Over at the OrthodoxNet.org blog, editor Chris Banescu had an entertaining exchange in the comment boxes with a writer who asserted that “capitalism can be just as infected with materialism and the concomitant need to tyrannize as communism.”
Here is Chris’ response:
Capitalism is really not an ideology. It simply describes reality, like mathematics and economics describe reality. It’s a word that explains how free human beings interact voluntarily with one another to exchange value and how they invest the excess of the fruits of their labors to produce more or gain more value. It is value and morally neutral.
You are positing your argument from the Marxist and leftist ideological point of view that made up this bogeyman they called “capitalism” as if it was some alien force dreamed up by rich to oppress the poor. That is a lie. You should know better than that.
On the other hand you are right that materialism is a moral failure, but that is the fault of the moral choice of individuals and groups, not the fault of capitalism. That’s like saying that it’s the fault of mathematics when someone does a wrong addition or multiplication, or the fault of accounting when someone embezzles money from their employer and writes down the incorrect cash register total.
When man deposits his money in a bank and requires interest payments, he is practicing capitalism!
When he buys food, clothing, furniture, medicine, etc.. from someone who produced it, he is practicing capitalism!
When he expects to be paid a fair salary for the work that he’s doing, he is practicing capitalism!
When he is the beneficiary of any retirement or pension fund, he is practicing capitalism!
When he buys property and hopes value will increase, he is practicing capitalism!
When he lends money to someone else and wants interest in return, he is practicing capitalism!
When he invents something new and unique and wants to sell it to someone else for a profit, he is practicing capitalism!
When he is the beneficiary of any government program providing social assistance, he directly benefits from others who practiced capitalism and created the profits the gov’t can now use and distribute to those in need!
When Churches and Synagogues get donations from people who first had to work and earn it, they are the beneficiaries of capitalism.
Even communists and socialists rely on capitalism to actually produce anything of value and generate the value and returns that fund and fuel their governments.