Capitalism, Democracy, Economics, Economy, Ideologies, Socialism, Society

Democracy and Capitalism

Back when I was growing up, there was a comforting notion that was sometimes expressed like this:  “Capitalism inevitably leads to democracy.”  Near as I can remember now, the notion was grounded in at least some history, although I no longer recall precisely how.

At any rate, it was comforting to hear.  The world back then seemed locked in a struggle between democracy on the one hand and dictatorship on the other.  The notion capitalism was another force for democracy was reassuring.

Then along came some of the East Asian economies — powerhouses of capitalism but with politically repressive governments — and the notion capitalism inevitably leads to democracy wasn’t so reassuring anymore.

Today, the world still in many ways seems to struggle between democracy and dictatorship, although the importance of some of the players and forces have changed.  Most notably, capitalism is no longer the white knight of democracy, if it ever was.  Instead, it is a mercenary loyal only to its paymasters.

The other day, I read how US corporations were selling surveillance technology to China — perhaps even in violation of American law.  It seems the Chinese have got the notion — and they seem on the verge of proving themselves right — that a capitalist economy mixes quite well with a political dictatorship.  Especially if you throw in a bit of technology to ensure you nip any dissent in the bud.

3 thoughts on “Democracy and Capitalism”

  1. I think that the idea that freedom and democracy stem from capitalism comes from the idea that people are already split into ‘the people’ and ‘the masses’.

    The Declaration..”We the people…’ included ‘the masses’ inasmuchas ‘the masses’ were willing to support ‘the people'(the landed people) against George’s monarchy.

    ‘The people’ had grave misgivings of giving ‘the masses’ the vote nevermind ‘coloreds’ and women!

    Every right of ‘the masses’ had to be fought for.

    Capitalism works pretty much the same today. How many elected officials are actually ‘the masses’ that they(Lincoln, Bush etc.) pretend to be?(they’re certainly ‘in’ with the ‘in crowd’)

    Communism pretends to BE ‘the masses’ in power, but once ‘the people’ have become established, the objective seems to be to keep that power.

    And, let’s not forget theocracies!


  2. Hmmm, something to think about (which is why I love Cafe Philos)!

    China buying surveillance technology from the US is hardly indicative of a capitalist economy. Just as North Korea & Libya buying nuclear secrets from Pakistan or China is not. See how China has derailed Coca Cola’s plans of buying the largest Chinese soft-drink/juice major.

    Free trade (both ways), open markets that led to open competition, are some, but not all, aspects of capitalism. Dictatorships will tend to choose and select the few that work to achieve their ends.


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