General Question

alive's avatar

Can someone please explain to me how any Christian can be in agreement with Capitalism?

Asked by alive (2923 points ) June 7th, 2009

So capitalism came along LONG after christ and the bible, but it seems to me that most of the teachings of the bible are contrary to any capitalist notions. I know that the “protestant work ethic” brought us the notion of “pulling one’s self up by one’s own bootstraps” and that is supposedly the cornerstone of capitalism. but if one follows the teaching of the bible (for example, a person should give all of their excess income to the poor) then how can a christian condone capitalism?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

151 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

it’s called hypocrisy

LC_Beta's avatar

Supposedly capitalism originated because people saw profit as God’s blessing. So, the more profit you made, the more blessed you were. This inspired people to invest profits in their businesses.

marcosthecuban's avatar

There’s no ideal system. @alive. Are you suggesting a superior alternative?

mammal's avatar

simple linguistic error, somewhere along the lines they confused their prophets with their profits, easy mistake to make.

DarkScribe's avatar

So capitalism came along LONG after christ and the bible,

Do you really think that there were no merchants or trade before Christ, let alone in the millennia after him? The only thing that came later was the definition.

Palestine was the conduit between Asia and Europe, Phoenicia and Egypt were heavily into manufacturing. The Dead Sea was know in those days as the “Asphalt” sea because of the trade in asphalt. There was tremendous trade, in wool from Palestine, plus food into Phoenicia, Iron, spice etc., all taxed, but not government controlled, so it was basically capitalist.

Judi's avatar

I am a Christian but I have always said “Heaven is a Monarchy. Get used to it.”

alive's avatar

@DarkScribe trade is not capitalism

alive's avatar

@marcosthecuban well a follow up question that i wasn’t going to bother with is:
Is there any economic system that makes sense with christian values.

I don’t know if there is. But I always see that bumper sticker: Jesus was a Socialist.

It all seems like a mistake of people thinking a-historically. a mixing a lot of things up.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive trade is not capitalism

Trade IS capitalism. Free trade. Capitalism is defined as merchant or private sector control of trade as against state control. That is what they had, even if the terminology was far away.

whatthefluther's avatar

The religious right don’t seem to have a problem with it. But, I rather doubt anyone would consider many of them good Christians. They have a remarkable way of justifying greed and prejudice and persecution through their idiomatic interpretation of the bible. See ya…wtf

mammal's avatar

most religions, if you notice, seem remarkably unfazed by the Capitalist ethic which presents a dilemma, we all generally agree that Capitalism is sinful, it’s basis is hardly in accordance with any tenet of any major religion, however, Religion tacitly tolerates the system, and seemingly relies on the very same system for material support, in exchange for spiritual support. i guess it gets a bit fucked when the various religious institutions receive a disproportionate amount of funding in exchange for very little in the way of spiritual service.

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe, any exchange of goods/commodities in a bartering capacity is trade, but not necessarily capitalism, look into the definition of capitalism more thoroughly.

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal look into the definition of capitalism more thoroughly.

Trade that is controlled by private merchants is the basis for capitalism. End of story as in those days that was as close as you get. It is an economic system that is politically accepted where free trade is not government controlled. It really didn’t become an issue until the advent of communism.

alive's avatar

@DarkScribe capitalism is a very specific type of economic system. just because people participated in buying and selling, does not make capitalism. by your definition capitalism is the only economic system that has ever existed in the history of the world. (was capitalism up and running when feudalism was the economic system?)

and adam smith came before karl marx. communism was a reaction to capitalism. not the other way around.

you seem to be one of those people who has history all mixed up (including your history of economics).

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe Communism and capitalism defined each other with a degree of sophistication and clarity that is symptomatic of it’s time… historically speaking, biblical times would have an economic system, that is incomparable, artisans, tradesmen, farmers, slaves, serfs, hunters, fishermen, noblemen et cetera belong to a completely different era.

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal The issue in the question is Biblical acceptance of trade for profit, call it by what name you will. The claim is that it is contrary to Biblical acceptance. It isn’t. Only Usury is. As for the rest, of course it is a different era, but the basic precepts are the same. They traded manufactured goods (a lot of iron items) iron ore, Primary industry produce, output from craftsmen, etc., they had money, banks (Money lenders) credit, interest rates – it really wasn’t so different.

alive's avatar

trade for profit is not condoned by the bible:

Matthew 6:24 “You cannot serve both God and money”

alive's avatar

and Usury is not the only thing that the bible addressing in regards to money. The bible mentions money over and over. It is said over one hundred times, sometimes up to 800 times, depending on the version.

Money in the Bible

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe you are describing a specific feature of trade, that bears a resemblance to capitalism, but as alive has pointed out, you are wide of the mark to infer that this type of economic system was predominate in that region and that era. i also find it suspicious that you would be keen to prove this point, as if somehow you are justifying modern day capitalism with recourse to your speculations as to the economic systems of the ancient world.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive trade for profit is not condoned by the bible:

Nonsense. The Bible has references to fair trade and dealing, punishment for using false weights and measures etc.

The Matthew reference two serving two masters doe not mean no trade. Mammon means wealth not trade. What you are doing is similar to the often misquoted “Money is the root of all evil”, when it really say love of money is the root of all evil.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive The bible mentions money over and over. It is said over one hundred times, sometimes up to 800 times, depending on the version.

You seem to be very prone to exaggeration. The King James version mentions money 123 times, not eight hundred, and the various other translations are very similar.

mammal's avatar

`Woe to those who join house to house, who lay field to field, until there is no room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land!’

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal i also find it suspicious that you would be keen to prove this point,

You find it suspicious that I object to a claim that the Bible does not support capitalism?

Why?

I don’t give a hoot about capitalism, just accuracy. The Bible not only supports it, it provides rules of conduct for it. The original Fair Trade rules if you will.

I have no interest in the Bible from a theological point of view, I know that there is no God, my interest and my experience is in Biblical history, the history of the Holy Land and its neighbours.

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal What has Isaiah got to do with it?

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe does that last quote really sound like a resounding thumbs up to capitalism to you?

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal No, it sounds like a bad time to invest in vineyards.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Mathew 22:21

” Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”. The spoken words of Jesus declaring that both would exist on earth, God and greed.

alive's avatar

first: Looking at the King James Version, the book also specifically mentions gold 417 times and silver 320 times. 737. unless one of us gets out a bible right now and counts you cannot call me an exaggerator.

second: you have not answered the question of how a christian can condone capitalism when the bible does not. and just because people functioned with an economic system, or several, does not mean it was capitalism.

you say you are concerned with accuracy, but you are being historically “messy” and highly INACCURATE by claiming that economics has not changed ever from biblical times until now

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe a key component of capitalism is the means of production which the capitalist owns and dominates, the labourer, has nothing to offer other than his labour to the capitalist for remuneration. Are you saying that this system was precisely mirrored throughout the economies of the ancient world? or do you think, other than for slaves, the economic dynamics would have been more to do with tradesmen trading their goods and services?

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal I think that this thread is getting pointless. I have no interest in capitalism, just in the fact that the Bible has nothing in it that will specifically address capitalism in any negative manner. It accepted trade for profit, and that is all that is at issue. If you don’t want to accept that free trade with Government sanction was not close to capitalism, that is fine. I accept that it is. We disagree. End of discussion on this issue.

Another issue with the questions was this claim
for example, a person should give all of their excess income to the poor

which is further nonsense, tithing was a part of life, but tithing is not all excess income.

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe how can you not have an interest in Capitalism it defines the world and your existence in it?

Blondesjon's avatar

@DarkScribe . . .Beer defines my world and my existence in it. Care to blow this thread and join me for one?

DarkScribe's avatar

@Blondesjon Sounds good, but it is breakfast time here. I am off to work shortly.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Blondesjon Back again – getting a coffee.
I have a feeling that I am missing something here.

oratio's avatar

I will have to go with @DarkScribe on this one actually. Capitalism is not an ideology. It’s a collected description of the mechanisms of the market, and the level of regulations of it. A market that existed before the Lord gave himself to us in human form, though less complex.

Blondesjon's avatar

@DarkScribe . . .No sir. Have a great day today.

SeventhSense's avatar

@mammal
we all generally agree that Capitalism is sinful

We do? The ideals of capitalism as defined as privately owned land, labor and distribution of wealth have nothing to do with fraud and by their nature are empowering to individuals and wrest power from unethical and despotic tyrants. This is the basis of free will and free choice -the choice to serve a God other than the ruling aristocracy; the choice to be self determining.

The choice to work hard through owning property, buying and selling goods privately, earning the bread that one eats, has no basis at all as sinful in and of itself. In fact the major misquote of the bible is that money is the root of all evil when in fact the quote is ”the love of money is the root of all evil”. The basis of Puritans coming to the New World was to escape the opression of the aristocracy not capitalism. The Revolution itself was fomented over taxes by an abusive despot. Taxes not of a free markey economy of course but a mad King.

Capitalism is a natural expression of free will. Free will is a requirement for Christianity and Christian thought. An individual must choose his behavior, his decisions to serve God or the world. “Be In the World but not of the world.” Jesus was a friend of money lenders and prostitutes alike. He made no distinction.

@Mr Callahan
” Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”. The spoken words of Jesus declaring that both would exist on earth, God and greed.
And Ceasar represented greed in your example. Actually, the state from most interpretations.
Regardless, Caesar was definitely not about free trade but a hegemony over the means of trade. Furthermore greed is no more or less a degree than any type of sin/error in the bible. From a biblical perspective all error is sin whether it be gluttony, greed, anger, jealousy, vanity, lust or sloth.

alive's avatar

@SeventhSense finally someone to give an answer to this question! Thank you.
Also You are obviously talking about a specific type of Christianity – Protestantism. The whole Protestant work ethic and included in that would be free will as well, seems to be resounding in your answer. But is capitalism really “do it your self” “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” and more importantly, in a world where you can leave money and property to heirs is that ethical? is that “Christian”? You used the phrase “earning the bread that one eats” which i like, but i have to wonder what about the people who are actually not “earning it” of their own merit. Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, in they don’t work for their money or property, rather they make their money work for them. Which is why the class system continues to be enforced and therefore continues to oppress and exploit the poor and working class.

@DarkScribe the bible is not the only thing i put in this question. The main part of the question says “Christians” (The reason I made the disclaimer about the bible was because i wanted to avoid people trying to “correct” me by saying something like “capitalism waasn’t even around in biblical times. which would have been true.—I never thought someone would misuse history so badly to argue that capitalism was in fact “biblical”.)

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive I never thought

That is about the only part of your above post that I agree with.

No one has argued that capitalism is Biblical, just that free trade existed, which is what capitalism is about, and wasn’t considered sinful as you seem determined to imply. Nor does the Bible insist on giving all “excess” income to the poor, the other erroneous claim you made. Why do you argue about something when you clearly have no knowledge of it? You seem not to understand capitalism, nor much about the Bible or Christianity.

mammal's avatar

@SeventhSense no, no, no and no again, captialism is not the panacea to despotism, that is a terrible attempt at an apology, capitalism is the tyranny you have it utterly wrong. The American colonies suffered under a British capitalist system, in exactly the same way as many countries today are suffering under the yoke of a Globalised American Capitalist system.

DarkScribe's avatar

@mammal Do you collect platitudes? You might consider switching to stamps or coins.

dannyc's avatar

I think it is simply because Christians separate these two facets of their lives. One is in a spiritual world which mostly happens on Sunday. The rest of the week, mostly, is to earn money to support their family, and they just don’t give it much thought. They listen to someone lecture them on what they should do, makes them feel sort of warm and fuzzy, then have a little tea with the friends. Then they go back to their evil ways during the week. Like Bush being an avowed Christian, then bombing Iraq. Or even Obama justifying Afghanistan. Or Don Corleone at church while his cronies blast away Moe Green (great scene that sort of explains it all). I am not religious but I have always said Jesus was a damn cool dude, and it would be nice to be like him. But today, it would probably get you crucified by the media.

mattbrowne's avatar

Capitalism in the form of a social market economy is compatible with modern interpretations of Christianity. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

alive's avatar

@DarkScribe Why do you argue about something when you clearly have no knowledge of it?

Let me paraphrase Socrates: Just because you have knowledge of one thing (in your case the bible) does not mean you have knowledge of all things (in your case economics).

But I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

@mattbrowne this is interesting, but the article reads, “The social market economy seeks a market economic system rejecting both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism,”

Market economies are not the problem capitalism and esp. laissez-faire capitalism is the problem. I personally am a fan of the european’s conception of economics, which have shown themselves to be more effective and more fair to the population. In the social market economy you can have market based economics and pay a FAIR wage (in capitalism wages are not fair – i.e. janitors cannot make a living wage, while c.e.o.‘s are so greedy that we end up with enron).

Blondesjon's avatar

@alive & @mammal . . .At what point in your lives, exactly, did you lose control and decide to try and regain a sense of it through half focused, meaningless pseudo-debate?

alive's avatar

@Blondesjon that point was when i joined fluther, you?

Blondesjon's avatar

@alive . . .I’ve never actively sought any except what I exert upon myself.

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon irritating, go and read a book or too, come back and we can resume a sensible debate, you are lazy and judgemental about concepts you know nothing about, if you are under 14 years of age you could be excused.

mammal's avatar

@DarkScribe you lost the debate, learn to do so gracefully, your petty jibes make you sound like a sourpuss

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .I’m confused. Is that “too” as in one, too, three?

if you are under fourteen years of age you could be excused.

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon i was going to suggest two but read one at least, don’t want to push the boat out, anyways why are you are making silly remarks in what was otherwise an interesting debate?

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .Because I loathe semantic arguments. It is neither interesting nor is it a debate. It is a contest to see who can talk the loudest.

angst went out with flannel

mammal's avatar

oh, semantics, i see, you are bored basically and frustrated, go for a walk or something.

Blondesjon's avatar

”@DarkScribe you lost the debate, learn to do so gracefully, your petty jibes make you sound like a sourpuss”

This is why I haven’t gone for a walk.That is not only a poorly constructed sentence but also a bit hypocritical.

I also loathe all other blowhard douchebaggery but my own.

whatthefluther's avatar

Let’s see if I have this right. You say capitalism equals sin. Therefore. the question is really, “how can any Christian sin?” Well, it seems to me that much of Christianity, as well as many, if not most, of the other religions out there, have this very convenient cycle available:
1. sin
2. confess your sins
3 .obtain forgiveness
4. repeat

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon That is not only a poorly constructed sentence but also a bit hypocritical ok, seriously go outside, you have computer fatigue…the computer has sucked out the requisite energy required for you to engage in rational debate, on a similar note do you engage in foreplay before you fuck? or are you just too cool for skool? who knows, take that walk :)

dannyc's avatar

If the question was meant to be constructive, then I can’t see how this sidetrack is beneficial to the answer that is being sought. I actually thought it was good question, but this angle now unfolding is disappointing to me. I feel it is better to not take personal swipes at people, whether asking the question or answering as it will just lead to confusion and lack of clarity.

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .You just had to shove, in an anonymous user’s face, that you “won” a debate he clearly didn’t even want pursue.

@dannyc. . .No matter what your “definition” of capitalism is, Jesus was said to have often walked barefoot because he was more than willing to give away the shoes on his feet to one in need. If I’m not mistaken he never did this for trade or profit.

dannyc's avatar

@Blondesjon . I agree. I think that Jesus, being God, never even had the word capitalism in his radar for his teachings. Thus, it is probably a moot point to think that followers would have to subscribe to an economic policy. But if you tie the 2 together you can have conflict, which perhaps this thread demonstrates.

Blondesjon's avatar

@dannyc . . .I think it illustrates perfectly what happens when you have any type of zealot, religious or political, try to dictate how you think.

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon no the truth won, if you are wrong or playing devil’s advocate, best to suck it up and admit it, rather than demean yourself by making snotty sideswipes…don’t you think? i mean don’t you see this debate as an important, contentious issue? it is to me, if you don’t just steer clear when it heats up.

dannyc's avatar

@ Blondesjon.Interesting how a question can turn to something entirely different. It all depends on your motives. If you seek an answer, then you may find it. If you seek your own answer, and impose it, then conflict results.. At least that is my hypothesis for what I am reading here. Very intriguing.

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .It is a thread that asks about the connections between Christianity and Capitalism. You simply argued about a definition. Play the Rocky theme and high five yourself. The big people are talking now.

@dannyc . . .Ain’t Fluther a HOOT?

I am an atheist but I am appalled that anyone would disregard the teachings of Jesus out of hand. The man basically said “If you would all just love one another, for real, the world will fall into place for you.

In fact, I have found that the central tenet of any religion is peace and love. Atheist I may be, but those are ideas I can get behind and even defend when they are being unfairly attacked.

dannyc's avatar

@mammal. May I add that any question you pose is not about winning or losing. If you are asking for an opinion then all, whether in agreement or not, should be welcome. It is not a contest, but about seeking diversity of opinion. Also, personal attacks lead to hurt feelings, leading to poor answers, which, objectively, you are seeking good answers. You defeat your purpose in that case.

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon think it illustrates perfectly what happens when you have any type of zealot, religious or political, try to dictate how you think. listen, that comment is simply a mechanism to try and impose your way of thinking this topic is a hot topic, for some of us it induces a modicum of passion, sometimes it gets a little rough, Capitalism is pretty rough and violently imposed upon the world, is it so unseemly to emphasise an important point…?

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .I have said this a million times. You have the right to say whatever you want.

So do I.

mammal's avatar

@dannyc Danny boy, i retaliated to a comment about platitudes, and stamp collections why don’t you pick up on that, what the fuck has that got to do with the price of eggs? This is a little like fox news isn’t it? picking up on all the stories that suit your mind set

whatthefluther's avatar

Since you really wanted to talk about capitalism, you did not need to link that discussion to Christianity or the Bible. And attacking someone for a statement relative to an unimportant part of your true question adds nothing to your argument and is just plain rude.

dannyc's avatar

@mammal. Thanks for the boy monicker. Haven’t been called that in 60 years. I prefer to not argue, just debate the facts relating to your question. If you are thinking it is not helpful to you, then I will simply go on to a different question. If I can add though, that if you put your energy into treating people nicely, you will benefit. Take it from the “boy” as gospel…

mammal's avatar

@whatthefluther we have gone off topic because, most people on this site have a deep rooted aversion to anything other than the capitalist system that sustains them with a high degree of comfort, they refuse to analyse it, criticise it, even though they have all the educational means at their disposal; libraries, Internet and so forth, therefore they argue like spoilt children who are made to do something onerous.

mammal's avatar

@dannyc Danny boy – as in the song..silly….i am trying to instill some spine back into the flutherian invertebrates :)

dannyc's avatar

@mammal. That song was one of my faves. My late Dad used to sing it to me. So I understand that it was meant affectinately, now. You seem like a very smart fellow. Your question was good. People answered to the best of their ability. If you call people invertebrates for example, they will just, pardon the pun, get their backs up. I understand you may be frustrated, but my advice is to think, with respect, of all the people here. You have a lot to offer, I surmise. We don’t all agree here, but I welcome the opportunity to give my 2 cents here. If you disrespect it, or think it not valid, it is just not conducive to learning. It will make us sort of retreat into our own world. Challenge the answers with properly framed debate, and your intellectual abilities will shine.

Blondesjon's avatar

Edited by me. Too much Fluther juice.

whatthefluther's avatar

@mammal…I agree that there is much to criticize about capitalism and all other economic systems (if you are aware of a perfect one, let me know) , but from my experience here, I have not so much found “a deep rooted aversion to anything other than the capitalist system” but much more so an aversion to organized religion or even a personal belief in a god or gods. So you have succeeded in touching many nerves, but have gained absolutely nothing in a discussion of the drawbacks and or merits of capitalism. You seem to me to be a sharp guy and up to the task of such a discussion. But personal insults, bragging of a win, and all the other bullshit, that adds nothing to the discussion, is frankly childish and seems troll-like to me. Well, this discussion is beginning to bore me. So I believe I shall go out for a beer with @Blondesjon…he never bores me. Good evening…wtf

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon oh stop it you big ninny

mammal's avatar

@whatthefluther are you female?

whatthefluther's avatar

Does that make a difference?

whatthefluther's avatar

Well then, curiously, I am not

Blondesjon's avatar

@whatthefluther . . .I think he’s interested. Did you tell hime you are engaged?

whatthefluther's avatar

Ask @Blondesjon after I get a beer or two into him

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon strangely…......

whatthefluther's avatar

Actually, I am marrying sccrowell, who is very much a female. within the next two weeks

Blondesjon's avatar

@whatthefluther . . .How many times do I have to tell you.

I’m flattered…and maybe even a little curious but I have a wife and three beautiful children…

mammal's avatar

Ok folks thanks for the fun :) see ya…wouldn’t want to be ya :P

whatthefluther's avatar

@Blondesjon…I did not exclude your lovely wife @jonsblonde (leave the kids at home)

whatthefluther's avatar

Good evening mammal. See ya…wtf

SeventhSense's avatar

@mammal
Just because you got points for a witty anti establishment jibe at the beginning of this thread means little to the meat of this argument nor your “winning” the debate. A capitalist system was in place whuch subjugated the colonies? This is an error premise which makes moot your point of the colonies being subject to “capitalism”. Capitalism as we know it today, has evolved. It has to do with the right of all citizens to buy, sell and engage in trade. This was hardly the case under King George. If I own anything, I should have the right do whatever I want with it. Note the European nations and their shift away from socialism in the last few elections. Note China’s resistance, but continually succumbing to Market driven forces. It’s natural to buy, sell and trade from the most primitive societies to the most advanced. Case in point the USA. We are capitalist and we drive the world’s economies.
@alive
And back to the subject at hand, Christian sects have condoned everything from self flagellation to crusades. Imagining people can hold any position and ascribe to any belief is hardly a stretch. People fly planes into buildings in the name of God, shoot doctors in churches, nail themselves to crosses. Imagining that people are fixed and consistent is actually the stretch. Christian or Atheist, they’re all human and humans are fallible.
“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
i have to wonder what about the people who are actually not “earning it” of their own merit. Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, in they don’t work for their money or property, rather they make their money work for them. Which is why the class system continues to be enforced and therefore continues to oppress and exploit the poor and working class.
I often wonder at the source of these sentiments. Thoughts like these are begotten from bitter, uninspired or slick individuals with political agendas.not implicating you..please don’t misunderstand :) These “ideals” have created a system that has mistaken sloth and jealousy for virtue. Perhaps if we can eliminate the value producers, and their motivations from society life will be better for all. Huh?? This is a PC far left talking point but it’s just silly.

Has Ford, Edison, Bell, Gates, Jobs, Carnegie, Rockefeller Walt Disney not brought tremendous value to society? The idea that these people did not sacrifice much for their particular endeavor is just not true. Should they be able to leave it to their families? If I cut down ten trees, split the logs into beams, and build a house should I not be able to give this to my family? What if I just had the wood in piles? Should I also not have the right to leave this as an inheritance? And whether it be money or wealth or belongings, that is my prerequisite. Without such motivations society does not advance. Capitalism is the life force which generates advancement and the reason why people invent, start businesses, pursue dreams and create.
And Jesus had zero interest in politics. If anything he suggested an apolitical sytem based on one’s heart. If Christians were actually like Christ they would be busy applying principles and have no time for the political process.

and maybe define Capitalism in your opinion so we can have a starting point for discussion rather than the flame wars that have gone down here

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive Just because you have knowledge of one thing (in your case the bible) does not mean you have knowledge of all things (in your case economics).

Ignoring the fact that I have tertiary training in economics while Biblical history is merely an interest, you weren’t arguing economics, you were arguing that the Bible does not support Capitalism. You don’t seem to understand that there is no essential difference, between trade then and now, not that affects Christians. Capitalism is defined as a Political and economic system where free trade is controlled by private individuals, not the state. That was the status quo in those days. Your constant attempts to obfuscate by introducing irrelevant details regarding the type of trade has no bearing on your claim.

But I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. You don’t seem to know much about dogs either.

mammal's avatar

@SeventhSense i wrapped this debate, case closed, move on, i own this subject matter, as surely as a capitalist owns his car, 5 bedroom house and swimming pool, i have taken the trouble to investigate these topics and ponder them daily, it isn’t about winning or losing, or ego, it just is and i ain’t budging, uh…uh **cocks weapon**

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal…Do you have an imaginary mantle where you keep these imaginary trophies you’ve won?

mattbrowne's avatar

@alive – Yes, laissez-faire capitalism needs a system of checks and balances like the separation of powers in functioning democracies.

mammal's avatar

@you all… if i were to mention; `use value, surplus value, Marxist/Hegelian dialectic, would any of you, without the aid of wikipedia, have the remotest clue as to what i was referring to? Do you even know what a commodity is? i doubt it, now i don’t claim to be the authority, but as far as i am concerned, without the necessary background knowledge this debate is nothing but an embarrassing exposé of abject ignorance, perhaps we should stick to `is Pepsi superior to Coca Cola?’ or such like. Do yourself a favour, if you don’t know what you are talking about..shush up, listen and learn

whatthefluther's avatar

@mammal,...Well I do believe you are talking trash again. As for me, I am a capitalist pig and insist upon imported Coca Cola, made with real sugar, not that high fructose corn syrup crap. See ya…wtf

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Both of you fellers make fine contributions to this discussion. You both win, howz dat?

( in the voice of Billy Bob Thorton—Swingblade )

alive's avatar

geeze i’m gone for 5 minutes… well let’s dig in:

@Blondesjon This is not a question about semantics. Yes there was some “confusion” about what capitalism is or is not, but the question remains.

I think it illustrates perfectly what happens when you have any type of zealot, religious or political, try to dictate how you think.——what other kind of debate is there?

No matter what your “definition” of capitalism is, Jesus was said to have often walked barefoot because he was more than willing to give away the shoes on his feet to one in need. If I’m not mistaken he never did this for trade or profit.——so if Jesus never did anything for profit, and capitalism is driven by profit, then why would Christianity condone capitalism??????????? That IS the question I asked.. you never answered.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive

Gee.

Alive is juggling strawmen – quite impressive. Make an assumption about Jesus and build a philosophy on it.

alive's avatar

@DarkScribe the italics are not my assumption.

Blondesjon's avatar

@alive. . .I did with what you quoted. I assumed my answer was implied.

A true Christian doesn’t condone any type of “ism”.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive the italics are not my assumption.

No, but this is.

so if Jesus never did anything for profit, and capitalism is driven by profit, then why would Christianity condone capitalism??????????? That IS the question I asked.. you never answered.

That is you accepting that assumption.

alive's avatar

@SeventhSense you make a good point which i sometimes forget…even if it is staring me right in the face… people’s beliefs have never stopped them from doing whatever they want in ‘real life’ no matter how hypocritical…

but i have a few other thoughts on what you said—

whether it be money or wealth or belongings, that is my prerequisite. Without such motivations society does not advance.

It depends on what you mean by “advance” if advance means stepping on people on your way to the top, then I don’t want to “advance” (and WWJD?)

In my opinion (which is apparently a disclaimer that must now be included in all fluther answers because flutherites are getting nasty) an “advanced” society does not look like one with technology up to here (*drawing a line at my neck) “advanced society means everyone has equal opportunities to attend school, be educated, receive the necessary health care etc. None of these are promoted by capitalism. (And not that I ever knew Jesus, but i don’t think it would be too far off to guess that would or at least might also feel that all children of god should be allowed to live in a society where love prevails, not money)

(disclaimer 2: yes i am a bleeding heart liberal. but i am honestly asking how capitalism and christianity get a long so well… disclaimer 3: sorry for all the whispering)

alive's avatar

@DarkScribe i think this will be last attempt to remind you that history exists:
SLAVES. The fact that people were enslaved during the time when jesus was preaching is the best example as to why you cannot call their economic system “capitalism.” Ask any economist (and who doesn’t have “tertiary” training in economics) and they will tell you, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Free labor from slaves provided much of the goods, services, and entertainment during the Roman empire. Quoted from wiki on capitalism: “A distinguishing feature of capitalism is that each person owns his or her own labor and therefore is allowed to sell the use of it to employers” Slaves did not own their own labor.

And seventhsense was right to say i should define the “capitalism” i am talking about soooo HERE: I’ve never heard of Capitalism

oratio's avatar

@alive Capitalism doesn’t exclude slavery. Slaves are not free labor. It’s cheap labor, and a commodity.

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive i think this will be last attempt to remind you that history exists:

Thank God. This is becoming wearying – talking to posts is not easy.

alive's avatar

@oratio i see your point about “cheap labor,” but i think that even if slaves are “cheap” labor i.e. owners feed their slaves, it is still true that slaves do not have control over their own labor. the control of a slaves labor (obviously) is in the hands of the owner, therefore if a slave does not have the choice to sell his own labor to an owner then that is not capitalism.

@darkscribe no one is making you stay.

oratio's avatar

@alive Yes, it’s not capitalism for the slave. But slaves are not actors in the market, as they are commodities. A work horse is also a commodity.

oratio's avatar

@alive Pertaining your question: Christianity is unfortunately not – in a way – one single religion. The only thing that is demanded of you is that you believe in God, accept Jesus as your personal savior and believe in the Holy Ghost. The rest is interpretation. There are over 35 000 different christian churches out there, many with their own flavor.

In your view of Christianity, and your view of Capitalism; they clash. It’s even more complex if you want to place Christianity in a political spectrum, which would be a mistake. Christianity has to remain a personal religion, not a religious system in the society. Then you have theocracy, and that is not a friend of democracy and freedom. Religion is just not suited for determining how a modern society should be run.

Jesus has a message, and it’s about how you treat other people and live your life. Not how you allocate money in society.

Many western governments with free markets, support poor countries with many projects, and there is always the opportunity to give what you earn to the needy. If you want to read in something from the example of Jesus giving what he can, it is that he is doing so by free will, and that he has excess to give. A free market with profit, gives people the opportunity to follow Jesus’s example.

alive's avatar

i think the slave thing can go either way.

it is hard not to agree with your statements about Christianity, but my question stems from the fact that many Christians in the united states (including but not limited to the far right Christians) are not only apathetic to capitalism, but rather champions of it. for me that is very confusing.

we obviously do not have a theocracy in the US but it is the individual’s choice to be a ‘political christian’ if one sees fit (and plenty have… cough cough the last administration)

per your last statement about jesus—that is where my confusion is! because capitalism also has a ‘message’ about how to treat people, and it seems contradictory to me.

but i would like to mention that in my question i said ‘a christian,’ not Christianity.

where is ‘crusader’ when you need him?

oratio's avatar

In capitalism, the company’s only function is to maximize profit. How and with what is a matter of choice and opportunity. I can see that you read out a message in the lack of ethics in capitalism, and I understand that.

But capitalism is not really an ideology. It’s not really supposed to have ethics. The market is not supposed to be unethical either, but that is where government and public morality comes in, and there can be a place for the christian message there.

I guess you might see capitalism as greed and that as a conflict with christian values. It depends on what you define as greed. Looking to make profit is not greed, but there is of course greed present.

As for the presence of greed, the system has to be regulated. How and how much, is the responsibility of government, under influence of ideology and ethics.

A christian capitalist brings a moral mind set to his/hers business. If an entrepreneur is unethical, it’s not capitalism’s fault per se. It’s because this person are not concerned with right and wrong, but profit to any price. Capitalism allows that, but moral and regulation might not. Rather than being in conflict, they serve a complementary purpose that benefits all.

Being a capitalist doesn’t mean you have – or lack – ethics or compassion. A christian could very well be in agreement with capitalism, but not due to – or in spite of – being a christian.

Capitalism is a market system, religion a personal world view, and ideology governs politics. They influence each other but doesn’t necessarily need to be in conflict.

Crusader was either banned or closed his account

mammal's avatar

@oratio some very lucid commentary, however you are incorrect, although a slave is a commodity, as objectionable as that might sound, a slave has use value and exchange value et cetera, the definitive point is that a slave hasn’t the capacity to freely offer his labour in the market place, a labourer, assuming he isn’t indentured, does. That may sound progressive, however the brutal economic dynamics of the rising industrial capitalist system were such that the labourer often found himself in such a state of penuary, that it would have been preferable to exist as a slave, i.e fed, clothed and housed…. this leads one to conclude that the treatment of slaves in the ancient world wasn’t sufficiently sadistic enough to warrant much religious commentary.. or it was accepted as a norm. Which begs the question as to why Marx, Engels et al found the Capitalist system so utterly abhorrent? certainly the 18th/19th century industrial workplace seem to conjure up some profoundly miserable images. Nevertheless the lack of direct religious criticism toward slavery is puzzling, notwithstanding the story of Moses, which does allegorically illustrate the misery to befall a people who enslave another people. As we know Christ existed under Roman occupation, but not as a slave, nonetheless Nietzsche defined Christianity as a slave morality, born from the oppression of foreign influence. Christ wasn’t so much concerned with emancipation from Roman Political oppression as absolute emancipation from the material world. So one’s material position however economically miserable, was inconsequential, in fact it was positively beneficial to his teaching. The Catholic church found little direct criticism to slavery in Christ’s message, which suited them just fine as history has shown us… and seemingly immune to the suffering of African slaves shipped in appalling conditions to the new world. So technically there is no glaringly obvious ideological, theological objection, to slavery or any other oppressive form of exploitation….However Christ supposedly did chastise Zebedee for cheating his workers (in the last temptation)....But really and truthfully Christianity and other major religions steer clear of vehement criticism of capitalism as a system, for a number of reasons, one being they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them, two – most anti-capitalist political systems are atheist, three – to radically transform Capitalism, within a given time frame would most likely be a pretty violent affair.

mammal's avatar

as an afterthought it is curious that Nietzsche described Christianity as a slave morality, Given their history as probably the most prolific en-slavers of all time…mmmm

oratio's avatar

@mammal Not to excuse either slavery or the bible, but most cultures on the planet has been using slaves in one form or another at one time. In many places we still do. There is slavery today in Europe, as trafficking is nothing else than that. In places in Africa you can still buy black slaves and put to them to work. Arranged marriages is another concept of slavery. It is still very common in the world. Wartime conscription where you are shot if you are caught deserting is called duty and patriotism. If you want to criticize slavery you should bother with existing problems.

At the same time it’s understandable to criticize ancient and modern Christianity with the moral backdrop of today. But as you say slavery was the norm in those days, and this is where Christianity emerged. The christian message doesn’t cover all aspects of life.

Looking to regulate capitalism with any religion is a problem, as what you are then trying to do is to do what the Muslim world is doing with their Sunnah interpretations. “What would the prophet do?” is not a question you should ask yourself when you are to close a business deal, buy stock or discuss the salary with an employee.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Capitalism has been around a very long time and predates Jesus. I think that Jesus spoke to the excesses of greed as it relates to capitalism and the plight of the poor and sick. I dont think Jesus wanted to tear down capitalism but simply bring awareness to the greed and evil deeds that existed and offer a kinder , gentler way of life in servitude of an all loving God.

mammal's avatar

@Mr_Callahan **mammal tearing his fur out** read the thread

alive's avatar

haha, i was just going to let it be.

Blondesjon's avatar

I can name all 50 capitalisms of the United States.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Dont hurt yourself mammal, Jesus wouldnt approve.

SeventhSense's avatar

I can core a apple.

SeventhSense's avatar

@mammal
Is that natural or genetic? I mean can you inherit pomposity or is it a learned behavior?

Of course Haggle and Nitschit ams some purty high falutin booklearnin ind I reckon we could learn u sumpin…I meen eeefn youd had the druther to dosido with us communers…

alive's avatar

i’m about to stop following my own question… haha

DarkScribe's avatar

@alive i’m about to stop following my own question… haha

You actually followed this?

You appeared to be stumbling around in the dark – looking for a light switch.

mammal's avatar

@SeventhSense yeah um ok, sorry for ever reading a book, i guess, um ok, like, maybe, er, whatever dude, chill, like eat a cookie or something…

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .It wasn’t a book dealing with grammar was it?

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon strangely, as i seem to recall, it was a book dealing with grammar obsessed pedants and their Freudian association with the anal stage of development…all very banal really.

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal . . .Oh. A pop-up book. Very nice.

mammal's avatar

@Blondesjon ok, i really need to mingle with the grownups now, we will play, who can get the last word in later, it has been a pleasant diversion from the more monumental issues…:) perhaps if you’re really good i’ll read you a bed time story, it is a salutary tale about small minded, petit bourgeois cliques, whose absurdly overconfident opinions are occasionally, cruelly exposed as the lazy, regurgitated, ill considered and socially damaging prejudices that they really are.

Blondesjon's avatar

@mammal…Keep trying.

I remember when I thought I knew everything too.

god was i an ass

whatthefluther's avatar

OK, I’ll do it…......................last word

whatthefluther's avatar

@alive….your question…of course I defer to you

alive's avatar

listen ‘darkscribe’ i take offense to your last comment. I am simply going to answer your rude comment with the fluther guidelines

“Please respect the time and energy of the people in the community.”

SeventhSense's avatar

Sayonara folks and Domo arigato, Mr.(or Mrs.?) Roboto.

Poser's avatar

Well I have to disagree with the false premise that capitalism is inherently evil. It is simply private ownership of the means of production, labor, and capital. As opposed to governmental ownership of those things.

I don’t see anything in that definition that is contrary to any of Jesus’s teachings. A capitalist can give to charity. A capitalist need not be greedy (in the “more for me, less for you” sense). If you ask me, true capitalism is the least sinful market there is, as it requires individual responsibility and allows for the greatest possible freedom (two things which Jesus seemed pretty big on).

SeventhSense's avatar

@Blondesjon
I can’t resist.
I see it all so clearly now, maybe this will help…We are the petit bourgeois cliques…I mean I didn’t know up until this point, but I guess I should have figured it out whilst eating my croissant and escargot, discussing the existential nature of modern man at the Salon.
Silly me…~_~

Blondesjon's avatar

@SeventhSense . . .“Capitalism has made it this way. Old fashioned fascism will take it away.” —Marilyn Manson

alive's avatar

@Poser in theory there is nothing evil, un-christian, or bad about capitalism… but in practice i would argue that it fuels greediness and put profits before people.

i am not anti-‘capitalism’. i am anti ‘people (who tend to be selfish jerk faces) practicing capitalism’

but i do see your point.

(what i had in mind when i asked this question is the christian right wing being “pro-capitalism”...as if they even know what capitalism Is)

alive's avatar

oh ya, and also the right wing christians acting as if they even know what christianity Is

Poser's avatar

@alive Wait, you’re telling me that capitalists act like…people? You mean they sin and generally act according to human nature? I think Christians are realists and understand that mankind is not perfect (thus neccesitating a Savior). But claiming that a system is faulty because some who operate within that system are bad is illogical. It’d be like saying that we ought to do away with the Olympics because some atheletes have been caught using steroids.

All earthly systems are flawed because all Earthlings are flawed. But, as I said before, Capitalism gives people the most freedom, and requires the most self-discipline.

SeventhSense's avatar

@alive
Jesus was said to have often walked barefoot because he was more than willing to give away the shoes on his feet to one in need
Not that I dispute Jesus benevolence but this “fact” has no biblical foundation. If so, please point out the chapter and verse.

alive's avatar

@Poser i am not saying the system is faulty just because of the people, nothing is perfect due to people. but capitalism encourages bad behavior because capitalism ranks people.

this is a simplified example but some people are “WORTH” $20,000/year even though they work their butts off, and some people are “WORTH” $200,000. both are working hard, but one is not as “important” because of the good ol’ “laws” of supply and demand. (like i said that is simplified but just a thought. capitalism doesn’t encourage people to treat others as they wish to be treated..unless people want to used as a doormat or step ladder to the top)

@SeventhSense i didn’t say that, blondesjon did. i was just using that phrasing because he did.

Poser's avatar

Value, as it relates to wages, has nothing to do with value as it relates to the worth of a human being. Regardless, can you name a economic system that encourages people to follow the golden rule? Even if there was another system that put the same value on everyone (none do), that doesn’t make them any less evil. If anything, it would make them more so, as people don’t have the same abilities.

alive's avatar

@Poser hola, i really do appreciate your contribution to this discussion. i think that all 3 of your answers have been really good (as you can see i GA’d ‘em). i just wish you had come across this question sooner. because now i am feeling tired of it. this question has sucked the life out of me and i don’t really feel like continuing. i would have loved to have an intelligent conversation over this question when i first asked it but that was then! haha it got derailed, and now i don’t have the energy.

anyways, it is friday night, i have been working 40 hrs and i neeeed a drink! off to a bbq!

thanks again! sorry about the “missed connection” so to speak

ciao =)

Poser's avatar

@alive.—Thanks Glad I could contribute, even if I was the proverbial day late. This question touches on two things about which I feel very strongly. Hope I added something.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther