Economics 101 & Public Square

‘The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism’, Thirty Years Later

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In 1982, famous philosopher and diplomat, Michael Novak changed the minds of many people, particularly Christians, about the benefits of capitalism with his iconic book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.

Now, over 30 years later, Novak reflects on what gives rise to democratic capitalism – that intricate blend of commerce and rule of law that encourages peace and global trade.

His new essay, available now in IFWE’s bookstore, is vital to understanding the intangible environment that best inspires human flourishing, it discovers capitalism’s essence, and it uncovers what truly fosters creativity. This was published in part in First Things magazine, and is available in its entirety in the IFWE bookstore.

For a limited time, to celebrate freedom this Independence Day, it is available to download for $.99.

Novak articulates how democratic capitalism works toward creating, not just consuming, wealth, along with encouraging ambition, discipline, and mutual benefit. He writes,

When I proposed the idea of “democratic capitalism” in the 1980s, it was as a new name for the sort of political economy that characterized the free world, and toward which many of the unfree were now willing to work, a political economy of full human flourishing. Democratic capitalism means a system of natural liberty, requiring both political liberty and economic liberty — but also more…. Under this view, liberty does not mean freedom from all restraints; rather, liberty means ordering one’s own life—that is, self-government—for the sake of full human flourishing, through reflection and deliberation. Democratic capitalism, therefore, is a system of three liberties: political liberty, economic liberty, and liberty in religion and conscience, in arts and in science, and in cultural expression.

He goes onto explain how critics fail to consider this role that economic, political, and moral liberties play in comprehensive human flourishing. This essay enlivens the connection between the Bible and the public square by showcasing how seamlessly democratic capitalism fits with the scriptural imperatives of human vocation and drive to create.

Anne Bradley, IFWE’s vice president of economic initiatives, celebrates Novak’s new essay saying,

Thirty years later, we know that we stand on the positive side of history. The Soviet experiment came to a crumbling end, and economic freedom and political freedom have made great strides across the planet. It would not be an understatement to assert that Michael Novak played a large role in helping leaders and citizens in many countries understand the virtues necessary for a flourishing society, and that democratic capitalism paved the road to greater possibilities for democratic institutional reform and liberal moral values.

As Christians, we know that we must help bring about greater levels of flourishing and care for the vulnerable. The most effective way to do this is with market-based societies and democratic institutions.

This short book by Michael Novak is a retrospective commentary on his former, iconic book and reveals that we must pursue freedom and we must remain vigilant if we want the reform we so desperately seek for people around the world.

Go to the IFWE bookstore to download your copy of Michael Novak’s new, insightful essay for $0.99 today. Please also considering sharing with your friends and family where they can download the essay while it’s on sale to help spread the ideas of economic, political, and religious freedom this Independence Day.

This essay was written by Michael Novak for the use of and produced by IFWE, in partnership with the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

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  • GScandlen

    WONDERFUL! I just ordered it. Novak’s contribution to both political and religious thought is essential. Church leaders and business leaders both look at each other across a chasm of suspicion and misunderstanding. Novak is the remedy for that problem.

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