THE MORAL CHOICE BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM — PART 1

The Good Ole Days. The Culture War the way it used to be.

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This is the first part of a six-part essay.  Here are the six parts.

  • Why Did I Write This Series?
  • Capitalism Versus Socialism And The Culture War?
  • What Does The Bible Says About Private Property?
  • What Is The Problem With Collectives?
  • When Is Socialism the Best Moral Choice?
  • When Is Capitalism The Best Moral Choice?

Why Did I Write This Series?

Not too long after the election of Barack Obama I saw newspaper column wondering why Christians do not defend Capitalism.  I thought the question interesting.  However, there was not much more to the column than that.  So it did not hold my attention.  In fact, when I started writing I could not find the column again.  Nonetheless, the question itself stuck in my mind, and I decided to do a post.  So I guess with respect to one person, at least, the author accomplished his objective.

Many Americans pride themselves on separating politics and religion.  Frankly, I think separating one’s politics from one’s religion next to impossible.  Religion gives our lives purpose.  Our religious beliefs should affect virtually every significant decision we make.  When you vote, for example, you will most likely vote for the candidate that most shares your religious beliefs.  Otherwise, why would you expect that candidate to make moral decisions?

Nonetheless, most Americans maintain the belief that we must keep religion and politics separate.  And they cite the authority of Thomas Jefferson.  Because this conventional wisdom is so common, that is one reason I fear most Americans are poorly educated.  When Jefferson wrote about the wall that separates  Church and State, he was talking about a wall that protects Church from the State.   Here is what he wrote.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.  (from here)

While it might be presumptuous for one political party or the other to claim that God is on their side, there is nothing wrong with a politician saying that he has made a moral choice based upon his religious beliefs.  Consider this ironic example.  The first act of almost every elected official is religious act.  Each official takes an oath of office, most with one hand on the Holy Bible.  Why do we value this oath?  Don’t we believe most taking the oath know that God condemns oath-breaking?  Otherwise what good is the oath?

So in spite of what conventional wisdom says about the wall of separation between Church & State, we do have religion in politics.  Likely, if the ferocity of the Culture War is any indication, we have quite a few people inserting their religious beliefs into politics.  Isn’t the Culture War in essence a religious debate?  Isn’t that what is frightening about the Culture War?  Don’t we each believe that other side will use government to impose its religious beliefs on us?

Consider what each side argues.  Each side argues the other either intends to or has already breached the wall of separation between Church & State — as Jefferson actually described it.

With the election of Barack Obama, has the Culture War ended?  Not likely.  Instead, what has happened is that Conservatives are regrouping.  What is our objective in the war?   How do we promote our ideas to the public?

What this series will do is focus on one aspect of the Culture War, how each side is using government to promugate its beliefs through our economic system.  This series will address why Christians need to understand and defend the role of Capitalism in our society.

Continued — Capitalism Versus Socialism And The Culture War?

A soldier’s perspective.

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About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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6 Responses to THE MORAL CHOICE BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM — PART 1

  1. kgotthardt says:

    Well, I don’t think voters or even lobbyists keep their religion (belief and values systems) out of politics. However, as I’ve said before, politicians can’t afford to apply specific doctrines to government. In this case doctrine might mean anything from forced teaching of creationism in the classroom to abstinence only sex ed across the board. Not everyone adheres to a particular religion so we must meet somewhere in the middle somehow.

    That said, I believe in ethical capitalism, something we do not have at the moment. Corporate and white collar criminals have taken over our economic system and our government. The buck MUST stop with us if we are to survive. Again, there is something in the middle between what we Americans define as capitalism and socialism.

  2. Old Fashion Liberal says:

    kgotthardt – The Christian religion charges parents, not government, with responsibility for the education of children. Almost all parents want their children taught specific beliefs. Almost all parents do not want their children taught that the values of others are equal to or superior to their. Parent most certainly do not want the school system to undermine the values they are taught at home. Yet the schools must teach something. Schools will teach a doctrine of some sort (if only by omission). Schools must inevitably displease some parents and step on their religious rights.

    When we have an education system run by government, how do we keep government out of religion? What is the answer? We wear blinders. We pretend the problem does not exist. School teachers teach the doctrine of of Evolution as a factual certainty and pretend that doctrine is “Science” and has nothing to do with religion. School teachers pretend sex education has nothing to do with moral choices and religion. School teachers pretend that what they teach about history and government has nothing to with religion. So that government can run the schools and serve the needs of the most powerful special interests groups, schools label the faith and religious values of some groups as “science” and “secular” and the faith or other groups as religion.

    You say you believe in ethical capitalism. Do you also believe that ethics has nothing to do with religion?

  3. kgotthardt says:

    I know what you are saying, OFL. It’s a tough call. I’m a firm believer in parents and churches teaching values and ensuring schools aren’t undermining those values. That said, parents have the choice of opting out of sex ed for their kids and taking matters into their own hands. I think that’s a good option for those who want it. I also think it’s a good idea that teachers mention there are many other beliefs about sexuality, evolution, etc.

    Furthermore, I think courses on comparative religions and philosophy in the upper levels would make tremendous additions to the curriculum. You are right–we can’t pretend religion doesn’t exist. We just need to find a way to respect everyone’s beliefs as we learn—NOT an easy job!

  4. Citizen Tom says:

    kgotthardt – Have you ever noticed that when private industry wants your money and access to your child, you have to opt in? On the other hand, when government wants your money and access to your child, you can be certain the government will keep your money. If you are lucky, you just might be able to afford to keep the government away from your child — if that option is left available.

    Have you ever heard of the tolerance trick? When you offered the option of spending more taxpayer dollars so the government can teach us how to respect everyone’s beliefs, I suppose you intended to be kind. The problem is that I see no reason why I should respect respect everyone’s beliefs. Because I think my religion is the best religion, I value my religion above all others. I have no problem with my children not respecting what I believe are lies. I want my children to respect other peoples rights. Whether I think my children should respect what other people believe depends entirely upon what those other people believe.

    I do not think government has any business telling us what to think, what to believe or what to tolerate. Politicians should not be in the business of deciding how our children should be educated. That is for parents to decide.

    Politicians, not parents, are the least trusted people in the country. Yet we let politicians decide how and what our children should be taught. That is stupid.

  5. kgotthardt says:

    Yes, I think we should be kind to one another. Without kindness, there is bullying, discrimination, and violence. That said, you can’t enforce a “kindness” law. You can enforce a school rule or work rule that says “be respectful” however. You don’t have to believe what everyone else believes and you may even speak out against other beliefs, but in order to get along in an educational or work environment, those discussions need to stay outside for the sake of productivity. In fact, many places of employment simply state in their employee handbooks that there should be no political discussions at work if the work doesn’t relate to politics.

    I don’t see the government teaching respect of beliefs. I see them as mandating respect for people—some behaviors just are not acceptable because of the results they yield.

    That said, parents always have the option of sending their children to religious schools if they want their children educated among like-minded people. For many others, however, this isn’t really an issue, and to not acknowledge that means we ignore a large segment of the population.

    Finally, parent groups have the persuasive authority to ensure students are not being what you might call indoctrinated. Most parents of children in public schools simply won’t put up with that. Again, though, if this isn’t enough, parents can send their children to private schools or home school. They can protest the actions of public schools as you do. It’s a free country, after all.

    I think we have gone a little off track here, though, and it’s partly my fault because many of my examples of socialism vs. capitalism come from education. This is simply because I’ve worked in education most of my life. There are other examples in government and industry for sure, but education provides me with a handy microcosm for the discussion we are having.

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