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Letter to the Editor: Brooks conflates economics, politics

on July 02, 2014 10:20 AM

In his June 28 column “The spiritual recession,” David Brooks seems to imply that God is an American Republican who promotes democracy, capitalism and biblical morality. We can assume he refers to the Christian Bible.

He then called attention to the nation’s spiritual mission, an interpretation of Walt Whitman according to Brooks. And to cap his thesis, all who deviate from this mantra are atheistic collectivists.

Now that would seem to be cut and dried, but he confuses terms and concepts very badly.

First of all, the opposite of democracy is dictatorship or monarchy. These are political concepts. The opposite of capitalism is socialism or communism. These are economic concepts. You cannot conflate these to make a point such as democratic capitalism is the opposite of communism.

And this is just where Brooks and many on the right in this country have been guilty of fuzzy thinking.

Allende in Chile was attempting to establish a democratic socialist state, but General Pinochet, aided by our CIA, killed him and his movement.

Russia and China both are seen as communist nations, but capitalist endeavors are making progress in both. And here in the good old USA, we have been striving for decades to perfect a mixed capitalist/socialist system that is both democratic and, while not strictly secular, is tolerant of all religions and cultures.

Many are endeavoring to make this nation into a capitalistic democracy, i.e., the capitalist elite rule. The Supreme Court has emboldened their efforts by permitting them to spend limitlessly to influence politics. That this has not occurred so far is through the constant vigilance of people who believe in true democracy, not one that is bought and paid for by wealthy donors.

And the economic system we are striving for includes Wall Street and the Dow industrials that trade there, as well as the Eisenhower interstate highways, the airports and shipping ports, the public education system, police and paid fire departments, and other venues paid for with our tax money.

Anyone doubting that we already have a capitalist/socialist mixture should consider the U.S. military-industrial complex ... probably the largest example of a mixed economy on Earth.

What we don’t need, and what Brooks is selling, is a religiously based pure capitalism, which would permit the wealthy few to rule and would likely make the lives of the middle and working classes less viable. That is not biblical morality.

Don Skillin


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