Has Capitalism Changed? An International Symposium on the Nature of Contemporary Capitalism

Has Capitalism Changed? An International Symposium on the Nature of Contemporary Capitalism

Has Capitalism Changed? An International Symposium on the Nature of Contemporary Capitalism

Has Capitalism Changed? An International Symposium on the Nature of Contemporary Capitalism

Excerpt

Unlike natural sciences such as physics or chemistry, economics, as a discipline in social science, suffers from frequent abuse by laymen of the technical terms which economists at least strive to define scientifically. In a way, this is unavoidable inasmuch as the subject matter of economics concerns directly the bread and butter of everyday life as well as the wherewithal for lofty affairs of the state and yet the discipline, alas, has not attained that degree of unified, systematic maturity which would evoke unqualified respect for its specialists. Economists themselves are partly to blame for this state of affairs. Instead of being satisfied with adding a stone or two to the common edifice, too many of them, especially good ones, have been prone to build one's own which by nature of the case could never be complete even with assiduous buttressing by their faithful disciples. Thus "a new name for an old thing" reappears in an endless train.

The word "capitalism" has suffered, almost as badly as any other term, in the jostling confusion in which the discipline of economics has found itself. Each of the economists uses the term almost as he pleases, and non-academic writers apparently feel free to twist its meaning to suit their momentary convenience. The expression like "Soviet capitalism," meant to apply to the present-day Russian economy, illustrates the degree of confusion which now exists. In such circumstances, the query of "Has Capitalism Changed?" could convey different meanings to different persons. Thus in tackling this problem, I made special efforts in two respects: (1) to define the term "capitalism" as an economic system as precisely as I could, in such a way that it could be clearly distinguished from other economic systems such as socialism . . .

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