Capitalism and Marxism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Apr 22, 2022 by David Fowler

Capitalism and Marxism: Two Sides  of the Same Coin?
Tennessee’s legislature recently enacted a bill requiring public schools to teach the “virtues of capitalism . . . as compared to other . . . economic systems such as communism and socialism.” I would have voted for the bill, I suppose, but not because I think it will get at the root of what is driving the movement in our nation toward overt wealth redistribution. In fact, I hope, were I still in office, I would have said on the Senate floor what follows, namely, that capitalism, as understood today, rests on the same worldview as socialism and communism and, consequently, the bill will not have the effect hoped for. 

I rest my argument on the fact that words take on certain connotations over time and those connotations carry forward wrong ideas. Capitalism, to me, is one of those words.  

I would argue that capitalism no longer means, if it ever did, simply the ownership of capital (assets) or the free exchange of goods and services limited only by laws that protect human flourishing during market transactions such as laws against fraud or deceit in its varied forms (Note: hiding known defects in a product that would harm a person would be a form of fraud to me as well as cause for a claim for any related injuries).

Owning or exchanging forms of capital is not malum in se, bad in and of itself. But anything, including the production and use of capital, divorced from a belief in God and the reason He created humankind in His image, leads to what is called a “chain of being” worldview, philosophy, or metaphysic—pick one.

In other words, without the kind of creator God described in the Bible, who is distinct in His being from all all other forms of being or existence, including that of human beings, then everything, is just one long connected chain of being. 

If you want to understand what I’m saying, think of a totem pole and the progression of being from the bottom to the God on top. Evolution is simply the pagan totem pole turned horizontally, where, moving from left to right, a type of being becomes more human, more God-like until that being becomes God or is absorbed into God.

The Practical Effect of the Non-Creation Worldview

That chain-of-being understanding of who we are inevitably and logically tends to make those “more evolved”—further along the chain—better in some meaningful way than those less evolved.

This explains why some people had to make sure black people were held down and back after the Civil War. As was said by a Klansman in the movie Mississippi Burning, “if you aren’t better than a N***** then what are you?!”  

The tendency of the human being who does not know God, does not know what it means to be made in His image, and does not know that all things come from God in an ultimate sense to serve God’s purposes, not theirs, is to think the more “capital” I possess the better I am compared to other people.  I suspect that explains why the pagan rich often flaunt their stuff.

This worldview, and the flaunting of it, naturally drives a reaction from those who don’t know God and are further down the scale of being to want to move up the scale or move the others back down the scale. Atheist Karl Marx spoke directly to that drive. For him and his Godless ilk, wealth redistribution brings equality.

The solution to the problem of creeping socialism and communism is not teaching a capitalism devoid of God, which is the only kind of teaching a public school thinks it can teach or will teach under the new law. Whatever is devoid of God as its interpreting principle—even if it is capitalism—will lead to problems and human conflict. It has ever since Cain was jealous of Abel and envied the acceptability of his offering.

So, do not think this bill will change the direction of our country from wealth redistribution back to an appreciation of capitalism.  

What will bring change is helping the next generation understand why the acquisition or possession of capital is not the measure of a person’s worth, let alone the reason for their existence. Helping them understand the God-honoring purpose for development and use of capital will bring change. Only this will be an antidote to greed on the one hand (capitalism devoid of God) and envy on the other (station in life devoid of God).

What would I teach that a public school will not teach, and that I suspect even a number of “Christian” schools don’t teach? If you want to know, then click here.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

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