Published April 11, 2019
Ben Shapiro says it isn’t capitalism that causes alienation and mass depression, but the lack of spirituality and religiosity in the lives of Americans. But what drives the degradation of religion? Surely capitalism, consumerism, worldly material luxury and its availability plays a big role. When Jesus is in the desert for 40 days, and the devil tempts him, does he not offer endless worldly luxury, kingdoms, riches, and to turn every stone into bread? The devil offers worldly riches to persuade you God is not necessary — he offers to sate your hunger, quench your thirst, to drag you out of poverty, to drag you from ignorance into wisdom — but it’s a poisoned gift.
Luxury begets decadence, decadence begets degeneracy, degeneracy begets ruin.
One does not worship God and Mammon — a society built to be profitable, first and foremost above all else, does not create godly men, it creates Homo Economicus, but also, hikkikimori, the incel, and the school shooter. Capitalism has no incentive not to sell heroin to addicts, it has no disincentive against production of child pornography, or against prostitution — a truly free market would permit a slave auction, and it would permit a child brothel. Without moral authority, effectuated by physical force, the free market serves only to corrupt the spirit of man, and to guide him not toward morality, toward transcendence, or toward God, but toward a hedonic spiral, to the dulling of all sense into complacency, toward addiction, toward exploitation of others, toward self destruction, in a word, to nihilism.
One wonders, how does Ben reconcile the prerogative of the free market toward supplying satisfaction of all demands — including immoral, obscene demands — and the necessity of rekindling genuine spirituality in Americans? To me, he seems to want to worship both God and Mammon. Ben should revisit Genesis — why were there so few good men in Sodom and Gomorrah? Why did they have so much trouble repenting? Well… the men of Sodom enjoyed their self destructive, exploitative lifestyles. They enjoyed the hedonic spiral. They loved their cummies — and they probably had all the luxury of the ancient world in their cities. What do they need a God who demands struggle and sacrifice? Their free market has satisfied their every want, what will God do more? Therefore, they are destroyed.
Turns out, material comfort makes you forget God — and thereby reduces the meaning of life from a quest toward divine transcendence and reconciliation with the Universal Being, toward the shallow satisfaction of wants and lusts. Though you have everything, you want for nothing, you are not happy, and desire only death. Seoul is a city with every comfort, every convenience, access to every product, every service — it is awash in suicide and full of social recluses, and amnesiac of its Confucian tendency, neglectful of filial piety. Do you think these problems are reproduced in Pyongyang? I doubt it.
Man’s spirit, and moral sense, is not an atom in a vacuum. It, like man’s body and his pain sensation, exists in the material world, and responds to material circumstances. Struggle to survive strengthens the spirit like heavy lifting strengthens the body. Provide a man with comfort all his life, and his spirit atrophies. He becomes a small souled bugman. He will not keep a stiff upper lip, he’ll throw a tantrum. He will not develop discipline — he will only seek satisfaction of cravings.
Moral failure of Americans is tied directly to their market conditions. The free market was more effective in killing and mutilating God than any Soviet anti religion campaign. The free market, loosened from moral restraints imposed by force from above, is the Prince of the World, who offers to turn stone into bread. And when you’re spiritually weak, and physically hungry, why would you say no? Christ was God, he resisted all temptation, and lived without sin — but we are men, and sinners, and for us it is difficult to turn down a cigarette, or a piece of cake, or free cash, or a blowjob. How can we become moral men, and not omniconsuming beats, in the free market which offers us its endless, if poisonous, delights?