First, we will see that if protestant theology has undoubtedly influenced the early expansion of capitalism in America, it is probably no longer the main factor explaining the important commitment of Protestants to modern capitalism. As an illustration of this fact, we will show that even among fundamentalist Protestants, there is no longer a consensus about the theological justifications of capitalism (I). Today, however, what favours the capitalist skills of Protestants seems to be less theology than the fact that Protestantism is divided in well-organized communities, some of which function as successful profit-making organizations actively participating to the worldwide expansion of capitalism (II)...
[...] If we are to understand capitalism as a competitor of the Catholic or other religious world-view, we must inquire into the "capitalistic spirit" as a "mode of life, determined by a spiritual orientation." Weber suggested that capitalism was the product of a new way of thinking which came out from a new social action that had developed from the revolution inaugurated by Protestantism and more precisely by Calvinism. The Calvinist followers yearn to gain salvation by doing good and hard Work in this material World. [...]
[...] Are protestant sects better capitalist organizations? We have just seen that if the protestant ethic may have favored the early expansion of capitalism, the Calvinist doctrine of predestination no longer seems to be at the heart of modern capitalism, though it still exists in some religious communities such as the Amish. To understand the special relationship that links Capitalism to Protestantism today, the focus has to shift to what makes American Protestantism so different, bearing in mind the existence of hundreds of different protestant churches throughout the country, in contrast with the centralization that characterizes other religious groups, such as Catholics. [...]
[...] The Amish live apart from society, they work since their early childhood, they live plain lives which are dedicated to the community and God. They don't spend the money they earn selling their products. But eventhough they are successful capitalists, it is very difficult to say that they are in a modern way which implies as we said before a specific structure of Production organisation. They are not representative of modern capitalism. Their Working methods are very outdated and they only accept changes when it is really practical and useful but in the limits of their religious believes. [...]
[...] In a free economy, property is freed from restrictions of the State and depends on Family and religious laws. Why? Because God, as creator of earth, is the ultimate owner and prohibits as such, any forms of central planning. They condemn monetary policies because in the Ancient testament, “metallic currencies” illustrate honesty. They also reject income redistribution because according to them it is against the eighth commandement: “thou shall not steal”. There is also an evangelical left led by Ronald Sider who believes the issues of inequality, poverty and economic justice as central to biblical morality. [...]
[...] However, there are two exceptions, differing from one another: Puritanism and Judaism. The basic dogma of Calvinism is the doctrine of predestination makes the actual behavior of the believer irrelevant to her/his fate which is determined by God's will. The inscrutability of predestination to either salvation or damnation was naturally intolerable to the believer: they still have the possibility to hope finding a visible proof that God blesses their work. As we said before, profit and property appear not as ends in themselves but as indications of personal ability. [...]
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