The Teleology of Capitalism

Does capitalism have a particular teleology? If those who believe strongly in the virtues of unfettered free-market capitalism were to think teleologically, what ideal end-state would they imagine, and for whom?

Popular critiques of vulgar or orthodox Marxism understand its ideal goal to consist of class struggle leading to socialist revolution followed by a worker’s utopia wherein “after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (Critique of the Gotha Program). Critiques of various forms of Marxism that admit a more sophisticated understanding still often find a solid target in teleologies that imagine some remedy to the appropriation of unpaid labor and a loosening of the bourgeoisie’s private ownership of the means of production: so, yes, Marxisms by definition often imagine some future circumstance toward which they work.

Do the advocates of free-market competition similarly imagine some ideal future circumstance — and if so, what does it look like?

The Teleology of Capitalism

One thought on “The Teleology of Capitalism

  • February 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

    As if the advocates of free-market competition actually have a singular definition of what actually constitutes a “free-market”. Much like a truly communist or socialist government has never existed, a truly free-market has never existed either. That being said, I don’t believe the future for a free-market is an end-state, but rather a society where those who have access to control within the market are freely able participate and grow their control individually.

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