Capitalism is far from traditional! Traditional Christian economy is to be under the hospice of the Church…has been since the Church of Acts (Ch. 2: 42-47). Capitalism is a product of the liberal enlightenment…an egalitarian concept of economy that allows the ancient lifestyle of hedonism to run its course, arrogantly waiving as it consistently laps the rest of the community, believing she is earning her luxury.
Capitalism is not the only way to own and exchange property/product. Many forms of community and economy have an exchange of owned property. Capitalism has far too many moving boundaries where an unethical person can “capitalize” on not only property but people. How much ownership does a person have on something he “capitalized” on? A good capitalist will find the weakest link in the community and capitalize on it, calling it earnings. If he sees the culture desiring something lustful he will capitalize on that weak link of the community.
Other weak links that capitalists love is that of “wholesale and retail.” The goal of the capitalist is to buy the property for a below market rate and “resell” it for much more, without even putting their hands on the product. [St John Chrysostom talks about this as an unethical way of business.] The type of property/product then becomes “commoditized.” Labor and craft is belittled and the community begins exalting the seller over the builder. There is something to be said about someone who has dynamic organizational business skills, but capitalism spreads the gap between the seller and the builder, since can capitalize on the laborers whose trade is hardly tied in to the intellectual community (but should be).
Commoditizing a community is treacherous. Each locale needs to be its own culture with its own ideas and skills (trading when necessary). This presupposes a limited global trade, which would prompt a community to think, train and build if they want something bad enough, rather than capitalizing on poor communities who are less aggressive and “skilled” at commodity, or simply under totalitarian control of a leadership that is skilled in these areas.
One weak link of mankind that has been capitalized on, especially in modern times, is the need for lending. People have always needed loans, and loans are not unethical. What is unethical is charging interest for a loan. This is called usury. The Orthodox Church has condemned usury in the First Ecumenical Council!
Usury is the linchpin of capitalism, and once a community strengthens it, the spirit of giving flees and the whole community becomes absorbed by secularism.
Capitalism depends in usury because it is one of the first weak links that was capitalized within America. It is the key ingredient for our economical foundation. Crafty, Masonic men of the early days became rich from usury and where able to establish our banking system, and then gave loans out to companies to capitalize on the Church’s ministries: Education, Medical, Welfare, and one of the most dastardly moves: the creation of the insurance industry. Who needs our neighbor or Church now that we have the corporate insurance companies? [Please look at Samaritan Ministries as a traditional and Christian alternative in our modern day]
True, Christian Economy
The Byzantine model was based on what some of the fathers called a gift economy. People voluntarily gave gifts to those who were in need on a regular basis, and when things got tough they all worked together under the Emperor and patriarchs’ guidance for distribution.
In a traditional Christian economy, the laws are organized in such a way that unethical product and industry simply cannot be marketed. The Church works with the community to ensure an ethical and equitable economy. Christ speaks more about economy than any other aspect of salvation. The very action of creating community that is completely inclusive to the poor and needy is vital to our salvation!
True and traditional economy is neither capitalistic nor socialistic. True economy and community is Orthodox! Most of the world cannot currently become Orthodox, therefore a compromise could be that of what the Catholic Church has taught in modern times: Distributism.
In the West, we are not likely going to have Holy Monarchy for a Byzantine economy, and Distributism would likely only be promoted by the means of a massive clean-up effort from a civil war of sorts.
[Meanwhile], a Christian can create a philanthropic Orthodox community within their own home, where the husband is the king and the wife is the queen. The children are the community and are treated with charity…enough to build them up in to success. This is true philanthropy. True Orthodoxy! This economy can grow in to extended family and then to friends, neighbors, etc. The Orthodox Church as well as Roman Catholics and Protestant groups would all need to have this same model, calling it by a certain name in order for a spiritual and cultural revolution to happen. To do this would not be a sin for Orthodox! It is actually what is required of us. We are to lead wherever we can, and this we can lead in because we are the only community with hundreds of years of historical success.