Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Herbert McCabe on What is Wrong With Capitalism

"What is wrong with capitalism, then, is not that it involves some people being richer than I am. I cannot see the slightest objection to other people being richer than I am; I have no urge to be as rich as everybody else, and no Christian (and indeed no grown-up person) could possibly devote his life to trying to be as rich or richer than others. There are indeed people, very large numbers of people, who are obscenely poor, starving, diseased, illiterate, and it is quite obviously unjust and unreasonable that they should be left in this state while other people or other nations live in luxury; but this has nothing specially to do with capitalism, even though we will never now be able to alter that situation until capitalism has been abolished. You find exactly the same conditions in, say, slave societies and, moreover, capitalism, during its prosperous boom phases, is quite capable of relieving distress at least in fully industrialised societies -- this is what the 'Welfare State' is all about. What is wrong with capitalism is simply that it is based on human antagonism, and it is precisely here that it comes in conflict with Christianity. Capitalism is a state of war, but not just a state of war between equivalent forces; it involves a war between those who believe in and prosecute war as a way of life, as an economy, and those who do not. The permanent capitalist state of war erupts every now and then into a major killing war, but its so-called peacetime is just war carried on by other means. The recent [1979] strategic arms limitation talks (SALT II) have produced an agreement whereby the US should deploy a capacity to inflict 600,000 Hiroshimas on the human race. But at the heart of all this violence is the class war."

--Herbert McCabe, God Matters (New York: Continuum, 1987), 192-93

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