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已有 4650 次阅读 2014-4-1 06:59 |个人分类:书海拾贝|系统分类:海外观察|关键词:资本主义| 资本主义 |文章来源:转载

Capitalism's Spiritual Origins

Updated March 31, 2014 12:50 a.m. ET

One of the most striking traits of American and European academics is a kind of masochism that manifests itself in books celebrating the superior claims of cultures not their own. Fortunately, a few unapologetic defenders of Western civilization can still be found. In "How the West Won," Rodney Stark details how and why the vital aspects of modernity—defined here as a combination of sensible economic arrangements, political freedoms and scientific knowledge—developed in the West rather than elsewhere. In the process he adds considerably to the content of the old Western Civ courses, which would often discreetly ignore the contribution of Christianity and neglect practical matters such as advances in technology and banking.

Surveying the great empires of the past—Egyptian, Roman, Ottoman and Chinese—Mr. Stark identifies as their common denominator the greed of the ruling classes, who thwarted their subjects' motivation to produce with confiscatory taxes and lawless seizure. Without property rights, people could only hide and hoard. These empires built great public works through forced labor, but their populations were stuck in poverty for centuries.

Busily consuming rather than investing, imperial elites saw work as degrading: As a sign of their superiority, the Mandarins had their long fingernails encased in silver sheaths. And the elites were generally hostile to invention and improvements in technology. China is credited with inventing the blast furnace, Mr. Stark notes, but in the 11th century the Chinese court killed a budding private iron industry as a threat to its rule. In 1485, the Ottoman Empire banned the printing press. Both the Chinese and the Ottoman empires forbade the mechanical clock.

Mr. Stark contrasts such balkiness to medieval Europe's ready adoption of new technologies such as gunpowder, the blast furnace, watermills and windmills. "Invention per se is not the most crucial factor to consider with technologies," he says. "More crucial is the extent to which the culture values inventions and puts them to use." In Europe, the culture was defined by Christianity.

The link between Christianity and a dynamic economy was famously outlined by Max Weber in "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" (1904-05). By combining restraint with a striving for profit, Weber argued, the "frugal entrepreneur" in Protestant Europe hit upon a mighty engine for growth, avoiding asceticism on the one hand and profligate consumerism on the other.

As elegant as this theory is, Mr. Stark notes, historians have long known that the birth of capitalism lies further back in time, in what is referred to as the Dark Ages, when Europe was supposedly benighted by the narrow doctrines of the early medieval church. Mr. Stark is having none of it. Capitalism's source, he says—and the seeds of modernity itself—can be found in Christianity's emphasis on reason and free will. Toaism, Confucianism and Buddhism dissolve in vague mysticism, he says, while for Muslims doctrine is forever fixed, and the main task of their clerics is to enforce the commands of Allah. By contrast, one finds an eminent Christian philosopher like St. Augustine arguing that man can reach a deeper understanding of God through the use of his reason.

"The most fundamental key to the rise of the western civilization," writes Mr. Stark, "has been the dedication of its most brilliant minds to the pursuit of knowledge." Not only about God but about his whole creation. Hence Europe owes the founding of its great universities to the Scholastics, the medieval scholars of Christian theology. For Mr. Stark, "the Dark Ages is a myth invented by 18th century intellectuals determined to slander Christianity and celebrate their own sagacity. It was in this period that Europe took the great technological and intellectual leap forward that put it ahead of the world."

In Mr. Stark's telling, the teachings of St. Benedict, who branded idleness bad for the soul, helped nudge monastic estates toward an early form of capitalism. They invested the money earned from selling indulgences in farmland, which they cultivated using the latest methods. By the ninth century, about a third of the estates along the Paris part of the Seine had watermills, most of them on religious estates. The monasteries would also diversify, branching into banking and money lending; as Mr. Stark notes, they weren't squeamish about foreclosing when a loan was not repaid.

For the first full-blown secular versions of capitalism, Mr. Stark turns to the Italian city-states of Genoa and Venice of the mid-12th century: As they developed as trading and manufacturing centers, power was extended down from the aristocracy, military and clergy to include merchants, bankers and representatives of the various crafts or trades, and the church played an active part in this democratization. In short, Max Weber's Protestants did not invent something that the Venetians had not come up with long before.

It is true, Mr. Stark concedes, that the Counter-Reformation of the 16th century, with its emphasis on asceticism, was hostile to business and banking, a development that in turn lent credence to Weber's Protestant-centered theory. It is also true that capitalism's development in Europe was patchy. There was no lack of rapacious European despots, and modernity's emergence was fitful. That Britain would go on to become the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution can come as no surprise, possessing as it did the right mix of freedom, property rights and an educated population. And it was equally natural that the U.S. should take over Britain position in the world, having been founded on the same values—many of them, Mr. Stark emphasizes, originating in religious belief and practice.

Mr. Bering is a journalist and critic.


Businessman Finds Spiritual Roots Of Capitalism


10:41 AM
WED JUNE 19, 2013

Bussinessman and author Augie Turak talks about his new book, 'Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity'

Augie Turak is a successful businessman with two software companies under his belt. For the past 17 years, he’s studied the business strategies of a group of Trappist Monks living in South Carolina.

His new book about them is called,“Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity” (Columbia Business School Publishing/2013). Host Frank Stasio talks to him about what he learned.


Capitalism is not just a Good idea; It’s God’s Idea

Dec. 4, 2013 11:36am

CHAD HOVIND is lead pastor of the rapidly growing, 5,000 attender, Horizon Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Horizon attracts business leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals, and unconvinced explorers who are interested in applying God’s truth to everyday life. Pastor Hovind is creator of the ”Fast Track Bible: The Quickest Way to Understand the Greatest Story Ever Told” and the”Godonomics”DVD curriculum series, which is endorsed by Focus on the Family’s Truth Project. He is author of Random House ”Multnomah's Godonomics: Capitalism is not just a good idea; it's God's Idea”. He speaks regularly to a variety of groups, including at Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love, Marketplace Ministry, and Patriot Events. Hovind holds three degrees from Moody Bible Institute including a B.A. in Pastoral Ministries, B.A. in Television Communications, and Masters in Leadership.

God does have a recipe for a successful economy and health care system. The idea of health care for the poor was birthed in the concern for the “least of these” that turned the Roman Empire upside down. It was once unfathomable that anyone except the upper class had access to health care until a spiritual awakening among the middle and upper class led to radical and lavish charity to the poor, according to sociologist Rodney Stark in his book “The Victory of ReasonCapitalism is not just a Good idea; It’s God’s Idea.”

This personal compassion ethic flowed from an understanding of Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Abraham’s generosity to strangers (who were revealed later to be God in disguise) became the basis of “what you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.”

So, what is the best way to provide health care which offers the Holy Grail recipe of great quality and lower price? History and economics provide the answer: Free enterprise, increased competition, and trajectory toward first party purchases.

Why free enterprise? Free enterprise is built on one timeless truth from the Scriptures: Property rights. They are articulated in 20 percent of the Ten Commandments: You shall not steal someone else’s property or even covet their property.

Property rights are the basis of Godonomics-style free enterprise. Property leads to responsibility. Responsibility leads to productivity. Productivity leads to generosity. When I am responsible for my body, my health, and my money, I make wiser decisions with my habits.  When I am spending other people’s money, I am less responsible.

When we don’t own it, we don’t exercise responsible care.

Like the old joke, “What’s the difference between an SUV and a rental car? You can take a rental car anywhere.” When we don’t own it, we don’t exercise responsible care. Look at government housing as a key example.

Capitalism is not just a good idea, it’s God’s idea built on timeless biblical principles including property rights, freedom, incentive, and the rule of law. These Godonomic principles saved the pilgrims from the spiral of starvation caused by practicing socialism.

When Gov. William Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony, switched to a free enterprise system that he extracted from the Scriptures, productivity and generosity were released. Free enterprise resulted in the bounty of our first Thanksgiving. (If a group of zealot Puritans can’t make socialism work, why would we think that Washington D.C. could make it work?)

Social medicine always comes to us like Jimmy Stewart from “It’s a Wonderful Life” promising that “little moon beams will come out of our eyeballs,” but ends with increased costs, thicker red tape, and a loss of quality.

Why? Socialized medicine is plagued with politics, which comes from two words: “poly,” meaning “many,” and “ticks,” meaning “blood sucking.” Only politicized medicine could suck between $300-600 million from tax payers to build a website that is more incompetent than the U.S. Congress.  

Why does free enterprise and competition lead to lower prices? Because when a company wants to profit (which the Bible affirms clearly as a great incentive in Proverbs 31), they must put the customer’s needs first. They do this by offering a service with a price and quality that will woo the customer to engage. The business owner in Proverbs does just that as she “discerns her merchandise is good” before selling it. The Bible even celebrates her profits as her incentive.

Why has the price of Lasik surgery gone down over the past twenty years while the health care premiums on insurance have risen exponentially? Lasik companies have to market directly to the customers by increasingly competing with each other to bring quality up and costs down.

With medical care, the customer rarely deals with his medical provider to negotiate rates. Instead, the provider is negotiating with government standards, HMO’s, insurance plans, and other third-party bureaucracy. A solution must move toward first-party purchases where I use my money to pay for a service I will consume. This will incentivize me to make healthier decisions about smoking, indulging, or lack of exercise. Because I will “reap what I sow” financially, I must consider the cost.

A move toward socialized medicine is a move toward third-party purchases. The government uses money that is not theirs to purchase services they will not consume. The result is always an increase in price and a decrease in quality, as we are seeing in the unveiling of Obamacare.

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, says anyone who disagrees with Obamacare is a phony Christian who doesn’t want to be his brother’s keeper. As the author of “GodonomicsCapitalism is not just a Good idea; It’s God’s Idea,” I dispel the rumor that the Bible advocates being your brother’s keeper.

The Bible NEVER advocates being our brother’s keeper. The phrase is only used once by Cain right after he KILLED his brother. And, on a personal note to politicians who use this phrase in speeches: When advocating taking care of your brother, it is best not to quote the guy who killed his brother…I’m just saying.

Being your brother’s keeper is almost a textbook definition of codependency. I have worked with the poorest of poor in Chicago, Atlanta, and Cincinnati. I have worked at a Methadone clinic helping addicts find freedom from addiction. I can assure you that it is impossible to be anyone’s keeper. Disagree? Try it for yourself one day. Try to make someone else responsible, generous, or hardworking. It is impossible.  

Capitalism is not just a Good idea; It’s God’s Idea

AFP/Getty Images

If Obamacare is so wonderful, why has Congress, who passed the bill, exempted themselves out of it? This is a clear violation of God’s call to the rule of law where everyone is under the same standard. The rule of law was unique to Mosaic Law and is totally abandoned when we have “tax payer” laws vs. Bureaucrat laws.

Apparently political porkers are running the country assuming all are equal, but some are “more equal” than others. Abandoning the rule of law neglects God’s warnings against large intrusive governments. In 1 Samuel 8, God says, “Forewarn them” that a king-sized government will take what is yours and make it his.

Capitalism is not just a good idea; it’s God’s idea. It only works every time it is tried.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.




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