UTOPIAN, LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM (FAITH IN MAMMON), COERCIVE SOCIALISM, OR THE VISION OF JESUS CHRIST

     

It amazes me how the disciples of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Murray Rothbard, etc., can actually write that laissez-faire capitalism is "the only fair and just economic system that has been discovered." (Michael Moore, Your Heart Is in the Right Place, by Todd Steinberg. LewRockwell.com. October 25, 2008.) They go on to say that the choices are between Communism (one-party dictatorship), socialism (usually termed democratic socialism), mercantilism, crony capitalism, and laissez-faire capitalism. At least those are the most often cited choices. I never see Christianity offered by them as an option.

It's not difficult to understand why they don't offer Christianity — don't even mention it except in some limited, twisted version.

Jesus Christ is not a Communist in the one-party dictatorship sense. He is not a coercive socialist, which includes democratic socialism. He is not a mercantilist. He is opposed to crony capitalism. He is also not a laissez-faire capitalist. Christianity is none of those things. Christianity is an alternative to them. It is something else.

What the laissez-faire capitalist Austrian-School and to a lesser degree Chicago-School advocates claim is that laissez-faire capitalism is the least coercive of the choices they mention. They claim that, that means laissez-faire capitalism is the freest condition possible. They do all of this based upon the terminology they've created and to which they hold all others, as if there are no competing definitions or connotations of the terms they use in constructing their philosophical position.

Their vision is in competition with the vision of Jesus Christ as Jesus states his position and not just as people have twisted and chopped it up down through the centuries.

Now, it is up to each individual to place the utopian vision of Murray Rothbard, et al., next to the message and example of Jesus for direct comparison. Which one is superior? Both claim the ideal. Todd Steinberg wrote an open letter to Michael Moore stating on behalf of the Austrian School, as I quoted above, that laissez-faire capitalism is "the only fair and just economic system that has been discovered." I dispute that.

Laissez-faire capitalism is not only not "the only fair and just economic system that has been discovered," it is not fair, just, nor free. Furthermore, the political-economic system that would result from humanity beginning to follow Jesus's teachings in earnest would be fairer and more just than any other system and with every passing year until absolute fairness and justice were reached. The freest one may be is free of evil. Laissez-faire capitalism does not free the soul from evil relative to Christianity.

If we are going to put all options on the table for consideration, let's not leave the completely voluntary (non-coercive) giving-and-sharing-all economic system off the table as if it doesn't exist. It exists

As I've written numerous times before, Heaven is not capitalistic. Christians are to bring forth in the here and now. We pray for Heaven to come to Earth.

Lastly, so as to not make a huge post, let me just say that laissez-faire capitalism has at its base a foundation of self-interest where the self is apart from the whole. In Christianity, that must be based on Jesus's teaching and nothing that conflicts with it, the whole is God. Think about it.

You can not be both a laissez-faire capitalist and a Christian.

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)

Then come the Calvinists saying such things as Jesus's kingdom isn't of this world and that it isn't for us to bring forth but rather to sit or stand by never conflating and waiting for Jesus to return to do all the heavy lifting.

Jesus's kingdom isn't of this world not in the way those Calvinists view it or for the reasons they cite. Jesus's kingdom is within each heart. He made that very clear. We bring forth from what is within. If God and Jesus are indwelling as spirit, then the tree will bring forth good fruit only. It's that simple, and no amount of twisting the scripture in an attempt to get out of it will work.

Either you come together and bring forth or you are not doing what Jesus says. What we are to bring forth is very specific too. It cannot be done by those with evil intentions or who do not love God as Jesus defines God. It's not possible. Satan cannot do it. Only God can bring forth God.

All that the Calvinists teach based upon selective interpretations of a handful of verses from Paul isn't going to change this.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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    • You raised some interesting points about free market supporters like Rothbard. One was that they are advocating an ideal that can not be reach in practice, and the second was that their ideal is not harmony with the teachings of Christianity. Is that about right?

      As for utopianism, you'll find Rothbard and Mises (in particular) gave pretty thorough critiques of utopianism. I can provide some links if you like. This quote from Hayek I think really sums up their position though.

      The main merit of individualism [which Adam Smith and his contemporaries advocated] is that it is a system under which bad men can do least harm. It is a social system which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it, or on all men becoming better than they now are, but which makes use of men in all their given variety and complexity...."

      Obviously, you are going to be a more authoritative source on the teachings of Christianity. But I would think that by recognizing man's god-given rights (according to Christianity), libertarians and free market advocates are acting in accordance with Christianity. In fact, natural law, which was the early basis (and continues to be much of the basis) for libertarianism, was fostered by Christian philosophers like John Locke and Lord Acton, just to name a few.

      All in all, I don't see that there is an inherent conflict between a free market and Christianity.

      • I say that what they considered the ideal is not the ideal, and yes, their views are not Christian.

        I trust you realize that just because someone claims not to be utopian or negatively critiques his or her limited definition of utopianism that doing so does not automatically render that one non-utopian. Regardless of what Rothbard or Mises or Hayek said or wrote, they were putting forth what they held to be the best; and it was nowhere and will never be because it is not possible, by Christian definition. That's my grounding: Christianity. I'm not arguing or debating from any other "school of thought" or the like.

        The quote you supplied puts forth nothing authoritative. I find the positions ridiculous on their face. They are decidedly anti-Christ on their face as well, which is something that should be readily apparent to you even if you have only a tiny knowledge and understanding of Jesus's sayings.

        "...man's god-given rights (according to Christianity)..." are only what Jesus said and did. Jesus was non-coercive. He did not stop anyone from being the blind leading, or the blind following the blind, into the ditch. Are men and women therefore "free" to fall into the ditch? Is it their God-given right? Obviously, you will need to explore the semantics and contexts involved. Certainly men and women are both free to fall into the ditch in one sense only to become further ensnared in another, more important, deeper, profounder sense, which is the one to which Jesus was referring and which Rothbard, Mises, and Hayek failed to comprehend at least enough to then follow Jesus rather than mammon.

        This is only the proverbial tip-of-the-iceberg.

        Capitalism, per se, is inherently evil.

        • You can not be both a laissez-faire capitalist and a Christian.

          ... and yes, their views are not Christian.

          I can understand how it is possible that someone who supports laissez-faire capitalism could not be Christian, and I can understand how it is logically possible to be a Christian but not a supporter of laissez-faire capitalism.

          But could you give an example of a belief or behavior a laissez-faire capitalist would necessarily have to hold or perform to remain a laissez-faire capitalist that are in conflict with Christianity?

        • Every laissez-faire capitalist belief and behavior is in conflict with Christianity. Christianity is the antithesis of capitalism.

          If you believe you are able, give an example of where it is not.

        • Every laissez-faire capitalist belief and behavior is in conflict with Christianity. Christianity is the antithesis of capitalism.

          If you believe you are able, give an example of where it is not.

          What about government discrimination based on race? I don't think someone could support a government enforcing one set of laws for one race of people and a different set of laws for another race of people and still credibly be called a laissez-faire capitalist.

          Someone who is not a laissez-faire capitalist may also oppose government discrimination based on race, but that would not negate the fact that a laissez-faire capitalist, to remain intellectually consistent, would necessarily have to oppose government discrimination based on race.

        • In radical, let-do capitalism, the market would decide the issue of racial/ethnic discrimination. The market would be the one-and-only government. A capitalist would be free to hire and/or sell based upon ethnicity. The market would decide whether or not to support that decision. Frankly, it is simply democracy by capitalist medium-of-exchange only.

          Would that capitalist necessarily have to agree that any of his employees or any against whom he discriminates on account of race or ethnicity must be afforded the same capitalist "rights"?

          A contract made under economic duress could be an understanding where the employed has signed away his or her "capitalist" rights just to be able to eat. Here again, the so-called private market would decide, not a "public" court.

          Dog-eat-dog is not anti-laissez-faire capitalism.

          The first principles of laissez-faire capitalism and Christianity are diametrically opposed. When viewed from the full context of both, no positions of the two are the same. Christianity and laissez-faire capitalism do not even fully share the meanings of the terms "race" or "ethnicity."

          Hayek wrote of honesty being a prerequisite. That is not a basic tenet of laissez-faire capitalism. Regardless, Christianity tells us that Hayek didn't know the real, full meaning of the term "honest."

        • Whether capitalism sanctions racial discrimination between private individuals is a distinct question than whether a laissez-faire capitalist, to remain intellectual consistent, would believe it proper for the government to discriminate based on race, right?

          Anyhow, thanks for your responses, and good luck with your site.

        • My earlier reply anticipated and precluded your question on government. Re-read it looking for how it did that.

          This may help: In laissez-faire capitalism, there is no separation of "market" and state. That market is the only state. Mammon is the only ballot.

          What capitalism sanctions is that to which a capitalist adheres. When one deviates from what capitalism sanctions, one is being other than a capitalist.

          Thank you for the kind sentiment concerning this site.

          Bless you also.