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Free Markets as Nonviolence?

Über conservative apologetics aficionado, Doug Groothuis is tired of everyone bagging on capitalism these days, and so he points us to a speech given by Ronald Nash in 1985 about capitalism and socialism. If you want a nice theological walk down Cold War memory lane, its quite entertaining:

The alternative to free exchange is violence. Capitalism is a mechanism that allows natural human desires to be satisfied in a nonviolent way. Little can be done to prevent human beings from wanting to be rich. But what capitalism does is channel that desire into peaceful means that benefit many besides those who wish to improve their own situation.

I suppose Nash might be able to be at least partially forgiven for statements this silly, given that he’s a born and bred cold warrior writing at the height of onslaught of Reagan’s archenemies, the evil Soviet empire. Nevertheless, seriously? Free markets=nonviolent exchange? Clearly Nash doesn’t know much about being poor. He might have a different view of the relative nonviolence of free market economics in such an event (though if you read the speech he clearly doesn’t have much interest in the poor at all–they seem to really annoy him actually).

But whatever historical grace we might give Nash, Groothuis is so utterly without excuse that the very act of commending this article seems to make him into the ultimate walking caricature of middle America’s freakishly uptight conservative evangelical wing. At least it makes for an interesting case study. Of some kind.


  1. N. Dan Smith wrote:

    Successfully marrying Christianity to a certain flavor of market/government philosophy seems to be a major preoccupation. I had an acquaintance argue that government entitlement programs were morally wrong because they robbed Christians of the opportunity to exercise charity.

    And by the way, Halden: you are on a jag. What are they feeding you to produce all these posts?

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Having a bout of insomnia. You know, same old same old.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  3. Wes Ellis wrote:

    That quote made me cringe and laugh at the same time.
    I know you’ve already read it, but I just started reading Cavanaugh’s little masterpiece: Being Consumed.

    I just posted a quote from the first chapter, commenting on the illusion of “free” markets on my blog here:

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  4. Seth wrote:

    Given The Millenium isn’t here yet… What’s your counterproposal?

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

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