Re: greetings in Christ

From: Brent Baccala <>
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2000 01:30:54 -0500 wrote:

> Now a quick comment on your essay.I think that you see capitalism and
> Christianity as two opposing ideologies.I do not think that this is a correct
> view.I see capitalism as a by product ,or extension even of a larger
> Christian worldview.Comunism,since we are talking about economic systems,in
> the same way,is an extension or by product of a humanistic,materialistic
> worldview.Capitalism grew out of a system that has respect for the rights of
> the individual,and therefore allows the individual to pursue its own destiny
> economically or otherwise.Capitalism is not evil in itself,but merely the
> result of a certain way of thinking.Capitalism must be like every thing else
> couched in a larger right view of the world,man and God.A tool is a good or
> bad thing only in the context of whose holding it.

You're not the only person to reply along these lines, so I think this
is an oversight in my essay. Let me elaborate my views. I mentioned at
the beginning of my essay that capitalism means different things to
different people. Just as the word "fair" has two totally different
meanings (are we talking about a condition of equality or something with
horses, 4-H clubs, and carnival rides?), I distinguish between two
different definitions of capitalism. Let's call them capitalism(1) and

        1) Capitalism as a government policy of "laissez-faire"; i.e, give
           people the freedom to choose how they spend their money and time.

        2) Capitalism as a "pseudo-religion" of greed, perhaps best illustrated
           by a remark made by a famous CEO (Michael Dell), along these lines:

           We don't do things because they're nice. We're capitalists, and we
           do things because they benefit ourselves and our shareholders.

It's capitalism(2) that I take such exception to, and discuss at length
in my essay. Let me elaborate on capitalism(1), which obviously is what
comes to your mind when you think of capitalism.

I have no objection to a laissez-faire government policy. Government is
by nature coercive; if it were not, there'd be no need for government.
But a hands-off government doesn't mean a dog-eat-dog world, and this is
what is so often advocated in the name of "capitalism". You reason well
when you compare capitalism(1), in the sense of laissez-faire
government, to a tool that can be used for either good or bad. My
concern is the advocacy of selfish ends in the name of "freedom", and
how capitalism(1) is quietly converted into capitalism(2).

Let me illustrate this with quotes from Houman Shadab's "Capitalism
FAQ", a pro-capitalism Internet essay:

In answering his first point ("What is capitalism?"), the author states:

        Laissez faire capitalism means the complete separation
        of economy and state

He then begins the next paragraph:

        The essential nature of capitalism is social harmony
        through the pursuit of self-interest

Note the transition from "complete separation of economy and state" to
"pursuit of self-interest" with nary a whisper. This, to me, is typical
of capitalists. They start talking about freedom, then as quickly and
quietly as possible shift gears into self-interest. In fact, it's two
different things. What I advocate is a society featuring complete
seperation of economy and state, with "social harmony" through the
pursuit of God, Christianity, and self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

Later in his essay, Mr. Shadab continues:

        In regards to morality, capitalism is the only moral (meaning
        pro-human-life) social system because it safeguards a human's
        primary means of survival: his mind.

Notice the curious definition of morality. I don't think morality is
pro-human-life; morality is a function of religion. Jesus taught us
what morality is when he stated "Love God with all your heart and all
your mind; love your neighbor as yourself". "Give to all those who beg
from you; and if anyone asks to borrow, lend to him without expecting
anything in return" is moral; "social harmony through the pursuit of
self-interest" is amoral.

Mr. Shadab introduces his essay with this claim:

        all accusations that are made against capitalism rest upon a flawed
        moral theory or an economic fallacy, or in other words, to condemn
        capitalism is to misrepresent capitalism.

I hope I'm not misrepresenting capitalism or Mr. Shadab, in fact, I'll
be sure to send him a copy of this email, and solicit his response. I
contend that it's capitalism itself that rests upon a "flawed moral
theory", to wit, that men don't need God and that we've now got a better
way to live our lives that what Jesus taught us 2000 years ago.

                                        Brent Baccala
       For news from, subscribe to
Received on 31 December 2000

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : 10 January 2011 EST