Looking to the communists to save capitalism

One of the hopes for the global financial meltdown is that China can save capitalism.

More likely, though, is that we will become like China, adopting its model of letting people make money under a state-controlled economy. In other words, letting people have wealth without freedom. I suspect that most Americans would be OK with that tradeoff.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Eric M

    Unfortunately many Americans are like the frog in the pot – we don’t feel the heat as it is slowly increased. Likewise, we don’t see the loss of freedom if it is done gradually. There is a terrorist threat, so we allow the government to do additional searches and phone taps. There is a financial crisis so we allow the government to take more control over financial markets to calm things down. There is a health care crisis so we allow the government to provide health insurance. The list goes on and on.

    What we need to remember is that nothing the government takes is ever given back. Government programs are not temporary things, they are permanent.

    “Those that would trade freedom for security deserve neither.”

  • WRVinovskis

    Sadly, I believe you’re correct: Americans would choose wealth (or the perception of wealth) over freedom.

    Growing up in post-WWII America one could hardly imagine a world where the USA was not on top of the heap. Unprecedented economic expansion, the respect of the world as a protector of human rights and democracy, even the triumph in the late-80′s of the demise of the Iron Curtain, all contributed to our sense of optimism and invincibility. The sad reality is, “This isn’t your grandfather’s America.”

    The Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar to its demise lasted about 500 years. We’ll see if the USA–as we know it–makes it to 250.

  • CRB
  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    BTW: There are a host of options between the relatively right of centre (when compared to the rest of the planet)American politics up to now, and old -fashioned communism: There are Liberal democracies and Social democracies – and China is no longer truly communist anyway – it is a one party conformist ideology, based on some Maoist elements, but with a lot of capitalism thrown in. As I’ve said before, one shouldn’t pigeonhole.

  • CH

    True Scylding, but the question remains, how much do people value freedom? Sadly, not as much as they used to.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    True – but what is freedom? We often use the term, but freedom is a relational term – freedom from what, or freedom to do what?

    Those are rhetorical questions, btw!

    Of course, as a loyal subject of Her Majesty, I might have different answers here (lol).

  • Anon

    Scylding, our Declaration of Independence summarizes the Christian and Protestant understanding of freedom. You might find it a curious read.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Anon – I’ve read. But since you obviously hold it in great esteem, tell me, do you think the D of I could be wrong in some aspects? I’m not, repeating, not, saying it is, I’m merely asking about the possibility that it could.

  • Michael the little boot

    Just reread the Declaration, and I don’t find it clear at all. I’d appreciate summaries from any and all who’d like to share their opinion. I missed how it is peculiarly Christian and Protestant, so any clarification regarding the Declaration being a “summar[y of] the Christian and Protestant understanding of freedom” would also be welcomed.

  • Michael the little boot

    Scylding @ 8,

    “Wrong” may not be an accurate word for the following, but I did find it a shameful thing to have been included in such a thoughtful document: “He has…and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” We now know, of course, it was not the case that Native Americans were “merciless savages,” nor did they murder in the manner suggested. But it’s a helpful thing there are statements like this in documents we esteem so highly, to remind us even our best attempts at civility and democracy have fallen short. We must keep trying.

  • WRVinovskis

    Indeed, we must keep trying. But, I wouldn’t say “Our best attempts…have fallen short.” Perhaps it would be better to say, “Our best attempts at civility and democracy at times have not been perfect, or have been limited by our fallen humanity.” The great American experiment is a work in progress. It’s not a done deal. There is a lot in the past 230+ years we can look back on and say, “Hey, great idea! This was a good thing. This worked.” At the same time, we can also say, “Whoops. The first run at that didn’t work or was limited by the narrowness of our culture or our biases, or our limited perspective, etc.” The DofI was written in and influenced by a historical context.

  • Michael the little boot

    WRVinovskis @ 11,

    “The great American experiment is a work in progress. It’s not a done deal.” Exactly. That’s all I meant. I think falling short and not being perfect are the same thing. Just trying to be short and sweet. Sorry if I was simplistic rather than simple. :)

  • rlewer

    Actually, the Indians did practice the killing of whole families of settlers. Political correctness does not change history. On the other hand, the settlers sometimes retaliated with the same thing.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Just south of Saskatoon you’ll find the Dakota First Nation. They are Sioux. Originally, this area was populated with Plains Cree. But in the late 19th Century, the Dakota First Nation fled to Canada, and asked for a permanent place to stay, which they were granted by the Crown. You see, they were fleeing wholesale genocide.
    It was a 100 years after the D of I, but it indicates the sentiment of the D of I.

    Sure, these conflicts were very much not a one-sided affair. But it serves to illustrate that nobody is perfect. We should be more humble.

  • Anon

    Scylding, I am not aware of it being wrong in any aspects. What are your suggestions?

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Anon, what I am asking is not IF, but IS IT POSSIBLE? Thus, to let the cat out the bag, how high does it score on an “infallibility” index. The way you referred to it before, as the de facto standard of liberty etc, indicates that you hold it as high as the Confessions?

  • Anon

    That is silly, Scylding.

    I think you’ve got some category violations going on.

    Now, do you think that the Confessions approve of the concept of working for the murder of 50 million or more people, brutally, for the sake of convenience?

  • rlewer

    The Souix didn’t have anything to do with the Revolutionary War. On the other hand, the British actually did encourage the Indians to attack the settlements. The actual historical record is that some even had British officers with them. The Declaration was correct.