What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.
When I began to examine just how wealth is created, it seemed to me plain that it arises not from taking, but from giving. People get rich by giving rather than by taking, and this seemed to me to be a very important perception, because the reason for the crisis in capitalism today, it seems to me, is not its practical achievements, but rather the perception of its moral character.
It’s universally wrong to steal from your neighbor, but once you get the one-to-one level, and pit the individual against the multinational conglomerate, the federal bureaucracy, the modern plantation of agro-business, or the utility company, it becomes strictly a value judgment to decide exactly who is stealing from whom. One person’s crime is another person’s profit. Capitalism is license to steal; the government simply regulates who steals and how much.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
As nearly as I can see, all the new isms – Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and especially the late but not lamented Technocracy – outdo even Capitalism itself in their preoccupation with one thing: The distribution of more machine-made commodities to more people. They all proceed on the theory that if we can all keep warm and full, and all own a Ford and a radio, the good life will follow. Their programs differ only in ways to mobilize machines to this end. Though they despise each other, they are all, respect of this objective, as identically alike as peas in a pod. They are competitive apostles of a single creed: salvation by machinery.
The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, cunning, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment – or at least much handicap – to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.
In the development of both capitalism and communism, as we visualize them in the next fifty or a hundred years, the processes that encourage human alienation will continue. Both systems are developing into managerial societies, their inhabitants well fed, well clad, having their wishes satisfied, and not having wishes that cannot be satisfied. Men are increasingly automatons, who make machines which act like men and produce men who act like machines; there reason deteriorates while their intelligence rises, thus creating the dangerous situation of equipping man with the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it.
There are only two great economic systems in operation in the world today. If Capitalism in the spirit of Christian love can solve the problem of distribution and bring unemployment to an end, it will find itself spreading and recapturing the nations it has lost to its rival. But if Capitalism is permeated with selfishness it will gradually give way to Communism, Technocracy or some other form of Socialism.