Capitalism as Creaking System [R. H. Tawney]

The Harvard scholar Ross Terrill has this to say:

“Tawney saw the capitalism of his day as a creaking system; a jungle wherein economic struggle took priority over social purpose; with persons treated as means and wealth as an end; encouraging not solidaristic instincts but acquisitive instincts; shrivelling culture into a matter of personal possession and pretension, when it should be the energy of a cooperative common life; inculcating not only arrogance in the successful, but an unworthy subservience in the stragglers; prone to make war, because of its concentrations of economic power; a threat to democratic forms for the same reason; and an enemy of religion, because if its uncreaturely exploitation of nature, and because its purse was where its heart should be.

He became an historian to understand the origin and dynamics of this system he abhorred. Tawney was the first figure in Britain to take a comprehensive, critical view of capitalism”.

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