miércoles, 17 de junio de 2015

Whether democratic or autocratic, capitalism is not a religion, nor a philosophy, nor a moral system.

Capitalism and the Moral Basis of Social Order

by Russell Kirk

A number of Americans, fancying that the world is governed mainly by economic doctrines and practices, are inclined to think that an era of international good feeling lies before us. I intend to sprinkle some drops of cold water on such hasty hopes. I have no faith in the notion that an abstract “democratic capitalism” is about to gain acceptance throughout the world.

We find fairly widespread in these United States a “capitalistic” version of Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism – more’s the pity. It is not a theoretical “democratic capitalism” that can preserve, unaided, order and justice and freedom. Materialism was an American vice when Alexis de Tocqueville travelled in the United States. That vice has not diminished in power. People who maintain that production and consumption are the ends of human existence presently will find themselves impoverished materially, as well as spiritually.

It is true that the masters of what once was the Soviet Union have modified their Marxism – and not the disciples of Yeltsin merely. Consider this passage from Mikhail Gorbachev’s book Perestroika (1987):
We must encourage efficiency in production and the talent of a writer, scientist, or any other upright and hard-working citizen. On this point we want to be perfectly clear: socialism has nothing to do with equalizing. . . . Socialism has a different criterion for redistributing social benefits: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”
Doesn’t this sound rather like democratic capitalism? If Perestroika and similar designs prevail in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, can any great obstacle remain to the universal triumph of democratic capitalism?

Yes, such an obstacle remains: the great gulf fixed between the Christian moral order and the Marxist moral order. Few American advocates of “democratic capitalism,” true, think of themselves as Marxists. But they are disciples of Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism and advocate of the ideology of democratism—whose materialism was quite so thoroughgoing as Marx’s, and whose contempt for religion was not much less than was Marx’s contempt for “the opiate of the masses.” In short, the Christian (or, if you will, Judaeo-Christian) understanding of the human condition is very different indeed from the notions of human nature entertained by the disciples of either Marx or Bentham.

Marxists are advocates of socialism; Benthamites or Utilitarians, advocates of capitalism. Yet those two schools of social thought are not very different one from the other. Let us examine our terms.

“Capitalism” is a nineteenth-century concept-and not a very good word to describe the American economy, let alone the American moral and social order. “Capital” and “capitalist” are words of the latter decades of the eighteenth century-one encountering them in Edmund Burke’s last publication, Letters on a Regicide Peace-but “capitalism” is an ideological term, popularized by Marx and other socialists. It was coined as a devil-term; I do not propose to convert it into a god-term.


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