Archive for October 13th, 2015

Quote note (#190)

Luciano Pellicani (remember him?) on the ideological peregrinations of early Reform Christianity (among the immediate predecessors to the Puritans):

“Antagonism between the feudal system and the capitalist system” was at the origin of the Reformation. In other words: “capitalism, being constituted on commercial bases, tries to dominate the labour market; a fledgling proletariat no longer disposes, or can dispose, of the tools of its labour; between them, something that already resembles a class war.”

The social and psychological consequences were particularly acute in “areas where the population was rapidly increasing . . . [and] the areas of rapid social change.” The “growing importance of capital, of the market and of competition rendered insecure, isolated and full of anxiety” not only the existence of the proletarized working masses, but also that of the marginal strata of the intelligentsia who found themselves as if thrown into a hostile, incomprehensible world, governed by impersonal forces beyond their control. It is not surprising that the declassed intellectuals should have “constituted the avant-garde of the Reform.” Contrary to an interpretation that is as widespread as it is arbitrary, the Reformation was an anticapitalist movement.

For the entrepreneurs, the practice of indulgences had transformed relations with the church into a reassuring kind of bookkeeping exercise: “If you can buy paradise, then God must tolerate and encourage wealth and not be hostile to profit.” In criticizing this attitude, the Protestant preachers laid the foundations “for a new critique of capitalism as the work of the Devil, a critique that went deep, because the accusation was against capitalism itself and not the abuses indicated by Catholicism.” It brought the mercatores before the court of the Holy Scripture and condemned them as men who had surrendered to mammon, corrupting Christianity with their lust for wealth and profit.

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October 13, 2015admin 7 Comments »