Capitalism: a Christian perspective

Capitalism is an economic system dependent on greed, avarice and – often – violence. As it developed, its supporters used it as a way of creating a large store of inheritable wealth, leading to the creation of a privileged class that expanded its opportunities by conquest and subjugation.

In doing so, its members broke the commandment that thou shalt not steal; indeed, colonisation is theft: seizing land from indigenous populations and creating a “slave class” that is forced to sell its labour as a commodity to maintain its well-being.

Capitalism sustains a privileged class that has narrowed its ranks so that it now forms only a very small percentage of the total population. The rest are encouraged by the holders of capital to follow false prophets[1], believing that, if they work hard and play by the rules, they will be rewarded by being able to join this privileged few.

Wealthy capitalists control most of the media which, during election time, ensure their position goes unchallenged. By breaking another commandment, bearing false witness, they have created a misinformed electorate that fails to reject the warning that you cannot serve God and money[2].

The outcome is the perpetuation of the evils of capitalism, ranging from homelessness and the necessity of food banks to the manufacture of weapons of death and destruction.

Some evils can, perhaps, be identified more readily by a Christian than a secular socialist. These include the adoration of celebrities, theft by state run lotteries and aspirations to unachievable or undesirable aims.

Capitalism panders to the malicious side of us; but equally instinctive is the desire for peace, sociability, cooperation and equality. Socialism is a practical guide to putting these values into practice.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are in accord with a socialist philosophy. His parable of the folly of storing up riches on earth[3] is fundamental to his teaching, as was caring for the sick and disabled, sharing food and clothing, removing money changers from the Temple, and compassion for the down-and-out.

Yes, Jesus was the first socialist. Capitalism is in direct conflict with these teachings and has no links whatsoever with Christianity.

Ron Striebig is a scientist and teacher, with an honours degree in Physics and a Masters degree in Mathematics. He is a practicing Christian and is a volunteer, working with the homeless individuals and families in Croydon, Surrey.

[1] Matthew 7:15 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
[2] Luke 16:13 – “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
[3] Matthew 6:19 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”

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