On Capitalism, and the RC Church

In my opinion, the Spirit of Capitalism is greed, no matter how you cut it. Exactly where it came from I cannot say, but certainly one of its roots was Ancient Greece, and another was Christianity. Neither of these roots started out as greed-obsessed qualities, but it did not take long, historically-speaking, for either one to honour the possession of goods and money above all else. Ancient Greece started with a polity, an organized society with a structured form of civil government, where all male citizens could vote, while women, children, slaves, and foreigners living in the polity could not. Christianity, which at the time was defined only as Roman Catholicism, started as an underground political rebellion in Judea, where supposedly the religious teacher Jesus Christ was co-opted to be the real King of the Jews instead of Herod. According to ancient history the rebellion was put down and Christ was killed. His followers spread out across parts of the Roman Empire, since the Jewish people did not believe Christ was a prophet from god, and spread his teachings among the poor and unhealthy. From these humble beginnings Christianity grew to overtake almost the whole of the European-influenced world. The Roman Catholic Church became the richest single entity in the Western sphere of influence, and capitalism, the pursuit of land, goods, and money, became its creed. Government and religion came together to make a centuries-long unbreakable union, with the rulers being (almost exclusively) male members of the aristocracy and the priesthood (clergy), working together to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Laws that were made fairly arbitrarily still reflected the ten commandments of Moses (a biblical character from the Old Testament). The lines between political ethics and religious morals blurred until they were virtually indistinguishable.
Money, otherwise useless bits of metal, was made to represent value, all of it owned by the nobility and the Church for the longest time, represented power, and until a middle class started to develop in the Middle Ages, only the most exceptional, and/or vicious, of men could raise up from the lower classes to the upper classes. Women were chattel, belonging to the men, as were their children, and they took their position in life from their fathers and husbands.
Capitalism was still suffering its growth pains at this time, and was not yet a factor in the Western world, or anywhere else, for that matter. But as craftsmen began to join guilds, more money was leaving the coffers of the rich, and being transferred into the hands of certain groups of society. The middle class was emerging from poverty to monied. It was a slow process, almost invisible to the aristocracy. As for the Church, as long as the money kept coming in, they did not care where it was coming from.
At this point in time, though there was infighting and bickering between members of the aristocracy, and between certain levels of the clergy, society was still mainly group-centered. People were individuals, surely, but they were treated as communities, so-to-speak. Killing a peasant was meaningless to aristocrats, they made no real distinction between members of the lower classes. As for those peasants, or even slaves, there was little difference between members of the ruling classes. Some nobles or monarchs might be less vicious than others, but all in all the poor lived at the mercy or vanity of the rich. Who killed them, or stole their few belongings and food, did not matter. There was little to choose between one ruler and the next.
But those in the middle class were not only gaining in money owned, they were also gaining in distinctiveness. First came pride in being a craftsman, second came pride in how much they were earning as opposed to what their fellow guild-members were making. And certain guilds were earning more money than other guilds, and all these things started to distinguish one group from another, and one person from another. Thus individuals were gaining fame and or notoriety, and capitalism had the foothold it had been looking for to grow and take over our society. Individuality blossomed, and the groups or classes became less important, while the individual grew in importance. And the Church, no longer a monopoly, but still the most powerful single entity in the world, praised the individual. Its monetary base grew exponentially, from classes of people, to groups of people, and now to people themselves, apart from almost all others. (Families, as in the nuclear family, would give as a group, but the group was small, and was guaranteed to create more individuals, and then more family groups. Jumping ahead for a moment, when the Church saw that planned family size was looming on the horizon, when it became possible to actively prevent pregnancies, and then to stop pregnancies, the Church responded quickly by preaching against the preventing of lives, or the ending of lives before birth, so that the number of their adherents would continue to increase, thus keeping the money flowing in. What the Church did not foresee was that ultimately this move would drive more people away from the Church than it provided, but in for an ounce, in for a ton. The Church cannot suddenly break faith with their adherents by proclaiming the advisability of planned families, of the use of contraceptives, or the legalizing of abortions within the religious laws. What was done can never be undone!)
I quote, “capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’. More specifically, it controlled and generated modern [culture], the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century [European-based world]–some ideas of Max Weber. I can agree with these ideas to a point, capitalism certainly had a huge effect on our present Western culture. But when he says something like “public behaviour was cool, reserved, hard and sober, governed by strict personal self-control” I think he goes too far. There are so many laws, secular and religious, that govern self-control that few individuals have the opportunity, or desire, to decide what personal self-control is. There are those (whom we call criminals) who deliberately break such laws of conduct, and there are those, whom we call mentally ill, whose inability to cope with the life required of them by capitalism literally cause them to lose their self-control, and then there are the few, known in psychological circles as self-empowered or self-actualized (see Abraham Maslow), who demonstrate self-control totally on their terms without advice from any laws, but I don’t see any of these groups or quasi-groups exercising hard and sober personal self-control, except possibly the self-empowered.
Capitalism is a lot of things, few of them good for humanity or for life itself, but it is not a power to itself, not in my mind. But, I could be wrong…

Author: rawgod

Still a Hippie, and proud of it. Have my BSW, now retired. Would have preferred to be a Dr. of Philosophy, but the university I went to wouldn't let me study my own philosophy. Your gain, their loss. I live on the edge of society with my partner, five cats, a broodmare, and a three year-old filly who might make her racing debut this coming summer or fall. Remember the name, Tricksy T Clanton.

8 thoughts on “On Capitalism, and the RC Church”

  1. We are now part of a machine that continues to grow and will not be shut off for any one or any thing, except when one gets his greedy due he can distance himself from it. This prosperity is multifaceted but at the very basic level two ways. We will not be stopped, and we will use every resource until it is gone, used up, and turned into pollution. Disgusting, but even less disgusting than China and it’s toxic ways. The race to keep economic growth growing is going to be our greatest underachievement.

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  2. Hopefully it will not come to that. There is still coal in the ground, and they cannot get it all out before Dumpy runs out of time… Most of us do realize the danger in using up the coal, the rest don’t care, as long as they get theirs. I hope they get theirs, you know what I mean.
    Our society needs to change its ways, and it needs to change them fast and soon. My fingers are crossed, but so are my eyes…

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  3. I don’t know much about this topic except for one thing. Capitalism, so far, is the best system man has created. You can be born poor and work your way to a better life. You are free to make this choice. People say that billionaires are greedy, but how many jobs do they create? How many opportunities are created by Rockefeller, Gates, Jobs? Socialism, communism has been tried and failed miserably in every country it’s been installed. I root for capitalism and I’ve not seen anything better come along.

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    1. I guess you missed Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, all successful socialist countries, but that’s okay. Meanwhile, though what you say has some truth in it, IMO you are missing all the billions of people who don’t make it to the top, or even above the poverty line. Capitalism is fine for some, granted, like 1% of the population. The other 99% suffer grievously when there is no reason for it. Those at the top can buy anything they want. Those near the bottom cannot buy everything that they need.

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      1. You should look into Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Venezuela. They are not as successful as you imagine. Sweden was in a horrible state of affairs until capitalism turned things around and things were going well. Then….democratic socialism filtered in and the country faltered. Now they’re bringing back capitalism. https://www.quora.com/Is-Sweden-socialist
        and
        https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/10/bernie-sanders-socialist-success-sweden/

        As a capitalist you can chose to be not devoted to the dollar or completely money hungry. It’s up to you to decide. Live how you like, but if you chose poverty don’t expect to be living in the lap of luxury by Guvernment handouts. Anyway…For my money, I’ll stick with capitalism, thank you very much.

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        1. All up to you, my man, all up to you. If I hady druthers we would be living in a nationless state of responsible anarchy. But remember I said I was ahead of my time. Resposible anarchy cannot exist right now. People need people to tell them what to do, or what not to do, or they would go insane from fear. Or, just maybe, once they learned how to be themselves and think for themselves, they would realize they already know how to live responsibly, all on their own.
          One thing capitalism DOES NOT WANT are people who can do things on there own. Someone always needs to be in charge. Look at the US right now, the guy in charge right now is an iotic idiot. That’s the best Capitalism has to offer! Might as well jump in a lake right now…

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          1. I agree that anarchy should be where we’re headed. It’s kind of where we started. Waiting at a red light might be considered an extension of Government rule. I drove today and there were two cops directing traffic at an intersection with a light system. There was no obvious reason the cops were there, but maybe there was a funeral procession that had passed through and the cops saw an opportunity to grab some extra overtime? The cops were actually doing more harm to the traffic flow.
            Look at Social Security. I can save for my own retirement. It should be voluntary and not mandated by the Gov. Thank you FDR. Talk about idiotic men in charge.
            I disagree with you on your assessment of Trump and I’ll leave it at that.

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            1. No problem. Seeing as I am not American I can get away with speaking my truth. The key word being “My.”
              As far as lights down or on the blink, wherever you are, do they not have you go back to the 4-way Stop System? Once one car goes, the next car that goes is the one on the right. One at a time, round and round the intersection.
              And, when it comes to simple rules like that, I am okay with them. Its the ones that tell people “Do this!” or “Don’t do that!” that make me crazy. As long as everyone is brought up to be responsible for themselves, it just so happens they become responsible for everyone one else too. It might not look that way, you could even say it surprised me, I was just thinking about me, and suddenly I was caring about the “others.” And “others” naturally included all living beings. It is so simple it hurts, but egos get in the way, and then chaos returns.
              I’m not going to try to kid anyone, my vision is a long way off. But it is coming, it’s the way of evolution…

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