The left is always saying that big business really runs this country. There may be some truth to this claim. The irony is that big business is supporting the left, at least on social and moral issues. When corporations from Apple to Walmart turned against Indiana’s religious freedom act to support the gay agenda, notice how Republican politicians fell in line.
Charles Lane says that the Indiana controversy may be the Gettysburg of the Culture Wars, the turning point, after which social conservatives will start retreating until they lose their political clout completely. He says that modern conservatism has depended on an alliance between pro-business free market advocates and social conservatives. But this alliance is unstable. He quotes a scholar who refers to “the cultural contradictions of capitalism,” saying that free market economics ultimately destroys traditional values.
There was arguably a time when capitalism and moral traditionalism went together, when capitalism depended on the values of self-control, restraint, and deferred gratification, as may still apply to small business today. But today’s consumer capitalism depends on instant gratification, the satisfaction of all desires, and constant change. Our financial system won’t even pay interest on a savings account, but rather depends on having everything now and going in debt. This creates a cultural climate, so the argument goes, that will undermine traditional moral values. But is this correct? Would any other economic system be any better? [Read more…]