But many religious leaders rue the very concept of capitalism and they believe that it is the cause of all economic evils and that socialism is their cure. The foremost among them is the head of Vatican, Pope Francis. He is on an all-out war against capitalism. As per the observations of E J Dionne in the Washington Post issue of 2 December, 2013, Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” is drawing wide and deserved attention for its denunciation of “trickle-down” economics as a system that “expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” It's a view that “has never been confirmed by the facts” and has created “a globalization of indifference.”
As per James Downie of the Washington Post in an article on 26 November, 2013, Pope’s call for Catholics to embrace a new evangelization, much of “Evangelii Gaudium” is relevant to both Catholics and non-Catholics - especially the pope's stinging critique of the unequal economy that we live in.
Pope Francis writes:
“Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.
Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”
I have not changed even a word in the above two quotings from the Washington Post considering the sensitivity of the topic. Pope Francis's argument is correct that wasting food while many people remaining hungry is one of the worst thing possible to humankind. But this is not just an era of survival of the fittest: this is an era of globalization based on consumerism induced nationalism.
Globalization, consumerism and nationalization help many, including poor and needy ones. As such they can be blamed upon for only very few human misery and still fewer ills of the societies. They also make people more participatory. But Globalization is not possible without de facto embracing capitalism. While this is true that food shouldn’t be wasted but would there have been enough food for all without inventions and innovations?
And even if improvement in production and betterment of food products was possible without resorting to capitalist means, the progress on other things wasn’t. Are humans there are on earth just to have food, proper clothing and shelter? Not all can believe in that. One has to be statistically aware and rational too. There are different kinds of people and their distributions vary a lot. Isn’t it true that Pope Francis’s message spread so rapidly because of the progress in telecommunication and social websites? Who invented them? Undoubtedly they are mostly capitalist.
Extremes are anyway wrong. Whether those are the greed of Wall Street, liberalism or conservatism of politicians or too much emphasis on socialist values by religious people; they are bad. The best path is Center though a bit inclined towards Right. The point is people, particularly the elated ones, should be rather careful in generalizing things. They should understand and admit limits of theories and ideologies they profess and the possibility that they may go wrong. In modern times people and institutions need quantification other than qualification. Both absoluteness and relativism are required.
If individuals cannot produce enough how come their states distribute. The fact is that without wealth generation and without rich people there wouldn’t be any significant viable middle class and as a result poor would starve and die more out of hunger. But once societies admit the utility of rich people, the latter would be governed by laws of distributions.
The fact is that it should be the majority rule all over the earth without suppressing and persecuting minorities. But there has to be one exception about this rule- the smallest minority but the most influential and the most powerful as well- the rich people. It is they who should dominate out of their proportion. People should appreciate wealth generation and shouldn’t despise of wealthy people.
Without wealth generation the humanity cannot even survive. As a rule producers should be thankful to consumers for consuming their products and consumers should be thankful to producers for comforting and helping their lives better. Most of the arguments of ‘We are 99%’ leading to movement ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in the past are wrong. The system doesn’t require much redistribution of wealth and resources to become more accountable.
What are required are the thankfulness, decency, cooperation and a longer term approach to problems faced by humans than they normally take. Rich shouldn’t be taxed beyond a point as they require incentives to generate wealth while poor shouldn’t be subsidized beyond a point as they need to become efficient, independent and accountable. A balanced holistic approach is required from all those who matter. There should be some frank talk about population control and their management.
In the end, before conclusion, let me state two quotes. First one by noted American conservative economist and Noble Laureate, Milton Friedman:
“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government - in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.”
And the second one is from conservative British Prime Minister of the Second World War era, Winston Churchill:
“Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the Gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
I know that the time has changed. But still there is no alternative to capitalism as economic model. Even communist countries like China and Russia have been embracing it in one form or another. The argument is to find flaws in the excesses of capitalism and not in its ideological superiority. Sure, pure capitalism should be applicable only in the West.
Among the BRICS nations it should be there in patches but that’s equally important and would help the earth survive the longest possible duration. This is the postmodern, post-consciousness world full of conflicts. The only way things can be improved upon and conflicts can be contained is through sharing more and more. Such would then require triumph of capitalism.