I'm in favor of "market socialism" under democratic auspices. I suppose you could call me a far leftist, although some other leftists would disagree.
I don't think it's possible to kill off the "spirit of enterprise," exactly. Although I wonder what you mean by it.
To give you a serious answer, I think some of the "spirit of enterprise" is admirable, a force for progress in the world, a spirit that seeks liberty for the little guy.
But at the same time, I think the "spirit of enterprise" is also partly based on one person's impulse to be "better," richer, more powerful than another person.
And through the mechanism of "enterprise," I think, some individuals in fact strive to dominate & control & exploit other people -- for money, for time, for political control, and sometimes for really petty ego concerns.
I mean, everybody has a war story about having had a bad boss and feeling forced to laugh at the boss's jokes, right? Or having had a bad boss, and being insulted or attacked or even sexually harrassed by the boss, because the boss was kind of a nut case?
As a democratic socialist, I think one big virtue with capitalism is that it frees the legitimate "spirit of enterprise," the spirit of the great inventor trying to bring an important new tool to the world, or the spirit of the small independent businessman or artisan striving to keep his independence in a rough world,
The big fault of capitalism as a system, however, is that it also frees the negative aspects of the spirit of enterprise.
It frees some people to become rich, so they can lord it over their neighbors and flex their political power at election time. It frees some people to become abusive bosses, or reckless bosses who make bad gambles on the economy.
It also frees some giant enterprises to become destroyers of all smaller, potentially competitive enterprises, so that the little guy trying to make a success of his or her indendent business is plowed under by the giant multinational company. And it frees some large and small companies to become organization leeches that squeeze the maximum amount of profit out of their hapless employees -- as many Chinese and Western corporations are reportedly doing to today in China, for example.
But I agree-- both the good parts AND the bad parts of the spirit of enterprise are probably hard-wired into human nature.
The desire to be independent, the desire to create a new thing and sell it, the desire to excel at your job -- and the desire to become King of the Mountain and grind all of your neighbors under your feet due to your enormous wealth & power are ALL "all too human," as Nietzsche once wrote.
At the same time, though, human nature is hard-wired to revolt against some of the abuses that come from the bad side of the entrepreneurial spirit.
People usually despise abusive & incompetent and sexually harassing bosses, for instance. Workers in corporate settings who feel disrespected and exploited on the job often commit minor and major acts of sabotage.
People just naturally revolt against being exploited -- at least they revolt when the exploitation becomes grossly obvious, or when it hurts too much economically. And people despise being insulted, emotionally abused, sexually harrassed, and simply disrespected by their bosses.
Small business owners naturally revolt against being destroyed by larger, more monopolistic competitors.
Therefore, the "spirit of enterprise" if left unchecked leads to perpetual conflict, as the human nature that leads some people to want to dominate clashes with the human nature that leads other people to resist.
So maybe we need a better way of thinking about "entreprise" and "human nature" that can be acceptable to both conservatives and market-friendly socialists and anarchists.
Maybe we need some ways of applauding & supporting the positive sides of the spirit of enterprise -- the democratic, freedom-loving, positively creative side -- while recognizing that the domineering and abusive side needs to be checked.
Because it's "human nature" to want to check capitalist abuses, even if it's also "human nature" to want to be a capitalist yourself. "Human nature" doesn't only side with the business man; it sometimes sides with his victims.
Answered By: Andy F - 4/19/2011