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Secular Economics and the Failure of Capitalism

QUESTION: Secular Economics – The Failure of Capitalism


Besides embracing socialism on moral grounds, Secular Humanists choose socialism because of the evils they see inherent in capitalism. Fromm explains, “The giant corporations which control the economic, and to a large degree the political, destiny of the country constitute the very opposite of the democratic process; they represent power without control by those submitted to it.”1 Fromm not only believes that socialism is a more democratic economic system, he also believes it has the potential to reduce our focus on consumption and restore our damaged humanity.

Secular Economics – Avoid Exploitation and Artificial Scarcity
Lamont cites the “tremendous waste inherent in the capitalist system and its wanton exploitation of men and natural resources”2 as reason for embracing socialism. His distrust of capitalism runs so deep that he says: “Since fascism is simply capitalism stripped of all democratic pretenses and other unessentials—capitalism in the nude, as it were—the danger of fascism remains as long as the capitalist system is with us.”3

Dewey believes that capitalism must create artificial scarcity to operate successfully, and this contrived scarcity is the cause of poverty and hunger. He says, “There is an undoubted objective clash of interests between finance-capitalism that controls the means of production and whose profit is served by maintaining relative scarcity, and idle workers and hungry consumers.”4 He views this as a blatant infringement on individual liberty.

Humanists believe that capitalism promotes materialism, strips us of our humanity, and creates artificial scarcity. The implication is that socialism has the potential to ameliorate these flaws inherent in a capitalist economy.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Erich Fromm, On Disobedience and Other Essays (New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1981), 62.

2 Corliss Lamont, Voice in the Wilderness (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1975), 166.

3 Ibid., 169. Lamont is clearly confused about economic theories. In reality, fascism is more closely akin to socialism than to capitalism, for while fascism leaves titular ownership of productive property in private hands, it insists that only the central government should control productive property. Capitalist philosophy has always held that control is an essential element of ownership. The only difference between fascism and socialism, therefore, is that the former allows people to hold legal title to capital, but neither allows them to control it.

4 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1935), 79-80.

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