Re: capitalism essay

From: Brent Baccala <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 04:30:38 -0500

> Anonymous wrote:
> I wonder as I read your essay and responses regarding it, if maybe
> the point is missed. Is capitalism compatible with christianity , is
> communism? Is anything?

Good point. I do think that part of capitalism (the freedom aspect) is
salvageable, but I don't make this clear enough in the essay. I'm
working on a revised essay that will more clearly address the points
that have caused confusion by my readers.

I do think that "anything" is a bit strong. Freedom is compatible with
christianity, if people use freedom to pursue Christian goals.
Democracy/monarchy may be compatible with christianity, if the
majority/king pursue Christian goals. Yet some things (selfishness) are
incompatible with Christianity, and I'm still attempting myself to draw
these lines - thus the essay, the follow-ups, and the revision I've got
in the works.

> Thats what I wonder. Did Christ set
> his thought beside others or above? Did He say "render to ceaser"
> because he was copacetic to taxation? Did he buy food at market with
> money he earned or did he usually create it out of nothing? Would He
> be strenuosly opposed to marx while rubbing eldows with adam smith?
> Wasn't our lord a sublime and ironic contrast to the daily hubbub of
> premodern economic life and by 'economic' I mean any monetary system
> existing as a guide for disrtibuting wealth between a particular
> society's consumers. Did He care that the money always migrated to the
> top of the food chain. Did he care that the Romans overtaxed his
> people? Was it proper for Christ to pay his taxes with 'fishey-money'
> or did he live outside this system of commerce to lay bare the kings
> new duds?

Excellent points. I suspect he cared about all these things, but what's
interesting is that he didn't prescribe political solutions - his
solutions were personal and spiritual in nature.

I recall a memorable sermon whose basic premise was that if you could
ever justify a campaign of political liberation, it was 2000 years when
Rome was the terror of the Mediterranean, the Israelites served the
emperor, slavery was as commonly accepted as money, idolatry was
practically a state religion, etc, etc. Yet Jesus didn't organize a
single protest march, and given his powers, he could have conquered
Rome. Some people (Simon Peter) were looking for a political messiah,
and had to be convinced otherwise. The sermon stuck in my mind, because
I, like Peter, have a tendency to look for political solutions.

One of my great questions is, how would Jesus react to democracy? 2000
years ago it was a moot point, but what happens when Caesar invites
everyone to take part in the government? How do we chose leaders in a
Christian way, and can a true Christian be a politician? I don't know.

> As you have properly perceived already I do consider Christ
> as the eternal outsider. Why? Why sould He not accept the way we run
> buisness, why do I suspect He is mightily ashamed with His laodicean
> namesakes? He was different, unique, weird, unruly at times, Jesus was
> God out of our box! Well you may say that through his blood and your
> faith you have houdini'd the box yourself. But wait, define the box
> please. As you will soon see you have escaped your sinful chains but
> all people people christian or non are bound by the system that locks
> up their food.

Amen to that, brother. Note that at the end of John, Jesus makes a
point to tell Peter three times - "feed my lambs", "tend my sheep",
"feed my sheep". The emphasis on food is significant. If we could feed
ourselves, it might mean more than all the other freedoms put together.
See my essay on Robotics for some rudimentary thoughts on how we might
achieve such a goal using technology. I really want to pursue the ideas
in that essay; I think it would be such a wonderful thing if people
didn't need money in order to eat.

> In the former soviet russia they waited in line for
> food and life's amenities in 'God's' star spangled America we trade
> our best (in labor and self-effort) for money which we take to Giant
> Eagle and wait in the same line for our food.

Q: What's the difference between capitalism and communism?

A: In communism, you stand in line to get into the store.
   In capitalism, you stand in line to get out.

(one of my favorite jokes)

> Is it just me or
> did Lenin simplify it. Hey were not communists or captialists were
> Christians. That's right as opposed to every other system of man. Not
> unlike the amish who never left the bronx. You never heard of them,
> you know its sad neither have I.

My dread terror - becoming the Amish who never leaves the Bronx. Thanks
for your wonderful comments, and sorry it took me a week to get back to
you. Keep me in your prayers; I'll do the same for you.

                                        Brent Baccala
       For news from, subscribe to
Received on 22 January 2001

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