Monday, January 14, 2013

Capitalism and The Fall

Last summer, I read a book called The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.  It is heavy reading, I’ll warn you.  Like a college textbook or something -- one of those books I had to mark up as I read to understand it.  I’d recommend it for your reading pleasure, but I suspect few of you would find its reading pleasurable, and then you’d be mad at me. J

In any case, the book makes a case for capitalism, and one of the points it makes is that capitalism assumes the fallenness of man and takes advantage of it.  Other systems, it contends, depend on people being good – either the general population or the particular people who are running things.  But Capitalism assumes that people are going to be selfish – because we are – and fashions things so that my working in my own self-interest ultimately works also in your interest (or, it at least does so as well as any system possibly could).

This sculpture is called "The Fallen Man".  It's more
about war than sin . . . but the image is wonderful
and applies to both concepts, I think.
A brief example: if I start a business selling groceries, my self-interest is to make as much money as I can, to support me and my family and whatever personal obsessions I have that require money.  But if I’m having to compete with other grocery stores to get your business, then the only way I can make that money is if I earn your business.  And the only way I can earn your business is by meeting your needs: offering you good quality groceries at a good price with good service.  I serve my interest by serving your interest.  Obviously, it gets more complicated than that, but that’s the idea.
Recent discussions from past posts of mine have revealed, however, how many friends I have who essentially don’t believe in “the fallenness of man”.  At least, not as the Bible teaches it and not as this defense of capitalism defines it.  These friends believe that if people are sinful, it’s not because they have an inherent sinful nature; it’s because society has screwed them over somehow and made them sinful.  And the solution to “sin”, then, is to re-shape society so it stops screwing people over.
And furthermore, I think that all of my friends who have espoused this belief about the nature of man also happen to be liberals.  In fact, at the moment, I can’t think of ANY Christian liberal friends of mine (and I do have Christian liberal friends) who also hold to traditional Biblical teachings about such things as the fallenness of man.  Surely there are some . . . hmmm . . .
I’ve had hopes for a long time of identifying the basic core differences between liberals and conservatives.  Surely I’m being too optimistic to think that I might have hit upon one . . .

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