Buddhism and capitalism

Yes, of course, I was just providing a simple example; I didn’t get into the possibility of there being other factors of superior quality, etc. I was just assuming all other things being equal. And yes, other shops could still open with same quality and price, in other areas where there is demand for that item.

There are 78,000 7-Eleven stores around the world (employing 135,000) and with just some exceptions for culture, they all pretty much provide the same items at a reasonable price.

That is entirely true. But here on this thread, and most may be a little guilty, there is oversimplification which detracts from how complex these economic webs of human relations really are.

I am 100% certain there are good people who are capitalist, and also good people who are communist.

The real truth, in my opinion, is that whatever the economic system is, we humans are not very good at operating in a system that requires currency exchange, generally speaking. When you add governmental oversight into that, it just becomes a real mess. So I think all countries have and will continue to have their respective problems. Even utopia has its challenges, right?

They were totalitarian long before they were capitalist. You are mixing up cause and effect.

No need to trade insults thanks. As I said, the political economists don’t anticipate any reduction in authoritarian capitalism.

Those countries are authoritarian because they do not tolerate political discourse or protests. They also were communist until communist economies utterly collapsed in the late eighties and early nineties. Are you a millennial or gen-z that you don’t know your history?


You sound frustrated, but hey, don’t shoot the messsenger. I know, it sucks, but it looks like authoritarian capitalism is going to be here for a long time.

Yes and Capitalism can also influence people to behave better.

Having terrible customer service is uncompetitive, and can ruin a business. However if someone has guaranteed employment because it’s nearly impossible to get fired, as seen with government positions, they have no incentive to be friendly or have good customer service. It’s one of the reasons bureaucracies are so slow and bloated, as this segment of Obelix and Asterix depicts

In short, if your income is derived through coercion in the form of taxes, what incentive do you have to behave well to earn that income if it’s guaranteed anyway?

I think this is getting out of hand, and not appropriate on this forum. Ask yourself, is this discourse skillful or not skillful?


The topic is ‘Buddhism and Capitalism’, if you solely want to get into ‘What is capitalism?’ and lengthy detailed arguments about that, please take it off the public forum via PM, or open a new topic. Remember, this is a EBT forum after all.

Please keep in mind the forum rules about Right Speech as well.

Please don’t


What point is it you are trying to make? Russia and China were totalitarian communist states whose economies collapsed in the late eighties early nineties and instituted reforms to revive them. They realized communism was not the answer and brought in a restricted form of capitalism. How is that a negative reflection on capitalism?

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Dear All,

In order to give ourselves a chance of reflection before posting, the thread is now set in slow mode.

As reminded above:

With Metta,


This isn’t saying capitalism or physical wealth is bad, it is just saying that physical wealth is impermanent and needs to be coupled with spiritual wealth as well. I would argue that a good balance of physical and spiritual wealth is possible in the eyes of the Dhamma, and that rich people can still be good Buddhists. They just have to recognize that physical wealth isn’t permanent and should be spent on beneficial things.

The book “In the Buddha’s Words” (Bikkhu Bodhi) has chapters arranged like this with relevant suttas referenced. It therefore documents the progression from mundane right view where fortunate rebirth is the goal, to transcendent right view:

IV The happiness visible in this present life
V The way to fortunate rebirth
VI Deepening one’s perspective on the world
VII The path to liberation

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It seems Early Buddhist Sangha is closer to communism rather than capitalism. This is because Buddhist monks are not allowed to have personal money for living.

I agree.

For the record, I personally consider laissez faire Capitalism the better system. This is because it recognizes something the Buddha too pointed out - every person tends to act in their own self interest above all else.

Having explored every quarter with the mind,
one finds no-one dearer than oneself.
Likewise for others, each holds themselves dear;
so one who loves themselves would harm no other

The issue with Crony Capitalism (which is what the American dream seems to have degenerated into), Socialism (some ‘democratic’ form of which is to be found in most western countries), Communism (thankfully, I have no personal experience of this, but the reports of its excesses are legendary) et al is that such systems forcibly try to expropriate wealth from the ‘other’ using some or the other form of coercion.

The majority are generally happy to receive (with no upper limit!) wealth/ resources expropriated from a vilified minority (generally identified on communal/racial/ ideological basis). Demagogue leaders invariably step in to exploit the situation, promising to make things better << cue pithy slogan here :rofl: :laughing:>>.

The twist in the tale is that such leaders eventually fill their own pockets above all, accruing wealth and power, while their ‘majority’ support base are left with crumbs, instead of the ‘equitable’ paradise they were promised, and the dispossessed minority flee with their wealth/ resources. Overall, Society is left poorer.

The Buddha recognized the lust for excessive wealth/ power (Sensual desire) for what it is - a symptom of the universal human disease of ‘Self’ and the craving to nurture it at any cost (the complete senselessness of which is evident in the extreme actions of ‘leaders’ across the political/economic spectrum from Trump to Kim Jong Un). He recommended a gentle cure - the 8 fold path.

The Path begins with Right View - Virtue and generosity are recommended based on our own Self interest! (AN8.12, AN8.22, Ud5.3) Right Livelihood means earning wealth without harming ourself or others - and using it in a way that will benefit us (AN8.54). We take up this path voluntarily once we open our eyes and see the harm we are causing to ourselves by our greedy actions.

The Buddha does not say that having wealth is a bad thing (AN7.7) - he simply points out the superiority of spiritual wealth (which comes from our right actions) over mere material wealth (which can be a good thing, if used well). He counsels us to embrace generosity and turn our mind to acquiring good qualities in the interest of our own welfare.


There’s a new book that specifically addresses Buddhism and Capitalism.


One of the editors, Fabio Rambelli, himself, I find interesting for his book A Buddhist Theory of Semiotics. I have been prevented from delving further into his ideas on this, because I have been doing research under one of the foremost Deleuzian scholars in the world, and Deleuze is all about the simulacrum and affect as a means to intervene upon it, and, semiotics is classified as “content” and “narrative theory,” so …

However, Deleuze can’t escape signification, so … this is one of my battles … why can’t I just approach the problems I face using Buddhist philosophy, instead of using a ‘comparative approach’?

“Signlessness” is a big part of things like the Diamond Sutra, but I found a reference to “signless immersion” in the Piṇḍolyasutta (SN 22.80) … which is exciting… onward …

Regards, Megan


Hasn’t George Lakoff’s idea of “framing” basically already bridged that gap?

Because “The Academy” is still controlled by provincial White men, presumably…

We rely upon Charles Sanders Pierce for Deleuze. He’s most known for the concept of index, but we use him for his semiotics. What you’re talking about is covered off by him. You’d have to ask Laura the proper terms and definitions for them. We were supposed to memorize them, but I refuse. I intensely dislike Pierce. And you’d have to put Henri Bergson in there as well. Since he’s behind the movement image - and, so therefore time image, or three that Deleuze identified.

So, that’s all taken care of. And I still did say that Deleuze is not able to escape signification.

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These are interesting reflections, thank you. And the risk of ending up with demagogue politicians is indeed high.
I recently heard a talk by Noam Chomsky in which he mentioned that Madison in the US recognized this danger and thought that the wealthy should be protected so that the Constitution should be made to avoid this danger to the wealthy. In contrast he was saying that Aristotle recognized the same danger but thought that for him the solution was to create a welfare state.
Probably some kind of middle way would be ideal😉

Protections for the wealthy exist in the form of property rights. Canada’s charter doesn’t include property rights, but there are protections in the old Bill of Rights and common law. We have slim jurisprudence on the matter, with the decision giving a “reading” of the Charter to the effect that by no means can it be read to intend protections for property rights of a corporate or commercial nature. And we also have judicial statements to the effect that were property rights enshrined that would lead to the destruction of society.