Capitalism and Natural Law:
Life, Liberty, and Private Property
Robert N. McGrath, Ph.D.
Christian Faith Publishers,
released late 2017
on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
John Locke portrait courtesy: Google
Christianity and Capitalism both seem to be going through a bit of a
rough patch at the time of writing. On the one hand, we in the United States watched in amazement how an avowed Socialist
made a serious run at the Presidency. At least temporarily, and at the very least, he inspired a movement among the
young. On the other hand, the Freedom From Religion movement was busy pestering all kinds of Christians all over the
United States -- no matter how Constitutional, subtle, or innocent their expressions of faith.
In the general sweep of history, these dual countermovements may seem a little surprising, since both sets
of targeted beliefs and practises go back to about the same time, that being the ancient Greeks and their most famous philosophers.
In other words, both the economic sense of Capitalism and the basic theology of Christianity have been part and parcel of
the culture of Western civilization since its early days. It is a major objective of this book to simply raise the historical
awareness of how both Capitalist economics and Christian theology have co-evolved since the days of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
-- hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ, and thousands of years before "modern" economics was recognized.
It must be stressed that this is not a religious book per
se ; but it is rife with passages from and commentary about theology, philosophy, and metaphysics. A few basic
assumptions have been made just to keep the book simple, such as: personal liberty is "a good" and a natural right;
capitalism may not be perfect, but it is the best system in history for creating wealth and prosperity that provide the opportunity
to pursue one's spiritual happiness and well-being; and that living a life of personal virtue as opposed to vice is the practical
and measurable approach to doing this.
Past that, the book is intended
to be informative and provocative -- not conclusive and in fact, not even especially authoritative. The author is not
a credentialized economist or theologian, but has had an abiding literary interest in these subjects for about twenty-five
years. Technically, he is a retired business professor. So rather than argue ham-handedly, a great deal of information
is presented by use of extended quotes from some of the most profound theologians, philosophers and economists (Aristotle
and Aquinas, Smith and Mill); and we will even make a startling contrast by examining Karl Marx. Conversely, virtually
no biblical scripture is used, but the theme of Thomist moral theology is unmistakable. So the reader is not only welcome to,
but implored to, read the book critically but with an open mind...
Along the way, we'll even correct a few economic and historical misconceptions. The
reader should be highly surprised at some things! The story that emerges is anything but neat and linear, and most readers
will feel a strong sense of ambivalence at the end. But that is a good thing. No history this complex could possibly
tell a simple story with a simple conclusion. A little book so short and simple could not do that, and it could only
provoke more questions than it answers. So just sit back and relax, and be prepared to become informed. Then
do some more reading for yourself, and make your own interpretations.