Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a recent interview that capitalism is irredeemably evil:
“So to me, capitalism at its core, what we're talking about when we talk about that, is the absolute pursuit of profit at all human, environmental, and social cost. That is what we're really discussing.
“The New York Democrat also said that a ‘very small group of actual capitalists,’ which she described as wealthy individuals who have such vast amounts of money that they do not need to work to make a living, control America's industries, energy sources and labor.
"’They can control massive markets that they dictate and can capture governments,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘And they can essentially have power over the many. And to me that is not a redeemable system for us to be able to participate in for the prosperity and peace for the vast majority of people.’"
AOC is engaging in the favorite past time of socialists, redefining terms so that their argument automatically wins a debate. It’s a trivial pursuit that even the most ignorant can enjoy. But readers should ask themselves, if capitalism is pure evil, why have so many Christian theologians embraced it for centuries?
The term "capitalism” was first used by French socialist Louis Blanc in 1850 referring to the system of exclusive ownership of means of production by private individuals. Before that, the system was known as laissez-faire, short for laissez-nous faire, French for “leave us alone!” French businessmen shouted it to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, comptroller general of finance under King Louis XIV of France. Colbert had implemented massive government controls of commerce in France in the 17th century to counter the economic dominance of the free market Dutch Republic. Instead of improving commerce and living standards, Colbert’s reforms crushed them. When asked what more he could do for businesses, the owners replied, “Leave us alone!”
At the same time, Adam Smith called laissez faire the system of natural liberty, referring to the Dutch Republic as the best example. But the Protestant Dutch didn’t invent the system. They got it a century before from the Catholic theologians at the University of Salamanca, Spain, who distilled the principles from the Bible and natural law.
From its instantiation in the Dutch Republic until the 20th century, this system of natural liberty, laissez faire, or capitalism was Christian economics for most Protestant theologians. The best-selling economics textbook in 19th century U.S. by the Baptist pastor and head of Brown University, Francis Wayland, promoted capitalism as Christian economics. If it were as evil as AOC claims, why would the best theologians promote it for 300 years?
The answer is simple: AOC is wrong, as she is about most things. So what are the principles of capitalism? Essentially, they are the rights to life, liberty and property made famous by Thomas Jefferson’s phrase in the Declaration of Independence, though Jefferson changed property to happiness. The right to life is the positive statement of the Biblical command “Thou shalt not murder.” The right to property is the positive of “Thou shalt not steal.” The right to liberty comes from the prohibitions of forced slavery and the right to freedom of conscience because God does not value coerced belief.
Those rights require free markets because property means the owner controls the buying and selling of it, and limited government, because the state cannot violate the rights of its citizens. Also, citizens are equal before the government because governments are ministers of God (Romans 13) and all people stand before God as equals.
So how did AOC come up with such a vile definition of capitalism? She took the hallucinations of the drunkard and atheist Karl Marx to their logical conclusion, even though Marx credited capitalism for having raised the standards of living of Western Europe to the highest levels in history during his day. Marx was so lazy he allowed one child to starve to death rather than him get a job and feed the child. That is the man AOC and Democrats hold up as savior of mankind in place of Christ.
AOC got one thing right in her interview. She complained that wealthy people “capture governments” and so have too much political power. That’s true, but it’s a feature of socialism, not capitalism. The U.S. hasn’t been capitalist for about a century. You see, socialists thought they could control businesses by giving the state the power to regulate them. But businessmen understood that politicians exist for one reason – to sell their power to the highest bidder. So, businessmen complied and bought them. In exchange, politicians installed bureaucrats favorable to big business in regulatory agencies, thereby “capturing” the regulatory agency.
“Regulatory Capture… typically refers to a phenomenon that occurs when a regulatory agency that is created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate an industry or sector the agency is charged with regulating,”From the CFA Institute
AOC lives in the world of Isaiah who wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Capitalism is as far from the evil AOC complains about as light is from darkness. Socialism is the nighttime she calls day and the cause of most of the problems she blames capitalism for.
Roger D. McKinney lives in Broken Arrow, OK with his wife, Jeanie. He has three children and six grandchildren. He earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Oklahoma and B.A.s from the University of Tulsa and Baptist Bible College. He has written two books, Financial Bull Riding and God is a Capitalist: Markets from Moses to Marx, and articles for the Affluent Christian Investor, the Foundation for Economic Education, The Mises Institute, the American Institute for Economic Research and Townhall Finance. Previous articles can be found at facebook.com/thechristiancapitalist. He is a conservative Baptist and promoter of the Austrian school of economics.