From: Judy Nagy firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2000 2:11 AM
Subject: Religion and Capitalism Are Antithetical / By Andrew Ber
> Religion and Capitalism Are Antithetical
> By Andrew Bernstein
> January 2000
> Conservatives regularly insist that religion is the
> basis of capitalism.
> Theologian Michael Novak, for instance, claims that
> "the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was the main
> locus for the first flowerings of capitalism."
> Politicians who purport to endorse free enterprise keep
> invoking the Bible for validation. The "religious
> right" calls the United States a Christian country, and
> declares that our basic political choice is between
> godless communism -- or godless liberalism -- and
> religious capitalism.
> But the truth is that religion and capitalism are
> incompatible -- in
> practice and in theory. Consider the openly statist
> views of some prominent members of the "religious
> right." Pat Buchanan, for example, opposes
> international free trade and wants to restrict
> immigration drastically. Gary Bauer applauds
> Washington's antitrust case against Microsoft --
> calling the court's recent ruling against the company a
> "victory for the small man" -- and vows to renew the
> Justice Dept.'s efforts to "prosecute adult obscenity,
> especially on the Internet."
> Such positions should not come as a surprise, since
> religious teachings
> contradict the requirements of capitalism. The most
> obvious conflict centers on the religious belief that
> the profit motive is immoral. If we are all obligated
> to sacrifice ourselves on behalf of the have-nots, then
> private property, the pursuit of wealth, and the entire
> free enterprise system are evil.
> The only virtuous system, according to religious
> doctrine, would be one in
> which the goods of this earth are common property, to
> be used selflessly, for the "public good" -- i.e., a
> system of socialism. The U.S. Catholic Bishops have
> been particularly astute in recognizing this
> connection, as they have consistently argued for an
> increasing government presence in our economic lives,
> so that wealth can be redistributed from the productive
> to the non-productive.
> Further, religion's belief in man's innate sinfulness
> leads to the same
> collectivist conclusion. A National Review article
> denounces some of the pro-capitalist policies of Steve
> Forbes, on the grounds that they ignore the "dark side"
> of people. Economic freedom -- insists the leading
> magazine of religious conservatism -- will lead
> unregulated corporations to trample the "little guy."
> That is, it will lead to too much individualism. These
> are the exact sentiments expressed by Gary Bauer
> regarding the Microsoft antitrust case. Indeed, Bauer
> believes that the very purpose of government is "to
> counter man's sin" by restricting his freedom. In other
> words, government controls are needed to ensure that
> each individual act as his brother's keeper.
> But underlying all this is a deeper point. Religion
> cannot be the basis of
> freedom and capitalism because of its inherently
> authoritarian nature. Religion demands acceptance on
> faith. It demands obedient followers. It demands the
> subordination of the individual's mind and the
> individual's interests to the dictates of some higher
> authority. Under capitalism, by contrast, the
> individual is supreme. Capitalism recognizes the
> autonomy of the individual citizen and the
> inalienability of his individual rights. This is the
> most fundamental reason why, where faith is culturally
> dominant -- in the Dark Ages dominated by the medieval
> church or in the theocracy run by the ayatollahs of
> contemporary Iran -- political/economic freedom is
> In this country, too, whenever faith is employed in
> politics, it leads to
> more government controls.
> This is true whether the employer is conservative or
> liberal -- whether it
> is George W. Bush, who wants to use tax dollars to fund
> charity activities of various churches and whose
> "compassionate conservatism" is simply a more overtly
> religious form of the welfare state -- or whether it is
> Al Gore, whose advisors have declared that "the
> Democratic Party is going to take back God," and who
> invokes the New Testament's concept of man's selfless
> "stewardship" of the earth to support environmentalist
> America's Founding Fathers understood the threat
> posed by the introduction
> of religious dogma into politics. This is why they
> advocated a legal separation of church and state. They
> grounded America's freedom in reason and individualism
> -- they upheld the individual's right to his own life,
> his own liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness.
> They did not regard the citizen as an obedient servant,
> but as a sovereign person, who ought to be left free to
> follow the conclusions of his own reasoning mind. They
> wanted a secular state. They established simultaneously
> the freedom to practice one's religion privately and
> the freedom to be politically free from religious
> That is what made the United States the freest
> country in history, enabling
> the free enterprise system to develop. Those
> politicians who try to root capitalism in the soil of
> religion would do well to remember that.
> * Dr. Bernstein is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand
> Institute in Marina del
> Rey, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of
> Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The
> Fountainhead. www.aynrand.org
> Judy Nagy
> Casilla 5148 C.C.I. Quito, Ecuador
> Phone (011-593-2) + 431-555 or 447-709
> Fax: 431-556 email@example.com
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