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Capitalism and Christianity – Enemies or Allies?

February 14, 2011

In August 1986, The Freeman published an essay called A Christian Speaks Up for Capitalism, by James D. Gwartney. Gwartney was Professor of Economics at Florida State University. In this essey, he explains why he thinks that capitalism and christianity are allies rather then enemies.

He starts with defining the term capitalism:

“What I am defending when I speak of capitalism is a social order that provides for the protection of one’s possessions as long as they are acquired without the use of violence, theft, or fraud; and that relies primarily on free-market prices to allocate goods and services.”

And then he gives some arguments on defense of capitalism. I summarize them here:

– Capitalism rewards and reinforces service to others.
– Capitalism provides for the masses, not just the elite.
– Capitalism provides opportunity for achievers of all socioeconomic backgrounds to move up the economic ladder.
– Capitalism provides for minority views.

Gwartney writes short explanation for each of these. You can read the whole essay at The Freeman.

He ends the essay with an advice:

“Of course, capitalism does not impose the moral demands that Christianity does. But economic systems seeking to perfect human nature have more often led to tyranny than to bettering the human race. Christians would do well to settle for an economic system that reinforces Christian virtues, improves living standards, and provides for minority views. Capitalism is such a system.”

(Thanks to Shawn Ritenour.)

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