How Puritans became capitalists

"A historian traces the moment when Boston’s dour preachers embraced the market":
Even in down times like these, America’s economy remains remarkably productive, by far the world’s largest. At its base is a distinctive form of market-driven capitalism that was championed and shaped in Puritan era Boston. [. . .] In the 1630s, religious leaders often condemned basic moneymaking practices like lending money at interest; but by the 1720s, Valeri found, church leaders themselves were lauding market economics. Valeri says the shift wasn’t a case of clergymen adapting to societal changes--he found society changed after the ministers did, sometimes even decades later.
Note, however:
IDEAS: Your book comes out at an interesting moment for America’s relationship with free-market economics--to a lot of people, it looks like everyone in the financial markets has been behaving in defiance of the broader interests of the society.

VALERI: I asked a hedge fund manager I know if he had said to the traders described in [Michael Lewis’s] ”The Big Short,” ”What you’re doing will result in huge financial calamity, unemployment, people losing their homes--isn’t that socially irresponsible?”, what would they have said? He said, ”Their response would be, ’that doesn’t matter, that’s not my concern. My job is to make as much money as I possibly can.’”

My book shows the people who built the capitalist system did not think like that. The people who built the market economy had a whole cluster of deep collective loyalties and moral convictions.


TGGP said...

David Hackett Fischer's term was "ordered liberty". He believed the Quaker ideal of "reciprocal liberty" was ascendant today (which Mencius Moldbug occasionally echoes when he isn't blaming Puritans).

Tanstaafl said...

Just as today's judeo-liberal urge to pathologize and outlaw dissent has little to do with the classic liberalism of J.S. Mill, today's judeo-capitalist hyping of mindless, borderless consumption and debt has little to do with the economic thinking of Adam Smith.

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