Sunday, 1 May 2016

"Capitalism is the Legitimate Racket of the Ruling Class".

"Scarface" Al Capone [A]

Somehow I missed an equally titled post at David Ruccio's "Occasional Links & Commentary".

Prof. Ruccio makes a good case linking the increase in inequality with capitalism.

But what really impressed me is the origin of that line in the title.

It was uttered by Al Capone.

Make no mistake, Capone was no radical, socialist, or anarchist; he was a proud businessman and defender of capitalism:
" 'Listen,' he said, 'don’t get the idea I’m one of those goddam radicals. Don’t get the idea I’m knocking the American system. The American system …' As though an invisible chairman had called upon him for a few words, he broke into an oration upon the theme. He praised freedom, enterprise and the pioneers. He spoke of 'our heritage'. He referred with contemptuous disgust to Socialism and Anarchism. 'My rackets,' he repeated several times, 'are run on strictly American lines and they’re going to stay that way'…his vision of the American system began to excite him profoundly and now he was on his feet again, leaning across the desk like the chairman of a board meeting, his fingers plunged in the rose bowls.
" 'This American system of ours,' he shouted, 'call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it what you like, gives to each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.' He held out his hand towards me, the fingers dripping a little, and stared at me sternly for a few seconds before reseating himself."
Paraphrasing Oscar Wilde: you can always judge ideas by the quality of their enemies.

The whole story is told in "Al Capone on Capitalism".


It may sound contradictory coming from a socialist, but I am not fond of changes. Unfortunately, there will be lots of changes in my immediate future and, as a consequence, I'll be posting less frequently. I'll post every now and then, at least for a couple of months, until -- hopefully -- my personal situation returns to some sort of normality and I can give readers the attention they deserve.

To my readers, many thanks. Keep an eye on this space.

Image Credits:
[A] " 'Scarface' Al Capone is shown here at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge as Public Enemy No. 1". Author: Chicago Bureau (Federal Bureau of Investigation) - Wide World Photos. Image in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia.


  1. “Racketeer? Why, the real racketeers are the banks!”

    –Capone talking to Damon Runyon on the eve of his imprisonment.

  2. Gerald Horne wrote an article on organized crime in capitalism that's germane to this -- "Rethinking the Lumpen: Gangsters and the Political Economy of Capitalism." It appears in 1997 issue of Nature, Society & Thought, though the whole essay can be found rendered in more browser-convenient form in this blog post.

    Good luck with those changes!