Ten Commandments of Capitalism

Charles Dykes article titled Is There a Moral Basis for Capitalism? is a true classic. Not only does he explain how capitalism is an economic system of Christianity but demonstrates its principles of economic justice. What I like about Dykes article is the Ten Commandments of capitalism. That is, he shows how those biblical laws are the moral basis of the capitalism. For example,

While keeping in mind that the market economy is only a part or aspect of society, we do contend that capitalism is more than just an economic system of voluntary relationships. Specifically, it is an economic system based on the right of private ownership of property and a free market for goods and services, consistent with the second table of the moral law.

The fifth commandment of the Decalogue, “honor thy father and thy mother,” implies that the family, not the state, is the basic social and economic unit of society and should be the strongest. R. J. Rushdoony has noted that “throughout history the basic welfare agency has been the family. The family, in providing for its sick and needy members, in educating children, caring for parents, and in coping with emergencies and disasters, has done and is doing more than the state has ever done or can do.” A society characterized by a significant degree of economic freedom is always a society dominated by strong family units who provide for their own. This contrasts with socialism, whose basic goals, if realized, would destroy the family in the interests of the larger collective.

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is “simply the other face of Locke’s and Jefferson’s ‘unalienable’ right to life.” Without it, the family is threatened. Individual and collective liberty also is jeaporodized.

The seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” teaches us, as does the ninth commandment, that contracts must be honored and double-dealing scorned. “The historic link between the biblical idea of binding covenants and the Western idea of binding contracts,” writes Gary North, “is obvious enough.”[8] The very idea of contracting for joint benefit presupposes a high level of moral integrity and faithfulness on the part of all the parties engaged in the transaction.

In socialism the paternal state seeks to vitiate the necessity for the sanctity of contracts by substituting its omnipotent controls and decrees. Opportunity for moral development and the growth of trust between free men is thereby suppressed. The socialist ethic in this area is readily illustrated in the attitude of contemporary socialist bloc nations toward the fulfillment of treaty obligations.

The ninth commandment forbids lying. The whole idea of a free market implies that the parties to this voluntary exchange will not deceive each other…. Lying is an inescapable concomitant of socialism. The socialists must forever condemn profits, for instance, and the profit motive. But the truth is, socialist nations are just as profit- minded as are capitalist nations. The difference: In capitalist nations the individual reaps the profits and decides how they will be used; in Socialist nations the state reaps the profits and determines what to do with them. So lying, even about its basic tenets, is crucial to socialism.

The tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet,” “means that it is sinful even to contemplate the seizure of another man’s goods—which is something which Socialists, whether Christians or otherwise, have never managed to explain away.” Coveting is a root of all social evil.

This law forbids dishonest gain not just to the individual, but to the state and all institutions. “The state is often used as the legal means whereby others are defrauded of their possessions. Socialism, through its employment of the police powers of the state for the purpose of expropriating the wealth of producers to transfer to nonproducers, is one example.”

I know an even more specific example: U.S. income tax law. Comprehensive research shows the 16th amendment to the Constitution was not legally passed. which is likely the reason members of Congress have been attempting to pass an alternate tax to alleviate the problem. When passed, the fair or flat tax proposal would continue generating operating revenue for the federal government while eliminating its police power (IRS) to forcefully expropriate the fruit of American labor. The eighth commandment is “Thou shalt not steal.”

Like the Declaration of Independence, capitalism assumes an obligation to fulfill the laws of the first tablet: God is the Creator and Supreme Judge of all nations and people. God is to be honored by keeping his laws. Capitalism works because its results trends toward prosperity and a measure of happiness for all. It is also the reason why our mixed economy does not.

Is There a Moral Basis for Capitalism is an article well-worth reading. You will find it at http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/is-there-a-moral-basis-for-capitalism.

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