Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is American Capitalism a Religious Construct?

As a country that preaches the political doctrine of the separation of church and state, is American-style capitalism for all intents and purposes nothing more than a religious construct?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe this debate started back when then President Nixon took America off the Gold Standard, and the line “In God We Trust” on the greenback means that the value of America’s money is backed by the nation’s ability to wage war at a moments notice. Or did the debate started with the extensive news coverage of American ├╝ber-Tele-Evangelists. Especially their material excesses during the latter days of the Reagan Administration that gave non-Americans – especially adherents of Liberation Theology – that American-style capitalism and it’s unbridled pursuit of material wealth is for all intents and purposes a religious construct that took the Protestant Work Ethic to it’s logical greedy end. Which is the mother of all ironies indeed, given that America’s Founding Fathers insisted in a strict separation of church and state as stipulated by the nation’s constitution.

How American capitalism got to this point could be blamed on the scores of Republican presidents that came long after Abraham Lincoln. By this time, the Republican Party doctrine was used by their elected presidents – either by accident or intent – to subtly shape established canonical Christian doctrine to fulfill their ideological aims. The most recent case in point is the Bush Administration’s unlawful – under International Law – invasion of the sovereign country of Iraq in search of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. But can the Republican Party’s obsession of a God-construct they already manipulated for decades to suit their ideological and material goals be blamed for America’s current economic crisis? Maybe, but first, let’s examine the faith-based origins of the Protestant Work Ethic - which seems for all intents and purposes the “Rock” in which American-style capitalism is based.

Many scholars and historians cite John Calvin as the father of Western – make that American-style – capitalism using the doctrine of the Protestant Work Ethic as its cornerstone. Calvinism – the ideology founded by John Calvin as it is later known – also made possible the establishment of an independent Dutch state in the late 16th Century. Even though the Dutch nation – then and now – never fully embraced John Calvin’s somewhat stoic religious ideology. As some Dutch settlers decided to move to America, most of them probably embraced capitalism hook line and sinker when they established their business interests in Manhattan, thus laying the foundation of a Protestant work Ethic that would later drive Wall Street as it is famously known today. With the doctrine that preaches that idle hands are the devil’s own playground; an individual’s productive employment became part of the established Christian canonical definition of morality and of God’s Grace.

In this day and age, the University of Geneva purportedly became the current heir of Calvinism – albeit only in an academic capacity – according to the more recent subsequent scores of dean emeritus. Given the way Calvinism blended itself seamlessly with canonical concepts of Christian piety, how come it haven’t “exactly” gained undisputed global universal appeal?

Probably due to the European “Empire Builders” who trailed Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan failing to established a pan-global Papist / Anglo-Saxon Protestant monoculture during the crucial periods of the Golden Age of Exploration. Add to that the increasing acceptance of moral constructs that developed independently from the Christian West, thus relegating Calvinism as a quaint antiquated moralist ideology in an increasingly egalitarian global community.

Calvinism’s current holdout in corporate America could be seen as a fluke, given that a lot has happened since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. People of non-White ethnicity need not “necessary” – albeit in more enlightened workplaces – emulate their White Anglo-Saxon Protestant overlords to gain upward mobility in corporate America. Unfortunately, some still backward thinking parts of America still think that successful capitalism should be ruled by precepts established by John Calvin and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant construct of Jesus Christ.


The Puritan said...

You're currently an idiot. But I have hope for you still.

Sherry Rashad said...

Dear the Puritan,
If you're quarrel is with Presiden Obama and his health care please don't call us liberals idiots. You probably think that the Inquisition is the best thing that ever happened to Christianity. After enduring organized Islamophobia from your ilk, you should be more cognizant of your opinions. We're talking about economics here and hoe quasi-religious influences have done nothing to prevent the greed that instigated the global credit crunch. Not to mention the Evangelical Christian stance on global warming. Go back to your Aryan Nation!

Je M'Apelle Ja'Nelle said...

Dear The Puritan,
Did you know that murder has no statute of limitations. My bounty hunter uncle could still arrest you for the murder of Rebeca Nurse and those others your people have accused of witchcraft back in October 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts.
Back to more erudite matters, I think livelihood - from the family unit perspective - had always had that aura of theology entrenched in the concept since the guaranteed prosperity of one's chosen livelihood could for all intents and purposes is "a matter of faith". Remember that Jewish proverb about if you raise your kids without teaching them a trade, you might as well be raising a bunch of thieves?
The "Protestant Work Ethic" which many laid claim as the foundation that made America strong has - sadly been - perverted to an extent during the Reagan Administration that President Obama's proposed health care reform proposals had been deemed "socialist" by right wing white Anglo-Saxon America who think that Civil Liberties is incompatible with their extremist Christian faith. Death Panels? Remember Rebeca Nurse and those millions of murdered Native Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny.
Liberation Theology is the future of Christianity.

VaneSSa said...

Dear The Puritan,
Have President Obama's Secret Service detail barred you from disrupting town hall meetings on health care reform? It's kind of bad portraying President Obama as Adolph Hitler when your faith/religious doctrine already turned Jesus Christ into Adolph Hitler way before there was even an Adolph Hitler.
And what's the deal with the execution of Rebecca Nurse back in July 19, 1692? Can your faith do that with your own flock? What about those Native Americans that your "Faith" murdered in the name of Manifest Destiny? Or where is my compensation - let alone an apology - for forcibly converting my ancestors to pray to your Aryan Nation Jesus? Which part of the Book of Genesis chapter 19 verse 33 did you crawl out from? Maybe I'll stick with Rep. Barney Frank on this that talking with you on erudite matters like the current bearing on the Protestant Work Ethic and Calvinism on the on going global credit crisis will be like "talking to a kitchen table". And you dare calling us idiots. Given that your kind has made the Aryan Nation Fox News Network the number one news channel in America despite of Islamophobic and anti-African-American content.

Yvette said...

Dear The Puritan,
Shouldn't you be thankful - even grateful - that your ilk is currently not in the Hague being indicted for crimes against humanity/genocide for financially supporting former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor's war-making efforts? Not to mention a laundry-lists of sins like the Rebecca Nurse witch trial of 1692, or by supporting the ideology that led to the ammonium nitrate-fuel-oil-bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building back in April 19, 1995. Rep. Barney Frank was right in referring to talking to your kind as "having an argument with the kitchen table". Given that America's primary concern these days should have been the economy - though health care reform is a reasonably very close second - Shouldn't Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner be in Rep. Frank's recent proverbial "chopping block"?
On religion's role on the contemporary global economy, it does seem that the three primary "Abrahamic Faiths" - i.e. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism - had become the "majority shareholders" when it comes to shaping financial policy. Many leading economist have recently evaluated Islamic Finance's "apparent" immunity against the global credit crunch.
On President Richard Nixon's removal of the US dollar from the Gold Standard back in August 15, 1971 to make it into a "floating currency", it did benefit the FOREX traders. Sadly, it also drove a number of speculators to the poorhouse - even into suicide during the go-go Reagan-nomics of the 1980s.

Sans Ferdinand said...

Come to think of it, I am "somewhat" thankful that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is not doing one of those demagoguery-filled "Town Hall" meetings. Will us level-headed "domestic investors" be quoting Einstein on "God doesn't play dice with the universe" - or with the economy to "The Puritan who has the audacity to call us idiots? After all, hasn't that sort of "organized religion" be blamed for commodifying something as intangable as an individual's "immortal soul"?On the subject of Sharia Banking Laws and Islamic Finance, there has been a growing consensus with the leading economist that this type of financial systems has withered well against the global credit crisis. Too bad some people just aren't willing to discuss Islamic Finance / Sharia Banking Laws in an erudite manner.

Veracruz said...

When it comes to the "Protestant Work Ethic", this little idiot can't figure out why or when greed became part of Christian Doctrine.
After watching the recent BBC fact-finding documentary about Catholic Fascist atrocities during the Spanish Civil War, all I can say is if "enlightened" Christian values shaped our Western World - including most of the global economy - then Chrisitan Enlightenment "might" have a commensurate counterpart when it comes to committing atrocities. Like General Franco's Spanish Civil War, the Bush Administration's "War" against Muslims who earn less than 25 thousand US dollars a year, etc.