Capitalism is really very easy to understand. It teaches that the only goal of any economic transaction or decision is to increase the capital of the participant. Capital is profit, which at its most basic form is paying less for something than you sell it for, no matter what that something is. Buy low, sell high. The more profit you make the more capital you have, and the faster you accumulate capital the better.
That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. The only freedom that capitalism endorses is the freedom of capitalists to accrue more capital, as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Freedom of the consumer to choose from different products and services is irrelevant. Freedom to vote is irrelevant. Freedom of religion or freedom to keep and bear arms or freedom to marry who you want is also irrelevant.
So where do Jesus and Darwin come in? Jesus taught that people should love their neighbors as they did themselves, to give to the poor, to basically live by the Golden Rule. You know, be nice to other people no matter what simply because that is the best way to live. After all, when people treat others decently, it is better for the community and the society as a whole.
This way of thinking is completely antithetical to capitalism. The best capitalists care nothing for the welfare of their fellow human beings, for the earth, or for the greater good of society. The only thing that matters to them is more and more profits, and they are rewarded for the making of those profits. In fact, if a CEO or Board of Directors of a corporation don’t do everything they can to maximize profit, the shareholders will throw them out precisely because they didn’t.
In fact, the best capitalists are those who are dominated by one of the Seven Deadly Sins–Greed–and those who care nothing for how their actions affect others–sociopaths. This means that greedy sociopaths are those who are most likely to reap the benefits of capitalism. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Jesus of Nazareth would find this behavior tantamount to the worship of Mammon, and thus condemn it.
As for Darwin, old Charles figured out that the goal of every species, be it animal or vegetable, is to survive. This is accomplished by the survival of at least some of the young of every species long enough to be able to successfully reproduce the next generation. According to Darwin, any species that cannot adapt to changing conditions, be it climactic or otherwise, may be doomed to extinction. Furthermore, any species that destroys its environment to the extent that its young cannot grow up to reproduce will eventually kill itself off. Only successful traits will survive to evolve because the unsuccessful ones will die out because they don’t work. That is the essence of the theory of evolution.
Capitalism, by its very definition of success, accrues more and more capital and benefits faster and faster to a smaller group of people. It allows the destruction of the environment that is necessary for the sustainability of human life. It encourages fighting and wars in order to obtain the materials, be they mineral(ie oil) or human(ie cheap labor) that can be used by the capitalists to make more profits faster. It even encourages totally fictitious and illusory things such as credit-default swaps and speculation as to what business will succeed or fail in order to manufacture profits out of thin air!
Capitalism, IOW, has nothing against selling total illusions so long as there is a market for it. Buddha must be laughing at that one.
Which brings me, no doubt at long last, to my reason that Darwin and Buddha do not approve of capitalism: Capital is not REAL. Capital itself is nothing but a bunch of figures on a balance sheet in a bank or a stock portfolio. It exists only in the minds of human beings. Capital itself has nothing to do with evolution because it does not really exist, though the pursuit of this imaginary goal by members of the human species has very real, and very destructive, impacts on the survival of the species as a whole.
In Buddhist terms, capital and profit are illusions, the pursuit of which invariably causes suffering and prevents enlightenment. Jesus might say they were demons who lure people off of the path laid down by God and prevent the Peace that Passeth All Understanding.
People are real. Labor is real. Work is real. Our neighbors and our children are real. The effects of capitalism are very real. But capital itself isn’t real. It does not exist.
Happy Labor Day!