This past week a Facebook friend of mine, Ruble Fisher, wrote on my Facebook wall the following critique of my oft repeated observation that “God is a Capitalist.”
Rick, you definitely have not forgotten to suggest that God is a Capitalist, but I must say that this is not true. God’s economic system is Consecration, not Capitalism. Capitalism, Communism and Socialism all have the same flaw; they are man-made systems that ultimately lead to only one place, and that is destruction.
I answered Ruble on his wall, but since that time I’ve had several people who can’t access my post, ask about my response. So, I figured I’d just post it here (with some minor edits and several additions based upon Ruble’s subsequent responses).
I wrote: Ruble, the error in your logic is that you’ve made my proposition a tautology. You choose to see the concept referred to in my statement, by the word Capitalism, as a man made concept. You then connect this choice with your choice—to see everything not directly made by God as doomed to destruction. So in essence what you are saying is that, “Whatever is made by God will prevail, whatever is not made by God will fail and whatever Rick says (including his choice of the term Capitalism) is made by Rick, not God and therefore it is self-evidently true that Capitalism will fail.”
However, here is the challenge put to you, that you ignore. The concept I refer to when I use the term Capitalism (and this is not my choice uniquely) is the concept that the initiation of FORCE by one man (or group) against another (man or group) is immoral and unjust.
When I say that “God is a Capitalist,” I am making the argument that the concept of capitalism is NOT man made. This is the challenge you ignore by defining the proposition as a tautology and simply assuming through your restatement of your proposition that capitalism is “man made.”
Since it is an assertion inseparable from your tautology, if I want to engage you in rational discussion, I can’t respond without you claiming that whatever I say or whatever concept I uphold is “man made” since I (the one speaking) am indeed a man. Or, in other words, your position boils down to the claim that MAN can never understand God well enough to accurately label God’s truths or laws and subsequently communicate them to others. While you don’t make this argument explicitly, its implied in your position.
Your stance, of course, is self-evidently false, when at the same time you claim that God’s system is consecration. You see, the word consecration is also a “man made” term and therefore—according to your position—our understanding of God’s truths or laws is always limited by our man made articulations or choice of terms.
Certainly, you would agree (and its consistent with the position you take) that someone using the term consecration is not necessarily doing so in a way that accurately conforms with or communicates God’s law. Right? Since any such communication is going to be limited by man’s inherent fallibility (the core of your position).
The consequence, therefore, of your position is that in order to be rationally consistent you have to abandon either the tautology or your claim that you know and have properly labeled God’s system as consecration.
I suspect you would choose giving up the tautology. If its possible for you to argue that you have an accurate conceptualization of God’s law, then certainly you are forced to admit the possibility that I might also have made an accurate conceptualization of God’s law, regardless of the term I use (which would therefore include my use of the term Capitalism).
Your only argument could be that since the “word” consecration is used in the scripture and the word capitalism is not, your word (and the conceptualization attached to it) is not man made, while mine is. This, of course, would make any conversation between us on the subject meaningless, because I could just point out every word used in defense of your position, that is not scriptural, and that effort would become infinitely regressive.
On the chance that I’m right, and that you’d be willing to give up the tautology and actually engage in the discussion over WHY I contend that God is Capitalist, then let me advance the next stage of our intellectual exchange.
I would begin by suggesting that Consecration is NOT POSSIBLE without the foundation of CAPITALISM being established in place first. Or, in other words, a society must first accept and obey God’s law that to initiate FORCE (of either the body or the mind) against any man or group is unjust and immoral. (Notice, my not so subtle argument by articulation).
This would therefore fence out any participation in CONSECRATION by tyrants. Or more simply, CONSECRATION is only possible absent tyranny. Because, CONSECRATION is the surrender of all RIGHT to waste, to horde, to control for unproductive use and to gratify at the expense of value. YET, any attempt at CONSECRATION by any group of Christians is ultimately undermine without a fundamental respect for the tenants of CAPITALISM.
This is the premise for Apostle Stephen L. Richards (who was an attorney, grandson of Apostle Willard Richards and mentor to the late President Gordon B. Hinckley), teaching that CAPITALISM IS THE FOUNDATION OF GOD’S CELESTIAL LAW. He taught:
“Many people misunderstand and misinterpret capitalism. They think that because the word “capital” is used to designate the system that its chief purpose is to make wealthy men who are usually called capitalists and whose wealth, it is feared, is too often accumulated at the expense of poorer classes.
I admit that there are instances, altogether too many, where this comes about. But this is not the true concept of capitalism. The capitalistic system in its inner essence, is little, if anything, more than a man’s free right to work, to choose his work, and enjoy the rewards of his efforts. In my estimation, it is a most precious thing and it is indispensable to the liberty and freedom of which America boasts.
It is the only tried and tested system of free enterprise in this world and every other opposing system is built on an abridgment of personal liberty. For one I do not want to lose it. But we will lose it if we do not understand it and recognize its virtues. It is not the capitalistic system itself that makes some men rich and some men poor. The men themselves do that, again with some exceptions. The system merely offers the opportunities. “
Ruble then responded. I’ll address his response, in line by line fashion, for clarity.
Ruble writes 1: Rick, honestly, I am really trying to follow your logic, but I am unable to do so. Capitalism was not inspired by God, nor was it made by you.
I agree I did not “create” capitalism, but I have argued that it is in fact God’s doctrine. You don’t address my argument you just ignore it. You see, I’ve defined Capitalism as, “the concept that the initiation of FORCE by one man (or group) against another (man or group) is immoral and unjust.” The basic premise of capitalism, justifying this moral position, is that man is free by right, and that all men have an equal claim to liberty.
Again, I suggest that this plan/system of men being “free” (Which I, and many others call Capitalism) is indeed authored by God.
- “…under [Christ’s] head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free.” (Mosiah 5:8)
- “Wherefore men are free according o the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 NE 2:27)
- “I stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal:5:1)
- “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17)
- “…according to the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them.” (Alma 61:15)
- “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2)
- “That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him…” (Moses 4:3)
Finally, on this I would also point out that you have completely ignored that excellent quotation I provided from an Apostle of the Lord who uses the SAME articulation of CAPITALISM that I have used and that is at issue here.
Let me remind you that he clearly pointed out, “The capitalistic system in its inner essence, is little, if anything, more than a man’s free right to work, to choose his work, and enjoy the rewards of his efforts. In my estimation, it is a most precious thing and it is indispensable to the liberty and freedom of which America boasts.”
The reason this quotation is important is that it directly counters your claim that Capitalism was not inspired by God. It does so in two ways.
- Elder Richards clearly articulates that Capitalism is “a man’s free right to work, to choose his work, and…. is indispensable to the liberty and freedom of which America boasts.”
- The Doctrine and Coventants makes clear that the Constitutional law of the United States which supports “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” was indeed inspired by him.
Ruble Writes 2: Capitalism is simply another economic system like Socialism and Communism that is helping the inhabitants of this Earth to know the difference between good and evil. Each of these systems are evil, and God has nothing to do with them.
I have already addressed the core of your argument above, namely that God did not create capitalism. However, you now take the matter even further, so I’ll provide some additional insight regarding your claims that “Capitalism is simply another economic system like Socialism and Communism”, your claim that “each of these systems are evil” and you last claim that “God has nothing to do with them.”
RE: “Capitalism is simply another economic system like Socialism and Communism.”
- Why? You have ignored my arguments to the contrary.
- You offer no analysis as to how these are similar, except to repeat, implicitly, your contention that they are all “man made.” But certainly I’ve addressed that. But, to be clear, TRUTH is not man made, and ideas either conform to the TRUTH or they do not. I have argued that CAPITALISM conforms the the essential Gospel truth related to the agency of man. I have argued that God has authored this system and provided an explanation and scriptural support. But, you simply keep repeating your assumption. My question to you is, what if it’s not true Ruble… what if God did indeed establish the “Capitalistic system.” I’m presenting that case, and you are ignoring it completely, and ignoring the statement by a Latter-day Apostle on the subject without any explanation.
- How are these systems alike, besides your claim that they are man made?
- I suggest they are extremely different. First, Socialism and Communism are Godless. Second, Capitalism acknowledges the supremacy of individual rights (which are central to the American System established by God) and Socialism and Communism seek to eradicate these fundamental rights.Lest you think this is just my assertion, let me quote Engles to you from his “Principles on Communism” 1847,“Moreover, since the management of industry by individuals necessarily implies private property, and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form in which the control of industry by private property owners expresses itself, it follows that private property cannot be separated from competition and the individual management of industry. Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement – in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods. In fact, the abolition of private property is, doubtless, the shortest and most significant way to characterize the revolution in the whole social order which has been made necessary by the development of industry – and for this reason it is rightly advanced by communists as their main demand.”
- Finally, I suggest that the Church has made clear distinction between these systems. Consider for example the following statement from Elder Albert E. Bowen who said,“The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. … That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.” (The Church Welfare Plan, Gospel Doctrine manual, 1946, p. 77.)
RE: “Each of these systems are evil.”
- Why? Same argument right? They are all man made? I’ve addressed that.
- What would you say is actually evil about Capitalism? We need not delve into the others because I’ll readily concede they are evil.
- You’re still ignoring Elder Richards who directly contradicts your point when he says that the capitalistic system is “precious” and “indispensable to liberty.” Is it your argument then, that he is simply mistaken?
RE: “God has nothing to do with them.”
- I’ve already addressed this point above.
- God is the author of man’s agency, certainly you would agree to that. Capitalism is the name given to the philosophy of holding man’s agency sacred, as I’ve explained, so how can it be argued that God has nothing to do with it?
- Do you really mean NOTHING? Do you agree with the scripture that says not even a sparrow falls to the earth without his notice and sanction?
- If I have not been convincing previously, perhaps you’ll consider President McKay’s suggestion in the Church News of 11/27/1954 that:The “Individaulistic, capitalistic, free enterprise system” has been the God inspired means of enabling men to raise to a level of prosperity unprecedented in “all historic time.”
- Perhaps you’ll also consider Apostle Mark E. Peterson’s explanation and warning in the Church News of April 16, 1950.“How many Latter-day Saints truly believe in the Constitution of the United States? That Constitution stands for free initiative. That is free agency. In a business sense we have spoken of it as free private enterprise. Are the Latter-day Saints as a people willing to accept the principle of free enterprise? There are some among us who are teaching that free enterprise is wrong. These same individuals would do away with the capitalist system, setting forth its many abuses.” He goes on to suggest that “Free Enterprise” generally and “Capitalism” specifically are both in a general sense “free agency—the principle to which Latter-day Saints are committed.”
Ruble Writes 3: God’s economic system is Consecration.
- Yes, but you do not define Consecration and at the same time have ignored my statement that, “Someone using the term consecration is not necessarily doing so in a way that accurately conforms with or communicates God’s law.”
- Also, I argue that Consecration requires a group of men first committed to the fundamental principles of Capitalism, i.e, eschewing the initiation of force. You ignore my argument and simply say you “disagree.” But, why?
- How could you ever consecrate something if a) you did not have it in your possession and b) it was not yours (by private property right) to give in the first place. “How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak.”(Marion G. Romney, First Presidency Message October 1984)
- Any group of people who get together, as you later suggest, to live the law of consecration will suffer the same fate as that suffered by the early pilgrims who had to learn first hand how to overcome the evil of collectivism and institute the Godly inspired virtues of individuals rights, individual stewardship, and the protection of men’s individual liberty. Or in other words, how can this group ever consecrate effectively without capitalism? You seem to believe their is some other way but you don’t elaborate.
- You also ignore Elder Richard’s statement that the system of Capitalism, “Is the only tried and tested system of free enterprise in this world and every other opposing system is built on an abridgment of personal liberty.” Is it your suggestion that Elder Richards simply forgot about Consecration in his assessment that Capitalism (since he does not mention consecration) is the ONLY system that has been proven to protect our freedoms.
- Perhaps you might say, “all these things are incorporated in consecration” but this would mean we agree because this is what I have said in essence, that consecration is not possible without Capitalism. Whether you say it my way or say it like, “Consecration contains all the principles of capitalism” then you are agreeing with me that God is a Capitalist because for him to be a consecrationist he would have to “be” that by first “assuming all of the qualities of a true capitalist.”
Ruble Writes 4: However, there are some good principles found within the Capitalistic system, one of which is private property rights.
- You are contradicting yourself. You have already said that you did not believe that God “had anything to do” with Capitalism. Yet now you say it has some “good principles.”
- The scripture is clear that we should, “lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not..” and that the followers of Christ will “cleave unto every good thing…” (Moro. 7:19,28)
- The scriptures also clearly state that, “…every good gift cometh of Christ.” (Moro. 10:18) and that “Every good gift”, “cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
Ruble Writes 5: Your “claim” that the concept that “God is a Capitalist” is not man made is something which I agree with. The “God of this World” is the author of Capitalism, and the God of this world is the enemy of all righteousness.
- Ruble, its hard to take you seriously when you get to this point. Are you kidding? Do you believe that the God of this world is Satan? The God of this World is JESUS CHRIST. And, on this point, you and I will have to agree, that HE is the author of Capitalism, which was my argument in the first place.
- Ruble, in all sincerity, Satan is a liar, and he is NOT the God of this world. If you have been misled or deceived on this fundamental, core doctrine of the Gospel, perhaps we ought not be having this conversation yet. Please consider,
- “My heart tonight is filled with thanksgiving unto the Almighty God. Through the gift of His Son, who is the God of this world, we have been so magnificently blessed.” — Gordon B. Hinckley, Feb. 2001
- “Jesus Christ is the God of this world. He has made it very plain in his many self-introductions.” — Spencer W. Kimball, Nov. 1977
- “His identity and his relationship to God, the Eternal Father, and as “the God of this earth,” was clearly explained when he as the risen Lord, following his crucifixion and resurrection, appeared to his people in the land Bountiful on this continent.” — Harold B. Lee, November 1973.
Ruble Writes 6: God is a consecrationist, not a Capitalist. That is simple and understandable.
It’s only simple and understandable if a) you do not define “consecrationist”, b) ignore my challenges to your definition and my counter definition—remember I originally argued that to be a consecrationist meant one who, “surrenders all RIGHT to waste, to horde, to control for unproductive use and to gratify at the expense of value.” I would agree with you that God is a consecrationist, but I would argue that it first presupposes that he is first and foremost a capitalist, as I’ve been arguing.
Why do you think the two are mutually exclusive? What about Capitalism or Consecration creates this dichotomy?
Ruble Writes 7: Your logic is not so simple or understandable.
Okay? What exactly don’t you understand? Where am I being unclear?
Ruble Writes 8: To be consistent Rick, I uniformly abandon the tautology, and I stand solidly with my claim that I know and properly label God’s system “Consecration”.
Great. I thought we would agree on abandoning the tautology.
Ruble Writes 9: [Beginning by quoting my earlier statement] “Consecration is NOT POSSIBLE without the foundation of CAPITALISM being in place first. Or, in other words, a society must first accept obey God’s law that to initiate FORCE against any man or group is unjust and immoral.” Your connection here is faulty and illogical.
Okay? What is faulty about it? Or Illgoical?
Can you consecrate without first having the private right of ownership?
Can you consecrate while resisting the idea that the initiation of FORCE is unjust and immoral?
Can any society live by consecration while tyrants abound who would mooch, or loot the wealth of the “order?” I posit, that this is exactly why previous experiments failed, because men needed more time in our generation perfecting their ideas with regards to freedom, liberty, individual rights, and therefore CAPITALISM.
What logic allows you to counter my statement?
Ruble Writes 10: The connection between force initiation and Capitalism is strange to me. I read your explanation, but it simple does not logically hold up.
Hmmm, what do you mean?
I simply defined capitalism? What about that definition is strange?
Stephen L. Richards also defined the system of Capitalism in consistent terms with my statements? Did you misunderstand his statement as well?
Consider, “There are only two fundamental questions (or two aspects of the same question) that determine the nature of any social system: Does a social system recognize individual rights? — and: Does a social system ban physical force from human relationships?
The answer to the second question is the practical implementation of the answer to the first…
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned…In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions, and interests dictate.” (Ayn Rand: “What Is Capitalism?” Nov. 1965)
Ruble Writes 11: [Again beginning by quoting my argument first] “CONSECRATION is only possible absent tyranny.” I don’t agree! There can be tyrrany everywhere. We only need a group of people who truly understand the power of the Priesthood, and they will overthrow the powers of darkness through their faith.
- Okay, finally you’ve addressed my argument. Kind of. What do you mean that there can be tyranny everywhere. Certainly that statement is true by itself, but my argument was that the presence of tyranny (i.e. one or more tyrants who do not respect the basic premise of capitalism, or for the sake of further clarity, any person who does not respect the agency of man) threatens any chance of consecration. You don’t address this. You simply make a counter assertion.How could any number of Priesthood holders live God’s law without first casting out the tyrants? I think Rev. Ch. 12 sets the precedent.* Note, a capitalist does not believe that ALL force is tyrannical. It is the initiation of force that is tyrannical, but it is morally just to respond to tyranny with force in self-defense (separate argument if you want to have it.)
- When you say that this “group of people” would have to first understand “the power of the priesthood” what you are essentially saying is that they would have to understand the fundamental tenant of a capitalist. Right? D&C 121:41
- I would go a step further and say they would have to voluntarily agree to be bound by the priesthood, and would have to enter into such an agreement through covenant (private agreement based upon individual rights, including property rights). Or in other words, we are agreeing on this point, because you have no argument against what I’ve clearly defined as Capitalism.
- It is dangerous and naive to think that because “a group of people who truly understand the Priesthood” will ever “overthrow the powers of darkness through their faith” if that is what you are advancing as the only requirement.The implication is that somehow faith alone will “do the trick.” It will not. Faith is essential, no doubt. But, the fundamental agreement mentioned in #2 and #3 above is essential. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Quorums of Seventy don’t “truly understand the Priesthood.” I don’t think that is what you’re wanting to to do here. Is it?The Saints have been working at this for a long time, but the stumbling block has been the PRIDE of our members who accept the deceptions of the adversary, for example, rejecting capitalism through misunderstanding and mis-attribution. Additionally, the brethren teach that in addition to UNDERSTANDING the Priesthood this same group would have to:a) commit to live by the principles
b) have a legal right to do so and the ability to defend that legal right
c) become temporally self-reliant and surplus generating and
d) united through love and service to and with one another.
These are just a few things. I suggest that before ANY of this is affected the PRINCIPLES of CAPITALISM have to be established first, because once again TYRANNY through FORCE (of either the body or the mind) is the way Satan seeks to destroy the AGENCY of man and with that goes the chance of living in a united order.
In modern history, neither Capitalism nor its higher, supplemental manifestation of CONSECRATION has yet been possible among any sizable group of people because no sizable group has yet established legitimate civil authority over the tyranny brought about by the members of that same society having their hearts so set upon the things of the world and gaining the the honors of other men. It will take a moral revolution, lead indeed by those who understand the Celestial law and have covenanted to live by it, before the day of Capitalism and Consecration fully comes. Thank goodness, God is a Capitalist—and that the revolution has begun.
Ruble Writes 12: In conclusion, Capitalism is not necessary in order to have consecration. Enoch had no knowledge of Capitalism and he created God’s consecrated society on Earth.
- Ruble, with respect, I suggest your biggest stumbling block is that you do not define terms. Your argument is not against Capitalism but against some idea of what capitalism means “to you” that you have not been clearly defining. You have yet to advance an argument against Capitalism as I have represented it—yet it is to my original argument that you’ve been intended to respond.
- Your statement about Enoch not having any knowledge of Capitalism is to suggest that he did not have any knowledge of THE CONCEPT we’re calling capitalism and that suggestion, on your part, is without foundation. My argument is that CAPITALISM is at its core based upon timeless truths and governed by eternal principles. No one, Enoch included, can prosper without being mindful of these truths, and the degree to which we are mindful determines the degree to which we prosper.
- Also, your statement about Enoch is also revealing because using the same logic I could argue that “the ‘Mormon’ Church isn’t God’s true Church because Enoch was a member of God’s true Churcha nd he never heard of it, or of the Book of Mormon for that matter.”The “NAMES” we use to define concepts do not bind the truth—in fact it is the other way around. To the extent that we are not deliberate and diligent in educating ourselves, including taking responsibility for having a consistent rational framework for organizing our conceptual understanding of the world, we are blinded to greater truths.
My own conclusion is that, God is a Capitalist, Enoch is a Capitalist, I am a Capitalist, Jefferson is a Capitalist, Joseph Smith is a Capitalist, etc., …. you get the picture. The men upon whom the light of truth has shined and from which social revolution has taken place to advance the eternal cause of liberty—these men are true Capitalists.
Now, with all due respect I’ve invested quite a bit of time and energy taking your casual “stabs” at an argument very seriously. Before you answer would you please consider the following invitation of mine….
- Read my whole argument before responding.
- Read the references contained in my argument.
- When responding make arguments, not just claims. An argument consists of three essential ingredients. First a claim (which you are good at already), second is data or an appeal to the factual basis that substantiates your claim (logic is suitable but so is reference to external realities) and finally a warrant or the “reasoning” behind why your data supports your claim.
- Finally, will you spend some time refining your point? I mean no disrespect when I say, you haven’t really begun to come to terms with what I’m saying when I say that “God is a Capitalist.” You are simply launching random thoughts at a concept that seems offensive to you and it makes it a rather lengthy and cumbersome task to address all of your statements when we’re not diving very deeply into a very rich and rewarding subject.
I appreciate you taking the time to a) consider my statement, b) respond to it in a way that is both challenging and passionate and c) doing it without using techniques that are uncivil. I look forward to further discussion… but again, I hope you’ll consider my 4-fold invitation.
Thanks for reading.