Beware All Isms Except for Prisms

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All strident advocacy of isms gives me the creeping fantods, and that would include capitalism. I don’t believe in “capitalism.” I believe in Jesus. But if someone were to describe my ideal society with regard to economics, there is no doubt that he would be describing a free market, capitalist society — a minarchy. Why is that, and is there a contradiction here?

As I said, I believe in Jesus. I also, in line with this, believe certain dogmas that follow from my trust in Christ. But I don’t believe in Christianism, or what Peter Leithart described in his great book on this as “Christianity.” I am against Christianity, even though I can happily affirm all the tenets of Christianity. What I don’t want is a deracinated church, a set of ideas floating in the sky.

Men should be free, which can only happen through Christ. But if Christ sets men free, it will follow, as day follows night, that their markets will be free. Free men don’t produce a society of tangled and hyper-manipulated economic transactions — the kind we are sinking deeper into every day. And we are sinking into this kind of society because we are sinking deeper and deeper into our sins.

That means I could sign a “capitalist manifesto,” just like I can sign Christianity’s great creedal statements. But rah-rah capitalists are still a problem because they think that power arises from free markets. They believe free markets bestow freedom, which they most certainly do not. Free men create free markets, and free men do not fall out of a clear blue sky. Free men only exist when Christ sends His Holy Spirit to forgive us for our sins, and to strike off the chains of envy. Without that spiritual liberation, free markets don’t have a prayer. Liberty arises from Christ alone, and He is the one who gives gifts to men — among them free markets.

So all forms of socialism are doubly damned — they are isms and wrong. Capitalism is singly damned — it is an ism, and as such, it cannot sustain itself. Without Jesus, it will die because without Jesus, envy rules absolutely in all economic affairs.

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