All revolutions begin in dictionaries. I think that all confused thinking begins with an improper understanding of words — and often ends in needless man-made misery. To think and discourse effectively, we must define precisely the words we use. In the context of economics, words like “capitalism” have been misused and the concepts abused to the point that all related discussions are pointless. Douglass North said, “I don’t know what the word capitalism means and therefore I have never used the term.” 
If North, a Nobel laureate economist, hesitated using that word, who are we to use the word without at least attempting a definition? Dictionary definitions don’t quite serve the purpose. Every shorthand definition is inadequate for complex concepts. Understanding comes prior to the formulation of a concise statement of the idea, not after. It’s like the mathematical equation E=mc² — you have to understand a truckload of basic physics ideas before you can come anywhere close to understanding what the equation implies.
Take, for example, one of Ayn Rand’s definitions: “Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.”  Perfectly reasonable as definitions go but it becomes meaningful only after the concepts of “rights”, “property”, “private ownership” are properly understood. You don’t have to be a pedant to insist on precision of language but basic practicality requires we do the work of figuring out how to say what we mean.
I much prefer to use simple words and build more complex words using them. It’s like building the foundation first, then the first floor, and then on to higher floors. The words that go into the foundation have widely shared denotations and connotations. Trade (or exchange) is one such word. We all understand trade — we traded as small children, we see things traded every day, it is an universal activity. Life would be solitary, nasty, mean, brutish and short without the ability to trade. That instinct is as much a part of being human as the language instinct. Adam Smith wrote about “the propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another …”
Truck, barter and exchange
To trade stuff, we need to have stuff that others value and wish to have, and further they have something that we value and wish to have. Apples and oranges, etc. Two other words are concealed in there. Ownership and scarcity. If something is not scarce, then there is no need to trade it for something else. Sea water when we are standing at the sea shore is not scarce. There I can’t trade you a bucket of sea water for a sandwich. You can take as much sea water as you wish without giving up your sandwich — because sandwich is scarce, and therefore an “economic good” whereas sea water is not scarce and therefore is not an economic good.
But I could offer you five dollars in exchange for your sandwich. Both dollars and sandwiches are scarce. My offer of five bucks means I value the sandwich more than the money. If you accept my offer, it means you value the five bucks more than the sandwich. Therefore if we trade, we are both better off than before. We both win. No one loses when trade is voluntary.
When we exchange stuff, we bring into existence an abstract notion called a “market.” A market is where economic goods (defined above) are traded or exchanged. It can be a physical place but it can be in a “:mental” space (as when I get title to a piece of land by paying for it electronically over the web.) A market is called a “free market” when there are no barriers to entry or exit. A labor market is free when anyone can offer (or refuse to offer) and anyone can accept (or refuse to accept) labor services.
If I offer to work for you for $10 an hour, and you freely accept my offer, it’s a free market. If the government intervenes and prevents you from accepting my offer (because the minimum wage is $15 an hour), it’s not a free market. If the government forces me to work for someone (perhaps itself), it’s not a free labor market — it’s a slave labor market. What a slave lacks is the ability to exit the market. The ability to exit freely is as important as the ability to enter freely.
But what about capitalism, you’d ask. I am coming to that. Once we are done with capitalism, we can talk about what economic development is. And then we can talk whether there is something we can call “an economic development model”, and then we can talk about whether there is a Western economic model, and then we can talk about whether it makes sense to have an “Indian model” and then we can talk about shoes and ships, and sealing wax and kings, and whether pigs have wings.
A preview. Capital is central to capitalism. Well, it is central to (nearly) everything we produce and consume. To understand that, we have to first understand the process of production. We have to focus on processes, not events. Lots of things are processes but are mistaken as events. Politics, for example, is a process. So also the abstract idea of markets — a market is a process, not an event. There are events (exchanges) that occur within the market process but those events are not the market.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
 According to Irving Babbitt, the American conservative and leader of the New Humanism movement.
 Quoted in the book “The Long Process of Development” by Hough and Grier. Cambridge Univ Press 2015.
 I am a big fan of Ayn Rand. An amazing hero for freedom.