Tawney on the Worship of Riches and Power

R. H.Tawney was an expert on Tudor-Stuart history and he saw parallels with the crises of the age of totalitarianism, the twentieth century (Fascism and Soviet Communism especially). He said:

“The alternative to religion is rarely irreligion; it is a counter-religion…. The apostasies waiting to succeed are legion; but the most popular claimants to the political throne have commonly been two. They are the worship of riches, and the worship of power”.

Western capitalism epitomised the first, totalitarianism the second. Democracy was under threat from both.

[The Western Political Tradition]

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