To many people, capitalism is an ugly word. To many it symbolizes oppression & greed. While it is true that many self-proclaimed capitalists are greedy, it is their failure to properly implement a sustainable system that is the problem.
A barter system is generally inefficient for a global economy. Having media of exchange for products & services (forms of money) allows commerce to happen more fully the way media of exchange for ideas (internet, television, etc.) allow communication to happen more fully. If new information (“news”) had to go from person-to-person rather than on a mass scale, we’d evolve socially at a much slower rate. Now, it may be that for the health of our society we ought to move more slowly, but I don’t necessarily believe that. I think it is only true if we lose control of whatever it is we’re creating.
Money by itself doesn’t make capitalism any more than food makes itself into a meal. A working system is required to make money useful. The system & its administration are like the processes of cooking & serving the food. Money is the cook that prepares the meal (products/services). The consumer is…well, the consumer. When the system works, it is productive; when it doesn’t work, things fall apart.
The opposite of capitalism is generally accepted to be some form of communism. This assumes that because the means of production & profits are shared, the benefits will more naturally be evenly distributed. This is not true. Just because everyone is sitting at the same table & no one takes explicit ownership of Thanksgiving dinner, there may still be subtle means by which resources are not evenly distributed. Because eating habits differ, not everyone will eat the same amount of food at once. Generally, leftovers are not divided 100% evenly. If I like roast beef but don’t want any ham, there is no system in place that will automatically restrict someone else from eating any roast beef to account for my lack of ham consumption. Free will (choice) is what causes systems to succeed or fail. By this measure, I define capitalism as the economic equivalent to free will, & as such is, in its purest state, communism (where every individual acts in the interest of “the State”) because the state of the State is determined by the mental, emotional, & physical states of the individuals that populate it.
History dictates that people cannot pursue happiness when they have been deprived of free will (self-determination). When an individual’s (private) self-determination gets in the way of the ability of others (the public) to make equal choices, however, things fall apart. In a society where individuals make decisions as a way of life, likewise, room must be left for the emergence of the individual personality of the State (the product of the interaction of all component parts– id est, the People). When the People can’t accept the State that they’re in, things fall apart.