Capitalism Needs Compassion – Socialism, Once in Power, Outlaws It


Capitalism may be plagued by the sin of greed, a greed that hinders the free market through hoarding and monopolies, but ultimately capitalism creates room for compassion. Laws exist to fortify the free market, so as to protect the free market from the death blows of a greed-is-good culture. Through the referee of small government the free market is nurtured. Through capitalism doors are opened for freedom; for people to be free to be compassionate; free to give out of the abundance of what they have earned; out of the abundance of what they are free to own.

Socialism on the other hand has no checks and balances against greed. Socialism therefore cannot produce a people who are free to be compassionate. Although socialism is viewed as compassion, it doesn’t allow room for compassionate giving because by definition, under a socialist system, there shouldn’t be any need for anyone to have to give compassionately. However, the theory that all needs should be met, does not meet with the reality.

Socialism presupposes that the poor worker will never get rich or rise above his or her poverty. Socialism has to keep people poor in order to justify its own existence. This is because there can be no proletariat, no cause for class war, without keeping the working poor where they are.[i]

Socialism strips the individual of their right to own private property. The individual is left with no amount of abundance to give. Anything given outside the absolute rule of the socialist regime is frowned upon as suspiciously capitalist imperialism. In an exaggerated form, compassionate giving, at least without the state taking its cut, is a crime against the state. To give freely is treasonous because, in theory, under socialism there is no need for people to be compassionate. Every want and need is fulfilled even if the collective has to work for the time being in order to eradicate work entirely. The socialist holds fast to the paradoxical dream of a work-less society.

Unlike compassionate capitalism, compassionate socialism cannot exist. It’s an oxymoron because socialism as absolute economic law only has what it’s taken from the people; it has no capital outside what socialism has taken without compassion; creating no real margin of abundance for individuals to give compassionately from. Therefore the people themselves aren’t free to be compassionate in their giving towards one another.

People are to believe in strict equality, but not fairness. By concessions, the individual under socialism may have the freedom to earn or how they earn it, but they don’t have the freedom to be compassionate with what they earn. They couldn’t, even if they wanted to, because there is no abundance in socialism unless it is awarded to them by the state. The people have what the socialist government gives and nothing more. By default the socialist ruler becomes god, employer, mother and father; in essence the Führer is raised up as savior, because it is believed that he, through the socialist system he controls, knows what’s best for the people of the fatherland.

The Bible does not preach or foster socialism as an absolute economic law or morality. What the Bible does preach is that greed is a sin, that God loves a fair weight; fair trade; that He is a compassionate judge who wills to govern for His people, not govern at the whim and will of His people. The biblical witness as a whole holds fast to fairness and justice within the bounds of a life lived in freedom, under grace, in His Word; Jesus Christ. It is Father God, not führer-as-father who should rule out hearts and guide our minds.

As Paul noted to the Church in Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 8:8-24: give earnestly; give from abundance; give from that which is left over to those in need. Give what you can, when you can, where you can. Trade in fairness, do acts of grace, and do so freely [complete the work you started]. Do so with joy, for this will encourage reciprocal giving. Provide out of abundance in order to bring relief for those experiencing affliction.

Without compassion, capitalism fails. That is why checks and balances exist in order to keep the capitalist system from gorging itself to death with gluttony. Socialism, however, has no room and sees no need for compassion once it holds power. The socialist only sees the capitalist as his or her enemy, upholding socialism religiously, without opposition. Socialism is seen as true compassion and therefore the only compassion anyone truly needs. All who disagree or refuse to fall in line with this are labelled, without compassion, an enemy of it.

Socialism as a paragon of virtue lost its shine a long time ago.The socialist and capitalist can both operate under a “I will take from you to benefit me” rule.

It is, however, the necessary function of compassion that capitalism not only allows, but empowers, that sets capitalism apart from socialism. From this empowerment the individual under capitalism can and is empowered to say, “what can I give you in order to benefit you” as opposed to “what can I take from you to benefit me”.

Compassionate capitalism empowers compassion because it provides enough for people to choose to be compassionate. Socialism doesn’t allow this kind of freedom because it ultimately denies individuals the freedom to give. Whilst allowing the potential for greed, capitalism must eventually give a firm “no” to it, for its own sake. If not, the free market falls victim to the similar kind of totalitarian rule as that of socialism, only in this case, it’s a corporation, not a government left holding the throne without opposition.

‘No constitution or ethic can prevent power from becoming totalitarian. It must discover outside itself, a radical negation. [such as grace; the Divine compassion exhibited in, through and by Jesus Christ].’ (Jacques Ellul, Jesus & Marx. 1988 p.174)

This article was originally published at


[i] ‘In Marxist dialectic, the oppressed must become the oppressor – the poor person becomes the absolute, a kind of priest – only through him can we meet Jesus and God; through serving him we are sanctified – this horizontal theology [or version of natural theology] returns quite simply to the project of excluding God’ (Jacques Ellul. Jesus & Marx, 1988. pp.42 & 48 parenthesise mine)

Photo credit: Milada Vigerova ‘Hand, closeup, prayer‘ on Unsplash.

  • Sam Vimes

    Thought provoking stuff, sadly we haven’t lived under a capitalist system for a long time. I recall the word ‘dirigisme’ – state controlled capitalism – would be a better word for it. A truly capitalist system of rights and responsibilities with minimal intrusion from an authoritarian state, to oversee basic policing and property rights, fraud and criminality etc is vastly different to the statist corporatocracy we have today.

    • Ron Mortimer

      I agree that we haven’t lived under a capitalist system for a long time. I doubt that many could actually conceive of doing so. Most things that we take for granted would be gone, both good and bad, and replaced with a radically different terrain. For a start, 99% of all laws and regulations would be scrapped and all those administering them would have to find something else to do. Law would not be a lucrative profession any more.
      All licensing would be gone, from doctors to plumbers to publicans to taxi drivers to prostitutes as it would be an intrusion by the state to involve itself in private contractual matters between consenting adults. This also means that all drugs would be legalised.
      Another massive change would be in the biggest scam that feeds through to every thing else in Australia, and that is real estate. Artificial land values ie. absurdly inflated(via zoning and state government land release policies)feed through to rents and mortgages, and ultimately benefit the banks who like rising values of the collateral that they hold.
      These changes are just off the top of my head, society would be radically transformed in all ways if we were a truly capitalist society. The problem is that very few today would ever vote for such a system as we all would lose the perks we all enjoy, and the benefits would be less concrete and not something easily quantifiable.
      One other thing that comes into this is that technologically it doesn’t take that many people to make a modern society work, which is why we have so many bullshit jobs out there, administering and supervising this or that, padding the bureaucracy etc. What would all these people do without their bullshit jobs? So, I do not see anything changing this side of an economic/social collapse when change would be forced on us.

    • Repeal fake marriage

      Sam, could the old chestnut ‘but that wasn’t true socialism’ be applied to capitalism? Not that I am a fan of socialism, it’s just the way I am reading the argument.

  • Ron Mortimer

    If i remember correctly, Adam Smith wrote a book, A Theory of Moral Sentiments, addressing these very issues just after he wrote The Wealth of Nations. Many more libertarians remember the latter than remember the former.