Spiritual Capital, Natural law
& the Secular Market Place
By W. Duncan Reekie
Distributed By Coronet Books
187 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4"
$36.50 Paper Original
For economic growth to take place, physical capital is needed, like tools and infrastructure. To this must be added human capital, in the form of education. But for humanity to make efficient use of such reserves, moral or spiritual capital is also required. Like other forms of capital, its formation requires deferred gratification – which is the simple meaning of capitalism. Immediate pleasure is forgone for some future benefit.
Thus, just as physical capital is accumulated by savings and investment, so spiritual capital is built up over time through habits acquired in families, faith-based organizations, social groupings and the wider culture. Religious leaders often speak of the uneven distribution of capital in the modern world, but Duncan Reekie argues that it is a dearth of spiritual capital rather than of physical capital that is damaging many communities.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries some church leaders, Catholic and Protestant, were expressing moral doubts about the justice of the market economy. The Social Gospel movement called for greater sharing through governmental powers of redistribution and the welfare state. Some market economists, in reaction, attacked Christianity as the enemy of liberty, and Christian charity as ‘mush’. Duncan Reekie argues that both sides were wrong. The Christian Gospel, properly understood, promotes both freedom and responsibility – the sort of behavior that leads to capital formation.
Socialism and the welfare state, on the other hand, encourage an excessive individualism by relieving people of the costs of their own actions. It is an iron law of economics that the lower the cost of a good, the more of it will be consumed. By lowering the costs to individuals of unemployment, irresponsible sexual behavior and selfishness, the welfare state ensures a greater supply of these.
Collectivism undermines lower-level institutions like the family, trade unions and co-operatives, and thus impedes the formation of capital, especially spiritual capital as manifested in a strong family ethic, a sense of purpose and a capacity to resist hedonism. Maynard Keynes once remarked that for some centuries Europeans had kept religion and business in different compartments of the soul. This book tries to break open the compartments.
Economics; Political Science
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