Friday, August 31, 2007

Capitalism good or evil?

The Economist Blog is running a series of posts by guest blogger Chris Coyne on "the link between capitalism and democracy":

To reiterate the connection between capitalism and democracy, free markets tend to foster democracy because private property, which is central to any notion of capitalism, produces a sphere of autonomy that grants each individual certain liberties. Private property disperses power and shields each person from coercion. Further, well-defined property rights tend to encourage the emergence of private civil associations. As I discussed in an earlier post, these private associations provide individuals with an alternative form of governance where the state is ineffective or absent. A robust civil society fosters self-reliance and individual responsibility, characteristics necessary for any liberal democratic order.

Of course the Economist would defend capitalism, but I tend to be fairly sympathetic to these sorts of arguments, maybe because I've owned businesses most of my adult life and have even exploited a few employees, but also because I'm all about shared purpose through self-organization. Fundamentally I get the feeling that what pro-market advocates are defending and at least some left commentators are attacking when they talk about "capitalism" are two different things, and that both sides are begging a whole range of questions.