Capitalism in America and most of the civilized western world (but particularly in America) is driven by “the profit imperative” (i.e. “greed”). On the Gospel Coalition this week, Dr. Greg Forster expounded on a very positive trend among theologically-driven evangelicals to deconstruct the validity of the politics typically associated with them. Forster’s assessment of the shenanigans of Max Weber are right on. And even more dead on is his critique of American business practice. Pointing out that,
”nothing kills a business more reliably than a myopic focus on maximizing the quarterly earnings report.”
It is clear to see that the American capitalistic system is in bad shape, and that many Christians have bought into the fallacies of Max Weber and other neo-capitalists. Today we find ourselves nationally in a very sticky situation. Forster says rightly,
“For a century, America’s cultural leaders have promoted the Weberian narrative that capitalism thrives on the profit motive. And as economist Arthur Brooks has recently written, societies tend to become what they describe themselves as being. If a society’s cultural leaders say the economy thrives on greed, people will internalize that expectation and act accordingly. Over time you will actually get an economy that runs (but not “thrives”) on greed.”
Today the political and moral question that American Christians must grapple with is “Can capitalism be saved?”. The powerful wheels of the American culture are spinning in a direction that will only result in more moral and fiscal decay. Common Marxist theory says that capitalism in decay leads to fascism, a prophetic fear held by the German Bolsheviks during collapses of the Weimar Republic in the early thirties.
The question remains: how to we live in this sort of society as Christians? The biblical answers are staple: to be salt & light, obedience to worldly governments and not being conformed to the patterns of the world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds. The methods of these practices are sometimes ambiguous so the individual and the church must decide on the how to obey them. But one thing is for sure, as Dr. Forster has said, Weberian capitalism is soul-poison.
Read Dr. Forster’s full article here