Capitalism is not a religion, but there are two broad ways in which it is like a religion.
1. In the ways that it encourages blind belief and discourages critical thinking.
2. In the ways that it molds and influences social and political structures.
An example of how capitalism influences societal structures is that it establishes a kind of caste system in some places, where high-paid corporate workers enjoy a range of benefits and preferential treatment and are treated as valued, but those who work for subcontractors, small businesses or independently are given very little and are treated as undeserving and disposable.
Anthropogists struggle with this question: What does religion do for a society? Why do humans bother with it at all?
The same answers to this question are relevant to capitalism.
For individuals who are living largely empty lives, working at disheartening jobs so that others can become rich while they remain relatively poor, the lure of capitalism is that anyone can get rich, anyone can own a McMansion, anyone can become respected i.e. by the myraid fools who equate wealth with importance and substance.
Some proponents of capitalism, it seems, become imbalanced by their greed to become zealots. They suffer from a false belief that capitalist ideology is somehow superior than any other, especially in the jaundiced Wall Street variant, which espouses the notion that greed is good. But capitalism inevitably degrades to crony capitalism, manifesting corruption at the highest levels, becoming corrosive to democracy and enormously destructive to people and the environment, not unlike Soviet communism.
greed is good
It is a very rare capitalist who has read Adam Smith, David Ricardo or any other major thinker, nor who truly understands economics. This is in part due to misinformation campaigns and miseducation in the form of Neoclassical economics. This does not stop proponents of capitalism from claiming, as the religious do, that "We have the right information and interpretation, not you".
As with many religious people, proponents of capitalism avoid thinking for themselves, and especially avoid critical thinking. They rely on the wisdom of others, who in the capitalist system are not priests but rather pundits, CEOs and corporate yes-men who offer a stream of outright lies, easy rationales and illogical thinking that they pass off as respectable opinions and even wisdom.
Proponents of capitalism insist they are morally right, despite plentiful evidence that enormous harm is done by capitalism everyday, which virtually no proponents want to recognize, or seek to remedy, and indeed some vigorously oppose remedies for the wrongs of capitalists, while blaming the victims.
Copyright © 2007, 2013-2014 by Zack Smith.