Saturday, June 15, 2013

Anti-Capitalistic Theologians

While reading Ludwig von Mises' "Anti-Capitalistic Mentality", I stumbled with a surprising paragraph. It is like that I found a gem when I least expected it. And here is that particular quote: 

"Everywhere eminent theologians tried to discredit the free enterprise system and thus, by implication, to support either socialism or radical interventionism. Some of the outstanding leaders of present-day Protestantism-Barth and Brunner in Switzerland, Niebuhr and Tillich in the United States, and the late Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple-openly condemn capitalism and even charge the alleged failures of capitalism with the responsibility for all the excesses of Russian Bolshevism." (Ludwig von Mises, "The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality", 2008, p.45).

I posted the above quote in a theological forum and at least four persons commented. I asked their permission to blog our discussion, but none responded. So I decided to blog it anyway and at the same time maintaining the anonymity of the commenters.

The following are the relevant exchanges. I hope you enjoy it!

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JP:  Malay. Matagal nang turo ng bible ang capitalism. Kaya nga yun ang sinusunod ng USA na founded on biblical principles. Ang hindi magtrabaho, hindi kakain.

RC: how about yong argument na ang US daw sa ngayon ay mas sosyalista pa kaysa sa China?

JP: Ala namang masama dun. Mga kristiyano nga dati naging komunista.

JPP: Oo nga no. Mapag isipan nga

JPP: Kapag inatake mo ba ang laissez faire automatic na proponent ka ng ng socialism o interventionism?

RC: may naniniwala kasi na may 3rd economic system bukod sa socialism at capitalism, but as far as mises is concerned...dalawa lang

JPP: Ano yung third?

RC: mixture daw ng 2

RC: pero kay Mises yong socialism may 2 mukha, russian or marxian pattern at yong german pattern na sa ngayon ay parang synonymous sa interventionism

RC: yong marxian pattern nagcollapse na since 1989, ang popular ngayon at laganap sa US maging dito sa PH ay ang german pattern

JPP: Pano yun?

RC: mahirap makita e...very subtle...pero pinaka sintomas niyan ay expanding power ng government through interference in the free market by making numerous regulations for special interest groups...

RC: dagdag mo pa yong concern ng interventionism sa mga bagay na kung saan ay concern din ang mga mamamayan tulad ng people's welfare, social justice and fairer distribution of income. And above all, it claims to preserve capitalism and democracy...

RC: but in the end it leads to poverty, mahirap kasi isustain ang interventionist programs...kailangan ng higit na malaking buwis...so that means printing of paper money, inflation, budget deficit, etc...yong productive side ng market economy panipis ng panipis hanggang hindi na kayanin isustain ang demand ng public sector for consumption...

JPP: Oo nga mahirap controlin

RC: the key i think is in the hands of intellectuals...sila lang yong may kakayanan to educate the masses concerning personal liberty and responsibility, limited government, small taxes and sound money...

RLC: How about perhaps a 4th? Not yet tried but since all has failed, then why not?...Anarchism.

RC:  popular din yan anarcho capitalism...it's the tension inside libertarianism...it's the conflict between the followers of mises and rothbard...minarchism or anarchism...limited government or zero government...

RLC: And of course, the Austrian Proposal...Too bad the world has contented itself with the capitalist-socialism dualism...Call it now the lies of the Law of Non-Contradiction, or simply the fallacy of excluded middle.

RC: Yes, Austrian proposal, the sister of neo-classical liberalism or libertarian political economy ( also some conservatives and right libertarians call themselves neo-classical liberals)...for Austrian economists like Rothbard and North, the statist version of capitalism or so-called mixed economy as represented by Milton Friedman of Chicago School is the primary cause for the confusion...I think the message of Ron Paul is clear...ultimately mixed economy is none other than a subtle form of socialism...

RLC: Btw, I've read ur blog po and I really find it helpful. Summarizing the key and canonical figures in few sentences. I'm not an economist but I've been reading a lot lately on economic theory/ies. I have the sense that much of what happens in our evangelical community is more than just "politics", but really "economics."..Starting to believe Dubner and Levitt that the key to understanding human behavior is really -economics...Thank u sir and may God continue to season ur writings with grace.

JPP: So RC you are saying na maski ano pang alternative ang ilatag sa table, yang mga yan ay ultimately mga footnotes lang ng either capitalism o socialism

RC: Thank you for that prayer RLC! For now, my goal is to understand...later, God willing I will dig into Christian economics literature to provide a corrective to Austrian-libertarian reading...concerning the importance of economics in political discussion, I think the world owes such awareness to Ron Paul. His main goal actually in engaging in politics is to bring economic issues in the forefront of political discussion...to some extent though he failed in his presidential campaign, he succeeded in his educational goal...not familiar with Dubner and Levitt...though I find Mises' difficult, I want to understand what he meant by economics under the science of human action...concerning evangelicalism, I personally think that our theologizing will greatly improve if we seek first to understand from different lenses the primary cause of existing economic crisis...

RC: JPP, depende saan ka nanggagaling...there are several schools of economic theories...as far as Austrian perspective is concerned in Misesian tradition, ganon ang basa nila...take for instance yong issue nang origin ng Italian fascism at German Nazism,..both capitalism and socialism disown them as their daughters...if you are a libertarian leftist, sasabihin mo na ang fascism ay produkto ng kapitalismo...at para sa mga communist intellectuals, together with Nazism, Fascism was described as “the highest and last and most depraved stage of capitalism” (Mises, Planned Chaos, 1951, p. 29)...Pero kay Mises, ang origin ng fascism ay hindi capitalism kundi socialism...sa kasaysayan, ang claim ni Mussolini, iniligtas niya ang Italy from communism...kay Mises, that's not true...ang fascismo ay hindi ang dahilan kundi resulta ng kabiguan ng komyunismo...ang fascismo ay nabaon na sa kasaysayan subalit ang mga puwersa sa likod ng ideyolohiyang ito ay nananatili pa rin...nagbigay ng babala si Mises na ito ay maaaring mabuhay na muli gamit ang ibang pangalan...

RC: But of course, kung mga theologians naman tatanungin, hindi rin sila papayag na ireduce lang sa 2 kategorya ang mga economic systems...take for instance Brueggemann and Yoder...sa initial reading ko, for Brueggemann, the debate between “socialism” and “capitalism” is futile...at meron siyang binabanggit na 3rd alternative na ang tawag niya ay "covenantal"...ang challenge lang dito ano ang konkretong mukha nito?...kay Yoder naman, kasabay ng pagdating ni Jesus kasama ang isang bagong economic order...ang struggle din dito ay pagdating sa implementation...base sa kasaysayan, ang Kristiyanismo ay nagbigay ng 5 mga modelo...

JPP: Ano ung 5?

RC: Catholic, Reformation, Revolutionary, Dualist-Pietistic, and Anabaptist.

RC: Sa Catholic model, "Economic relationships are understood as divinely established.” The primary advantage of this arrangement is that “the church itself emerges as an economic power…”

Sa Reformation model particularly found in Zwingli and Puritanism, economic systems “are not simply accepted, but transformed.”

Revolutionary model has many variations. Its common characteristics shared with the second model are the mistaken identification of human programs with the plan of God and the use of force through the state. This paved the way for modern day state interventionism.

Sa dualistic-pietistic model, mali na i identify ang human program sa plano ng Diyos...so okey lang yong existing economic structures...baka kasi mapalitan ang ebanghelyo dahil sa koneksiyon nito sa politika...

Of course, Yoder advocates the Anabaptist model...It rejects both the radical character of Reformation and revolutionary models and the conservatism of the Catholic and the Dualist-Pietistic models. It believes that the Christian community offers an alternative economic order and serves as a constant critique to the mainstream society. It affirms that the Christian community is already in a new reality that it cannot force into the larger society. 

Again, the challenge here ay pag dating sa details...

JPP: Anong economic system pala ng pinas?

RC: hehehe...isip mo na...

RC: sa panlabas, kapitalista ang pakilala...pag tiningnan muli, maaaring sabihin na mixed economy in the sense na allowed pa rin naman ang free market...pero from Misesian perspective, increasing yong interference ng govt. regulation sa free market na ang naging produkto ay nabigyan lang ng pabor ang ilang mga special interest groups...so pwedeng sabihin na dahil sa pakikialam ng govt. sa free market, umabot doon sa sistema na iilan lamang ang may hawak ng politika at ekonomiya ng PH...resulta nito sisisihin ang kapitalismo at mananawagan ang mga intellectuals na kailangan makialam ang govt...ang govt. naman ay laan ding lumikha ng karagdagang mga regulasyon na kung magpapatuloy ang ganitong cycle sa bandang huli, masasakal na ang free market at magbubunga ng massive unemployment at deeper poverty for most Filipinos...and that's the essence of socialism in the form of interventionism... yan ay base lang sa personal na obserbasyon...

JPP: If you could explain socialism in tagalog ano yon?

RLC: Sosyalistang walang pera...Capitalism, in tagalog, capital na walang tao...Lol! 

GF:  Baka mas maganda stick to carrot na lang ako kay Milton Friedman.

RC: pinakasimple na siguro...isang sistema ng ekonomiya na inaalisan ng kapangyarihan ang mga mamimili...

GF:  Isa lang naman ang kapangyarihan ng mamimili...ano pa e di bumili!

RC: yon na nga...bumili...kaya lang hindi niya nababatid na dahil sa mga regulasyon, sa paglipas ng mga taon ang purchasing power ng kaniyang pera ay unti-unting nababawasan...sa tingin ng mga Austrian, using different economic theories, mahirap makita ang invisible tax...

GF: pinahihirap mo naman...simple lang naman anoman ang nasa market ang value nito ay depende sa demand. Kung ang mamimili ay ayaw bumili ang halaga ng anomang nasa market ay mawawalan ng halaga.

GF: Anomang economic theories ang ihagis mo sa harapan ng mamimili kung gusto nyang bumili bibili sya. Kung ayaw bumili hindi sya bibili. Kung may ibibili sya bibili sya. Kung wala naman syang ibibili hindi sya bibili.

RC: tama...generally, ang mga mamimili ay walang pakialam sa anumang economic theories...basta may pera, bibili ng gusto nila at kahit may gusto pa silang bilhin kung wala namang pera wala din silang magagawa...kung bakit mukhang mahirap ang simpleng bagay para sa mga austrians, hindi rin kasi ganon kasimple ang ginagawa ng interventionismo sa matiyaga at dahan-dahang pagkuha ng kapangyarihan ng mga mamimili...at ito ay hindi lantaran...ginagawa ito ng interventionismo sa paraan na tatanawin pa ng utang ng loob ng mga mamimili...

GF: Ang mamimili bumibili dahil may ibibili. Ang walang ibibili hindi makabibili. Anomang intervention ang mangyari at gawin nararamdaman lang ito kapag hindi marunong ang mamimili. Subalit karamihan ng mga maimimili na marunong bumili alam nila kung saan at alin ang kanilang bibilhin.

GF: Hindi ako naniniwala sa tinataguriang intervention.

RC:  Ka GF, I respect your opinion on interventionism...marahil marami sa govt. bureaucrats ay hindi rin aware sa long-term effect ng mga economic and monetary policies...for those who want to explore the relationship between economic freedom and interventionism, ... I am still reading it...

GF: Ka RC hindi lang Austrian model ang tignan mo. Sa karamihan ng capitalistic economy Keynesian ang model. Sa restoration ng Europe German model naman na hango din ang idea sa Austrian model. However, sa america may influencia din ang Friedman model.

GF: Consumers want and expect attributes from what they buy -- quality, safety, value - depending of course on the price they pay.

RC: Kaya nga sabi ko kay Ka JPP, depende saan ka nanggagaling o anong gamit mong economic theory...ikaw ba ay nanggagaling sa non-fiat monetary theory, Keynesian, Friedmanian, Schumpeterian and Austrian...so your chosen economic theory will determine the outcome of your analysis...so far kasi ngayon, sa pagkakaalam ko kahit mga mainstream economists are now recognizing the validity of the Austrian analysis particularly in relation to 2008 crisis...at isang halimbawa na diyan ay ang paper ni Jerry H. Tempelman na kaniyang sinulat nang 2010, “Austrian Business Cycle Theory and the Global Financial Crisis: Confessions of a Mainstream Economist”. For him, among several schools of economics, the Austrian school is now considered the most reliable source of interpretation of the 2008 global financial crisis with its business cycle theory. Dagdag pa niya, ang talaan ng mga pangalan ng mga mainstream economists na naimpluwensiyahan ng ABCT ay kasama sina William Dudley, Paul Krugman, The Economist, Taylor (2007), Jarocinski and Smets (2008), Smithers (2009), and Vogel (2010), Tobias Adrian and Hyun Song Shin (2009), and Brunnermeier (2009). The fact is, according to Tempelman, since 2008, many Federal Reserve officials have shown some “positive signs” acknowledging the mistake of their monetary policy. They are now considering some ideas for monetary reform. Ang malungkot nga lang, despite of the accuracy of the Austrian school, its proposal is still considered too radical and therefore rejected.

RC: thinking that you might enjoy this video...keynes vs. hayek (a former socialist converted to austrian way of thinking through mises)...Fight of the Century...