Acton Institute Powerblog

Does Capitalism Exploit Workers?

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One of the most common criticisms of capitalism is that the system exploits workers. It’s an old claim (dating back to at least Karl Marx). But is it true?

Philosopher Matt Zwolinski argues that even if individual capitalists want to exploit workers the free market tends to prevent them from doing so. However, government interference in labor markets does allow some parties to gain at someone else’s expense.

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).


  • Philosophical Actuary

    Concerning the PayDay Loan example, there is the error that minimal voluntary assent is sufficient for justice. A man never suffers an injustice willing, but in the case of the poor worker he acts out of a sort of necessity and thus his act is not voluntary but coerced or forced by something external. That the action is mutually beneficial in that both parties receive some good is insufficient for justice, that is that each party receives not some good but the good owed them.