Certainly the biblical worldview implies that since God is the creator of to know God's truth through Christ and enter into a saving relationship with Christ. . it is relatively easy to see how well democratic capitalism scores in. Meanwhile, capitalism and democracy--which he believed to be strongly at .. Christian doctrine of the universal equality of man before God, which explains the . Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But, from early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God . Hence secular capitalism appeared first in the relatively democratic.
It makes a tremendous difference to know that in our country you have a shot, at least, at being president or Rockefeller. A Martian visiting earth would not be able to see democracy. It is intangible, a rulebook we have agreed to which says that no-one shall be denied opportunity, freedom of speech, or the due process of the laws. The Constitution does not say that "all men are equal"; it says we are all "created equal". This is the same thing I just said: Some will come at it with more on the ball than others.
If society is not hanging around our neck like an anvil and we are honest with ourselves, we will be content. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high. An old story tells of three men who share one eye by passing it back and forth among themselves. Democracy is a process for ensuring that each gets an equal session with the eye.
Capitalism fosters a desire to keep the eye and not share it. A rulebook, as I have said elsewhere is an end in itself, not a means. It is intended, optimisticallyto work for ever, not until we have reached a particular goal.
Democracy and Capitalism
The world does not come to an end when the nine billion names of God are uttered. Freedom of speech is not over when we have uttered a certain thing. Democracy as a rulebook is not intended to operate only until a particular individual or class has enough money. Every rulebook involves tolerance, which is a form of letting go. Under the free speech rulebook, I must tolerate the speech I despise, and not ask the government to crush it; in the democracy of the three eyeless men, I must give back the eye when my turn is over.
The pathology of capitalism is that it eventually encourages disregard of the democracy rulebook, while giving the most wealthy individuals the power to warp or disregard the rules. Once you have money, there is no letting go any more. Can you imagine anyone saying, "I am rich enough, it is someone else's turn?
This is a small, but powerfully important aspect of the human tragedy. For years, we tried to get the salespeople in my company to read the trade press. Finally, we announced that we would expect each to put leads from the trade press into our database, and suggested as a guideline that fourteen leads a month would be appropriate. Soon enough, the salespeople were falling over themselves to get their fourteen leads in; if the publication assigned for the month fell short, the salesperson would sabotage someone else by databasing the leads from his publication.
The most amusing part was that they were still not reading the publications, just skimming them for names. It is hard to govern the human heart with rules. Society can make rules which will make you participate in rituals honoring God, or avoid sex, or refrain from murdering your neighbor; but rules cannot make you love God, desire chastity, or honor your neighbor. The democracy rulebook, though it hovers above our laws which are just a distorted reflection of it has not succeeded in making humans cherish democracy, any more than most cherish freedom of speech.
What the rulebook encourages, but the human heart does not understand or want, is the long term view. There is unless we end our world what the historian Charles Beard called "an immense range of time in front of us. Bury said in The Idea of Progress: The dark imminence of this unknown future in front of us, like a vague wall of mist, every instant receding, with all its indiscernible contents of world-wide change, soundless revolutions, silent reformations, undreamed ideas, new religions, must not be neglected, if we would grasp the unity of history in its highest sense But of the two animals pulling the sled, only democracy encourages us to take this view.
It is a relentlessly cheerful discipline, telling us that if we all navigate the ship together, we will make some headway against the wind, and our children will make still more headway, and their children more still.
In Beard's introduction to Bury's book, he wrote in"all men and women are theoretically equal before the law. It is a small difference, but profound, and symbolizes the optimism of democracy about incremental progress. Capitalism takes the opposite tack.
Capitalism is inherently pessimistic or nihilistic. It is always, "things are about to fall apart, so let me take mine now," or "I will take mine, and the rest will take care of themselves.
Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. Imagine how we respond to the the tragedy of the commons under the rulebooks of democracy and capitalism.
We are, you and I and some others, the residents of a village which adjoins a commons where we all graze our sheep. Under the democracy rulebook, we meet as the village council; our concern is how to preserve the commons for our children's children. All right, shift paradigms: Our discussion, abruptly, is about how to maximize shareholder value, by extracting every last possible dollar from the commons this fiscal period.
Our grandchildren are nowhere in the conversation; they are not shareholders. Under the separation of powers implied by the two rulebooks, we are relieved of the necessity of thinking about the future, because it is someone else's job.
Our democracy creates equality of opportunity, so that every child growing up in our village can dream of being a sheep magnate. But any ambitious youngster, perceiving the differences between the two rulebooks, will prefer to give his allegiance to capitalism, because it offers quicker personal progress than democracy.
Though Weber was wrong, however, he was correct to suppose that religious ideas played a vital role in the rise of capitalism in Europe. The material conditions needed for capitalism existed in many civilizations in various eras, including China, the Islamic world, India, Byzantium, and probably ancient Rome and Greece as well.
But none of those societies broke through and developed capitalism, as none evolved ethical visions compatible with that dynamic economic system.
Instead, leading religions outside the West called for asceticism and denounced profits, while wealth was exacted from peasants and merchants by rapacious elites dedicated to display and consumption. Why did things turn out differently in Europe? Because of the Christian commitment to rational theology, something that may have played a major role in causing the Reformation, but that surely predated Protestantism by far more than a millennium.
Even so, capitalism developed in only some locales. Why not in all? Because in some European societies, as in most of the rest of the world, it was prevented from happening by greedy despots.
Freedom also was essential for the development of capitalism. That raises another matter: Why has freedom so seldom existed in most of the world, and how was it nurtured in some medieval European states? That, too, was a victory of reason.
All of this stemmed from the fact that from earliest days, the major theologians taught that faith in reason was intrinsic to faith in God. Especially typical were these words preached by Fra Giordano, in Florence in But, as even dictionaries and encyclopedias recently have begun to acknowledge, it was all a lie!
It was during the so-called Dark Ages that European technology and science overtook and surpassed the rest of the world. Some of that involved original inventions and discoveries; some of it came from Asia.
But what was so remarkable was the way that the full capacities of new technologies were recognized and widely adopted. By the 10th century Europe already was far ahead in terms of farming equipment and techniques, had unmatched capacities in the use of water and wind power, and possessed superior military equipment and tactics.
Not to be overlooked in all that medieval progress was the invention of a whole new way to organize and operate commerce and industry: Capitalism was developed by the great monastic estates. As rapid innovation in agricultural technology began to yield large surpluses to the religious orders, the church not only began to reinvest profits to increase production, but diversified. Having substantial amounts of cash on hand, the religious orders began to lend money at interest.
In addition, many monasteries began to rely on a hired labor force and to display an uncanny ability to adopt the latest technological advances. As the many great Christian monastic orders maximized profits and lent money at whatever rate of interest the market would bear, they were increasingly subject to condemnations from more traditional members of the clergy who accused them of avarice. Given the fundamental commitment of Christian theologians to reason and progress, what they did was rethink the traditional teachings.
According to the immensely influential St. Thomas Aquinas did. As for usury, a host of leading theologians of the day remained opposed to it, but quickly defined it out of practical existence. For example, no usury was involved if the interest was paid to compensate the lender for the costs of not having the money available for other commercial opportunities, which was almost always easily demonstrated.
That was a remarkable shift. Most of these theologians were, after all, men who had separated themselves from the world, and most of them had taken vows of poverty.
Had asceticism truly prevailed in the monasteries, it seems very unlikely that the traditional disdain for and opposition to commerce would have mellowed.
That it did, and to such a revolutionary extent, was a result of direct experience with worldly imperatives. For all their genuine acts of charity, monastic administrators were not about to give all their wealth to the poor, sell their products at cost, or give kings interest-free loans. It was the active participation of the great orders in free markets that caused monastic theologians to reconsider the morality of commerce. The religious orders could pursue their economic goals because they were sufficiently powerful to withstand any attempts at seizure by an avaricious nobility.
But for fully developed secular capitalism to unfold, there needed to be broader freedom from regulation and expropriation.
Hence secular capitalism appeared first in the relatively democratic city-states of northern Italy, whose political institutions rested squarely on church doctrines of free will and moral equality. Augustine, Aquinas, and other major theologians taught that the state must respect private property and not intrude on the freedom of its citizens to pursue virtue.
In addition, there was the central Christian doctrine that, regardless of worldly inequalities, inequality in the most important sense does not exist: But by the seventh century, Christianity had become the only major world religion to formulate specific theological opposition to slavery, and, by no later than the 11th century, the church had expelled the dreadful institution from Europe.
That it later reappeared in the New World is another matter, although there, too, slavery was vigorously condemned by popes and all of the eventual abolition movements were of religious origins. Free labor was an essential ingredient for the rise of capitalism, for free workers can maximize their rewards by working harder or more effectively than before.
In contrast, coerced workers gain nothing from doing more. Put another way, tyranny makes a few people richer; capitalism can make everyone richer.