Libertarians like to say often that one of the reasons people don’t like capitalism is because what we capitalism today isn’t capitalism as we think of it. They are thinking of mercantilism, which is what our current economy is based on, whereas libertarians equate capitalism with the free market. The argument is that if people understood the difference they wouldn’t oppose capitalism and thus a lot of misunderstanding could be cleared up by differentiating.
I disagree. My own experience has been that most people equate the free market with capitalism. They know what it is. And no matter how much you explain that our current economy is fascist and mercantile in its nature, it won’t persuade them that state intervention in the form of regulations and subsidies are harmful. If you’re able to get them to reject the idea of a central bank due to the boom-bust cycle, you’ll be lucky.
There are some people who oppose the free market (capitalism) for the same reason they oppose libertarianism; they’re narcissists. They’re insecure and afraid of their own perceived failings and how it will be reflected in their life. The state is a wonderful means of cloaking inferiority that would inevitably and natural arise through voluntary interactions and a marketplace where people’s achievements were more or less merit-based.
Or, more nefariously, one can argue that they are victims of oppression; it is why you will see people say contradictory things, such as decry the bigotry of racial groups then complain and whine when they leave the region. They’ve created a false oppressor and require its presence in order to maintain the charade. The state can be used in a similar manner.
The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote as much in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality.
In his writing, he refers to capitalism as the free market (emphasis added):
Now we can try to understand why people loathe capitalism.
In a society based on caste and status, the individual can ascribe adverse fate to conditions beyond his own control. He is a slave because the superhuman powers that determine all becoming had assigned him this rank. It is not his doing, and there is no reason for him to be ashamed of his humbleness. His wife cannot find fault with his station. If she were to tell him: “Why are you not a duke? If you were a duke, I would be a duchess,” he would reply: “If I had been born the son of a duke, I would not have married you, a slave girl, but the daughter of another duke; that you are not a duchess is exclusively your own fault; why were you not more clever in the choice of your parents?”
It is quite another thing under capitalism. Here everybody’s station in life depends on his own doing. Everybody whose ambitions have not been fully gratified knows very well that he has missed chances, that he has been tried and found wanting by his fellow man. If his wife upbraids him: “Why do you make only eighty dollars a week? If you were as smart as your former pal, Paul, you would be a foreman and I would enjoy a better life,” he becomes conscious of his own inferiority and feels humiliated.
The much talked about sternness of capitalism consists in the fact that it handles everybody according to his contribution to the well-being of his fellow men.