My Question: Is Capitalism evil?

I’m so thankful for all the responses to the question, is capitalism evil?. The comments were excellent, thought provoking, and very helpful as I am trying to sort out all this stuff we call life.

@matthew.western, Hi Matt, yes, I agree and feel the problem does originate with the heart of man. I’m not sure if I applied the term jubilee correctly in my opening comment. My intention was to draw attention to a sense of fairness in commerce, but jubilee does not adequately address commerce and free trade as I thought it did. Thank you for pointing out the loophole, that actually opens up more topics such as taking care of parents, in general, but that can be another topic for another day. :slight_smile: I do agree with you that capitalism does seem to be the best known free market system, but I can’t help but think that God has better plans for us. :pray:

@Jimmy_Sellers Hi Jimmy, I enjoyed your input and hadn’t really considered the “market” side of priests and the feast days. And when you consider the heart of man, left unchecked the priests could have easily allowed greed to enter their hearts. It’s no wonder Jesus flipped over the tables, and then fast forward, its no wonder Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation and there was a French Revolution happened. Great input, thank you!

@Leigh_Coudriet Hi Leigh, I tend to be liberal in my politics, so your point of view is near and dear to my heart. The concern I expressed about Capitalism, and being Christian, originates from the notion that we should give all that we have and follow him, like they did in Acts. However, @andrea.l Andrea makes a great point that in Acts there was a necessity to share. I feel we should point out that prior to their deciding to pool their resources, their living Lord (oh what a privilege that would have been to be in the Lord’s living presence) specifically teaches us of sparrows having all that they need. Great points by both of you, what a wonderful conversation!! :slight_smile:

@Kenny_Chen Hi Kenny, I think you highlight very good scripture to this topic, the lessons of talents certainly imply that we should be seeking a return on investment (ROI); however, I feel like this lesson was intended to be bold for the Lord, to do something with the gifts He has given us, maybe not necessarily to invest for personal gain. In fact, the verse you highlighted, Ephesians 4:28, seems to support this as well, because it is teaching the church to repent, and to change their ways of stealing by working and sharing with those in need. Sharing with those in need bring us back to give all we have to the poor, do you agree? I cannot disagree, of course, that capitalism is a means to earn, and after all, without it there would still be some form of trade, right?. I have more on this when I respond to Tony below. Many thanks Kenny!

@tony_mercurio Hi Tony. I really appreciate the quote from Adam Smith. I love the concept of being a contributing member of society, but I dare say that modern day capitalism is far from his notion of man helping his brethren, what do you think? With respect to your comment, [quote=“tony_mercurio, post:7, topic:18990”]
On one hand, capitalism does not promote greed any more than guns promote violence.
[/quote], I have no choice but to agree, but I only agree because I actually thing guns DO promote violence, but that is a different topic altogether.

You make an excellent comparison of capitalism to communism, socialism, and fascism (all three being actively discussed in modern day, which baffles me considering the pure evil of those forms of government and commerce, young people need to read more history books!). And really, there is no comparison, capitalism is absolutely better. Also, I truly loved your comment, [quote=“tony_mercurio, post:7, topic:18990”]
Personally I like the idea of communal living and the “sharing in all” that we see in Acts, but maybe I’m just a hippie at heart.
[/quote] In fact, I think this may be the root of the problem. I feel many who call themselves Christians like to take the good parts of being showered with His Grace but are not willing to go all the way. I suppose this is what Jesus describes about the seed spilled on the rocky place with little soil.

What seems most clear to me is that God wants us to have a direct relationship with Him. He repeatedly tells us to be rid of idols and that money is the root of all evil. Jesus said to give to the poor, that God will provide, and to give Caesar what is Caesars. While capitalism may be the most balanced and fair method of commerce and free trade, it certainly is not perfect, I think we can all agree with that.

A while back a friend of mine recommended an economics book called ‘Why Nations Fail’ by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, which describes the history of several societies over the course of history. A primary theme of the book was how the distribution of power has an impact on the long term success of a nation, the more distributed the power the longer the nation succeeded, economically. The point is that the more people who have a vested interest in the economy, the more likely it will survive hardship.

I think God is trying to get us to understand this concept, the hard way. As CS Lewis wrote, “The longest way round is the shortest way home.” God has always wanted a direct relationship with us, but we refuse him so he had Samuel anoint a king. Jesus taught us to give up everything and to follow him, and that God will provide, but the church became corrupt, which led to the Reformation. Martin Luther explained that denominations should not divide up communities, meaning if a town decides to practice as Baptist, then it should extend to the entire community so they could be one church worshiping in the same style. Clearly that advice did not take too well in the Christian community and nowadays we have a church denomination on every corner like 7-11.

I mention Martin Luther only because its indisputable he initiated the Reformation, not to elevate him to any higher level. The timing is interesting and relevant, because not too long after the Reformation people started to settle in the “New World”. It seems to me there is a causal connection in history of the Reformation and what is modern day capitalism, and of course corporations. Which leads me to a closing point, I feel Capitalism is evil because of the corporate veil.

It is too easy for companies to make unethical decision in the name of profits. It is too easy for investors of 401k accounts, myself included, to turn a blind eye to HOW profits are made. It is too easy for citizens to become numb to greed. In the day in age, our retirement accounts and economic benefits are what sway us in the voting booth, which is a sad. Therefore I feel capitalism is not congruent with the message of the Bible, holistically, and we as Christians should be weary of leadership that leverages Wall Street to advance in politics.

I greatly appreciate your time to read my points of view. I’m extremely grateful for the Connect community.

with love,
Shane

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Shane,
I completely agree with you that God has a better plan. I think that’s a universal truth that applies to, well, everything. How WONDERFUL it will be when the government is on His shoulders!

There’s a great quote by John Wesley, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can,” as a biblical and godly approach to our livelihoods and wealth. Here’s a link to a modern language version of his sermon, The Use of Money: https://www.eaforchristians.org/john-wesley-the-use-of-money-12/

I’m certain there is a preponderance of profit over people in the corporate world, primarily because that is their function in a capitalistic system. But we as a society, that elects a government, should hold them accountable for their actions. That being said the “self interest” Adam Smith spoke about still drives to even our populace.

Yes, I want to protect my IRA. I don’t think of it as something I can depend on as it’s only God I can depend on, but there is plenty in the Bible’s wisdom literature that teaches us to be fiscally responsible, both for ourselves and others. The investment growth in my IRA will keep me from being a financial burden on family and my society in my retirement. I don’t see that as greed.

Also, before we throw the baby out with the bath water (a favorite old expression of mine), we should also look at the number of non-profit organizations that absolutely rely on corporate donors and charitable trusts of the wealthy. Is there self interest in a corporation being a good corporate citizen, absolutely, but good does come from it. Also an employed population is better than an unemployed population.

(Please note that I’ve spent my career in marketing communications and I’ve worked with many corporate clients that do a lot of good in the world and work to have an internal culture that empowers people to be the best they can. I also did a big project for Enron once, and yes, they were total jerks. But in a forty year career they have been the exception and not the rule.)

Does fiscal responsibility influence my vote and my views? Yup. Although my vote has aligned mostly with those who would be viewed in the corporate-greed camp, it’s not generally for that reason. For me it’s generally for the purpose of maintaining a conservative Supreme Court to help balance the rights of the unborn with the born, religious freedoms, etc. That’s just personal, but there can be many reasons why people vote the way they do without greed and self-interest being the main driver, as @Palmtree seems to have been concerned with. Generalizations generally do not reveal a full picture.

Culturally we are in a period where disruption has become viewed as a good thing. But is it? Or, is it always? History, and current events, show us that economic disruption can bring civilization to it’s knees and the result is often death and destruction, and too often it’s the poor that suffer most. It’s certainly a complex and broken world. To me it seems our best option for making the world a more Godly place is to take our focus inward. Am I conforming to the image of Christ for the sake of others? Each day am I choosing His will over mine? Am I fulfilling what I was saved for–good works. (Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.)

Thank you for getting this great dialog going. There are so many nuances to all these ideas the group has mentioned. How wonderful that this forum let’s iron sharpen iron in such a respectful way. Be blessed. Most of all, thanks for reading my clearly opinionated discourse.

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1 Tim 6:6 Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. 7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 8 But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. 9 Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.

11 But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that.

I think this is a great discussion. I still don’t think that a particular financial system is moral, Capitalism, or Socialism, even Communism, could be utilized to some success BUT ONLY if the person or person’s controlling the POWER of said system were fully completely in sync with the Holy Spirit . It is POWER and the MONEY that gives the power that seems to be the problem. at least in my opinion.
I believe that there are two things that people seem to need - Safety and Security. The absence of either of these or both, brings tremendous fear. Humans recoil from fear. Hence, we continually seek personal Safety and Long term Security. In most of the world, people cannot find either Safety or Security. In the US, many times, depending on how you are raised, you can.

Stop a moment and think about how you would feel if Jesus walked up to you today and said, as he said to the Rich young Ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Really think, what if right now, I had to do that? Jesus asked me to do that. Now consider what is racing through your mind. Is it fear? Excuses? Reasons why this cannot be done?

Self Sufficiency or God Reliance. Do you REALLY believe that God is good? Would you REALLY feel safe if HE asked that of you? Would God REALLY provide for you when you needed him to? You would have NO security. None at all… except… HIM.

That is “God Reliance” and it is the opposite of Self- Sufficiency.
And that is what our Lord is all about. What did he say…, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Are you OK with that? Jesus also lived only 33 years. Are you OK with that? The apostles were martyrs, Are you OK with that? These are our EXAMPLES. Do you believe that?
And what about the poor widow that gave ALL THAT she had to LIVE ON? Say what???!!!
And how about 2 Corinthans 8, the passage no one wants to preach on? vs 2"during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. 3 For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means."
Suffering, Poverty, Giving all I have to live on… I didn’t sign up for that!

If you would be Capitalists, remember that EVERYTHING we accumulate is NOT OURS. It is HIS As such, we had better ask HIM what HE wants us to do with it, right? Here is one small hint - 2 Corinthians 8:15. Also read George Mueller and David Platt as you consider this question.

If you would be a Socialist, remember that caring for the Poor and broken is very difficult and takes a great deal of wisdom in order to sort out the people you need to help. Every man should carry his own load, but we must bear each other’s burdens. Do you understand that distinction? And can you judge rightly as to whether you are causing someone to sin, by feeding their spirit of entitlement or whether you are truly caring for the WIDOWS and ORPHANS that God has called you to rescue?

I have lived both lives, Rich and Poor. I have been Capitalist and Socialist. All I really want now is to remember that I am already dead and it is Christ who lives through me ( if I allow Him). Since it is His life, His breath, His car, His body, His future… I ask HIM what to do with all of it. He is Sufficient in every possible way. I am convinced that after we open our hand to let go of the “things” we hold so tightly, only then can our hand be open to receive the miraculous provision that He gives.

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Here is a two part podcast that helped me on the issue:

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Here is another resource on wealth, this one from Dave Ramsey.

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Wow! Those were very good and very helpful. Thank you so much!

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Is this url no longer available? tx Kathleen

It does seem that the link is no longer available. The web provider may have changed and ported to another server, so it still may be available somewhere.

Meanwhile, Dave Ramsey has a blog on his website with lots of wonderful information. I recommend poking around there: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/?snid=start.blog

I would probably respond to this question similar to how @tony_mercurio did above on July 14th, and would add the following for clarification.

When you consider ANY economy, you have to consider where economic value ultimately comes from. The money itself has no value, as an Amish store owner might attest if you offer to buy your purchase in BitCoin. Neither does the product itself have value, as a vegan might attest if you try to barter for their services with a side of beef. Rather, value comes from the willingness of one person to trade their labor (or the fruits of it) for the labor (or fruits) of another.

Bartering is the most basic form of economy. It’s straight up trade, where Jack brings the fruits of his labor, Jill brings the fruits of hers, and they agree on how much of this is equal in value to how much of that.

Of course, sometimes straight up trade is impossible, as with between the vegan and the butcher. So you need a neutral medium that both recognize to – currency. But still, this economy ultimately depends on an agreement between buyer and seller that so much of this product is equal in value to so much of that currency. No agreement, no transaction.

In other words, value ultimately comes from consent. This is why a $0.25 baseball card might go for $20,000 on eBay, or why Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch listed in 2015 at $100 million and remains unsold, four years later, at a discounted price of $31 million.

Similarly, consent determines the value of a wage. If I work for $20 an hour, and I hand you a $20, I am quite literally giving you an hour of my life. And if this is an economic transaction, we are agreeing that what you’re selling is worth one hour of my life. Now, if you were selling your product for TWO hours of my life, I might not agree with that value… but there again, it depends on the product, and how badly I want it.

Capitalism recognizes this dynamic and… um… capitalizes on it. As scripture tells us, a workman is worthy of his meat. But rather than working WITH human nature by respecting consent, Socialism, Communism, and other economies work AGAINST human nature by framing economy as a duty to perform rather than a privilege to exchange.

I read the story of Christians who came here from Holland in the early 1600’s and wanted to live as the early church did. They shared everything. Some worked really hard and some saw no reason to work at all. One year later over half of them were dead. The following year the leader gave a parcel of land to each family and gave them the responsibility to produce what their family would need. A year after that, they had a major surplus and began seeking others to barter and trade with. It grew into a large, successful city. I say this to those who say that Socialism has never been tried in the US. It has and it failed miserably. Human nature is always the tipping point in the equation. The further one gets from Biblical Principles and personal responsibility the more issues, problems, need for laws, etc., etc. In a country of over 300,000,000 with approx. 1/3 to 1/2 desiring to kick back and be taken care of…Socialism would ultimately collapse under it’s own weight. When enough people realized that they didn’t have to work, they would stop. And when enough of those working realized that they were still forbidden (by taxation) from winning…they would stop as well. Game Over. The ability to own, to grow, to provide and succeed is very powerful. When God originally set up the Government in Israel, there was NO PROVISION set up for the Government to provide ANYTHING for individuals. This was solely the responsibility of the Church (Temple/Priests) and was accomplished with a 10% tithe on all increase. Lots of things COULD be different if everyone were 100% committed to the Word of God. Most things will fail when we are not.

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@Shane_Kennett Interesting question- I can give you my philosophical cents, perhaps that would help? Capitalism cannot be inherently evil because then the notion would be self-evident. If you have to give reasons for why capitalism is evil, then it is not capitalism itself, but rather something within the manner in which it is being utilized. It is like saying the hammer is evil: it can be used for nailing, but it can also be used for murdering. I would suggest that it is something operating within capitalism that has caused some problems, and I know for a fact that anything fallen man utilizes can fall prey to corruption, at least that is how it appears to me.

Hi Clint!

I might push back on the idea that the idea of Capitalism is like a hammer that is neutral until it is used. A hammer is an object which has an existence of its own and no consciousness of its own; therefore, the hammer in and of itself is neither good nor bad. If one wanted to push a little, one could say that a hammer is a non-naturally occurring object and, therefore, owes its existence to an idea. That idea is that things should and can be built, that nails are an effective and appropriate fastener which needs a hammer to install them in a structure. I know this is getting a bit nit-picky, maybe I have been reading too much analytical philosophy. Now, we could argue that the goodness or evilness of a hammer is secondary and owes its existence the “philosophical” position on building. This line of thought, of course, has many tributaries, e.g., if building is good, does that mean building any building is good?

The hammer is a tool that is used to achieve an end. That end owes its existence to the thoughts and plans of men. These do have a moral value, and that moral value can be extended to the tools used to achieve those ends. Of course, not all examples are clear cut. There is also the additional wrinkle that hammers can be used in a manner for which they were not intended, like killing someone. The use of a hammer in that manner would be an aberration of its intended purpose, which would be the building of structures for the flourishing of life.

A similar line of thought could be applied to humanity. Are men and women neutral as a state? If one wants to argue that humanity is made in the image of God, then they are meant for good, and evil people are an aberration not in fitting with their intended purpose.

This is a long way around to say that Capitalism has, at its core, a philosophical framework of values, such that personal property is preferable to communal property. That stance has moral implications at its heart, along with a million other stances involved in building a capitalistic society. Those philosophical underpinnings do need to be examined for their moral value because those moral values will inform how capitalism is used, not the other way around. For instance, capitalism has a lot of utilitarianism in its framework, the greatest good for the greatest number. If the toiling of one person can create enough economic gain, then that is seen as a positive, even if it comes at the expense of the one toiling. In capitalism, life is not of infinite value. Greed is absolutely fundamental to capitalism; the whole system is built around this fact (I would argue that this is why it works). The ends are good in that it is meant to be used to create a prosperous society, but we must see if that means of capitalism is good or evil. This will take an examination of the ethical assumptions underlying the system.

I think to hold the position that all things, even philosophical ideas, are morally neutral and their moral state is only established once they are used is one which might keep us from examining the moral assumptions of our societal institutions.

Just my thoughts. I would love to hear what others think.

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Interesting thoughts Joshua! But in order to make a value judgment on capitalism do we not need to understand how that idea is being utilized per its definition? It seems to me that the value judgment of a concept must be rooted in part to its definition and simultaneously how and to what degree that definition is being actualized; otherwise how could we even begin any value judgment. How and the what of Capitalism itself is morally neutral until an evalution can be given of the how and what, unless we want to say that capitalism is self-evident to a moral judgement- a seeming impossibility since we have to give reasons for the warrant. But if we have to give reasons for the warrant we must also ask is it capitalism itself or something within. If we say capitalism is the problem it cannot be the concept but the act in which it is carried out, which makes one wonder, is it really capitalism or the way it is being practiced?

Hi Clint! Thank you for the thoughtful response!

I suppose what I am saying is that capitalism is a complex issue that has had extensive work done to develop the ideas which govern it. Those ideas can be examined definitionally within themselves. I think this could be a separate analysis than how capitalism is used. It is essential to separate these two rather than have them conflated. Hence, my example with the hammer, are hammers evil if they are used to kill someone? I would argue that killing someone is an evil act, regardless of the tool used, and that, since killing is not the purpose of hammers, this is not a reflection on their moral value. The moral value of a hammer would be to examine its intended purposes.

An example from the real world: The Bill Gates Foundation donated thousands of mosquito nets to African villages to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. A lot of these went to fishing villages as mosquitos breed in shallow pools of water. The villagers used these nets for fishing. The problem with this is mosquito nets have much smaller holes than fishing nets and are covered in pesticides. The larger holes of actual fishing nets allow smaller immature fish to escape, which preserves the population. The smaller holes of the mosquito nets were killing multiple generations of fish, which decimated the fish population. The pesticides on the nets also caused population problems and polluted the water.

Now, the question can be asked, “Are mosquito nets evil?” Their intended use, to prevent disease, is a good. The nets are effective at achieving that good end. The use of mosquito nets for fishing is an unintended use that does not reflect on the item’s moral value. Would this example mean that we should eradicate mosquito nets? I would argue no. They were used in a manner that had very negative consequences, but the problem lies somewhere other than the item itself and the beliefs and values which led to their creation.

Another interesting thought that I had while writing this would be plastics. Think of the beliefs and values underlying the creation of the plastic rings that hold soda cans together. This, of course, neglects the moral value of soda itself, that would be a separate point than the one I would like to make here. Soda rings are meant to be sturdy (good), durable (good), hold items together (effective for this purpose), used once (not so good). We could argue that items designed for one-time use may not be a good use of resources. However, that issue of “one-time use” coupled with the permanence of the materials turns it into an evil, if we believe that we are to preserve the environment. If we hold up a, let’s call it a “supreme good” then anything which undermines that “supreme good” would be considered an evil in and of itself. This is before we even through one of these in the river to get caught around a turtles neck, which is not its intended use. So this is an analysis on a fundamental level rather than use, which comes at a secondary level.

When it comes to capitalism, one of its founding tenants is, “I do what is best for me, and in doing so, this will benefit society as a whole.” This idea is Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand.” Some will take this and create jobs, and others will use it to create Ponzi schemes. We can analyze the outworking and say that one of these is good, and the other is evil, absolutely. But, we can also analyze the statement itself and see if it holds values that we truly believe it. I would argue that greed is at its base so it would not, in that statement along, be something which I would consider good, I would consider it on the evil side of the “spectrum” (I understand talking about good and evil as a spectrum can cause a whole other philosophical debate, but I use it here for ease of distinction of something which is bad and that which is evil.) If capitalism could be summed up in this way (and it absolutely CANNOT, it is much more complex than this simplification), then I would say that capitalism on a fundamental level is “evil” regardless of how it is used.

On a secondary level analysis, evil actions could be considered good. Imagine if Person A were to shoot Person B intending to kill them. Person B goes to the hospital, and the doctors are able to save their life. While operating on Person B, the doctors discover a cancer that could be life-threatening and would have gone undetected but for the surgery. The doctors are able to remove the cancer and save the person’s life twice over. Is shooting someone evil? You see, the question I just asked is a wrong question. It doesn’t follow from the events. It would take too great of an induction to answer. We cannot evaluate, necessarily, an entire system based off of a few instances. Should Person A not go to jail since it ended up being a “good thing” Person B was shot? It was used to save their life ultimately. No, it is evil because a fundamental analysis will show you that this person wanted to harm another person for their own benefit. On a fundamental level, it is evil, regardless of the end results and its use case.

So with capitalism, certainly someone can use something bad for good, but if we want to know if something is good or evil in and of itself, we must analyze it at a fundamental level.

I will generalize this and say that intrinsic to personhood is moral agency. Since capitalism (and hammers for the matter) are a result of personhood (they are not logically necessary and come as a result of thought and intent of persons) they then have, inherent in their existence, a moral value. This would take a dissertation to defend, but I believe it is sound.

I hope this isn’t too muddled. I am a bit tired, what with a fussy baby at home and everything. This is a topic of discussion about which I have been thinking a lot about and am passionate. I would love to hear your thoughts further. It is an interesting discussion.

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@Joshua_Hansen I agree with what you are articulating, but something to consider is whether or not we could build a capitalism based off an ethical principle of love instead of greed? I think we could in theory. Perhaps the capitalist foundation under the statements you have drawn out can lend itself to a negative perspective. I would argue that it is not capitalism itself, but the implicit assumptions attached to its foundation - maybe we could agree with this- that is the problem, and subsequently reframe a capitalism under a different set of assumptions. And this is why I can’t subscribe to capitalism itself as implicitly evil since those current foundations could be modified, in theory, without destroying the entire paradigm.

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Hi Clinton and Joshua,

I am so grateful for the dialogue, wow! There is far too much to digest before offering a decent response, but I wanted to highlight how much I agree with Joshua that capitalism is evil because it is driven by greed, which includes a certain percentage of unemployed to maintain an equilibrium.

Clint, you ask a perfect question. In my opinion, the Word of God helps us. At one point in our theological history all debt was forgiven every seven years, and free market trade was leveraged for commerce. As we learn from Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.

Imagine if all debts throughout the world were forgiven, and as a condition, if your debt was forgiven, you were not allowed to open a line of credit until the next Jubilee. Of course there would be winners and losers to this, but not much more than what capitalism offers, agree? I’d be curious how the math falls, and I’d say to those with an extreme excess, if they are Christian, to adhere to his direction to give to all that you have and follow our Lord Christ.

One of my greatest concerns about American capitalism is how much power and influence it provides the haves and how much it hinders the have nots. Factoring in IQ levels, or as the Word teaches, talents, and it compounds the injustice of capitalism. But then again, our Lord was not too concerned about fairness as evident of his parable of the workers hire in the afternoon getting paid the same as those hired early in the day. But, I say the tie goes to the runner and forgiving debt is built into our theological DNA.

Complicated subject, which may explain why CS Lewis excluded in in ‘Mere Christianity’.

God Bless,

Shane

Yes! I totally agree with you. I certainly do no want to imply that capitalism is evil. I agree that it would be great to reexamine the foundations we have built capitalism on in order to modify them. I wanted to point our what I did because a lot of people will point to the fact that capitalism is practiced by the most prosperous nations in the world and infer that this means that capitalism is inherently good rather than dealing with the concept at a fundamental level to see if it can be improved. This is actually something John Nash did with with work on the Nash Equilibrium. This undermined the principle that the best someone can do for society is to do what is best for themselves. He revised this to “one does what is best for society who does what is best for themselves and the other members.” He also worked out at what point human nature will cause someone to break from that framework. I believe capitalism is the only realistic workable economic system possible, but, as it is based on baser instincts we must modify it and account for the “evils” which can proceed from those instincts. Capitalism exists as a spectrum. Pure capitalism would be a nightmare. It would basic be a return of feudalism. But, the tenants of other economic systems are untenable because they create a system in which people must operate in an ideal manner with little recourse if they fail to do so. So, my point is that I agree with what you just said. We should not throw away capitalism and we should examine its philosophical assumptions to modify it to ensure the means are just as good as the ends.

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@Joshua_Hansen @Shane_Kennett So, I think we could all agree then that Capitalism is not ‘inherently’ evil since, in theory, it could be modified with a good principle as its driver. Is this what we are all under agreement, more or less?

Hi! Thank you for your response. I did just want to reiterate very quickly that I did not intend to sum up capitalism in that one phrase. I tried to emphasize that if this was the foundation of capitalism solely then yes it would be evil in a sense. But, the idea was that we want to do well for society (which is not greedy) and we do this by doing what is best for us. The ends are are good but perhaps the ends are not so much. I was creating a simplified caricature for the purposes of illustration and would not be representative of my entire view. I would classify myself as a conscious capitalist. We should follow capitalism as an economic system with an eye to its dangers in order to account for and correct them. I could go into why I believe capitalism is the only viable option economically for a society (especially a pluralistic society) but I fear it would veer too far from your question.

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I would say, for me personally, I am still at the beginning stages of my investigation as to the philosophical underpinnings of capitalism. I would hold off my final judgement until then. I will say there are some very serious issues which I can see need to be addressed and a lot of good too. I studied Economics at university so I am familiar with the principles and the math, but, they don’t teach you a lot of moral philosophy in business school. Which is a shame, because it would probably lead to a better business society.

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