For a season in my life, socialism held a minor attraction. I studied history under a great professor who emphasized the human costs in modernization, and my studies left me mildly sympathetic to the dream of socialism. The argument made sense: some goods are best distributed by disinterested parties, and the government can best assure justice if they govern the self-interested parties acting in the marketplace.
Over the following five years, I grew out of my attraction to socialism. Marriage and the realities of bills which must be paid and investment which could profit gave me a practical preference for capitalism; my work in education increased my appreciation for individual responsibility. More than these, however, my view of economics became better informed as a I saw the economic correspondence between Scripture and free market capitalism.
As of this morning (January 3), an essay I wrote exploring these topics for The Intersect Project is live. In that article I flesh out this biblical connection and explore some of the reasons why socialism is attractive but fails to deliver human flourishing. I argue that “capitalism is grounded in a strong vision of human dignity, the divine creation of reality, and the command for humans to take dominion of all reality.”
Questions of economics are never ending; every human is an economic actor, and God has so built creation that when we live according to his principles, it is far easier to find physical flourishing than when we oppose his laws. “God is not in the business of making us rich, but we find flourishing when we align our lives with the structures of creation. Free market economics works not because people seize wealth from others, but because our God made all things and pronounced them ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ When we live as homo oeconomicus bearing the imago dei, we bring glory to God through stewarding his world.” These principles, and our ability to know them, are fingerprints of grace.
(If you are interested in more economics, I have written one other economics-oriented essay, published on The Imaginative Conservative, accessible here. That essay deals with Wendell Berry and Agrarianism.)