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Capitalism with Heart and Soul: Two Reads for the Occupy Wall Street Movement

The best hope for progress on the Occupy Wall Street movement’s complaints is, interestingly enough, capitalism.

Not capitalism for the few and privileged, but capitalism for all. Not the capitalism of unbridled greed, human mechanization, and economic violence, but the capitalism of opportunity, creative enterprise, and personal aspirations.

Kudos to all who call attention to and stand against the rapacious greed and economic violence of some of our wealthy and powerful.

We are left, though, with the problem of defining what is a good and just economic/political order. We are left with the problem of how to proceed. It is awkwardly easier to point out what is wrong than propose what would be better.

The absence of oppression is not the presence of freedom. The absence of greed is not the presence of magnanimity. The absence of privilege is not the presence of justice.

Two Must-Reads for Moving Forward

I suggest two reads for those passionate about the Occupy movement that would constructively resource our thinking as we consider next steps.

The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Michael Novak

From the publisher:

“Novak challenges the almost universal assumption that capitalism—because of the prosperity it brings—is without the moral and spiritual underpinnings of socialism. Novak argues convincingly that, in fact, by virtue of its distinctive spirit, democratic capitalism is not only pragmatically superior but morally more sound than any other system of political economy known to man. That spirit, says Novak, consists of a novel trinity—a political democracy, a market incentive economy, and a liberal, pluralistic culture—that, based as it is on respect for individual freedom, provides a broader vision of human possibility than that offered by any other societal alternative.”

Profit for Life: How Capitalism Excels by Joseph Bragdon

From the publisher:

“Two fundamentally different models of capitalism are operating in the business world today. One is self-destructive and increasingly corrupt. The other is emergent, flourishing, and inspirational. Firms that aim to Profit for Life must respect life. For them, profit is not a primary goal but a means to higher ends of service. They think and behave in ways that continually affirm life—from their corporate missions, visions, and values to the ways they are organized and managed. Their operating leverage resides in their capacity to inspire. Profit for Life explains why these exemplars attract the most loyal employees, strategic partners, customers, and investors.”

Protest and call attention to all who prosper by means of the diminishment, marginalization, and exploitation of others. Definitely. Thank you.

If the sun is to set on the era of economic violence, what then shall we build when the sun rises next morn?

- Karl Edwards



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