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abandoning words

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The Texas Trigger Posted: Mon, Oct 8 2012 2:49 PM

I feel that 50% of most arguments are not really arguments over the subject of the debate, but rather over the the definitions of the terms used by each side of the debate (pure conjecture - I have no sources for this). This is why I appreciate that when there is debate here, it usually starts with each side defining each's terms in the way each will use them.

However, in popular vernacular and debate, such rules are too over-the-head for most people, and so I have mixed feelings on the practice of abandoning words, because I see both sides of the question and don't know how I feel, especially with regards to the word "capitalism".

On the one hand, pretty much everyone on these forums agrees that capitalism is the spontaneous way in which the market functions, orders, and regulates itself absent the state. If there is a state, there cannot truly be capitalism. I will, for the sake of argument and for the minarchists that may read this, say that capitalism is a market system free of any direct intervention from a state who's theoretical sole purpose is to protect the borders from foreign attack and perhaps execute a "rule of law" to protect property rights from domestic threats, as well. 

The case for abandoning the word "capitalism" 

For a long time it seems the word has been bastardized to mean many different things. Marx confused it with Mercantilism. Most of the valid critiques he made in Das Kaptital and The Communist Manifesto were not critiques of our conception of Capitalism but of Mercantilism, at least if we ignore his contradictory sociological and economic definitions of capitalism. Many today, such as the typical Occupy Wall Street drone shouting platitudes against the 1%, conflate capitalism with fascism or corporatism (often times these can mean mercantilism, as well).

See here:

The State is an Inevitability

can there be a free market and government?

Responding to someone who thinks you need the state for Capitalism

On the whole neurosis about delineating what a state is and isn't 

Because there are so many pre-conceived notions about what capitalism is that are contrary to our conception, it seems like it would be more pragmatic to just admit they are right about what capitalism is and use a new word they don't know, like voluntarism. Most will ask what it is, and we can then explain it, avoiding the automatic turn off that people have when they hear the word capitalism. By doing this, we accept that the meanings to words change. I think the fact that even we on these forums cannot even agree what capitalism means proves this to some degree. 

Another example is the word Libertarian. According to Vive, we certainly stole that word:

"Geneologically speaking, this is correct - the word "libertarian" and "anarchist" has an association with anti-capitalistic and even ant propertarian leftism.  I think it may even have that conotation to this day in Europe,  However, in America this is tilting at windmills."

The case for not abandoning the word "capitalism"

This is basically the argument that words have meaning and if we deny this, then language is meaningless. Language is not meaningless, therefore words have meaning. The part that always astounds me about defining one's terms in a debate is that we never ask the person to define the terms he uses to define the terms he uses. If we did, we would never get anywhere because you would be defining ad infinitum. 








"If men are not angels, then who shall run the state?" 

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i went on a rant here on this subject

I still believe that most people still have the same definition of capitalism as most people here.  Yes, there are some leftists out there that dont have a clue what capitalism is, but for the most part people do understand.  Sometimes you just have to spell it out for them.  I get all the time, alright if it isnt capitalism then what is it. Its socialism.

I definately dont think we should go away from capitalism because it is the real fight, Capitalism v Socialism.  Everything else libertarians fight for  is just a byproduct of capitalism.

Eat the apple, fuck the Corps. I don't work for you no more!
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h.k. replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 5:00 PM

I concur with grant, many people around me use the term "free market" synonymously with capitalism. Society has simply become socialist and in love with price fixing.


Libertarians  need to keep preaching their love for peace, private property rights, and decentralized banking and we'll have the advantage in the long-run.  We are sophisticated people here, and not calling for violent revolutions like the other side.

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One of Walter Block's articles on this exact topic:

My long term project to get every PDF into EPUB: Mises Books

EPUB requests/News: (Semi-)Official EPUB Release Topic

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