"Capitalism has socialized production. It has brought thousands of people together in the factory and involved them in new social relationships."
- – C. L. R. James
"Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite."
- – Attributed to Yakov Smirnov
"Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds"
- – John Maynard Keynes
Capitalism is an economic system in which industry and trade are controlled by private owners in a bid to make as much profit as possible. Key to the idea of capitalism is the idea of investment, spending money to finance an operation like a sea voyage or a factory to gain more money later on in a cut of the future profits. This sort of approach to gaining wealth was used by some merchants and nobles to some degree since the invention of money, but it really came into its own Western Europe between 1500 to 1800. Capitalism can be considered the polar opposite of Communism, whose tenets center around abolishing currency and ownership rights.
Of course, the proven failures of Communism do not mean that particular implementations of capitalism, in either the 1860s or today, are without flaws, or that the basic ideas behind socialism/communism are defective in themselves. However, other analyses of these flaws, and solutions for them, have been proposed by people who have adjusted for circumstances that Marx could never have foreseen or were otherwise more willing to take a gradualist approach. The most notable is probably Henry George, who identified private ownership of land and other natural resources, rather than private ownership of capital in general, as one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated against humanity, and proposed fixing it with a tax on the unimproved value of land rather than with a global revolution. Needless to say, if the Bolsheviks had read his book Progress and Poverty instead of Das Kapital, history would have gone very differently. Then again, taxes are a lot less sexy and appealing to
philosophy majors (whosoever wrote this has likely never even seen a university; John Rawls, especially his work "A Theory of Justice", is the complete hotness in contemporary political philosophy - and it's highly socialistic, with a hardcore stance for wealth-redistribution) and disgruntled workers than violent revolution and radical reorganization of society and the Bolsheviks' interpretation of Marxism was considered quite unorthodox to begin with in its own time.
The concept of Capitalism has had an impact on /tg/ like many political systems have, as they are perfect to create races/settings/empires from. Many human and other civilised nations in other settings use capitalist trade and economic ideas in their settings, and often national relations between races depend on existing trade agreements (busty elf maidens need to get paid somehow!).
Grim Dark Capitalism For All Your Role-Playing
And Warning Needs
Because capitalism is the boring dominant ideology of today, dystopian societies in works enjoyed by /tg/ tend to either be monarchies, theocracies, fascist or communist. However, the extremes of capitalism are explored in works that show what happens when the free market is not restrained by some force. These societies will have the wealth accumulated by 1% of the population who reenact the pre-fall Eldar by partying and doing other decadent shit while their slaves get scraps despite doing the heavy lifting. While these evil corporations may justify the state of things, that's easy to do from your comfortable position.
Cyberpunk as a whole is a representation of where capitalism could lead us. Those wanting to create a cyberpunk role-playing scenario will notice that the established works will feature not only the previously mentioned class divide, but a lot of pollution and privately owned mercenary groups or corrupt police murdering the fuck out of dissenters they also spy on with the latest hardware.
Oh gee, that sounds like real life. *BLAM* Nothing to see citizen, keep on shopping.
Another dystopian capitalist society may be a blatant analogy of old-school colonialism where certain empires invade random skubs for resources because corporate said so.
Finally, the heresy known as Monopoly was designed to show us all how bad capitalism is with the most tedious and depressing board game you will ever play. Unfortunately, it is a best selling board game so either this was Just As Planned or the makers were the perfect Troll. Actually only the original version, titled the landlord’s game, was meant to bash Capitalism. But then Parker Brother’s changed the rules to make the long drawn out affair we all know and loathe today.
The Card Game
Capitalism is also the name of a card game (also known as Rich Man, Poor Man, Presidents or The Great Dalmuti). Players are dealt cards, and try to discard their hands as quickly as possible. Each trick is set by whoever leads -- for instance, a player can lead with two threes (the card value order runs from three up to two, as opposed to the usual two up to ace), and the next player must play a pair of fours (or fives, or whatever) or pass, and so on. Whoever plays the highest cards in a trick wins it and gets to lead the next, and whoever is out of cards the first becomes the "rich man" (or "president" or "first" or some other title), and so on, until the last player with cards becomes the "poor man". Some variants of the game have twos usable as "bombs" to win a trick (even if the trick is something other than a single card), but players who use a two as their last card immediately become poor man.
Cards are dealt again for the next round, but before play begins, the poor players must trade their highest-value cards to the rich ones (who may give whatever cards they please). For example, in an eight-player game (usually played with two decks of cards), #8 trades three cards with #1, #7 trades 2 with #2, and #6 trades 1 with #3. Hence the name: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. The only consolation to the poor is that the poor man leads the first trick.