View Full Version : Is capitalism mandated by The U.S. Constitution?
02-25-2003, 09:47 PM
I was reading the thread on communism, and the question arose in my mind: does the U.S. Constitution say that our economic system must be capitalist? Can we have a democratic form of government alongside a communist economic system? I'm not saying we should; I'm just guessing the Constitution assumes we have a capitalist society since Karl Marx was not born yet. But are other economic systems expressly outlawed?
I doubt the Constitution would be expressly capitalist since it was written right around the same time as the theory of capitalism was first being expounded by Adam Smith.
"Wealth of Nations" - 1776
U.S. Constitution - 1787
02-25-2003, 09:57 PM
The Constitution doesn't mention economics. It was a document providing basic working rules for a new government, along with ten big things the government absolutely couldn't do: The Bill of Rights. No economics mentioned anywhere.
But while it didn't mention economics, the basic system it outlines, with regular and meningful elections and basic freedoms preserved through rule of law, is incompatible with any Communist government that has ever existed.
I would say that the Takings Clause at least envisions the people owning property (or at least not having it taken from them without just compensation, e.g. being "nationalized"). I would also argue that the Contract Clause envisions at least somewhat of a capitalist system.
02-25-2003, 10:32 PM
It would probably be very difficult for a communist system to operate without force of government behind it, so you can't really divorce the economics from the political structure. At the very least, the government would have to deprive numerous people of their property to establish communism, and this would run afoul of "due process" issues. Additionally, the federal government can only make laws relating to certain specific subject areas. While it can regulate interstate commerce extensively, and that clause is used as a catch-all for creative lawmakers, it can't really tell a state how to run it's economy.
Those would be the first reasons I'd consider, there are surely others. Even if you could get around all this, I'm not sure how you could run a communist economic system without an oligarchy or dictatorship to establish chain of command. Syndicalism, on the other hand, could be more compatible.
02-26-2003, 12:21 AM
The Constitution provides for private property and regular elections, and also mandates that state governments be organized in a republican fashion. That eliminates communism, but doesn't preclude a system like democratic socialism (especially if it were implimented at the state level).
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