July 25, 2014

Orthodox Christianity and Capitalism — Are They Compatible?

Kevin Allen, host of The Illumined Heart podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, interviews writer, attorney, and college professor Chris Banescu, an Orthodox Christian, about the economic, moral and spiritual issues surrounding the market economy. Kevin asks: Does the capitalist system serve “the best interests of Christians living the life of the Beatitudes?”

Listen to Chris Banescu on Orthodox Christianity and Capitalism:

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Read “A Primer on Capitalism” on Chris’ personal Web site. He also runs the ONet Blog.

Comments

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    Scott Pennington says:

    We operate in an economic system that is a combination of market and government driven which some call “mixed market capitalism”. The word “capitalism” itself is actually a misnomer of sorts, a term popularized by Marxists. Nothing is more natural than the market, it’s not really an “-ism”.

    That being said, the real question that should be asked is whether Orthodoxy and democracy are compatible. I for one don’t believe they are and the effects of democracy on Christianity are far worse than the effects of “capitalism”.

    We should not confuse political systems with economic systems. One could have a capitalist monarchy, a capitalist autocracy, a capitalist empire, etc. In other parts of the world, there are societies experimenting with other political arrangements while maintaining a basically capitalistic society. More power to them.

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    paleocon says:

    My first comment was apparently found objectionable and not published. Let’s try again.

    While I’m quite interested in an intelligent discussion of the compatibility (and let’s be honest, friction) between Capitalism and Orthodoxy, neither this program nor the linked essay provide it. The totally unobjectionable “Capitalism” that is presented for apologia–i.e. the free exchange of goods, services, and labor–are a far cry from the socio/political/economic system called “Capitalism” that the young people of Mr. Allen’s parish whom he sought to answer through the program almost certainly had in mind.

    Also, Mr. Banescu’s unnamed but obvious libertarianism (He praises the thought of Ayn Rand on his blog?! Lord, have mercy.) bled through the entire program. Capitalism may well be unobjectionable to Orthodoxy, but the individualistic, passion-affirming, obligation-denying philosophical presuppositions of libertarianism certainly are. Defending Capitalism through such a philosophy only makes Capitalism suspect.

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    Chris Banescu says:

    Paleocon, Could you please share with us what other method of creating or obtaining value exists in life outside the 3 ways I described in my article? Rather than poo-pooing my entire interview could you identify which point in particular (either in the article or mentioned in the interview) is not true and why?

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    paleocon says:

    Your definition and defense of free production and exchange is confused and rhetorically dishonest to some extent, but more-or-less unobjectionable. But it was irrelevant to the question at hand. To the kids in Kevin’s parish who were doubtful of a world full of people with broken hips you responded with a spirited defense of gravity.

    And I’m mainly interested in poo-pooing your libertarianism. May God protect His Church from being conditioned by it the way so many Evangelicals have been through their political involvement.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Paleocon, your comments are very abstract, a dismissive wave of the hand with no engagement with any of the ideas Chris offered. You didn’t answer his question either.

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    John Couretas says:

    Paleo: Your critique of Chris Banescu’s “dishonesty” would stand on firmer ground if you, for starters, were honest about your identity. Why do you hide behind the “paleocon” moniker to make such an attack?

    I listened to the podcast again and find no promotion of “libertarianism” by Chris, and certainly not the sort of radical “smash the state” libertarianism (anarcho-capitalism) that reflexively looks at any government role in economic life as objectionable. Just the opposite. He advocates a free market built on justice, and pointedly calls for a government role in rooting out corruption. But the primary condition for a just and moral economy, as Chris is careful to point out, is a just and moral people. The same requirement is necessary for democratic government, as our Founders were well aware of.

    As for Ayn Rand, I’m not sure how you drag her into this (if there’s something on Chris’s site about her, then take that up with Chris over there). As for AOI, I can tell you that the Randian philosophy of radical selfishness intermixed with atheism will not be countenanced here. I can’t think of anything more un-Christian.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    John, Fr Hans, Chris,

    I also think that “paleocon” totally misrepresents Chris’s views. No one in their right mind believes that the free market is 100% perfect. Nothing is in this fallen world, but those who look for a “third way” would be better off heeding the advise of Vaclav Havel when he was president of the Czech Republic and a victim of non-free-market ideas: “The Third Way leads to The Third World.”

    Have we become selfish in our wealth? Yes. So do something about: tithe to your church. You’d be surprised how much more resourceful you will be with the other 90%. You will be a much better steward of the resources God has entrusted to you.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Re: Ayn Rand. Whittaker Chambers took care of her back in 1957: Big Sister is Watching You.

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