Capitalism as conceived by Efficient Market Theory makes the error of not taking original sin into account. Many who call for deregulation, do so under the belief that once regulation, the entrepreneur will act morally and for the benefit of all mankind. In other words, capitalism works on the very unbiblical idea of those that hold capital will be innocent and the market will force them to be innocent. But can humans be completely innocent? Does the market truly same man from his original sin.
Can the forces of selling and buying purify humanity’s conduct.
The conservative is correct in questioning the wisdom of Government to purify man. Government vital to human living and exists to ensure the controlling of human vice such as greed, lust and oppression, but it does not make Government immune to the folly of human nature. Man will continue to wear the stain of our own foolishness. The wisdom of our founders understood this and left us with a system of checks and balances. For to leave power uncheck is to invite the worse kind of human power, blind to its own seeds of destruction. A great leader will never the less fall victim to his own nature.
Yes, the conservative can point the many failings of Government, smug in the wisdom that bares out in the course of human life. Governments will engage in the worst of actions all with the best intentions.
Where the modern conservative fails is in thinking that humanity, can indeed be purified by the winds of the markets. Adam Smith saw the error with the example of the Greedy farmer. Morality, for Smith was something beyond the market to create. The markets could operate with the invisible hand if morality emerged from a fully developed understanding of human nature. The markets are no less powerful than Government to purify man. If anything they tempt man into indulging in original sin. For nothing that many on Wall Street joke about the moniker of being the Masters of the Universe. Once many of the libertarians reverse the order and derive their morality from the markets and not the other way around, we can see a generation of Bernie Madoff and the idea that money has its own reality apart from the rest of human life.
The reality that Christians should point to is that only in love can man be purified or at least starts down the path. The first moment of this purification process is realizing in oneself and not just in others the taint of our own sin. And by sin, I reach back to the older understand of sin as a breach in our very being. Sin is more than violations of an external law, but is a corrupting influence through the whole of life. We all suffer from the taint within both ourselves and those around us.
The biggest myth we tell ourselves that we are innocent, which has the corollary that it must be the other who holds the taint of sin. They are the problem, which leads to the most fundamental mistake of human life, rid ourselves of the other and we eliminate the problem.
If anything has show us again that we have not found the way to purify ourselves, whether by government or markets, it has to have been the last decade. Human folly and original sin still controls us more than we wish to confess. We still gorge on fruit of good and evil in a vain attempt to be in control and a master of the universe.
When we find ourselves alone, we can only point the finger at another and claim innocence as the flesh and blood of our sin drips from our mouth.
Behavioral economics has come to the same conclusions that humans, far from being the rational creatures we imagine ourselves, we are filled with biases and dark desires all the while trying to maintain a view of being innocent.
So, I have outline want seems to be a bleak view of history with a darker vision for our future. If we are condemned to being able to purify ourselves, what hope can we muster.
The Christian answer remains of the cross that reveals the very nature of our violent ways. Within the cross’s shadow, we can hardly claim innocence nor purity. The resurrection points to the reality of regeneration. When we stop with our pretense of purity and innocence, we can start to follow the one that does love us. Markets cannot save us from ourselves. When we see our own folly within our dealings with the markets, we can see the need to check our desires. Government cannot saves us. Our founders understood this well and that is why they chose to separate powers between as many people as possible.