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January 04, 2011

Comments

How did abortion not make that list? Unfortunately, my first guess (possibly an improper judgement, I realize) would be that this is another left-leaning Post writer. This was the first thing that came to my mind.

As a Postmillennialist I have a futuristic view of world peace.

I believe we will look back on the Corporate Military Industrial Complex, their politicians, and the brainwashing of the masses through the media and churches the same way we view Hitler and WWII Germany today.

The fact that abortion did not make the list shows just how big a blind spot it is to our culture. What can we do to 'turn on the light?

I've thought about reverse moral blind spots. Does anyone know who Peter Singer is and what he supports...killing inferior kids under the age of 2 years old. What if in 200 years society says, "Man, there wasn't even a law that allowed people to abort their mentally incapable 2 year old child? What's up with that?". Scary.

i think the moral blind spots were because a blind eye was the one viewing past it. just like it always is. if self interest is your main concern, then there is no limit to what one can justify. i dont see self interest falling by the wayside.

Maria,

Very scary, but not so unbelievable considering the current view of Roe v Wade.

Another Dave,

Huh? Care to expand on those claims, or perhaps back them up with reasons? Sincs postmillenialism is a Christian doctrine, I assume you are a Christian. Why then accuse the Church of brainwashing in such a way that it should be condemned? Clarity please.

Austin

Maria

"I've thought about reverse moral blind spots. Does anyone know who Peter Singer is and what he supports...killing inferior kids under the age of 2 years old. What if in 200 years society says, "Man, there wasn't even a law that allowed people to abort their mentally incapable 2 year old child? What's up with that?". Scary. "

I think that the likelihood of this kind of reverse moral blind spot being _universal_ is not very good. There might be individuals or pockets of people who might have this kind of blind spot, but on the whole, they are likely to be in the minority. What is more of a concern is having this type of minority gain power to the point where where they can dictate their views and impose them on others. It is only this combination of blind-spot and power that causes havoc among humanity. When we see those who hold this foolish view gaining power, then it becomes scary.

Louis Kuhelj
I believe it can happen, maybe we can't see it in our lifetime but let's look at human nature. The Romans used to think highly of those who left their less-than-capable children out in the sun .... to die. If those humans had the capacity to do that, then there is a likelihood that we too, can think that way. But, yes, I do agree with you, that giving the power to the minority can take us there. I'm sure abortion supporters were a minority at one point. Would you agree?

p.s. I don't think society in the 1800's thought we could produce humans out of a test tube.

RE: Another Dave,Huh?

Austin, the Lutheran churches today beat the same drums of war they did for Hitler.

The pro Israel Dispensationalist, including virtually all of Evangelicalism, would no doubt welcome a nuclear Holocaust in the Middle East thinking it would speed the return of Jesus.

In my region, not one church would ever take a stand for peace as they rather decorate the graves of those they send off to war.

Yeah, it depends on where you're coming from. I would think that something like abortion or euthenasia would get an honorable mention as a possibility. But like somebody said, maybe that goes to show how big our blindside to it really is...

Is the issue simply some sort of moral/epistemological puzzle or scotoma?

Why can't it be the ascendancy of Satan's kingdom here on earth, and nothing whatsoever to do with "our intuition of intrinsic human value...actively suppressed"?
Isn't that view more reminiscent of Socrates' view of the weakness of the intellect/will, than Christ's view? Why does our response have to be somehow intellectually satisfying?

Why can't this instance be an example of pure evil? That is, why can't it be something explicable only in terms of a supernatural viewpoint which manifests itself in the natural? If we don't 'rack up' the seriousness, we leave it as an existential problem, which means our response has to be existential. But, as Christians, do we believe that it is?

In other words, is the intellectualisation of the issue merely a red herring, distracting us from what's really happening by trying to interpret a supernatural phenomenon in terms of the natural?

Do we believe in Satan as someone ontologically real and powerful, or is 'he' merely some sort of spiritual blindness or darkness of the intellect, which can be overcome simply by seeing things rightly?

Might it be that some people really get to enjoy and delight in evil, and it's no mere blindspot?

If so, might that explain why people like Appiah and Singer are heralded in the media as 'cognoscenti', whilst Christians, particularly pro-life ones, are ridiculed, however reasonable, articulate, well-argued, winsome, and charitable?

Industrial meat production, LOL.

I guess we should all raise and slaughter our own animals. Because to do it in an industrialized manner is a moral failing.

Except that personally slaughtering animals would disgust or freak out many people who don't like to think about blood. These days, if everyone had to kill their own animals, then eating meat at all would be a moral failing.

Our great grandparents who lived in log cabins and navigated the prairies in covered wagons would be would be amused by our "eeewwww!" reactions to the realities of life.

Paul,

>>"Why can't it be the ascendancy of Satan's kingdom here on earth, and nothing whatsoever to do with "our intuition of intrinsic human value...actively suppressed"?"

In short, because the two cannot be separated...the latter ushers the former...down the red carpet - stained from the dismembered carcasses of 50 million unborn children. The two are one, so to speak. Like how the rapid receding of the seawater from the beach precedes - and affirms - a tsunami's approach, rise and crash.

In the satanic church's rituals, when its members chant and recite the mantra "Hail, Satan," they equivocate this with "Hail, Self."

There exists a direct, symbiotic link between secular humanism and the terrestrial machinations of Lucifer. Insofar as moral discernment is concerned here, morality is something that only exists and is defined by the individual - i.e. moral relativism.

Secular humanism, the world's second oldest religion, was offered to Eve first, that she might be like God (or a god herself.) The depth and procilivity for wickedness within the human heart has no equal save for Satan himself. (The Bible lays this out for us with with the clarity of an FL-rated diamond. The fact that secular humanism is so potent and tightly-held among its human "hosts" only - much to the chagrin of the humanist's "cause" - supports the Bible's positions and re-affirms its truth and accuracy.) The humanist/athiest/secularist has no reason (as he has told himself) to look beyond his own understanding of "morality." He essentially says, "There is no god...but there is me." (Another reason we know the Bible is God-breathed is that mankind does not naturally possess the level of morality needed to write it. Human procilivity would necessarily omit much of what is therein, not by choice, but by default.)

This Appiah chap is attempting to establish some "type" of morality...but the humanism oozes out of his list like an open sore.
It is obvious - I believe - he has a limited scope; and very relativistic grasp of morality. Afterall, it's "his list" of priorities: The World According to Appiah. I am saddened by the mere fact that he has found a venue from which to publicly pout...and many who read him will sit and nod in agreement thinking about how sensitive and in-touch he is. My take on the insight of Appiah: a bumper sticker..right between the two that read "Coexist" and "Go Green."

Hi there, David.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I like your point about the symbiotic connection between the two, and it's a good way of putting it.

However, I'd like your help further in thinking this through if you can.

If we take Islamic extremism as an example, can we reason with it? I am no fan, yet many of the moral issues for which they condemn the secular West, are ones with which I agree!

Although I condemn their response, and there is no justification for their behaviour, a common factor I see, is that one cannot reason with 'extremists'. I don't want to call them 'fundamentalists' because I think constantly going back to the 'fundamentals' of faith are important, but it seems that the secularist and the the Islamic extremist share a common feature: our inability to reason with them (dragging up the Crusades, blah, blah, blah...).

Are the Islam extremists right in assuming the only response is a religious one?

That is, if reason isn't going to work, and a terrorist response in retaliation isn't desired or viable as an option for the Christian, why not seek a purely religious response, rather than bothering with any logic-chopping and rhetoric?

J Budziszewski gives an example in one of his books of a boy, after being given perfect counter-arguments by his girlfriend to every question he has, admits that, in reality, he couldn't care less, and I think that's actually the bog-standard secularist view.

In one of the Indiana Jones films, Indy meets up a huge dervish sent to kill him. After a great display of whirling and twirling with a sabre by the dervish (or rhetorical brilliance in our case), Indy simply pulls out his pistol, and shoots him. It seems to me that Indy's response is the stock response of the Islamic extremist/Secularist.

I'm really struggling with this one because, in so many situations, those who claim reason are those who seem to use it least, and many Christians seem to be setting themselves up as Apologetical Ninjas. But, does it do any good?

I'm a great fan of the writing of Francis Beckwith, and his reasoning, as with that of STR, and why I follow this excellent site.

It's just I'm having problems with the implication that we're all basically good, but if abortionists, et al, simply saw things correctly, they'd slap their forehead, and suddenly ask how they could have been so stupid.

Are we actually dealing demons which can be removed only through prayer and fasting, and our attempts at reasoning are misplaced, and it's our knees, rather than brains, which are required for the task?

Sorry, David.
What I also meant to ask was that, after saying what you have - man is wrapped up within himself - are you also questioning the usefulness of reason, and if so, what sort of response do you think is required?

Since homophobia and intolerance didn't make the list either, it occurred to me that perhaps further installments are in the works. What else has Kwame Anthony Appiah written?

For more on Appiah's view of abortion, see: http://appiah.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Cosmopolitan-Patriots.-Critical-Inquiry-23.3.-1997.pdf (Starting on p.632)

Maria

"I believe it can happen, maybe we can't see it in our lifetime but let's look at human nature."

Good point. The fallen human nature is difficult to deal with.

" The Romans used to think highly of those who left their less-than-capable children out in the sun .... to die."

Interesting. I didn't know about this Roman practice. However, I think that this example fits my concept of a limited acceptance of such practices. It was limited to the Roman empire and for a limited time. Of course that doesn't make it any less despicable.

" If those humans had the capacity to do that, then there is a likelihood that we too, can think that way."

Here I agree. The capacity is certainly there. None of us should be so naive as to think otherwise.

"But, yes, I do agree with you, that giving the power to the minority can take us there. I'm sure abortion supporters were a minority at one point. Would you agree?"

Certainly this was the case. At least some of the credit for it being a minority can be given to social pressures driving it toward pro-life position. I think that the same can be said for the pro-choice bent today. The odd thing about it is that in both instances there is one common quality that existed. Few people thought the arguments for or against abortion carefully, taking all the evidence into consideration. Of course we have more evidence today, but if people refuse to look at it and base their conclusions on where it leads, the effect is pretty much the same. They will simply go with what is currently acceptable by their neighbors in order to gain social acceptance and approval themselves. Ultimately the herd mentality is driven by these two social factors. Most people don't want to become a social outcast by taking a position that is unpopular, even if that means that they will actually make the right choice. Folks who have a low self esteem are particularly vulnerable to social exploitation of this kind as their self image is often defined by what others thing of them and that is defined by the positions they take on these kinds of issues.

Concerning abortion: let's not forget that even now abortion has the intent and/or effect of "culling the weak."

China's one-child policy is devastating. Men want boys. They only get one chance -- unless a girl-child is killed. This happens even after birth. A girl-child can be thrown in the pigs' slop bucket still crying.

And in America, I must ask: who is it that gets abortions more: the rich, or the poor? Now, while one cannot stereotype one particular ethnicity as poor, can you think of one race that is usually not poor? White people such as myself. So, if the poor get abortions more, and non-white folks are poor more often, then that means that non-white folks are going to be getting abortions more.

Assuming all races continue reproducing at the same rate, the effect is that the poor will be systematically reduced in number through destruction of their children. As an associated effect, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans in particular will comprise a smaller proportion of the US population (unless immigration offsets this).

The racial and sexual (male-female) implications of abortion are horrifying. It just worsens an already-horrible practice.

Gary

"And in America, I must ask: who is it that gets abortions more: the rich, or the poor? "

I think that the more important point that can get overlooked is that the recruiters for abortion use economic reasons to persuade in favor of it. The social emphasis on capitalism being the best economic model we have joins in as an ally to press forward the argument in its favor. This is the pitfall that Christians fall into when they support the capitalist system. They unwittingly become instruments of those who promote this evil and play right into the hands of their argument. By not taking a stand that capitalism aids and abets this evil, their silence points a guilty finger at them, which goes largely ignored or unnoticed.

Louis Kuhelj's is absolutely correct. Perhaps capitalism is a moral blindspot to many Christians. It seems many Christians rightfully oppose the evils of the socialist system, but do not see the evils of the capitalist system and do not realize that capitalism naturally and inevitably gives birth to socialism.

Many of the evils today are largely systemic problems inherent to our economic system. The major conservative politicians and political pundits speak out against many evils, including socialism; yet they passionately and ferverntly promote as their core value a capatilist system that leads to the very evils they speak out against.

Hilaire Belloc's "The Servile State" is a good read for anyone who wants to understand the evils of both capitalism and socialism and the direction in which our nation and world is headed.

"The Capitalist State breeds a Collectivist Theory which in action produces something utterly different from Collectivism: to wit, the Servile State." - The Servile State, 1912

Maybe one day our children will look back on us with astonishment, and perhaps anger, in that we were promoting the very system that lead to what we said we opposed.

Louis,

"The social emphasis on capitalism being the best economic model we have joins in as an ally to press forward the argument in its favor."

I'm not following you. I agree that groups like Planned Parentood use economic status as a means for persuading people to get an abortion. What does Capitalism have to do with that?

Chris54 and Louis K,

>>"The social emphasis on capitalism being the best economic model we have joins in as an ally to press forward the argument in its favor. This is the pitfall that Christians fall into when they support the capitalist system. They unwittingly become instruments of those who promote this evil and play right into the hands of their argument. By not taking a stand that capitalism aids and abets this evil, their silence points a guilty finger at them, which goes largely ignored or unnoticed."

>>" The major conservative politicians and political pundits speak out against many evils, including socialism; yet they passionately and ferverntly promote as their core value a capatilist system that leads to the very evils they speak out against."

This is nuts.

Everything that mankind touches and influences can lead to evil when he abandons his moral compass. If you are suggesting that capitalism can be utlized by the morally corrupt, well of course it can. In that regard, its not unlike the internet. One can use it to teach a child to read as easily as one can use it to solicit a child for sex. Its a neutral mechanism. I can use capitalism for charitible work towards Crisis Pregancy Centers, or I can take the law (Roe)and "capitalize" on the moral bankruptcy demonstrated by 73's Supreme Court and open an abortion mill. Capitalism just gives us a freedom to pursue an endeavor. Capitalism itself doesn't "lead" to anything in particular...moral wickedness does that. A fellow can use a frying pan to feed his family or he can hit his wife over the head with it...but its not the cookware that leads to anything evil. (On the other hand, socialism, communism, fascism...those BEGIN with an inherent moral deficit by design.)


(P.S. - Paul, I'll get back to you.) Thanks for your kind words.

David,

Great points, and sort of what I was getting at, although I was going to see if Louis explained his position a little better first.

The church is supposedly the light of the world, so the issue isn't so much what the world is blind to, it's what the church is blind to. We need to focus our attention on ourselves.

We can sulk about abortion all day long, and that's a good thing, but we are totally missing the really big one. The one that not only aborts children, but mothers, fathers, entire neighborhoods, entire third world nations for profit, all with the church's blessings. Going on right now.

another dave,

You keep putting forth these claims but have yet to give either a reason for why they are true, or a specific example. That's not the way this works. You need to back up a claim before anyone will take you seriously.

"The church is supposedly the light of the world,"

This could be true from the perspective that Jesus is supposed to be the Head of the Church. More correct though, Christians claim that Jesus is the light of the world, not the church.

"The one that not only aborts children, but mothers, fathers, entire neighborhoods, entire third world nations for profit, all with the church's blessings. Going on right now."

Where is this going on? With who? What is your justification for believing this? What "church" is blessing this? This seems to be a bunch of rhetorical nonsense.

Austin


"I'm not following you. I agree that groups like Planned Parentood use economic status as a means for persuading people to get an abortion. What does Capitalism have to do with that?"

The driving force behind capitalism is the philosophical idea of economic self-sufficiency as the ultimate path to a satisfying life. This is a lie. The Planned Parenthood is using the foundation of a lie to push forward their agenda. This is a lie that is broadly disseminated by both the church and the secular part of society through their reaffirmation of the idea that capitalism is the best we can achieve on both national and personal level. This is a notion that is then used by PP to indoctrinate and since it has broad based support, it is never even questioned. This is why I said that the church is in fact playing right into the hands of planned parenthood's campaign and by not taking a firm stand against this notion, are complicit. Of course, in the defense of the church, the gospel does show that this capitalistic philosophy is false and that true fulfillment in life can only be had through reconciliation with God and a personal relationship with Jesus. Sticking with the gospel, we can avoid this pitfall, but many stray from that to this other thing that is in clear contradiction of it.

David Hawkins

"This is nuts.

Everything that mankind touches and influences can lead to evil when he abandons his moral compass."

Of course. This is true.

"If you are suggesting that capitalism can be utlized by the morally corrupt, well of course it can."

Also true, but it is more than that. It is itself tainted or poisoned in its nature to the point where its poison can be used to kill and in the case of abortion, that is exactly what is being done.
All I have done, is pointed out the contamination that is being touted as something wonderful. I respectfully disagree. I will call poison...poison and refuse to call it elixir of life.

Chris54

"Perhaps capitalism is a moral blindspot to many Christians."

I think you are absolutely right and I am reasonably certain that in many cases it is not just "perhaps", it is a certainty. It is arrogant to think that any of us are exempt from having a blind spot somewhere in the way we see things and I am certainly no exception. This is why we engage in these kinds of exchanges in debates in order to expose them.

Hi Louis,
Why is it that you say private ownership is, in and of itself, tainted and evil? Jesus' ministry was supported because people had personal control of their own resources and in Acts the brothers who sold their possessions to give to the needy could not have done so if they did not have private ownership.

On your other charge, do you really know Christians who call this the elixir of life?

Why do you blame capitalism itself for abortions when Soviet Russia led the world in abortions and Communist China is infamous for its abortion program? It doesn't make any sense to me to couple an argument about the moral evil of abortion to an argument about economic considerations while advocating against economic freedom of choice.

Daron

"
Why is it that you say private ownership is, in and of itself, tainted and evil?"

It is not private ownership that is evil, which is not something I addressed. What I was speaking of is the heart of capitalistic notion that a fulfilling life can be had through pursuit of wealth and acquisition of material goods. This is the lie that is foundational to the popularity of capitalism.


" Jesus' ministry was supported because people had personal control of their own resources and in Acts the brothers who sold their possessions to give to the needy could not have done so if they did not have private ownership."

Private ownership is not what I was addressing, nor am I against. BTW-What you are pointing out is that charity relies on private ownership. I agree and that is why am in favor of it, not against it. I don't know how you could have gotten the idea that I thought otherwise from what I have said.


"On your other charge, do you really know Christians who call this the elixir of life?
"

I admit to an occasional slip into hyperbola. It was merely meant to point out a cultural invasion of the church that makes capitalism socially normative. I think that the ideas I have attacked have slipped into the church due to a lack of vigilance on the part of those who are entrusted with the guarding of the flock. We should never forget that as Christians, we are neither capitalists nor communists, but monarchists and our first and foremost allegiance is to our sovereign and ideas of proper social constructs based on Christ's example. What we cobble together on our own without the council of God and His Word is bound to be fraught with dangers and pitfalls such as the one I have pointed out.

Daron

"Why do you blame capitalism itself for abortions when Soviet Russia led the world in abortions and Communist China is infamous for its abortion program?"

With all due respect Daron, this is the "I',m not bad because the other guy is much worse than me." argument. I agree that under those systems abortion was worse and it is elements of those systems that are also poisonous to the point of killing off the innocent unborn. That being said, we cannot excuse our failings simply because someone else's failings are worse. That kind of excuse will not work at the white throne judgment, why should it work here and now?

"It doesn't make any sense to me to couple an argument about the moral evil of abortion to an argument about economic considerations while advocating against economic freedom of choice."


In that case, I will be careful not to do that as I have been.

RE: Austin,

I take it you are into Fox News?

Thanks Louis,
What I was speaking of is the heart of capitalistic notion that a fulfilling life can be had through pursuit of wealth and acquisition of material goods. And you critique Christians who believe this? Good.
But then I think you ought to just critique Christians who believe life fulfillment has anything to do with wealth or material goods, regardless of in whose hands they reside. Calling this sinful idea "capitalism" doesn't seem very helpful.
When you specify "Capitalism" as being in and of itself evil it looks like you are contrasting it to socialism which then, by implication, would not be an evil. But anyone can define socialism the way you just did with capitalism: it is, at its heart, the notion that a fulfilling life can be had through granting to government all power and authority on earth over all matters.

I don't know how you could have gotten the idea that I thought otherwise from what I have said.
Thanks for clearing this up. I guess your repeated attacks on Capitalism, per se, confused me, as we seem to use different definitions. I define capitalism as the private rights of control over the means of production.
It was merely meant to point out a cultural invasion of the church that makes capitalism socially normative.
But this still relies upon your very limited and not very accurate definition of capitalism. If all you are really saying is that there is a cultural invasion of the church making the pursuit of a fulfilling life through material gain socially normative then it would be more helpful if that is what you said. This kind of idolatry should, indeed, be exposed in any congregation that would support it.


I think that the ideas I have attacked have slipped into the church due to a lack of vigilance on the part of those who are entrusted with the guarding of the flock.
The ideas you've mentioned above? That wealth and material acquisition is the key to a fulfilling life? This isn't really a good description of capitalism, and I would commend you for pointing out the error in any church that believes this about wealth.

We should never forget that as Christians, we are neither capitalists nor communists, but monarchists and our first and foremost allegiance is to our sovereign and ideas of proper social constructs based on Christ's example. What we cobble together on our own without the council of God and His Word is bound to be fraught with dangers and pitfalls such as the one I have pointed out.
I think you are loading a lot into your own meaning of the word "capitalism", then, and ought not be surprised when you are misunderstood. I too, would say we ought to base our ideas of social constructs on God's Word and examples. His patriarchs amassed wealth, did so with ingenuity, shared with others, and considered themselves stewards of His resources. Jesus selected venture capitalists as His disciples, never told them to give up their possessions or the income from them and He Himself utilized the fruits of their labours in His ministry. By my definition, if we allow earthly stewardship an equivalence to ownership (God gave to man every tree and plant as well as dominion over animals and resources), there is nothing that could possibly be naturally nor intrinsically evil or poisoned about capitalsim, per se. Nor could it be wrong for church-goers to think capitalism a good thing. God immediately sent man out to work the ground, gather flocks, and return a portion to Him and use the rest for themselves.

By what appears to be your definition (a fulfilling life can be had by wealth acquisition) you aren't really speaking of capitalism but idolatry. I would humbly offer that you might be better off critiquing this idea directly and not mis-label it as "capitalism".

Sorry, this part was a quote:

What I was speaking of is the heart of capitalistic notion that a fulfilling life can be had through pursuit of wealth and acquisition of material goods.

With all due respect Daron, this is the "I',m not bad because the other guy is much worse than me." argument.
Not really. It is the argument that says "Capitalism can not be the cause of this evil when the evil is manifest to an even greater degree where Capitalism is absent".

Hi Daron,

I’m glad Louis cleared up some of the misunderstandings. I agree with you that the problem in arguing the morality or immorality of capitalism is the lack of a clear definition. Capitalism is one of those words that we all seem to assume has a clear meaning and that others are thinking of the same thing we are when we talk about it; though, in reality, we attribute different details to the idea than what the other person had in mind. Economists still have no consistent agreement on a definition for capitalism. It seems socialism has a far clearer and agreed upon meaning (the control of property by the state). Most thinking Christians, which I attempt to be, agree that socialism is inherently evil. I think I’m incapable, and it would be inappropriate for this blog, to fully define capitalism and why it’s also inherently evil, which is why I recommend reading the writings of Belloc, which I’ve found most helpful.

It seems that there is a false notion held by most of society that opposing capitalism is a promotion of socialism. I know my first inclination would still be to think someone is a socialist if I heard them talking ill of capitalism. We can however oppose capitalism and socialism and search for a third option. It seems that there is also a false notion in society that capitalism is a system which protects private property ownership and economic freedom. While capitalism extols the moral ideal of economic freedom of choice, the reality is that capitalism creates insecurity, insufficiency, and the loss of economic freedom for the majority of citizens. While capitalism extols private property (property being the control of land, materials, the instruments used to transform these, and the places to store the goods produced), the system inherently creates a society in which the large majority of property is vested in a small minority of citizens; leaving the increasing majority of citizens dispossessed. Consequently, under capitalism, economic freedom ceases to exist for the majority who become dependent on the very small minority for their security and sufficiency. This results from capitalism’s key attributes of unrestricted competition and usury (interest on non-productive loans). These two attributes of capitalism are what makes the system corrupt, yet they seem to be essential to the definition of the capitalist system. It is a system that inherently awards the avarice of individuals and results in the loss of goods among the majority, such as property and economic freedom, among the majority.

As the dispossessed majority grows through capitalism, society becomes more and more unstable through the consequent and growing loss of security and sufficiency. Many will accept, or not realize, their loss of economic freedom in the capitalist system. They will not accept and will have a burning realization of their loss of security and sufficiency due to the capitalist system. In an attempt to gain security and sufficiency, the dispossessed majority of society then turns to socialism as the answer. This is one way in which capitalism breeds socialism. Under socialism the majority of society will eventually not only lack economic freedom, but will lack all freedom, while never gaining the security and sufficiency lost sought after.

I think I’m getting too far from the original topic of the blog, so I’ll probably just leave it at this.

Chris, it may have been off-topic, but I'm glad you said it.

In response to Daron: just because one sees abortion on a greater scale in China does not make it impossible for capitalism to lead to abortion.

There can be more than one possible thing that leads someone to abortion, just like with any other murder. Some people murder because of greed. Some because of lust. Just because more people murder due to theft does not make it impossible for sexual objectification to lead to murder also.

Thanks for the chat, brothers.

Hi Chris,
Thanks for your thoughtful answer. Like you, I see this as quite off-topic. I was just struck by the accusation out-of-the blue that capitalism is intrinsically evil and the cause of abortions.

Capitalism is one of those words that we all seem to assume has a clear meaning and that others are thinking of the same thing we are when we talk about it; though, in reality, we attribute different details to the idea than what the other person had in mind.
Agreed.
I think I’m incapable, and it would be inappropriate for this blog, to fully define capitalism and why it’s also inherently evil, which is why I recommend reading the writings of Belloc, which I’ve found most helpful.
Thanks for the recommendation. I understand that you can't make the demonstration here, but I thank you for your effort.

I have a little trouble with claims that capitalism causes people to become dispossessed. It turns out that America, certainly far from a pure capitalist country but, I think, still considered one of the best examples, seems to have a low level of dispossession.

Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year 2002, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
...
The 2000 Census indicates that 73% of U.S. poor own automobiles, 76% have air conditioning, 97% own refrigerators, 62% have cable or satellite TV, and 73% have microwaves. There are many homeless and malnourished individuals in the United States, but the poverty thresholds are high enough to include many individuals who live with some modern comforts.
Instead of being homeless, almost half (46%) own their own homes with most of the rest renting their homes. On average a poor person in this country lives in a home with 1,228 square feet (114.1 m2) which they often own, and as noted the home is likely air conditioned, with a refrigerator, cable or satellite TV, a microwave not to mention many other comforts.[49] Cox and Alm[50]] conclude that if the American poor formed a country of their own, they would be as well-off or even slightly better-off than the typical family in most European countries.
...
Specifically, the poorest fifth of Americans reported $10,263 of income on average, but reported spending $22,304.[52] How this group could spend, on average, more than twice as much as it reported as income is unclear. Possible explanations include significant amounts of unreported income, borrowing, and the spending of previously accumulated wealth.

On the other hand, in China, for instance, property ownership is forbidden.
That spending by the average "poor" by the way, outstrips my own spending by a fair mark and I am neither poor nor dispossessed.

This results from capitalism’s key attributes of unrestricted competition and usury (interest on non-productive loans). These two attributes of capitalism are what makes the system corrupt, yet they seem to be essential to the definition of the capitalist system.
You seem to be doing here what Louis did. That is, to roll evils into your definition. I know of no reason to claim that the evil of usury is essential to the definition of capitalism. It is not included in any of the definitions of capitalism that I have seen, nor is it intrinsic to the principle. Owning your own property and investing your profits back into the business do not require usury. Investing money into an enterprise in hopes of making a profit does not, either. On the other hand, even if unrestricted competition were part of the definition (though there is no such thing) I fail to see why this would be considered an evil or make capitalism inherently evil. Trying to provide a better product at a better price than someone else is doing is not evil. Rather, it benefits the customers and guards against the dispossession you referred to above. It is what creates a wealthier middle class and lifts the tide for everyone. It is the wealth of America's middle class, for instance, that causes her poverty line to be so high above that of so much of the rest of the world, causing the anomalies in the wiki quote above.

As the dispossessed majority grows through capitalism, society becomes more and more unstable through the consequent and growing loss of security and sufficiencyDispossessed majority? But even among the poor home-ownership is almost at 50%. 3/4 own cars. This defies my definition of 'dispossessed'.

------

Hi Gary,

In response to Daron: just because one sees abortion on a greater scale in China does not make it impossible for capitalism to lead to abortion.
...
Just because more people murder due to theft does not make it impossible for sexual objectification to lead to murder also.
Good point. My argument wasn't meant to be a formal proof. I was making a probability argument. It is, of course, logically possible that capitalism causes abortion. This is not compelling, though, since the absence of capitalism is correlated with much higher abortion rates. The U.S.S.R., at the peak of the cold war, for instance, was aborting at a rate about three times the birth rate and led the world in abortion rates until only recently. They now have more live births than abortions.
As abortion cuts through all of history and across cultures it would appear to be an evil intrinsic to human depravity. Since it is more prominent in communist than capitalist countries it remains a logical possibility that capitalism, qua capitalism, causes abortion, but it doesn't seem very likely.
Given this, it certainly doesn't seem compelling, out of the blue, to select capitalism as a so-called intrinsically evil system causing the evil of abortion.
As I asked, and argued against:
Why do you blame capitalism itself for abortions when Soviet Russia led the world in abortions and Communist China is infamous for its abortion program?

and
It is the argument that says "Capitalism can not be the cause of this evil when the evil is manifest to an even greater degree where Capitalism is absent".

Later, guys.

Daron

"Not really. It is the argument that says "Capitalism can not be the cause of this evil when the evil is manifest to an even greater degree where Capitalism is absent".

Well since my original argument was that it aided and abetted evil due to its nature, did I really make a claim that it was the cause of it?
That is a far more limited argument than the one that it morphed into as it passed through your bias filter.

Daron

"Not really. It is the argument that says "Capitalism can not be the cause of this evil when the evil is manifest to an even greater degree where Capitalism is absent".

Well since my original argument was that it aided and abetted evil due to its nature, did I really make a claim that it was the cause of it?
That is a far more limited argument than the one that it morphed into as it passed through your bias filter.

Hi Louis,
Good, I'm glad for your correction and the clarity. I freely admit to having a reading bias and I realize I have read you as saying somewhat more than you actually did.
For instance, you said:

This [your idea of the philosophy behind capitalism] is a lie that is broadly disseminated by both the church and the secular part of society through their reaffirmation of the idea that capitalism is the best we can achieve on both national and personal level.

When you talked about the church broadly disseminating this thing you call capitalism I thought, quite naturally, I believe, that you were talking about the system of economics that the word usually denotes (and you'll note I used this definition when asking for your elaboration) and that anyone I've discussed it with understands it to mean. Because I was imagining something the church at large might be thought to be disseminating (as per my definition) I somewhat, and mistakenly, disregarded what you really meant by capitalism ( "the philosophical idea of economic self-sufficiency as the ultimate path to a satisfying life. "). I thought that your definition was a bit of hyperbole, as you later admitted a tendency toward.

And when Dave said:

If you are suggesting that capitalism can be utlized by the morally corrupt, well of course it can. ...
I can use capitalism for charitible work towards Crisis Pregancy Centers, or I can take the law (Roe)and "capitalize" on the moral bankruptcy demonstrated by 73's Supreme Court and open an abortion mill. Capitalism just gives us a freedom to pursue an endeavor. Capitalism itself doesn't "lead" to anything in particular...moral wickedness does that

you rejected his points and said it is more than that:
Also true, but it is more than that. It is itself tainted or poisoned in its nature to the point where its poison can be used to kill and in the case of abortion, that is exactly what is being done.
Being more than a tool misused, in your opinion, I thought you were saying it, in and of itself, led to the evil we are discussing - especially since you say it is evil and poisoned in its own nature. But you insist that all you meant was that it aids and abets, but does not cause; so then it becomes again just the tool Dave was saying. If it is more than a neutral tool then it seems to me it must have causal properties. Obviously this is all more nuanced than one would expect given your repeated statements about the inherent evils of capitalism.

Then you continued to say:

All I have done, is pointed out the contamination that is being touted as something wonderful.
So again, I was taken to read one use over the other. If capitalism is being touted as something wonderful, if it is being widely disseminated by the church, then surely you were talking about the system of economics as commonly understood and as I asked about in my comment. No, it turns out, you were still talking about this philosophy that acquisition of material goods leads to a fulfilled life.
Since I don't think this philosophy is a proper definition of capitalism, nor that it is widely disseminated nor that is broadly called something wonderful by the church, I did not think this was what you were talking about as the evil that is used to do more evil.
Now that we know what it is that you are calling capitalism I have to challenge you on your claim that this is something that the church, in general, is widely disseminating.

So then I asked:

Why is it that you say private ownership is, in and of itself, tainted and evil?

and
Why do you blame capitalism itself for abortions when Soviet Russia led the world in abortions and Communist China is infamous for its abortion program?

After I asked this, and after I had made this as my argument, you clarified that you were using this unusual definition of capitalism in which the sin of idolatry is presumed right into your definition.
This seems to me how discussion is to work. You made strong statements, I showed the implications as I saw them, and you demonstrated that you were not intending those implications.

You also mischaracterized my argument, which I made before this clarification, and which I defended as per its intent and proper characterization.
But you did clarify:

What I was speaking of is the heart of capitalistic notion that a fulfilling life can be had through pursuit of wealth and acquisition of material goods.

Of course, when I saw your clarification I immediately acknowledged it:

And you critique Christians who believe this? Good. 
But then I think you ought to just critique Christians who believe life fulfillment has anything to do with wealth or material goods, regardless of in whose hands they reside. Calling this sinful idea "capitalism" doesn't seem very helpful.

When you specify "Capitalism" as being in and of itself evil it looks like you are contrasting it to socialism which then, by implication, would not be an evil. But anyone can define socialism the way you just did with capitalism: it is, at its heart, the notion that a fulfilling life can be had through granting to government all power and authority on earth over all matters.

I agreed that any church that would promote this kind of idolatry ought to be spoken against.
If all you are really saying is that there is a cultural invasion of the church making the pursuit of a fulfilling life through material gain socially normative then it would be more helpful if that is what you said. This kind of idolatry should, indeed, be exposed in any congregation that would support it.
....
I would commend you for pointing out the error in any church that believes this about wealth.

...
I think you are loading a lot into your own meaning of the word "capitalism", then, and ought not be surprised when you are misunderstood

And now you are pointing out my bias for having misunderstood you. But you've bypassed all my statements about our using differing definitions and how I was, clearly, misunderstanding what it was exactly that you were criticizing.

But you had challenged my argument as one thing and I had defended it as it had been intended, and as I was applying it to what it appeared you were saying - the thing I then acknowledged you had not been saying. Certainly this was due to bias on my part, but I don't think I was unreasonable in trying to read you in some kind of light that made sense given my view. You didn't know how I could possibly have gotten the ideas that I did (that your attack on capitalism was, for instance, an attack on private ownership of the means of production) but, of course, I got those ideas from common parlance and the definitions as found in dictionaries and in wikipedia.


Nonetheless, I am glad we have clarified what it is you are attacking, what you mean by capitalism, and what kind of churches you are talking about when you say they have been poisoned by these ideas. I guess that's why we ask questions and discuss ideas.

That is a far more limited argument than the one that it morphed into as it passed through your bias filter.
Indeed. It would appear everything you are saying is far more limited than what I thought you were saying.

Sorry for my bias.

Hi Daron,

You make some very thought provoking points in your last response to me. I'll try to address some of them.

I didn’t mean to roll evils into the definition of capitalism. My statement “yet they seem to be essential to the definition of the capitalist system” was sort of a qualifier to leave this open to debate. I mean that if you take these two things away, it would seem to me that we are no longer talking about capitalism as it is in reality.

I did make the mistake again of not clearly defining what I meant with a couple of words. When I said, “property being the control of land, materials, the instruments used to transform these, and the places to store the goods produced,” I should have stated that I meant these things in as much as they are a means of production. So, by “property” I mean the control of the means of production, and not simply the ownership of any material thing. Therefore, by “dispossessed” I mean those who do not possess the means of production, or cannot produce wealth except by the leave of another who possesses the means of production. By “wealth”, here, I mean matter which has been consciously and intelligently transformed from a lesser to a greater state, not just the accumulation of money. The dispossessed person is only in control of his labor and has no control, in any useful amount, over either capital (wealth reserved for future production) or land, or both combined. The majority of people are dispossessed in this sense. The majority of people only have their labor to offer those who own the means of production and the majority do not own any useful means of producing wealth themselves. A person can still be dispossessed of the means of production while still having a house, car, air conditioning, refrigerators, or any other amenities of life. A person can still be dispossessed in this sense and not be poor at all, yet not economically free. Of course there are still avenues open by which an entrepreneur can gain ownership of some form of a means of production and this is truer in America than anywhere else. However, as capitalism progresses (also as socialism creeps in), these routes are disappearing. The few owners of the means of production narrow the gaps for new entrants into their markets every day.

I agree that most Americans are living far better than much of the world, including Europe and especially China, and that the U.S. represents one of the best examples of a capitalist society. However, with the dynamics of globalization, we cannot simply look within the U.S. to see the full impact of U.S. capitalism. Where do most of the products we enjoy (or the material within the products) come from? Why are these products cheap enough for many of the poorest Americans to afford? Our capitalist economy relies on the cheap labor outside of the U.S. to survive. To assess the impact of U.S. capitalism we cannot just compare the poor of our country to the poor of others. We must include the poor of other countries in our assessment since they play a large role in the U.S. economy.

Please also consider that while many poor American families seem to be getting by comparatively well, many could not get by on the income of one parent. Both parents are usually forced to work, which has tended to become the accepted norm of society. This expectation and unfortunate requirement in society is one of the driving forces behind abortion.

I completely agree with you that “owning your own property and investing your profits back into the business do not require usury,” and that “Investing money into an enterprise in hopes of making a profit does not, either.” These are not usurious since you would only gain interest if your business or the enterprise you invested in was productive. However, collecting interest on loans that produce nothing is usury and this is what much of our economic system is based on. It is so much a part of our economic structure that it would take a long and gradual process to ease our society away from this practice.

In regards to unrestricted competition, it may seem to be a good thing in theory, but in reality unrestricted competition eventually leads to a competition restricted by the few that own the means of production. It also seems that many of the current restrictions enforced by the government tend to only benefit the large corporations. I know there are many good arguments for the ways in which we all benefit by the advantages given to large corporations, but as we gain these benefits, more citizens are reduced from owners (of the means of production) to laborers only, and we continue to become more entrenched in our dependency on the minority that owns the means of production.

Hi Chris,
At a brief glance ...

Where do most of the products we enjoy (or the material within the products) come from? Why are these products cheap enough for many of the poorest Americans to afford? Our capitalist economy relies on the cheap labor outside of the U.S. to survive. To assess the impact of U.S. capitalism we cannot just compare the poor of our country to the poor of others. We must include the poor of other countries in our assessment since they play a large role in the U.S. economy

Indeed, as a matter of fact ...

As the “positives”, outsourcing has been praised to be cost-effective, efficient, productive, and strategic.

Because of Outsourcing, we get lower prices on the products we purchase. Outsourcing raises the country’s standard of living, and benefits low income people and seniors living on fixed income. Also, some predict, as the population ages (Baby Boomers), there will be fewer workers to fill the jobs, so we’ll need to outsource even more to stay well as a country.

Since there are skilled people in the poor nations, and their daily costs are much lower than ours, we can pay them enough and still economize. Since we are creating jobs in those countries, they can generate work for many more as the money flows into the national economy and will return dividends through Globalization.

Through creating jobs in other countries, we are helping to close the gap between the poorest and the richest countries, and bringing security to the world.

Due to outsourcing, shareholders get higher profits, and, in turn, spend it within United States, effecting American economy.


http://www.moneyallocator.com/articles/outsourcing.asp

. It also seems that many of the current restrictions enforced by the government tend to only benefit the large corporations.
Exactly - the opposite of competition. Even huge corporations like Microsoft face natural competition. Even if they are in the habit of buying out upstarts they do so because the upstarts enter into the competition and came up with a product or method that proved an improvement. With the allure of being bought out others likewise try to innovate. That is, until the government steps in, regulates the companies, creates a climate of lobbyism and mutual dependency, and then protects its own interests by stifling competition and protecting the large corporations which are funneling millions of lobby dollars into the government coffers. This evil undermines not only competition, but capitalism itself.

Regarding the (un)necessity of the two-income family, which is not required by capitalism and was, in fact, orchestrated to be the case in Soviet Russia.
http://threehierarchies.blogspot.com/2006/01/where-does-money-go-in-dual-income.html

As for the means of production and wealth generation, everyone has access to it ... except, of course, you never have it without relying upon someone else, ie, the customer.
I was a labourer working for bosses (my customer) for years and now I am an independent working directly for my customers. Nobody tried and nobody had the means, in a capitalistic society, to stop me. Likewise my two brothers and my dad, for examples. We chose to hang out our shingles and we did so. The only impediment to such endeavours is not the big guy trying to squelch competition, but government interference and regulation. Nothing about capitalism intrinsically stands in the way.

In a free country you always have access to your own wealth-making property and you are always in control of your greatest asset - yourself. You can grab a shovel and clear snow or buy a mower and maintain lawns. You go directly to the customer and you offer your services. This is not the case when you step outside of capitalism

What you reference above as your target seems to be " capitalism as it is in reality". This, of course, is not capitalism in its nature, or at its essence, but how it comes to be in the hands of fallen and sinful men. As Dave pointed out to get this rolling, every tool can be misused and, in reality, capitalism is as well. This does not, as was contended, make capitalism itself evil or inherently poisoned. It means we can poison it.

That said, I still have no idea why you are coupling "usury" of necessity to capitalism. Can you explain this?

Daron

Daron

Hi Louis,
Good, I'm glad for your correction and the clarity. I freely admit to having a reading bias and I realize I have read you

as saying somewhat more than you actually did.
For instance, you said:
This [your idea of the philosophy behind capitalism] is a lie that is broadly disseminated by both the church and the

secular part of society through their reaffirmation of the idea that capitalism is the best we can achieve on both national

and personal level.

“When you talked about the church broadly disseminating this thing you call capitalism I thought, quite naturally, I

believe, that you were talking about the system of economics that the word usually denotes (and you'll note I used this

definition when asking for your elaboration) and that anyone I've discussed it with understands it to mean.”
Were I to be attacking capitalism in general, this would be an appropriate view to take. However, since I was only

attacking a characteristic of capitalism, there is no need for the full definition of capitalism to be considered. You are

working way too hard. Take it easy. :)

“Because I was imagining something the church at large might be thought to be disseminating (as per my definition) I

somewhat, and mistakenly, disregarded what you really meant by capitalism ( "the philosophical idea of economic self-

sufficiency as the ultimate path to a satisfying life. "). I thought that your definition was a bit of hyperbole, as you

later admitted a tendency toward. “
This is not a definition of capitalism, this is only a part of the definition of capitalism. It is a defining

characteristic, but it only partly defines it. That is why I stated that my scope was limited.

“you rejected his points and said it is more than that:
Also true, but it is more than that. It is itself tainted or poisoned in its nature to the point where its poison can be

used to kill and in the case of abortion, that is exactly what is being done.”
I don't see my statement that it is also true as being a rejection. On the contrary, I agree with Dave on his point. I

simply expanded on what his view with a view held by me, combining the two.


“Being more than a tool misused, in your opinion, “
The characteristic I point out does make it more than just a tool. The sales pitch of the idea that capitalism is the best

we can achieve on both national and personal level is the lie that poisons those who espouse it.

“I thought you were saying it, in and of itself, led to the evil we are discussing - especially since you say it is evil

and poisoned in its own nature.”
Its nature being the sales-pitch with a lie that is embedded in it. Capitalism is an evangelistic enterprise and perhaps

this is why it has such an appeal to the church. However, on closer examination of the sales-pitch, it is quite clear that

we are being sold a bill-of-goods.

“But you insist that all you meant was that it aids and abets, but does not cause;”

The sales-pitch itself does not cause one to buy into it.

“ so then it becomes again just the tool Dave was saying. If it is more than a neutral tool then it seems to me it must

have causal properties.”
A specific sales-pitch is never a neutral tool. It has been shaped by its user for a particular job at hand and is now

biased toward that end. The idea of a sales-pitch might be a neutral tool, but when used in practice it can never be or it

would be useless for the specific job.

“ Obviously this is all more nuanced than one would expect given your repeated statements about the inherent evils of

capitalism. “
More precisely stated, the inherent evils of certain aspects of capitalism. I understand your natural tendency to think

of my attack on a portion of the system as an attack of the whole system. It is like my chopping off someone's hand not

being an attack on the rest of the individual. However, economic and political systems are not living organisms with a

soul. Slicing off a diseased part does not mean that I think the whole thing is sick.


Then you continued to say:
All I have done, is pointed out the contamination that is being touted as something wonderful.
“So again, I was taken to read one use over the other. If capitalism is being touted as something wonderful, if it is being

widely disseminated by the church, then surely you were talking about the system of economics as commonly understood and as

I asked about in my comment. “
You keep speaking as if I am attacking the whole patient here. I am not. I am speaking of a portion of capitalistic

philosophy, not the whole definition of capitalism.

“No, it turns out, you were still talking about this philosophy that acquisition of material goods leads to a fulfilled

life.”
Which I consider a branch growing from the tree of capitalism and is therefore a part of that tree. When I say tree...I

mean its roots, branches, leaves etc. But since I have clearly pointed to a branch, I do wish you would stop calling it a

tree. :)


“Since I don't think this philosophy is a proper definition of capitalism, nor that it is widely disseminated nor that is

broadly called something wonderful by the church, I did not think this was what you were talking about as the evil that is

used to do more evil.”
I don't recall saying that I was offering a definition of capitalism. If I point out a cancerous tumor on your arm and call

it that, I am not offering a definition of you, though it is a part of you.

I would like to point out that I have seen many examples within the church of a bias in favor of this capitalistic notion

that a story must always have a happy and fulfilling ending because of acquisition of material goods. I point you to Job as

one example. Even in what I consider to be the best church I have ever attended, the story is explained with the end being

that Job's fortunes are restored to his former levels and above. But who ever mentions the loss of his children? Is not

this loss greater than any restoration that could be made to Job? Isn't it there the capitalistic idea lurking behind this

obvious omission, and that material goods are what bring one lasting satisfaction and it will all be OK as long as your

fortunes are restored? Does that not place a higher value on the very things that capitalism holds dear?

P.S. As to your bias...no harm done. We all have them. It is just good be be made aware of them.

I think that those that are still living after we died will be kind of disappoint with the way we live. Our children and children's children are to get better as the years go by. We are not teaching them Godly values that the Bibles teaches us. Evil will continue to rise and moral will decrease. We as people of God needs to be the salt that Jesus says that we are and preserve our Christian morals. If we don't who will?

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