Milton Friedman Drove Out Leviticus – By Charles Halton

Charles Halton on Andro Linklater’s Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership

Andro Linklater, Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership, Bloomsbury, 2013, 496pp., $20
Andro Linklater, Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership, Bloomsbury, 2013, 496pp., $20

Karl Marx summarized his assessment of the newly declared Commonwealth of England with the simple phrase, “Locke drove out Habakkuk,” referencing Oliver Cromwell’s use of the Old Testament that fueled his revolution. Yet Marx noted that, as soon as the dust settled, the ethical structures within this rhetoric were promptly set aside, and the bourgeoisie continued their kleptocratic reign within a structure even more amenable to their purposes than before. Puritans, martyrs, and revolutionaries were replaced with Hanoverian businessmen and their political accomplices.

Technologically, we’re a universe away from the time of the Lord Protector. Structurally, we’re about the same. Populist congresspersons drawl homespun phrases and draw up breakfast table talking points but then decamp for private equity funds and petroleum conglomerates after they leave office. Members of the political establishment channel the yearnings of the underclass in their speeches and then boomerang the benefits of change back to themselves and their campaign underwriters. We expect duplicity and naked self-interest when it comes to winning elections and maintaining ruling coalitions; few of us are so optimistic to believe that public officials would put political careering behind serving the common good. And yet, for most of human history these traits have been seen as moral defects. But Narcissus is no longer an example of folly. He’s been rebranded as a symbol of good, an engine of prosperity, and a mechanism for human benefit. He’s been ingrained into the fabric of the system that affects our lives more deeply than most any other: the economy.

If Marx were around today he’d likely say, “Milton Friedman drove out Leviticus.”

Apart from the innovation of cooking food, the transformation from a patronage-based society to a market-based economy has perhaps been more consequential for human civilization than any other. Several things had to happen for this transformation to take place. With stunning beauty and detail, Andro Linklater’s Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership discusses one of the most central: the transfer of land in feudal holdings and common collectives to private ownership.

When workers toiled feudal fields, the fruit of their labors enriched their overlords while the workers themselves operated in a subsistence economy. Communally-owned lands, on the other hand, suffered from the phenomenon that every school kid has experienced in group projects: a minority of folks do most of the work while the benefits of labor are equally spread around. It’s no surprise that land yields under both of these systems were anemic. (Mennonite farms were exceptional since they were both communally owned and wildly productive.) Adam Smith understood better than almost anyone that, for a country to prosper, it must make efficient use of its land. Industry and commerce are not the cornerstones of the economy. Rather, “the Produce of Land [is] either the sole or the principal Source of the Revenue and Wealth of every Country.” To maximize a country’s wealth, its citizens need to find a way to maximize the production of their land. This could happen, according to Smith, only in a structure loosed from the imposition of feudalism and the inequity of communal ownership.

Smith argued that, for his country to prosper, it had to sever the relational bonds that existed in commerce. Business should be entirely separate from personal and emotional connection. In feudal systems, the lives of master and serf were endlessly entangled and generationally hitched. A tenant owed the landholder his labor, and the landowner protected and provided for his tenants. This relationship was so deep that in some cases a feudal lord was expected to pay for a tenant’s wedding and act as a judge in settling disputes that arose between those living on his land. In most cases, landowners inherited their property and tenants farmed the same fields as their fathers. Landowners also had to maintain friendships with their peers in order to provide avenues of sale for the products that came from their estates. What kept all of this going was the good will of each party. A lord cared for his tenant, and in response the tenant worked for his lord and the bonds of friendship between peers facilitated exchange. Smith called for the obliteration of this system and argued that exchanged should be overseen not by good will within human relationship but by the rule of law which enforced contracts made within an impersonal labor market.

The genius of the system Smith advocated lies in its transformation of basic human interaction. No longer would economic decisions be made on the basis of good will toward another person. People would act in accordance with obligations arrived at through contracted negotiation. This transformation provided space for the most important of Smith’s insights, the one that became one of the foundations of Western civilization as we know it today: each party negotiates a contract with the goal of maximizing his or her self-interest. Smith was as explicit as he could be about the wholesale transformation of society this involved: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Smith sought to “purify” the marketplace of personal favor so that individuals were set free to think not of each other but of themselves.

In Smith’s mind, this selfishness was neither naked nor callous. He believed that the pursuit of personal happiness would lead to general happiness. But in order for a contractually based society to function properly, justice and fairness must be upheld. Smith built upon John Locke’s vigorous defense of private property that, nonetheless, did not assert this right as absolute. For Locke, a person owned what was produced or acquired from his or her labor because people’s bodies are theirs, owned wholly by themselves through natural right. Even so, private property was understood to have limits. Locke stated that land could only become one’s exclusive property “when there is enough, and as good left in common for others.” He also believed that property rights must yield to fairness: “[N]o man could ever have a just power over the life of another, by right of property in land or possessions, since it would always be a sin in any man of estate to let his brother perish for want of affording his relief out of his plenty…God the lord and father of all has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar portion of the things of this world but that he has given his needy brother a right to the surplus age of his goods.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said something similar when French society transitioned from feudal possession to private ownership. He wrote that governments should absolutely protect a citizen’s rights to life and liberty but should only guard private property as was needed for a person’s safety and existence. Beyond subsistence, he believed that the government might need to limit a property owner’s rights: “[T]he right which each individual has to his own estate is always subordinate to the right which the community has over all.” Many leaders in the early years of the United States embraced the thinking of these three individuals. An adapted version of Locke’s conception of private property that excluded slaves from personhood flourished in America for a while but, once land started becoming scarce, Locke’s qualification that exclusive property should exist only when there was enough to go around slowly fell away. Nonetheless, the themes of justice and fairness that elevated the good of the community above the property rights of the individual remained firmly in place.

In 1785, while he served as the ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in which he outlined grave concerns over growing inequality back home in the United States. He felt that rights to private property must be subordinate to fairness and justice and that large land holding should be distributed: “The consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property.” He went so far in his desire to break up large estates that he proposed legislation to outlaw entails and primogeniture and to “tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.” In this latter desire, Jefferson matched exactly the sentiment of Adam Smith, who wrote, “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

Over time this emphasis on justice faded until rights to property eclipsed everything else in the English-speaking world. When the British Empire abolished slavery in 1833, the government paid twenty million pounds in compensation to slave owners for their loss of property. The slaves themselves — human beings theoretically entitled to fairness and justice — got nothing. When the United States debated this issue, one of the most influential congressmen of the day, Daniel Webster, gave a speech on March 7, 1850 in which he said that the protection of property, even “property in persons,” was “the great object of government.” After this speech, Webster lost the support of his New England constituency but was hailed in the South as courageous. Ralph Waldo Emerson noted that Webster inverted Locke’s formulation that justice provided the basis for private property, since Webster argued that the freedom and very autonomy of a person’s life must be sacrificed to uphold rights to property. Emerson said that this was the entire argument of those upholding slavery. They kept Locke’s definition of private property but carved out its foundation. Private property was the sacred right that governments were required to protect; justice and ethics didn’t figure in the equation.

In a strange turn of events, one of the most influential economists of the modern political era advocated an approach shockingly similar to that of Daniel Webster. Friederich Hayek was an Austro-Hungarian Nobel Prize winning economist who taught, among other places, at the University of Chicago and who also received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. He departed from Locke — and from the foundational principles of the founding documents of the United States — by rejecting the idea that a person was born with inalienable rights. He thought that human freedom could be bought and sold and that a person could, if he wished, “contract himself into slavery.” Hayek went on to say, “Freedom is not a state of nature, but an artifact of civilization.” Hayek believed that the market economy, rule of law, and private property spontaneously arose from an agreement of society. Locke and Smith saw social fairness and natural justice as the glue that held together the workings of the invisible hand. Hayek, however, was unequivocal in doing away with these concepts: the market should not concern itself with fairness and justice because they do not exist as entities in themselves. The subtitle of volume two of Hayek’s book, Law, Legislation, and Liberty: The Mirage of Social Justice, makes this abundantly clear.

In place of fairness and justice, Hayek said that the outcomes of the marketplace reward everyone accordingly. To be sure, this reward is not equitable but, in Hayek’s view, this was for the good. Inefficiencies were the keys to making the market function properly by directing and diverting activity to where it needed to be, so he asserted that governments should intervene in the process as little as possible, if at all. Hayek did make an allowance for the government to give the poor “some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve heath.” But the real purpose of society, in his mind, was to grow richer, not to promote justice and fairness.

Naturally, some will acquire a disproportionate share of wealth as nations grow richer, but this too is good. Hayek believed that the marketplace should reward winners without limit because, in a quasi-Darwinian sense, those people are more fit than the rest. These “betters” in a society should be the ones to foster and patronize culture. Even those who merely inherited their wealth instead of earning it, the progeny of the betters, are more able to lead society because they are advantaged over their peers due to “selection through inheritance from parents.” They have the genetic and environmental makeup of winners. What’s more, Hayek thought that society would benefit from wealth and ideas “filtering downward from the top of the pyramid.” What he desired, and what his economic model of radical deregulation and almost completely unfettered capitalism was designed to create, was an aristocratic society.

Milton Friedman. Image via Wikimedia Commons
Milton Friedman. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Another Nobel Prize winning and University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman, advocated a very similar approach. He had disagreements with Hayek and avoided voicing such bald contempt toward society’s “losers,” but in many ways Friedman was a more optimistic face of Hayek’s libertarianism. In his book, Freedom and Responsibility, he formulated what would be called the Friedman Doctrine, which asserts that corporations should have no social responsibility apart from making money: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Like Hayek, Friedman believed that the flows and inefficiencies of money are what should guide the invisible hand. Social fairness and natural justice should not factor in.

Hayek and Friedman are perhaps the most influential figures in contemporary economics. Their arguments regarding minimal governmental intervention, low taxes, and letting wealth concentrate in the hands of economic winners have largely won the day. We have achieved the aristocratic society they pined for. On January 20, 2014 Oxfam released a report stating that the world’s richest 85 individuals had a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion, which is equal to the wealth belonging to the poor half of the world’s inhabitants — 3.5 billion people. The rich are growing and consolidating wealth so quickly that Forbes readjusted this ratio three months later on March 25, 2014 and stated that the wealth of the richest 67 individuals was equal to that of the bottom half of the planet’s population.

What has gone largely unnoticed in our political and economic conversations is how sharply Hayek and Friedman’s school of thought departed from that of the founders of modern capitalism as well as the political formation of the United States. For both of these groups, the foundations of society and the things that make capitalism possible are social fairness and natural justice. They believed, along with Smith, that one can dehumanize a transaction partner and be solely concerned with maximizing one’s own economic well-being only if society as a whole actively humanized the community by upholding fairness and justice. If society abdicated this role, our communities would devolve into a Lord of the Flies type of savage dystopia. We must note the many lapses in the areas of justice and fairness that filled the lives of the intellectual founders of the United States and scarred the political structures they created. Many of the framers of the Constitution were slaveholders and thought that inalienable rights applied only to white men. But, in spite of this and many other obvious flaws, their underlying concerns were still largely positive.

For instance, most of the founders of the United States wanted to avoid monopolistic control of the market and politics. They believed that large concentrations of wealth would not only stagnate economic growth but were also unfair and unjust. James Madison accurately predicted that, as the population grew, the rural economy would become dominated by “the great Capitalists in Manufacturers & Commerce and the members employed by them.” Madison expected the country to keep pace with these developments and pass “equalizing laws” which included measures that would actively dismantle the structures that enabled the permanency of inherited wealth. In this respect, Madison’s thoughts are very similar to a vision of society embedded within the Hebrew Bible.

Leviticus 25 outlines an observance called the Jubilee in which every fifty years land was to revert back to its original ancestral family. The practical purpose of the Jubilee was to protect families from the permanent sale of their land. The Jubilee law isn’t primarily about property in the way we think about it — in terms of housing, that is — but about equal access to economically productive tools. Leviticus 25:30-31 makes a rigid distinction between city dwellings that do not revert to their previous owners and “open country,” or agriculturally productive lands, which do. The modern analogy would seem to be breaking up corporations every 50 years and distributing the productive elements to the people. A bit like what venture capital firms do, except firms would be given away to the workers rather than sold off to other corporations and wealthy individuals. Theologically, the Jubilee communicated that land belonged to God and not people; God was letting the Israelites reside on it for as long as they upheld fairness and justice. In other words, Leviticus envisions a sort of egalitarian Utopia in which every Israelite (male) is entitled to a share of economically productive land that would never permanently depart from his family’s use. If a person lost title to his land, for whatever reason, it would eventually revert back to him or his offspring.

The author of Leviticus expressed a clear-eyed knowledge that societies have an inevitable inertia toward monopoly and concentration of wealth and power. Leviticus 25 imagines a structure that dismantles these concentrations every fifty years and gives land back to its original families that have been displaced. Roughly once a generation society was to be reset — the wealthy disgorged and the poor enfranchised. This sounds remarkably similar to Madison and Jefferson’s desires to dismantle large estates and inheritances. It’s almost as if the founders of the United States were reading the Hebrew Bible. As a matter of fact, they were. It is no coincidence that a quote from Leviticus 25 is included in the two line inscription running around the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X
By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA [sic] for the State House in Philada.” Liberty, according to Leviticus 25 and for many of the founders of America, exists within an egalitarian society in which land, and concomitantly wealth, is widely distributed.

Shortly after she became the leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher slammed a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty upon the table and instructed party leadership: “This is what we believe in.” It is disorienting to think that this statement could come from the lips of someone who said at the opening of the 1998 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland:

The Old Testament lays down in Exodus the Ten Commandments as given to Moses, the injunction in Leviticus to love our neighbour as ourselves and generally the importance of observing a strict code of law. The New Testament is a record of the Incarnation, the teachings of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Again we have the emphasis on loving our neighbour as ourselves and to “Do-as-you-would-be-done-by”.

I believe that by taking together these key elements from the Old and New Testaments, we gain: a view of the universe, a proper attitude to work, and principles to shape economic and social life.

Maybe Thatcher interpreted the Bible in light of her Hayekian impulse toward privatizing everything, thinking that actions springing from a motivation to Do-as-you-would-be-done-by should take place outside of economic and social structures and reside exclusively in the hearts of individuals. Maybe she thought the Jubilee was a relic from a defunct Commonwealth of Israel and Jesus’s teaching on loving one’s neighbor in the Sermon on the Mount should not be applied to economic life. Maybe she was just a good utilitarian and thought that biblical visions of society must give way to best practices. Her last sentence seems to preclude these options. My guess is that Thatcher had her economic and political beliefs and then hurriedly wedged her religion into the gaps.

Thatcher is not alone in this. Most of us do the very same thing. We have seen the empirical results of neoliberal capitalism and they are clear. In a breathtakingly short time, our society has gone from being pulled by the power of the horse to overflowing with gene therapies, cheap food, vaccinations, and a plethora of jaw-dropping technologies. We also sit on the edge of ecological ruin and billions of people subsist in grinding poverty. We can’t say that all of these things are directly attributable to capitalism, but many are. We see neoliberalism’s fruit and we are persuaded that it is right because the size of our homes have doubled, we tote designer handbags, and we drive air conditioned cars. We look past the social and environmental damage that neoliberalism has caused even when its philosophies come into direct conflict with our religious and ethical sensibilities. We have embraced it as our guiding principle because it has delivered to us the goods and services we desire. Yet we have not fully considered the impact that our economic environment has upon our interpersonal, emotional, psychological, and spiritual lives.

What are the long-term effects of living within an economy that has rid itself of structural justice and is controlled purely by the peregrinations of money? What happens to us — as human beings — when we “purify” the market of feelings of good will and replace them with self-interest? What does it do to those of us who, regardless of our particular religious or philosophical perspectives, are journeying to orient our lives outward to god and others instead of curving inward and focusing on our own benefit (as Martin Luther put it). Contemporary capitalism has selfishness as its lifeblood and its doyens preach for a marketplace founded upon amoral decisions cut free from the emotional complications of relationships in order to maximize self-interest. And we are surprised when people living in this system act like spoiled brats?

Remember when the country was debating the Affordable Care Act and the business community told us that if it passed it would cause a nuclear apocalypse? Well, we’re still here. We remember within their hyperventilation the reaction of the CEO of Papa John’s pizza in which he said that offering health insurance to his employs would raise the price of his products by 10-14 cents per pie and would cost $5-8 million annually. He went on to say that if the act passed he’d cut workers’ hours to avoid having to offer them health insurance. Let’s keep in mind that, at that point, Papa John’s had operating expenses of $1.131 billion and their typical pizzas cost $12-16. Offering coverage to their employees would have raised expenses by 0.4-0.7% and bumped the cost of the average pizza about 0.86%. (All of these figures come from Forbes.) Now, all of this may have been political bluster — the CEO of Papa John’s was a major supporter of Mitt Romney, and Papa John’s spends $5 million per year to slap its name on the Lousiville Cardinals’ football stadium, so $5-8 million is a fairly trivial amount for them. (As an aside, in that year Papa John’s advertised that it was giving away 2 million free pizzas which amounts to $24-34 million in forgone revenue. Also tangentially relevant is CEO John Schnatter’s share of Papa John’s stock, which at that time was worth almost $300 million, on top of a salary of around $2.5 million a year.) Even if it was bluster, in what kind of psychopathic universe could an argument be seen as remotely sensible which asserts that a dime per pizza is worth more than the health of the humans who make them? It’s a universe dominated by neoliberal capitalism.

The underlying problem with neoliberalism is that its operating philosophy is almost identical to the outlook of N.W.A.’s Straight Out of Compton. The hook is what everyone recalls — Ice Cube’s mantra, “Life ain’t nuthin’ but bitches and money.” Less memorable is the way Easy-E responds to this: “So what about the bitch who got shot? Fuck her! You think I give a damn about a bitch who got shot? I ain’t a sucker.” At first we are led to believe that life is only about two things: women and money. Then we find out that women are expendable. Chuck Klosterman describes this as “weapon-grade nihilism.” We could say the same about an economic theory that leads CEOs to value stadium naming rights above the health of thousands of human beings.

It could be that the CEO of Papa John’s is just a cold-blooded misanthrope, but I doubt it. I imagine that if he and I sat down for a few beers that we’d have a decent enough time together. His threat to deny his workers health insurance is merely the outworking of Milton Friedman’s economics.

Some might argue that a company is more profitable when its workforce is healthy, so companies should have an interest in offering health insurance to its employees. Already we should note that this logic is purely utilitarian and devoid of any ethical consideration. This might be true in some cases but it probably depends on the industry. It may hurt the bottom line to lose a productive investment banker, but if a pizza thrower becomes ill, it might be cheaper to replace him than to heal him. Under Friedman’s scheme, a CEO has the fiduciary responsibility to do exactly that: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…” And before we know it we’re right back to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle except that the management practice of Brown’s slaughterhouse now has the moral backing of the Nobel Committee.

Western civilization used to view morality and ethics, most often backstopped with religious belief, as the essential ecosystem for society to function properly. That is, Locke and Smith believed that the only way for individual self-interest to lead to general wellbeing was if society at large worked to uphold natural justice and social fairness. On an individual level, people could act in self-interest but only if the community acted to promote wellbeing for the whole. Accordingly, they believed that political decisions must be made from an ethical basis. We no longer believe this. The flow of money within competition is all there is and all we need. These twin forces will fix our problems and deliver to us the world we desire. Society is economy.

There may be no clearer metaphor for the transformation of the West than the moment when the Chicago Theological Seminary sold its property to the University of Chicago for $44 million. The seminary was knocked down, the lot scraped clean, and in its place was built the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.

A wholesale dismantlement of capitalism is, at this point, not possible. Nor it is it likely desirable even if it were. Capitalism has yielded great benefits which all of us, even the marginalized poor, enjoy to some extent. Linklater argues in Owning the Earth that we need to claw our way back to a system-wide vision of justice and fairness that the early formulators of capitalism regarded as essential. This means that the government must become more active — not less — in its regulation of and intervention in the economy. And their interventions must pointedly help the poor and break up the powerful with the aim of creating a more egalitarian union. This is good and right, but I think we need to do more.

It’s not enough to agree with Locke and Smith that social fairness and natural justice are the essential foundations of the market and that justice must ultimately come before the property rights of individuals. As our society, god willing, embraces a more moderate form of capitalism, we as individuals need to cultivate a stance of active resistance toward the selfishness embedded within it. This involves constantly recognizing the moral deficiency at the heart of classical capitalism — the self-interest motivator — and the entire ethical bankruptcy of neoliberalism. It requires that that we dream of a better way to organize society and hold out other options as real, viable choices to keep capitalism honest and in check. Competition is what produces innovation and better delivery of needs and wants, right my capitalist friends? Without the real threat of its eclipse, capitalism will trend toward the oppression of the masses as the wealthy and powerful exponentially increase their holdings and squeeze more profit (or, as Marx would call it, uncompensated labor) out of the capital in their control.

This is going to be difficult. Benjamin Kunkel didn’t overstate it by much when he observed: “The US remains a society in which Marxism can be advocated only a little more respectably than pederasty.” It shouldn’t be this way. We need to be able to talk about Marxism and other social systems without fear of recrimination if only to keep capitalism on its toes and inclined, even slightly, to a more ethical way of functioning.

To protect ourselves from capitalism’s perniciousness, we must also embrace Karl Marx’s call to reestablish the relational basis of exchange. This includes religious folks. There’s no reason why dialectal materialism should remain the private property of those whose metaphysic includes only the material. After all, the Pope recently joked, “[T]he communists have stolen our flag.”

There are a myriad of ways that we can go about humanizing economic transactions. We can join co-ops or subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture program. We can purchase fair trade products, get our friends to cut our hair, do business with companies that are in the B-Corporation network, and so on. There are even simple things we can do in the normal course of our days like show genuine care toward store clerks instead of regarding them as agents of a faceless corporate entity.

What Linklater makes clear is that a good bit of capitalism and almost everything to do with neoliberalism actively undermines religious and secular ethics that have as a central feature the care of other persons. By design, capitalism turns our motivation in economic transaction away from care of others to exclusive care for ourselves. It also dehumanizes persons and transforms them into utilitarian units and exploitable resources like uranium or timber. Dishearteningly, most seminaries and religious colleges have followed this trend and have Human Resource departments. Once might counter that this is only a name, but names have significance. This term communicates the idea that the workers within these institutions are valued as long as they contribute economically. They are not persons. They are resources, albeit of the human variety.

Instead of participating in one of the great tasks of religion — imagining a better world and working to enact it — these institutions have stopped dreaming and have embraced the realpolitik of the world as we know it. They are gently baptized iterations of GE. And we shouldn’t think that this is a problem only for those people that disagree with us — it is common in liberal and conservative institutions alike. General Theological Seminary fired almost its entire faculty when the faculty went on strike after its request that justice be brought to a toxic work environment, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dismantled various humanizing elements like tenure that create long term relationships and turned professors into temporarily contracted economic units so that they may be more easily disposed of when their usefulness wanes. What seminaries need are intelligent leaders with ethical insight and courage. Martin Luther Kings working to inspire a better world, not Henry Kissingers carpet bombing the present one. The presidents and boards of these two institutions, along with hundreds of others like them, appear to be more heavily influenced by the reigning economic practice of the present than the religious writings that the denominations they work for say they believe in.

We can no longer speak of being a Christian and a capitalist or an ethically sensitive humanist and a capitalist. At most, we must see capitalism as a necessary evil that we work to contain. But more importantly, we must see ourselves, for the good of our own psyches and as well as for the ultimate flourishing of others, as people united together in active resistance to the corrosive self-interest at the heart of capitalism and the nihilistic structure of neoliberalism. It is only as we continue to study the history of economics and ethically deconstruct it that we can begin to understand the influence economic systems have upon every part of our being. Linklater goes a long way in helping us to this end. Now it’s up to us to extend this conversation and work toward something better.

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