Capitalism refers to several schools of thought and models in regard to Economics. First emerging in the 18th century with roots stemming to John Lock and Adam Smith, capitalism is based around private ownership of industry, said privately owned industries are organized towards making as much money as possible, thus driving them to expand the scope of their operations and develop new methods to make themselves more efficient and productive as well as causing them to invest in new technologies. Important to capitalism is investment: people giving money to those engaging in production, trade, or other developments in exchange for a share of future profits. Economic development in a capitalist society is governed by market forces such as those of Supply and Demand.
Flaws of Capitalism
While capitalism was successful as a driving force behind the Industrial Revolution, there are numerous shortcomings to the system.
- Wealthy corporations can become powerful forces in their own right due to the resources that they have at their command.
- Private industries are driven to obtain as much profit as possible. If obtaining a greater profit margin can be done by paying its employees bare-subsistence rates, producing unsafe products, or disposing of toxic wastes by simply dumping it into the ecosystem, many of them will do it.
- These problems are magnified if a corporation becomes a monopoly in a specific field, as when they achieve such status, they can hold on by crushing any upstart that might arise through market saturation or buying them out. This inevitably leads to stagnation.
For these reasons, the affairs of private industry are generally regulated to prevent abuses of power.
Capitalism in Science Fiction
Science fiction tends to have three major categorizations of how it depicts capitalism...
- A background element
- Accentuating the negative aspects of capitalism (powerful amoral megacorperations, environmental destruction, callous disregard for human life, use of armed thugs and bribery to achieve goals when legal means fail)
- An overly romantic view of capitalism (to various degrees), particularly common in Libertarian propaganda