I should have written "I would recommend offering arguments of your own in THIS ROUND in favor of capitalism". I lost track a little bit of the rounds when I posted that I think. I was thinking I was the second one to post my arguments for some reason, which would have made it the next round for you and not the same round as me. So, yes, I would recommend stating your arguments that are pro-capitalism, and not in rebuttal to my arguments, in round 3. You can use round 4 to rebut my defense against your rebuttals. Or, if you find you have room, you can do both in round 3. Whichever.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
Oh yeah, to add to that last part I added about libertarian socialism and myself:
The picture I have is very symbolic of libertarian socialism. The black color is representative of my opposition to government, the red is representative of my support for socialism. The fist is also a symbol of socialism.

Just in case you were curious about my picture.
Posted by Capitalistslave 3 years ago
Lol, yeah, I should probably put a warning on my debates that I use almost all of the character limit often, and my opponent will probably need to do a lot of writing.
Posted by thebestdebate 3 years ago
Argument coming tomorrow. You gave me a lot of writing to do!
Posted by thebestdebate 3 years ago
That's okay
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