Capitalism is a system based on trust and mutually beneficial trade. You trade time and productivity to your employer for money. You trade that money with a business for a product you want. The money you trade has no real value unless you and the person you are trading with agree that it has value. The money itself is either a piece of metal, a piece of paper with a design on it, a number in a computer, or a signature promising to pay.
Since capitalism is based on mutual benefit and trust, it is a system that is incompatible with violence. A trade implies non-violence. If someone doesn’t like the offer you make to them, you don’t get to force them to accept it; you either have to make a better offer or you don’t make a trade at all.
How many wars were started by corporations? How many were started by governments? It’s no contest; government wins hands down. Governments have the threat of force behind many of their actions. Corporations cannot initiate force against you without the consent of government. If Starbucks all of the sudden announced they would punish people for not buying their coffee, their sales would collapse and they would go out of business. Capitalism operates in the realm of choice, whereas government operates in the realm of compulsion.
In Canada and the other democracies of the world, we place checks on the power of government. Democracy and capitalism are two sides of the same coin; if a government fails to serve the people they can choose a new government. If a company fails to serve the people, in the form of customers, the people can buy from another company. The common thread between democracy and capitalism is choice, and no other economic system provides the freedom to choose that capitalism does.
This is why capitalism is the most peaceful economic system in the world. It empowers all of us to choose our own path and make our own decisions, and it provides the abundance that allows us to take care of those who need a hand up.
Spencer Fernando is the Comment Editor of the Manitoban.