Capitalism is an economic system involving the private ownership over the means of production, distribution of goods, and the overall structure of businesses. Profit motive, via success, is a key driver in a capitalist society where millions of businesses must compete against one another to survive. As a result, capitalist societies are usually among the most innovative and successful at societal advancement and technological creation. A reward-for-success model drives people to innovate, create, and produce goods or services that others want to buy.
Businesses in a capitalist society can range from a single person providing a specific service to a large multinational corporation operating thousands of stores throughout several countries. All of these companies must compete against each other for consumers. Consumers can also benefit from a capitalist system. Competition among businesses makes products more affordable and buyer-responsive than they would be if a single entity - such as a government - was the only supplier of a good or service.
Unlike socialism, fascism, and communism, a free-market economy emphasizes a structure that is free of burdensome government controls. The purest form of capitalism is known as laissez-faire capitalism. Here, the government acts only to protect businesses and only intervenes to prevent criminal activity. While the United States is considered a capitalist country, it is only partially so. Depending on the industry, socialist elements often creep in as the government exerts heavy control over production and even ownership of business. Economic capitalism is supported aggressively by conservative Republicans and libertarians.
Capitalists support a system that is entirely free-will based and participation is not forced. Consumers can choose to purchase a product, or to not buy a product and to create or not to create. Individualism and freedom are stressed. Capitalists, specifically laissez-faire purists, reject the infusion of government influence to force a product on people. Governments often subsidizes expensive products that citizens otherwise would not buy in order to push the product over other products. In it's worst form, purely political quid-pro-quo actions or special favors between government and business, often referred to as crony capitalism, is especially opposed.