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Is there one specific opposite of capitalism?

My guess would probably be statism, but I'm not completely sure since it could also be socialism, communism or the like.

asked Aug 12 '13 at 15:50

Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Juan Diego dAnconia

edited Aug 12 '13 at 16:17

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The correct way to phrase this question would be to ask, "What is the opposite of individualism?" The answer is collectivism.

(Aug 12 '13 at 22:05) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

But individualism is a political theory. Capitalism is a social system based on the individualist theory.

(Aug 12 '13 at 23:03) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

And collectivism is a political theory. Statism is a group of social systems based on collectivist theory.

(Aug 12 '13 at 23:25) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

But socialism and communism are also collectivist. Which of this systems, including statism, is the most consistent with the collective and altruist roots?

(Aug 13 '13 at 15:15) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Communism is more statist than socialism, it is more consistant with regard to both collectivism and altruism.

(Aug 13 '13 at 16:31) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image
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There are some technical subtleties in this question that might not be apparent at first glance, although I concur with the initial comments, i.e.:

  • Are capitalism and communism opposites? Answer: yes.

  • Are capitalism and socialism opposites? Answer: yes.

  • Are capitalism and statism (in any form) opposites? Answer: yes.

  • Are communism and socialism forms of statism? Answer: yes.

  • Can something have more than one "opposite"? Answer: yes! 'A' and 'non-A' are opposites, but unlike 'A', 'non-A' isn't necessarily a single category. Many things may be very different from each other, yet all still be 'non-A.' In terms of social-political systems, many systems may be very different from each other, yet all still be 'non-capitalist.'

For those who may want to study different social systems further, I can recommend the topics of "Capitalism" and "Statism" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, and also OPAR pp. 369-377 ("Statism as the Politics of Unreason"). Related topics in the Lexicon include "Communism," "Socialism," and "Collectivism." The OPAR section begins with a very succinct overview:

"Statism" means any system that concentrates power in the state at the expense of individual freedom. Among other variants, the term subsumes theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and plain, unadorned dictatorship. Such variants differ on matters of form, tactics, and/or ideology ... [but] the essence of their policy is the same: war against man -- against the mind, body, and property alike.

The Lexicon topic of "Capitalism" provides a succinct description (definition) of what "capitalism" most fundamentally refers to (freedom and individual rights, including property rights and private property ownership).

It might be asked: given the very broad description of "statism" above, is every non-capitalist system necessarily statist? Are capitalism and statism jointly exhaustive possibilities? And could it be that 'statism' simply means 'non-capitalism'? Offhand, I can think of only one social system in Western history that was neither capitalist nor statist (nor a simple mixture of capitalism and controls): the democracy of ancient Athens. Leonard Peikoff describes that system is some detail in his book, The DIM Hypothesis. It would be impossible to return to that system today, however, since it was pre-industrial and would require too much "population reduction" (aka massive destruction and death) and would leave too many ruins from more modern times to distract and remind the struggling survivors of better times. (Ayn Rand concretized such a scenario in Anthem, although the "surviving" society depicted in that story is statist, in a totalitarian extreme.)

There is also ambiguity about the meaning of "opposite" in some common usages. It might refer to two things that are mutually contradictory, i.e., they cannot both exist, and they cannot both not exist; they are either-or and mutually exclusive. Either 'A' exists or it does not exist; there are no other possibilities.

But "opposite" is sometimes used to mean merely "contrary," i.e, two possibilities that cannot both exist but may both not exist. (Similarly, "subcontrary" refers to two possibilities that can both exist, but cannot both not exist. Example: "some S is P," and "some S is non-P.") Sometimes the expression "exact opposite" may be used to emphasize that the "contradictory" relation is what is meant. In the case of socialism and statism, for instance, a system can be both, indeed, it must be statist if it is socialist; but it can also be neither. The relation is: if socialist, then statist. This is a form of "all socialist societies are statist." This leads to the various alternative claims identified and studied by Aristotle and later logicians, such as contrary, subcontrary, contrapositive, either-or, excluded middle, etc. (Refer to the AEIO "square of opposition" in traditional philosophy.)

answered Aug 14 '13 at 22:34

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Aug 12 '13 at 15:50

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Last updated: Aug 14 '13 at 22:34