Friday, January 06, 2006

Amoral Capitalism

Perhaps it's time to ask if the continuation of world poverty into the 21st Century is values based, and not economic based (as opposed to Marxist thought). Capitalism as an economic model is amoral, and as a working model it far surpasses all other models in producing material goods (ask any Shanghai merchant who long ago retired his Chairman Mao lapel pin). So too a corporation —- amoral. Now those who operate within this economic system are either moral or immoral, decent or indecent folks. A corporation can be driven by ethical folks who use this amoral system to do morally good things. (Adam Smith recognized the limitations of capitalism, for after all he was also a moral essayist, and knowing the danger of an immoral dominance in capitalist economics, he theorized that the 'invisible hand' of society would overcome this.) From Christian teachings, Jesus spoke often of money matters in the Gospels. For the most part He taught wealth itself is amoral (how one accumulates the weath can be done honestly or dishonestly), but what is important is how one uses that wealth. In the end it all comes down to individual humans —- a corporate president, a world leader, a city mayor, a scientist, a musician, a university professor or student, a fast-food worker —- they all have the choice to live morally or immorally. But if a society doesn't value values (the 'invisible hand' of society), if ethics are but the construct of each individual with values and morals self-defined, then perhaps what we read in the daily news of crime and corruption in corporate offices is simply the fruits of our labors. Perhaps we forget, starved souls may be as tragic as starved bodies, but oh, what havoc they can reap upon a hungry world.

1 comment:

reed burkhart said...

"Amen." Or ... "QED!" ... or, .... "show me the money!"

Or why not all of these at once?


I like your post, which happens (today at least) to be the first Google hit on "amoral capitalism."

This is a fertile topic for monk, entrepreneur, mother, father, child, investor, venture capitalist, Earth citizen, employee, manager, futurist, philanthropist, et al.