What is the shortest definition of capitalism

It's easy to rail against capitalism. When it comes to the details, however, it quickly becomes nebulous. The first difficulties arise when it comes to defining what exactly constitutes capitalism. There are many definitions, one of the shortest can be found in the Duden. The best-known reference work for the German language defines capitalism as "an economic and social order whose driving force is the pursuit of profit by individuals". That leaves a lot of room for interpretation - and there is plenty of it. And there is no lack of criticism either. It's a complicated matter.

It becomes even more complicated when the question arises as to whether the whole system or only individual parts of it are to be condemned. The greatest challenge, however, is undoubtedly to come up with proposals that help to reform capitalism, or even to develop a system that is superior to it.

Models for a social, ecological and societal change

The Southgerman newspaper has interviewed economists, scientists and entrepreneurs who have developed their own ideas and are open to the discussion. Your suggestions are very different, mostly focus on individual aspects and areas, in some cases they can also be combined. They largely agree that the monster capitalism is very difficult to tame. The resistance and the inertia of the masses, which tend to reject major changes, are too great. According to the motto: it is better to stick to the tried and tested instead of taking new, unpredictable risks. However, apart from the French scientist Serge Latouche, none of the respondents wants to break radically and completely with the capitalism system because there are no convincing alternatives in sight. The times when monarchs were allowed to rule their people unrestrainedly or when the socialist planned economy managed the shortage more badly than right, nobody wishes for back.

However, the experts see the need for far-reaching reforms of a capitalist world economy. They focus on a society that is at the beginning of a great upheaval and has to free itself from old thought patterns. Climate change, the end of the oil age and the recurring financial crises are challenges that dispel the dogma that all problems can be solved with economic growth. The world is reaching the limits of its growth, raw material supplies are running out. Resources such as soil and water reserves are ruthlessly exploited. Food supplies are at risk and the gap between rich and poor is growing.

In the opinion of its critics, the capitalist system does not offer sustainable and convincing solutions for any of these problems. But that is exactly what is urgently needed. The one from the SZ surveyed experts have developed models for social, ecological and societal change. But it will only work if citizens and the state manage to break the omnipotence of capital and strengthen the solidarity of the international community.