What We’re Talking About When We Talk About Capitalism

I’m increasingly persuaded that we have no real idea — especially among the part of my generation that likes to fret about capitalism.

Like our politics and much in our culture, I think it’s little understood but roundly disliked. It simply gets lumped in as part of The System, and hence part of The Problem.

There’s an old idea that it takes several generations to build up civilizational knowledge, and several more for it to erode from within. It’s hard to confront today’s problems armed only with a summary of a summary of a summary of how things got this way.

Like little kids who don’t need to try sushi to know they don’t like it, we confront the unfamiliar without context and dislike that which we do not understand.

If capitalism needs to evolve, as so many insist it must, we had better start by getting some kind of a handle on what we’re talking about when we talk about capitalism.