• Ricardoc
    15
    Isn't interesting that countries with the most rapacious capitalists ar the keenest to build places of worship - namely the USA, Turkey (which has more mosques per capita than any other country) and, I gather, Romania, where a fit of church building is goiing on.

    Pussy Riot were subject to extensive jail terms in Putin's Russia, for misbehaving in Church, and Putin has been highly supportive of the various patriarchs of Russian orthodoxy, who inhabit those parts, while Porridgeheadcold in Ukraine pulled off something similar...

    Are the capitalists doing God's work, or is it like the Old Testament, and Yahweh, or maybe Karl Marx, punishes us with alienation of labour value for whoring with other Gods?
  • Devans99
    2k
    Capitalism is a system that turns personal greed into common good through specialisation and economies of scale. It's hugely inefficient but better than anarchy. So even though they may not be aware of it, capitalists are doing God's work (in an inefficient sort of way).
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    Is this a correlation is causation fallacy? There must be a force that instigates religion and then that manifests in many ways e.g. building of worship centers and other things. It's not the other way round where capitalists are some kind of prime mover. I hear that the rich and powerful tend to be atheists. Who was it that said "religion is the opium of the poor"?
  • unenlightened
    3.7k
    God does all the work, so you don't have to.
  • Ricardoc
    15
    Nah, keep the suckers quiet by providing them with hopes for the after-life when there is no hope in this one.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.9k
    You have to look at the history of the countries involved. Now I don't know anything about mosque and church building in Turkey and Romania, but I am familiar enough with American history to say something about that.

    First, religion is quite alive in the United States. There are many denominations (which is an interesting historical matter in itself) and congregations. "Success" is important to people, as are the major signs of success, like a congregation possessing a nice building. Many congregations get along with make-do facilities (storefronts, adapted-use buildings, etc.) but for many the 'edifice complex' is very strong.

    Multiplying population, multiplying denominations and congregations, and population (and doctrinal) mobility has created a need for ever more facilities.

    The way capitalism operates makes most churches with nice buildings a combo theological and real estate operation. Once you have the building to serve the church's needs, the building-itself soon enough becomes the driving force in the congregation: roof repair and replacement, plumbing repairs, HVAC costs, utilities, landscaping costs, interior painting, flooring, etc. Never mind accidents when expensive things get broken.

    Fry, in his book The Great Apostolic Blunder Machine (out of print since the 1980s) differentiates the "right kind of churches" and the "wrong kind of churches". The right kind have nice buildings. The wrong kind occupy storefronts and make-do facilities. They emphasize the religious function over the real estate function. For instance, providing weekly services to the city's gay population usually began as a shoestring operation back in the 1970s or 1980s. Those early groups--very much the WRONG kind of church in ever so many ways--have now moved on from storefronts, bars, borrowed facilities, and the like to regular church buildings (usually old churches purchased by the congregation).

    This isn't unique to Christians. Moslems in Minneapolis, for instance, are doing the same thing. At first they occupied sometimes very ratty facilities; as they accumulated resources, the mosques started improving a bit. Later on they rented better buildings -- still make do, but better. The more successful ones remodeled buildings, added a dome and some middle-east architectural flourishes. They "fit" the local vernacular architecture picture. I don't know of a local mosque that has built a nice centerpiece structure. It takes time to accumulate the cash and credit to build big.

    Whether all this is primarily owing to capitalism or people's desires for status, belonging, comfort, and so on, I can't generalize. Certainly some congregations are obsessed with demonstrating their financial clout. They may do a good job with the religious function too (as long as one doesn't dwell on camels getting through the eyes of needles) or not.
  • boethius
    205
    Capitalism is a system that turns personal greed into common good through specialisation and economies of scale. It's hugely inefficient but better than anarchy. So even though they may not be aware of it, capitalists are doing God's work (in an inefficient sort of way).Devans99

    The mob also runs on a system of personal greed, likewise the system is inefficient but certainly more efficient than anarchy, are the mobsters also doing God's work?

    If they aren't doing God's work, what is the difference in the internal ethos of of personal greed that you would argue is different? If there is no real difference, and the ethos of greed is essentially the same and business don't just assassinate their competitors due to state controls, wouldn't the God's work be displaced to these systems of control on personal greed?
  • Ricardoc
    15
    "Success" is important to people, as are the major signs of success, like a congregation possessing a nice building.Bitter Crank
    . Given that what you say as true, of which I am not convinced, you miss the point. This is not about bricks and mortar. It is about people going from a system which guaranteed them a certain level of prosperity (Communism, Kemalist statism) to one where they are confronted by destitution on a daily basis. In the USA, 30 per cent cannot afford basic health care, the others go bust if they get ill, and the workforce is treated as slaves.No unions, no holılidays in the first year? Seriously? In Turkey, employers routinely employ people off the books and refuse to pay their social insurance. CEOs in Turkey have a legal right to carry firearms. Go figure.

    No so In countries where the welfare system function , as in Western Europe, and religion continues to decline.

    There is definitely a correlation between a rapacious rulng class and widespread organised religion. Many of the Islamic groups thrive because they provide basic welfare. Needless to say, the USA usually characterises them as terrorists.

    'They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech.' Gotta laugh.
  • Wayfarer
    7.7k
    This thread seems not to have mentioned the key, seminal work in this area, which is undoubtedly Max Weber's The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It's much more specific than linking 'organised religion', generally, with an amorphous kind of 'rapacity of the ruling classes'. Industrial capitalism is the unique product of Western, Judeo-Christian culture, for a confluence of reasons; sure, now it's become a global phenomenon, in fact it has to, as it can only ever exist by continuing to expand. But the link between 'capitalism' and 'God's work' is, I'm sure, that established by Weber.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.9k
    Or maybe earlier by Luther who taught that all work is holy. The work of the coal miner or tailor or street cleaner is as holy as someone who has taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a monastery, or pastors and preachers.

    The labor required to produce a society for mankind is the work of the people is the work of God.

    one where they are confronted by destitution on a daily basis. In the USA, 30 per cent cannot afford basic health care, the others go bust if they get ill, and the workforce is treated as slaves.No unions, no holılidays in the first year?Ricardoc

    Work sucks, and many workers are not treated well, but most American workers are not confronted with destitution on a daily basis, are not treated like slaves (yet, anyway) and do not go bust if they receive health care through the insurance that they have paid for. Granted, many people can not afford health insurance, so depend on emergency rooms and free clinics for their care. The rate of uninsured is more like 15% than 30% -- not a small number--45 million is still a lot of people.

    The reason the rate of non-insurance is not higher is programs such as Medicare and Medicaid which provides health care for persons below the poverty level and for retired persons.
  • Ricardoc
    15
    Industrial capitalism is the unique product of Western, Judeo-Christian culture,Wayfarer

    No it ain't. There is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to start. Check out the salt trade in Africa to begin, then explain what you mean by industrial capitalism as against mercantile capitalism and finance capitalism, then explain what you mean by judeo-Christian culture. Man! I am no fan of postmodernism but this post is so full of metanarratives I may be forced to put on my Lyoatrd.
  • Ricardoc
    15
    Or maybe earlier by Luther who taught that all work is holy. The work of the coal miner or tailor or street cleaner is as holy as someone who has taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a monastery, or pastors and preachersBitter Crank

    Yeah, but you'd have to be a monk to come out with that kind of tosh. What is the difference between work and play? (Postmodernism for beginners, page 1)
  • Wayfarer
    7.7k
    Or maybe earlier by Luther who taught that all work is holy.Bitter Crank

    Have you read Protestant Work Ethic? It's based on Calvinism, but Calvin and Luther were both part of the same movement, namely protestantism. I think Weber presents a compelling argument for why Protestantism in particular gave rise to the 'protestant work ethic'.

    Explain what you mean by industrial capitalism as against mercantile capitalism and finance capitalism, then explain what you mean by judeo-Christian culture.Ricardoc

    You can look all of that up in the encyclopedia, to whit:

    Industrial capitalism - In the mid-18th century, a new group of economic theorists, led by David Hume[51] and Adam Smith, challenged fundamental mercantilist doctrines such as the belief that the world's wealth remained constant and that a state could only increase its wealth at the expense of another state.

    During the Industrial Revolution, industrialists replaced merchants as a dominant factor in the capitalist system and affected the decline of the traditional handicraft skills of artisans, guilds and journeymen. Also during this period, the surplus generated by the rise of commercial agriculture encouraged increased mechanization of agriculture. Industrial capitalism marked the development of the factory system of manufacturing, characterized by a complex division of labor between and within work process and the routine of work tasks; and finally established the global domination of the capitalist mode of production.

    That more or less deals with 'mercantile capitalism' as well. 'Financial capitalism' is a consequence of the development of the modern banking system and equities.

    'Judeo Christian culture' is a reference to the mainstream of Western cultural development, based on the amalgamation of Hebrew, Christian and Greek elements. 'The concept of "Judeo-Christian values" in an ethical (rather than theological or liturgical) sense was used by George Orwell in 1939, with the phrase "the Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals."
  • Ricardoc
    15
    You can look all of that up in the encyclopedia, to whit:Wayfarer

    OK, thanks, but what it is about Judeo Christian culture that leads to ındustrial capitalism? It seems to me you are putting the cart before the horse and implying that there is something about the Old and New Testaments that promotes capitalism, but, in fact, other cultures have been active in this..

    I seem to recall Judaism and CHristianity had a following in non-capitalist societies for a while, while I do not see how mass production and consumption need an oligarchy of plutocrats.

    Moreover, while the first joint-stock company in the UK, at least, is usually said to be Leicester's Muscovy Company, a little digging reveals the existence of other financial formations in other parts of the world. Consider the merchants along the Silk Road, for example.
  • Devans99
    2k
    The mob also runs on a system of personal greed, likewise the system is inefficient but certainly more efficient than anarchy, are the mobsters also doing God's work?

    If they aren't doing God's work, what is the difference in the internal ethos of of personal greed that you would argue is different?
    boethius

    Both the mob and capitalists are greedy, but they are operating under different systems:

    - Mobsters kill people and distribute dangerous drugs that harm society
    - Capitalists do not kill people. They create goods and services that on balance, help society.

    So if you put bad people in a good system, you can still get good results, as long as you satisfy their personal greed and give them the impression they are working for themselves, even the worst psychopath can make a positive contribution to society.
  • boethius
    205
    Both the mob and capitalists are greedy, but they are operating under different systems:

    - Mobsters kill people and distribute dangerous drugs that harm society
    - Capitalists do not kill people. They create goods and services that on balance, help society.
    Devans99

    This is exactly my question. Do they do this due to some internal difference in their greed ethic, if so what is that difference, or because they happen to find themselves in different systems?

    If it is the latter case, who maintains the system that makes capitalists behave as you propose, and do they also operate under this greed ethic?

    They create goods and services that on balance, help society.Devans99

    Have you checked? What's your definition of helping society and how did you calculate that capitalists on balance help society?
  • Wayfarer
    7.7k
    OK, thanks, but what it is about Judeo Christian culture that leads to ındustrial capitalism?Ricardoc

    I'm not referring to the existence of trading and mercantile cultures, which, as you say, have existed for millenia. When I read the OP title, I immediately thought of Max Weber's essay which is considered a founding text in economic sociology, and which is about the linkage between Protestantism and modern industrial capitalism.

    And then, more generally, I think it is certainly arguable that Western culture, in particular, provided the fundamental ingredients for both industrial capitalism and modern science (for better or for worse!) I sometimes wonder if mass production could ever had developed, if we didn't have the notion of the 'separation of form and substance' which was fundamental to Western philosophy (rather than Indian or Chinese).

    As far as the creation of the stock market is concerned, it was originally associated with funding the Dutch East Indies traders (rather similar to the Silk Road trade in some ways). This was also the origin of insurance and many modern banking practices.

    But, I think I'm talking history, and you're more interested in the current affairs angle, so I'll leave it at that for now.
  • Devans99
    2k


    I think they are both greedy but the system/culture is different. Our governments maintains the system. We all operate under the same system.

    Capitalism allows specialisation of labour. A specialist could be 50 times more productive than a generalist. Capitalism allows for economies of scale. Cheaper to produce a million than just one. Without these two factors we'd still be living in the dark ages. Capitalism is not the only system to allow specialisation and economies of scale, but the way it leverages personal greed to do so has made it a success.
  • boethius
    205
    I think they are both greedy but the system/culture is different.Devans99

    How so? Anyone from any culture can join a gang and work their way up to become a mobster; in some cases, given their skill set, it's an economically rational decision.

    Would you agree that a mobster that evaluates the risk/reward of continuing to be a mobster is no longer good, and embezzles their money into the legal economy and goes "legit", does not need to make any changes to their greed ethic to make such a move? And, once the mobster is fully legit and so operating like any capitalist, is now creating value on balance?

    Likewise, you would agree a businessman who is in the red and turns to organized crime, such as dealing cocaine or fentanyl out of their operation, to supplement their income, as long as it's a wise decision in terms of risk/reward, such a business-to-mob transition likewise does not need any internal ethical changes to carry out such a course of action, just that it pays off?

    Our governments maintains the system.Devans99

    I understand governments prevent us living in a society completely ruled by the mob.

    My question is who maintains the government that maintains this culture/system in which, according to you, capitalists working under a personal greed ethic help society on balance?

    If so, shouldn't the credit, the "God's work" be attributed to the government and whoever is involved in maintaining the government?

    Most critical of my questions, concerning the actions that go towards this government/culture/system maintenance that are required for things to not be mob and corruption based, do these maintenance actions follow from a ethic of personal greed too? If so, can you describe how so?

    If not, what other ethic is required to maintain the system, and who are the people that follow this other ethic and diverge from personal greed whenever it is necessary to maintain the system?
  • Devans99
    2k
    How so? Anyone from any culture can join a gang and work their way up to become a mobster; in some cases, given their skill set, it's an economically rational decision.boethius

    In both the examples you give, the person changes (business man<->mobster) but the respective systems (Capitalism, Organised Crime) do not change.

    I agree that a successful business man could make it as a mobster and vice-versa.

    If so, shouldn't the credit, the "God's work" be attributed to the government and whoever is involved in maintaining the government?boethius

    I agree that capitalists do not deserve credit for doing God's work. Despite that, I still maintain that they are doing God's work even though they are often unaware of that. In general, capitalists do the right think (produce goods and services) for the wrong reasons (personal greed) so they do not deserve any credit. Of course there are exceptions. Philanthropism is very noble.

    ost critical of my questions, concerning the actions that go towards this government/culture/system maintenance that are required for things to not be mob and corruption based, do these maintenance actions follow from a ethic of personal greed too? If so, can you describe how so?boethius

    Yes, civil servants work for personal gain, but produce common good. They are part of the capitalist system too.
  • boethius
    205
    I agree that capitalists do not deserve credit for doing God's work. Despite that, I still maintain that they are doing God's work even though they are often unaware of that.Devans99

    We agree that they deserve no credit, I am not convinced that they are doing God's work though unaware. But let us get back to this point at another refrain.

    Yes, civil servants work for personal gain, but produce common good. They are part of the capitalist system too.Devans99

    You have changed the personal system from greed to gain, are these different motivations or the same?

    I agree that civil servants work for a wage, but are they working under an ethic of personal greed, to maximize their gains or less?

    For instance, if a civil servant is offered a bribe, and they are confident it is reasonable risk/reward, should they take the bribe? If not, what moral grounds should they have to refusing the bribe?
  • Devans99
    2k
    You have changed the personal system from greed to gain, are these different motivations or the same?boethius

    'Greed' is probably more appropriate to the private sector individuals earning disgustingly high amounts. We all work for personal 'gain' in this system.

    For instance, if a civil servant is offered a bribe, and they are confident it is reasonable risk/reward, should they take the bribe? If not, what moral grounds should they have to refusing the bribe?boethius

    No they should not. Corrupt governments do get found out in the end. So do corrupt individuals. I think in the west, the civil service is relatively free from corruption. Politics is a different question though.
  • boethius
    205
    'Greed' is probably more appropriate to the private sector individuals earning disgustingly high amounts. We all work for personal 'gain' in this system.Devans99

    We all work for gain, but not all of us can work for personal profit maximization or the system doesn't work? This is what I understand from your statement.

    No they should not. Corrupt governments do get found out in the end. So do corrupt individuals. I think in the west, the civil service is relatively free from corruption. Politics is a different question though.Devans99

    But this just pushes the question of who is responsible over again. I asked who was responsible for maintaining the system, you said civil servants, but it is in fact the citizenry that must do the work of overseeing the civil servants. Again what ethic should they base this oversight roll on? Why can't the citizenry also seek to maximize gain, why is it only the capitalists and mobsters that can have this ethic depending on what system they find themselves in? For instance, why should a citizen bother to keep informed or bothering to vote if they do not evaluate it is as a positive risk/reward activity, as the same energy going other activity has a higher reward function for themselves?

    A followup question, given that we agree capitalists do not have a personal ethic that is compatible with public service, it is only accidental that they produce value in your description due to a government system and culture, shouldn't the citizens strive to keep capitalists away from influencing governing processes? Considering they only produce value with their personal system of greed due to the system they find themselves in, isn't it a catastrophic risk to the system if the capitalists are able to change the system for their own gain rather than the good of all as the public servants would otherwise be doing?
  • Devans99
    2k
    We all work for gain, but not all of us can work for personal profit maximization or the system doesn't work? This is what I understand from your statement.boethius

    The system does not work on many levels:

    The effective utility of a 10 million and 1 billion bucks is similar, yet people still earn these huge salaries, to the detriment of everyone else. There should be a global personal earnings cap enforced via progressive taxation. 100% tax for anything over 10 million.

    There is huge duplication:

    - There is too much competition within sectors. As far as product choice and competition goes, we need a choice between a small number of high quality products. Capitalism gives us a large number of also-ran products that are essentially wasted efforts.

    - Each company has its own payroll department, human resources, legal, etc... Every function is duplicated in every company. It is only the product/R&D department that adds any value; the rest is just duplicated effort and inefficiency

    Again what ethic should they base this oversight roll on? Why can't the citizenry also seek to maximize gain, why is it only the capitalists and mobsters that can have this ethic depending on what system they find themselves in?boethius

    Citizens police the system via democracy, corrupt governments get the boot. Citizens may well have maximise gain as their primary motive, but Capitalism allows them to express that in a positive way.

    A followup question, given that we agree capitalists do not have a personal ethic that is compatible with public service, it is only accidental that they produce value in your description due to a government system and culture, shouldn't the citizens strive to keep capitalists away from influencing governing processes?boethius

    I agree. Contributions by business to political parties I see as a threat to democracy. Lobbying in general actually.
  • Ricardoc
    15
    But, I think I'm talking history, and you're more interested in the current affairs angle, so I'll leave it at that for now.Wayfarer

    Oh, those who are unaware of history are bound to repeat its mistakes. - Santayana
  • CrowdPublishTV
    1
    Some capitalists do God's work. Greedy capitalists might do God's work, though probably not for God's reasons.
  • god must be atheist
    249
    For God's sake. Everyone does God's work, if you believe in God and all the accouterments around the concept.

    Come to think of it, God may have created the world to do his work. Much like people clone themselves and send the clone to their work places, to make the money they live on.

    God is either very lazy, or else he is a genius. He McGuivered existence to suit his own comfort needs. There is nothing wrong with that.
  • Hanover
    4.7k
    Isn't interesting that countries with the most rapacious capitalists ar the keenest to build places of worship - namely the USA, Turkey (which has more mosques per capita than any other country) and, I gather, Romania, where a fit of church building is goiing on.

    Pussy Riot were subject to extensive jail terms in Putin's Russia, for misbehaving in Church, and Putin has been highly supportive of the various patriarchs of Russian orthodoxy, who inhabit those parts, while Porridgeheadcold in Ukraine pulled off something similar...

    Are the capitalists doing God's work, or is it like the Old Testament, and Yahweh, or maybe Karl Marx, punishes us with alienation of labour value for whoring with other Gods?
    Ricardoc

    Communist nations are often non-democratic and iillegalize or otherwise highly regulate religious practice, whereas democratic nations take tolerant stances toward religion. It's built into the ideology of personal autonomy and individualism that exists in Western democratic nations. It's all part of the bigger question of why nations with freer markets tend toward greater personal freedoms generally, not just religious ones..
  • Hanover
    4.7k
    For God's sake. Everyone does God's work, if you believe in God and all the accouterments around the concept.god must be atheist

    To the extent that God has given humans free will, as many religions hold, not every person is doing God's work.
  • god must be atheist
    249
    To the extent that God has given humans free will, as many religions hold, not every person is doing God's work.Hanover

    Grrr... here we go again. Free will. The greatest cop-out invention of Christian dogma.
  • Hanover
    4.7k
    Grrr... here we go again. Free will. The greatest cop-out invention of Christian dogma.god must be atheist

    The Christians invented free will?
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