Clash of liberal capitalism and democracy - AHMET ULUSOY

Clash of liberal capitalism and democracy

We generally associate capitalism with democracy. Yet today, no capitalist society can be identified as democratic. Because in capitalist societies, people’s freedom, in the true sense, could not be provided for and ruling governments have not answered before society.

Capitalism and democracy represent rules that are in serious contrast with one another.

So much so that capitalism is characterized as economic privileges being in the foreground by taking ownership rights as a basis. Whereas democracy prioritizes freedom and the democratic liability of giving account.


In practice, democracy is identified with freedom and the sovereignty of the people. Yet freedom means becoming organized and the expression of political, cultural and religious thoughts.

On the one hand, democratic institutions impede the economy’s fundamental logic of function by restricting capital’s ability to make profitable investments and discipline workmanship to a certain extent and eliminate its dynamism.

On the other hand, when the capitalist class is very powerful, it reduces the share of other groups – primarily the working group – from the national income and turns the distribution of income to its own favor.

In other words, a well-functioning democratic system restricts capitalism and powerful capitalist systems restrict democratic rights.


Friedrich von Hayek, by saying, “It is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism,” states that democracy is not all that important for advocators of liberalism and emphasizes that at a measure, democracy and liberalism are in conflict.

Ownership rights and citizenship rights are very important in democracies with a vision. Yet, these two rights are in conflict with capitalist governments.

For example, you are black. You go to a patisserie and ask for a cup of coffee. When you are not given coffee (because you are black), you refuse to leave the counter. Your friends support you and you conduct a sit-in protest.

A sit-in protest is one dimension of liberalism, in other words, individual rights, while another dimension clearly reveals that it can conflict with ownership rights.

This protest is in perfect compliance with the capitalist market’s ideology as well. Because the fundamental condition of the capitalist market is the, “whoever you are, if you are paying the price, you can buy that product” principle.

In this case, liberalism identifying freedom with capitalism with a strict approach is in complete contrast with the right that property owners use to exclude.

The fundamental threat that stands as an obstacle to the liberal capitalist system is not socialism, it comes from the complete expansion of individual rights, in other words, from democratization.

The hegemonic structure in capitalist countries feeds militanism and radicalism.

Democracy will be the one to impede the capitalist system rather than socialism.


There is a very close relationship between the supervision of wealth and the supervision of production.

A formation (like a co-op system) that will politically encourage democratic decisions may change the social networking of a production only at the cost of low efficiency.

In a sense, if you put into action democratic decisions, it means you will consent to the drop in productivity. This is another indicator that shows why capitalism and democracy are conflicting.


As a matter of fact, liberal political philosophy cannot compromise with the liberal economic theory.

While liberal political philosophy gives the good news that the individual has the power to change their own life, a liberal economic theory is on the side of an economic system that provides benefit to nobody other than a couple of people.

Liberal economic theory contributes to the legitimacy of lack of power, oppression, rather than revealing the claim of capital being a universal force by making its power invincible.

Meanwhile, there really isn’t much of a difference between Marxism and liberalism in terms of essence. One defends first class despotism while the other defends state despotism, which serves capital.


In an age that is proud of bringing down all walls in the name of economic freedom, I guess the peak of compulsory schools, mental institutions and prisons, social insanity, drug and alcohol abuse, street incidents need to be perceived as the “fruits” of liberal capitalism.

The obligation to answer for one’s deeds, thanks to both freedom and democratic participation, will largely increase democratic emotions and abilities.

Capitalism and democracy have reached an intersection. One of the roads at the intersection is one-way. Hence, it will not be possible to take back any wrong step taken.

P.S. Samuel Bowls and Herbert Gintis’s book titled, “Democracy and Capitalism” has been taken as a reference for this article


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