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"The End of Capitalism", by James C. Bennett

A funny thing happened on the way to the Third Millennium

A funny thing happened on the way to the Third Millennium. Capitalism ended. At least, capitalism as defined by the man who coined the term. It is a peculiarity of socio-economic systems that they are typically known by the names that others give to them. The knights and princes of the Middle Ages never knew that they lived under feudalism; this name was invented only in the modern era.

Our current era is a particular case of these peculiarities. We call our economic system capitalism, and our political system one of democratic nation-states. Yet the term capitalism comes from Karl Marx, who thought that the era of market-economy nation-states was, in the middle of the 19th Century, on the verge of being replaced by a world state with a centralized command economy, which he termed scientific socialism. He was wrong about the inevitability of the transition to a command economy, as well as the desirability of that transition. These facts have finally been generally accepted. Yet we continue to accept his term of capitalism, and for the most part his definition of that system, and think of the market economy and capitalism as being synonymous.


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entered before July 9, 2006; edited/updated November 26, 2015

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