Buddhism and capitalism

Capitalism does not inevitably lead to totalitarian, a state controlled economy does and less is produced without incentives to produce more than a minimal quota. There is also less incentive for innovation.

As far the fed is concerned, is very limited in what it has control of. They can also be impeached I believe.

It’s limited control to restrict the money supply available to an entire nation, and beyond? OK.

Trade and markets existed before capitalism, sure. What makes Capitalism is capital, which is to say profits being used to grow the business be that your own or another, as you say. My shop owner was an example of capitalism, since he used the profits to buy another shop. The profit was used as capital. This is different to say feudalism, where money was used to build non-productive things such as cathedrals or palaces.

Incidentally, as a banker Anāthapiṇḍika was a capitalist.


To wade in…

Note: I think the word “capitalism” has come to be used by some as a pointer to laissez faire capitalism or (less extremely) Reagan/Thatcher capitalism. Or, in some cases, almost a pointer to all that is wrong with modernity. Here I use the word “capitalism” as a descriptive term for an economic system in which individuals or businesses can own capital goods (the means of production) and hire labor to work for them. It includes a wide range of countries, with various levels of government intervention and programs.

I think Buddhism and Capitalism are orthogonal - Buddhism neither fundamentally supports capitalism nor is it fundamentally incompatible with capitalism. Before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. He understood the need for ethical people. His free market writing is best understood in conjunction with his book on the morality. It seems that having more ethical Buddhists in the market would create a better system. So I just don’t see a contradiction between Buddhism and Capitalism.

McMindfulness also came up. Once you’ve used the word “McMindfulness,” you’ve already judged. The real question is whether mindfulness taught outside a Buddhist perspective is helpful or harmful. I’ve certainly seen it be quite helpful in the therapeutic setting. It seems to me we can’t make blanket statements about mindfulness outside Buddhism - in some settings it is quite helpful. In other settings, it is being touted by snake oil salespeople. One needs to use one’s judgment on a case-by-case basis.


It is okay because it is a micro economic decision that the people through their representatives agreed to. They chose to moderate extreme booms and busts.

It does not limit personal choice. Personal decisions remain personal. The feds powers do not enable it to micro manage peoples decisions. Micromanaging peoples lives is what totalitarianism is. Deciding to produce one kind of bread and how much takes away personal choice.

I have worked with many Russians, Poles, and Chinese who lived centrally managed economies and the verdict is in. They sucked with a capital S-U-C-K-E-D.

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Correct, in fact being a capitalist and greedy typically backfires. For example, a restaurant selling pizzas raises its price to $20. Across the street is another restaurant, selling the same size pizza for $12. Everyone goes to the $12 place and the greedy capitalist goes out of business.

To be a good businessperson and entrepreneur, one must understand what their customers want, have empathy, improve the quality and provide the service for a reasonable fee. Otherwise, they will not be successful and might even go out of business.


I have seen this too. Some of the most fierce anti-communists are those that lived under communism. It provided no incentives for making quality products and made everyone poor. The only ones who had a good standard of living were the communist party leaders.

My wife was a medical student in a communist nation. She acquired an opportunity to leave and go to the U.S. and gain instant asylum, as someone fleeing a communist nation. She jumped on that opportunity, arriving in Washington, DC with no money. She had to wait tables as a waitress. Later her friends asked her if she considered going back to finish her medical degree in that communist nation. Her answer was “NO WAY, being a waitress in the U.S. was far better than anything could ever be under communism.”


Russia and China are still classified as authoritarian capitalist states. And political economists don’t anticipate any changes to that. Myself I reject teleology.

I have resisted commenting on this post because this dead horse is realling taking a beating … but

Come on now. This is not how it works at all. There are so many factors that go into a situation like you mentioned. If this logic was always true then capitalism actually wouldn’t work because if every pizza was a $12 pizza there would be no desire to ever make more money or acquire the status required to buy a $20 pizza. If a restaurant goes the extra mile on service, food quality, etcetera … there are plenty of people willing to pay extra for something. If a Company A makes a car that gets one from point A to point B but Company B makes a fancier car that still gets one from point A to point B … how does one explain why there are people willing to pay thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars more for something that does the same job as something else that costs less? Desire for something better than something else (often expressed in it costing more) is a legit driving factor of modern consumptive capitalism. This isn’t even taking into account competition and all that.

And all the nuances will keep us arguing about it forever. So I digress … again.

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,