Acton Institute Powerblog

What Would Life Be Like Without Capitalism?

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In an era where socialism is (inexplicably) once again in vogue, we should ask, “What would life be like in a world without capitalism?”

The Fund for American Studies has produced a superb It’s a Wonderful Life-style video that not only shows what life would be like if we banned free enterprise (i.e., a lot like Soviet Russia) but also makes the point that when you lose economic freedom you lose other freedoms too. As the angel says, “When you take away the carrot, all you’re left with is the stick.

My favorite part of the video:

Anti-capitalist activist: “I just wanted to get rid of the greed. I didn’t want to get rid of my microwave, my air-conditioner. . . ”

Angel: “Your Xbox.”

Activist: “My Xbox is gone?”

Angel: “Yeah, well, in this world that greedy Bill Gates work in a bowling ball factory in Akron. Lose-win, right?”

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • Howard

    Uh huh, because the only two options are socialism and capitalism, and you must pledge your soul to one of these gods. Just like the only two options are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and you must love one all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, right?

    • Pyrrho

      There’s an implicit application of the No True Scotsman and False Dichotomy fallacies in this article, and in Acton’s views on economics as a whole. The assumption is this: no true supporter of capitalism would ever criticize or suggest putting limits on the capitalist system, nor are there any other viable options, and if one is brought up, it must be immediately refuted using anecdotal evidence.

      Simply pointing out the flaws of capitalism doesn’t make one diametrically opposed to it, something that needs to be addressed. I myself am a supporter of capitalism, I think it is the best system for bringing about prosperity to the greatest number. That said, history shows laissez faire economics to be grossly unjust because it was unrealistic to believe that inherently fallen and sinful humans would or will use the freedoms granted by a deregulated system for the benefit of others. Those who can accumulate wealth to wield immense influence in society and must be treated as having an analogue to political power. Regulation and oversight are necessary in order to keep the inherent promotion of greed in the capitalist system in check.

      As Lord Acton himself said: “Power tends to corrupt…” If this is true, then we must apply this maxim to both corporate and governmental power and take steps to reign in both.

      • Howard

        The word “Capitalism” tends to be used ambiguously, and that ambiguity is frequently a calculating dishonesty. I suspect that such is the case here.

        I’ll just keep it short and say that if a spiritual being comes and says that the love of money is the root of all good, and that it is an angel — well, it really was once an angel.