‘Capitalism’ has become a bad word

December 2023 Forums General discussion ‘Capitalism’ has become a bad word

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    Good news, then. That’s the opinion of US pollster Frank Luntz interviewed in the Sunday Torygraph (19 June):

    “ . . . Dr Frank Luntz is testing public opinion in Britain to find an alternative to ‘capitalism’, after 170 years of use, because he fears it is becoming a bad word ( . . . )
    Capitalism itself is already a ‘bad word’ in the US and is fast becoming so in the UK too, he says, adding “it’s one of the key things I am trying to figure out is does the country need an alternative to the word capitalism? I think it does. We are about to find out.”
    Questions on capitalism, and voters’ approach to it, form part of a giant survey Dr Luntz has put together as part of a project for the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) think tank, at which he has based himself for the summer.”

    His report for the Tory-leaning CPS is out today but doesn’t appear to say much about capitalism.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by ALB. Reason: Corrected the link to his report

    Here’s what he found (but remember that in these polls the answers are often shaped by the questions):

    “Voters are almost as fed up with business as with politicians – presenting a huge challenge for supporters of capitalism and enterprise.

    When asked to choose the biggest divide was in society, by far the most popular answer was rich vs poor (39%), twice as many as those who chose Brexit or North vs South.

    When asked what words or phrases they thought of first when thinking about British companies, the top answers were ‘Profit over people’ (chosen by 47%), ‘They put shareholders first, not ordinary people’ (44%), ‘Excessive CEO/executive compensation’ (41%) and ‘Avoids paying taxes’ (34%). ‘Creates jobs’ was chosen as one of their top four options by 32% of voters – but was beaten by the first three even among Tory voters.”

    He didn’t come up with an alternative name for capitalism. But how about ‘the profit system” as a lot of people seem to recognise?


    The novelist Ursula Le Guin’s alternative name was the ‘propertarian’ society.


    The most appropriate name is the Profit System. It is its main objective to produce profits and surplus value at the point of production


    “Propertarian” would be too wide as it would include feudalism and ancient slave society which were also based on private property.


    If he fears the word capitalism is becoming a bad word, presumably Luntz’s objective is to make capitalism sound nicer and therefore appear nicer without wanting people to actually change it. At least he didn’t manage to find a nicer word to foist onto people, which is something.

    As for socialism being more popular, of course that word means at least as many different things to different people as capitalism does, generally centred on reformism and state palliatives. When 36% of people equate it with common ownership and the total abolition of capitalism (whatever it’s called by then), we’ll be getting somewhere.


    This poll, by the sane Niemietz, claims to show that 67% of young people in Britain would want to live “under a socialist economic system”. Unfortunately, when he explains what “socialism” means, it seems they would prefer to live under state capitalism rather than private capitalism. Anyway here he is being interviewed on GB News:


    State capitalism is also private capitalism. Under any class society the state is a private institution. Socialism is not going to be an economic system


    More detail on this latest poll, bringing out what is considered to be “socialism”. Still, it appears that quite a few people under 35 don’t like what they consider to be capitalism.

    “A Forefront Market Research poll commissioned by the IEA of just under 2,000 people aged between 16 and 34 in the UK, carried out between February and March 2021, found that:

    67 per cent say they would like to live in a socialist economic system.

    75 per cent agree with the assertion that climate change is a specifically capitalist problem.

    78 per cent blame capitalism for Britain’s housing crisis.

    72 per cent support the (re)nationalisation of various industries such as energy, water and the railways.

    72 per cent believe that private sector involvement would put the NHS at risk.

    75 per cent agree with the statement that ‘socialism is a good idea, but it has failed in the past because it has been badly done’.”

    No wonder the mad marketeers are having a fit. On the other hand, Publishing scare stories (as far as private corporations are concerned) like this — two in the sane week from two different conservative think tanks — may just be a ploy on their part to drum up more funding from business.

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