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noun\ˈka-pə-tə-ˌliz-əm, ˈkap-tə-, British also kə-ˈpi-tə-\
Definition of CAPITALISM
: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
Capitalism is at once far too rational, trusting in nothing that it cannot weigh and measure, and far too little as well, accumulating wealth as an end in itself. —Terry Eagleton, Harper's, March 2005
The United States has assumed a global burden—not just fighting terrorism and rogue states, but spreading the benefits of capitalism and democracy … —Brian Urquhart, New York Review Of Books, 9 Oct. 2003
The city was then the great maw of American capitalism. —Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic, August 2002
I am not the first to point out that capitalism, having defeated Communism, now seems to be about to do the same to democracy. The market is doing splendidly, yet we are not, somehow. —Ian Frazier, On The Rez, 2000
Even Cuba's famed health-care system has been unable to resist the siren song of capitalism. The Frank Pais Hospital … now offers “for pay” surgery to foreigners. —Ann Louise Bardach, Vanity Fair, March 1995
Economic system in which most of the means of production are privately owned, and production is guided and income distributed largely through the operation of markets. Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of mercantilism. It was fostered by the Reformation, which sanctioned hard work and frugality, and by the rise of industry during the Industrial Revolution, especially the English textile industry (16th–18th centuries). Unlike earlier systems, capitalism used the excess of production over consumption to enlarge productive capacity rather than investing it in economically unproductive enterprises such as palaces or cathedrals. The strong national states of the mercantilist era provided the social conditions, such as uniform monetary systems and legal codes, necessary for the rise of capitalism. The ideology of classical capitalism was expressed in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776), and Smith's free-market theories were widely adopted in the 19th century. In the 20th century the Great Depression effectively ended laissez-faire economics in most countries, but the demise of the state-run command economies of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (seecommunism) and the adoption of some free-market principles in China left capitalism unrivaled (if not untroubled) by the beginning of the 21st century.
Variants of CAPITALISM
capitalism or free-market economy or free-enterprise system