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To be anti-capitalist or anti-capitalism is to recognize that "capitalism is a profit-driven economic system that, in spite of its supposed material benefits, is rooted in inequality, exploitation, dispossession, and environmental destruction." -Jeffery R. Webber, Beautiful Trouble Anti-capitalism rejects that capitalism is the only or best available way to operate a society.

Anti-capitalism is a critique of contemporary capitalism particularly of:

  • Its values
  • Its institutional character
  • Its neoliberal nature

Why criticize these aspects?

Global and corporatist capitalism, guided by the search for ever greater profit, seriously threatens [the ecosystems], destroys the life of entire communities mainly located in the global South and weakens our real and so-called democracies. [1]

Capitalism perpetuates and reinforces systems of oppression.

See our definition of capitalism for examples of its consequences.

  • "As a system of accumulation and dispossession, capitalism justified European expansion and the colonial exploitation of the majority of the peoples of the planet and the despoliation of the lands they inhabit." [2]
  • This model of social organization was put in place by historically privileged Western groups, notably the 'lords' within the feudal system. [3] When their colonial and racist ideologies intertwined, the enrichment of the same individuals could increase. Today, the people profiting most from the capitalist system are likely to be descendants of the most privileged groups of the pre-colonial and colonial period. This lucrative relationship to capitalism stems from their social position in 'the dominant group.' We will call the members of these groups who enrich themselves on a daily basis “capitalists” in order to facilitate the explanation of anti-capitalism.
  • Capitalism is based on domination. Its development is nourished by a racist and colonialist ideology. It fits into other pre-existing unequal relationships and systems such as sexism, and ableism. The oppression it engenders is universal, affecting each group at different levels. Thus, the anti-capitalist struggle must be intersectional.

Capitalism perpetuates injustice

The broad critique of capitalism defended by the anti-capitalist current is as follows (with details added by the HUB) [4] :

The liberalization of capital (put in place by the capitalists having power over action on the institutions shaped by them) allowed the expansion of this economic model. As a result, large companies had new specific aims and several sectors were relocated. These aims were:

  • The search for hard-working people and productive power (or labour) at the lowest possible price (exploitation of people)
  • The search for the most permissive environmental legislation (exploitation of nature)

The relocation of companies is done with the motive of increasing profits. Some countries in the Global South also wish to attract this foreign capital in order to benefit from it, but in a very limited way. The result is a relaxation of environmental and labor standards by the elite at the expense of the rest of the population.

In addition to the exploitation of people and nature, capitalism aggravates existing injustices through several mechanisms:

  • The liberalization of trade leads to a concentration of power around large companies or multinational corporations. They enrich themselves economically and acquire power over workers, consumers and the population as a whole.
  • This power has been institutionalized. We have put in place structures so that it is protected, reproduced and preserved over time by the creation of economic and non-economic institutions. [5] At the international level, this establishment has been achieved in particular by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
  • Capitalist governments also legislate accordingly and to the benefit of large corporations following the ideology of neoliberalism.
  • The countries of the Global South whether they were/are in agreement or not with the liberalization of capital and trade did not have a say in this matter. They were forced to participate in it and make the countries of the global North benefit from it, in particular through the structural adjustment programs implemented by world powers with converging interests. [6]

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  1. Parker, Martin, Fournier, Valerie & Patrick Reedy. The Dictionary of Alternatives: Utopianism and Organization, 2007, Zed Books, pg 338.
  3. Meiksins Wood, Ellen. The Origins of Capitalism: A Longer View, 2017.
  4. Parker, Martin, Fournier, Valerie & Patrick Reedy. The Dictionary of Alternatives: Utopianism and Organization, 2007, Zed Books, pg 338.
  5. Polanyi, Karl. "Economics as Institutionalized Process" in Economic Systems in History and Theory, 1975, pg 239-249.
  6. B. Gelinas, Jacques. And if the Third World financed itself, 1994. Ecosociete pg 248.