Newbigin on Capitalism

“The driving power of capitalism… is the desire of the individual to better his material condition. It is the unleashing of this power from the restraints imposed by traditional Christian morality that has transformed static societies into the dynamic and growing society of which we are a part. No one can deny either the the reality of the motive force or the magnitude of what it has achieved. The name the New Testament gives to the force in question is covetousness. The capitalist system is powered by the unremitting stimulation of covetousness. The apostolic advice that a person should be content with food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:8) is not compatible with the development of our kind of society, and it would be better to acknowledge that frankly….

Previous ages have assumed that resources are limited and that economics- housekeeping- is about how to distribute them fairly. Since Adam Smith, we have learned to assume that exponential growth is the basic law of economics and that no limits can be set to it. The result is that increased production has become an end in itself; products are designed to become rapidly obsolete so as to make room for more production; a minority is ceaselessly urged to multiply its wants in order to keep the process going while the majority lacks the basic necessities for existence; and the whole ecosystem upon which human life depends is threatened with destruction. Growth is for the sake of growth and is not determined by any overarching social purpose. And that of course, is an exact account of the phenomenon which, when it occurs in the human body, is called cancer. ”

-Lesslie Newbigin Foolishness to the Greeks 113-114.

About mjbutterworth

Coffee. Books. Bicycles.
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