Capital De Facto covers a large territory in a brief page count–as Calbay notes, it would require a dozen or more authors to explore every crucial element of capitalism. Still, readers may wish for more detail, as well as some attention paid to mathematical formalization, which the guide deliberately sets aside. Calbay’s core argument—that the relationship of individuals in the labor market is a contract between employer and employee for access to capital—would likely be more persuasive to skeptical readers if Calbay offered a more robust consideration of the power differential between labor and capital.
Calbay strives earnestly to disprove Marx–ultimately because “[c]ollectivism breeds dictatorship.” He asserts that the private ownership of capital is vital for the broader capitalist system, to avoid the dangers of collectivism and to promote freedom. He calls a society that pays “more attention to the conditions of the distribution of capital, rather than to issues of equalization of income,” and he takes time to explore older systems of production (such as slaveholding societies and feudalism) as he makes the case for the capitalist society as being the best way to preserve freedom.
Takeaway: Readers interested in understanding and defending capitalism will find provocative ideas in this economic treatise.
Great for fans of: Michael Heller and James Salzman’s Mine!: How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives, Hernando De Soto’s The Mystery of Capital.
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