Here’s an interesting notion:
It's one of the questions filmmaker Michael Moore, the well-known creator of documentaries such as Bowling for Columbine and Sicko, asks in his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story.
In Capitalism, the filmmaker wonders whether Christ would support a system that, as the filmmaker stated, "has allowed the richest one per cent to have more financial wealth than the 95 per cent under them combined."
Moore, a Roman Catholic, argues that Jesus' commandments to care for others and feed the poor and hungry go against the love of money and greed that make up capitalism. He argues that one cannot be a religious Christian and a capitalist.
Clement Mehlman, a Lutheran chaplain at Dalhousie University, agrees.
"Jesus was a Jewish peasant, coming from an underprivileged tradition Himself, so He would have been what we would call a communist or a socialist," he says. "And there are elements of communism in descriptions of early Christian communities. They pooled their resources. There was not independent wealth, there was communal wealth."
The idea that Christ preached a socialist message would probably scare some conservative believers, but Mehlman has no problem with that.
"Jesus says to follow Him, you have to give everything you own to the poor," he says with a wry smile. "How many Christians do you see doing that? It's a text that should be thrown at the wealthy fat cats."… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Common Dreams>
It rarely happens, but in this case I completely disagree with Michael Moore. I think Jesus would have no problem whatsoever with capitalism. But there is a catch. Capitalism is an economic system in which a free market sets the price of goods and services between an unlimited number of suppliers, with no barriers to entry, and an unlimited number consumers, based on the law of supply and demand. In Adam Smith’s view, monopolies and oligopolies were the ultimate evil. True capitalism has no place for corporations, because they concentrate suppliers, create barriers to entry, and form both monopolies and oligopolies, which collude to function as monopolies. In fairness to Moore, he was referring to our current economic system, but that system is NOT capitalism. Jesus never raised an objection to the common free market trade of goods and services between individuals, which is capitalism.
Mehlman’s argument that to follow Jesus we have to give all we have to the poor has a problem. It takes Jesus’ statement out of context. The person to whom Jesus was speaking was one of the elite theocrats, who was rich from the temple monopoly. Jesus required this of him only because the man’s life was centered around his greed. Jesus often dined in the homes of believers who had not divested themselves of all their possessions. One cannot care for the poor and feed the hungry without the means to do so.
The system we have in the US today is hard to label, but I’ll try to give it two labels. One is crony corporatism. We have rule by corporations through the empowerment of corporate cronies. The other is plutocratic fascism. I don’t mean Nazism here. Fascism is a system where access to power is available only through elite status or membership in a group. Thus, plutocratic fascism is government of, by and for the rich, and the rest of us have to band together into groups to be heard at all. Economic exploitation by the elite is the norm. Would Jesus oppose this? I say yes, and I’m sure Moore would agree, because this is what I think he meant.
The closest thing Jesus encountered to our system was the monopoly on mandated temple sacrifice held by the religious right of his day. There was no other source of supply for sacrificial animals and the unique currency required to buy them. These theocrats manipulated the system to fleece the common people. Sound familiar? Jesus’ response was to drive them out of the temple. Unlike the religious right, Jesus would certainly oppose our economic system.
It saddens me immeasurably that the most vocal groups, who identify themselves as Christians, have sided with the plutocrats and corporatists against the poor, contrary to Jesus’ teaching. This is the opposite of authentic Christianity!