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. 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.
@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!!
@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.