Capitalist - Term Overview


Capitalist is a term that refers to the economic agent who controls or owns the factors of production to produce wealth. It's also that person who is sympathetic to the capitalist system or capitalism.

The capitalist is that person who, counting on the capital factor, controls the means and factors to produce wealth in an economy. The figure isn't born with capitalism. A system that prioritized the capital factor over the rest of production factors, such as labor or land. The term, in another sense, also refers to a person who is a participant or shows sympathy for the capitalist system, even if he doesn't own or control capital.

Thus, the capitalist is, on the one hand, the investor who owns the capital. At the same time, on the other hand, that person who shows a clear sympathy for capitalism and the free market.

Origin of the term capitalist

While capitalism arose during the pre-industrialization of the seventeenth century, the term capitalist began to be used before the appearance of the system. Already in the middle of the 16th century the use of the term "capitalist" is known. The first use is due to the English writer Arthur Young. Which, in his work "Travels in France during the years 1787, 1788, 1789", published in 1792, makes use of the term to refer to those who, in the economic system, owned capital.

For Marxism, promoted by Karl Marx, it's that privileged class person who controls the means of production. In other words, the entrepreneurs who, taking advantage of this outstanding situation, take over capital as the main factor of production, with which, later, they exploit the proletariat.

David Ricardo also makes use of the term in his main work on Political Economy "Principles of political economy and taxation". Here, the classical economist uses the term to refer to those who, being of the ruling class, are private owners of the means of production.

Adam Smith also refers to the use of the term capitalist to address entrepreneurs. For Smith, the entrepreneur is the capitalist, since it's this who generates profits through invested capital.

The word began to have a greater use in economic language after the 18th century, when the industrial revolution and the advance of capitalism managed to model the economic and social system of the different territories.

Criticism of the capitalist

Throughout history, various authors, among which Karl Marx stands out, have been harshly critical of the figure of the capitalist. For Marx and these authors, the capitalist is that person who, taking advantage of an inherited advantage, possessed capital and, with it, the factors of production.

For Marx, this possession of capital was used in a perverse, evil way to exploit the proletariat, appropriating the benefits that, for the author, corresponded to the worker.

However, this figure has also been strongly defended throughout history by other authors. Economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, as well as those economists of the classical school have defended the figure of the capitalist.

Out of these discrepancies, an intense debate has arisen throughout history about the performance of capitalism and the capitalist.

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