Capitalism works through three clearly defined codes of conduct; demand and supply and greed.
No offence, Builder, but this is an informational site first and a debating site second, so I need to clarify what some of these terms mean.
is the private ownership of the means of production of goods -- as well as other resources. It does not mean that open markets determine prices (so it does not mean "supply" or "demand"). The most common alternative to capitalism is "socialism"
, where means of production are commonly owned. Usually "commonly owned" means the state owns them.
The "market system"
, on the other hand, refers to the money-based system, where individual producers and consumers choose what to produce, who produces it, and who consumes it. (Supply and demand come into play here.) The Soviet alternative to that decision-making device was "economic planning", where the state made decisions about what to produce and how to distribute it.
Now although it's important to distinguish term from term, it's true that capitalism and market economies tend to develop together, since they are both associated with a weaker government. Likewise, planned economies and socialism tend to develop in tandem; stronger government drives them.
Further misconceptions about capitalism and market economies:
"Greed is the fault of the capitalist system."
This is so
false. For the purposes of this thread, I'll define greed as an irrational desire to have more than others have. Greed can ruin the lives of poor folk wherever the power-hungry gain control of the means of production. Under market capitalism, the power-hungry gain that control by becoming wealthy. Under centrally-planned socialism, they gain control by climbing to the top of the planning apparatus.
This fact has great bearing, IMO, on the question of whether capitalism is working or not. Perhaps, it is not so much capitalism itself that is failing us, but the turn things have taken towards control of our resources by giant bureaucratic transnationals, who know no code of conduct but "take, take, take--whatever the human cost."
"Market capitalism could not survive without greed."
Nonsense. People will always want
things, and the simple tendency to want nice things is not, in itself, greed. What's sick about our world is the way that wanting "more things than others have" has become almost the end-all-be-all of life. If you have a million dollars winnings on the poker table and your opponent still has his shirt, then somehow haven't "won" yet. That
attitude is greed, and it's everywhere; and the idea that capitalism can't survive without people adopting that attitude is nonsense.
Adam Smith said that when individuals acted out of self-interest it led to the greater good of all, but somehow that has morphed into the diseased view that impoverishing one's neighbour is right and good and will lead to the greater good of all. That is a warped view, because "self-interest" doesn't mean putting everyone else down; it can also mean lifting others up, especially when those others have the wherewithal to enrich your life in turn. (And, if you happen to be a giving person, "self-interest" can even mean lifting up the fortunes of others who will never
be able to help you out in turn, simply because you don't enjoy watching others suffer.)
"To choose capitalism means rejecting collectivism, and vice versa."
Collectivists should embrace market capitalism, because it's a more efficient way of figuring out what to produce than planned socialism is. Rich capitalists should embrace a collectivist attitude, because if they don't agree that their system should be steered into working in everyone's interests, they'll find workers very recalcitrant about going to work. (I mean, hell, how can you expect the poor to work willingly for someone who adopts a hostile attitude towards their interests?) In summary, then, capitalism and collectivism are not mutual exclusive. One is the right system, and the other the right attitude.