You are here

What Is Neo-Calvinism?

In a nutshell: Neo-Calvinism is Smith's and Weber's Iron Cage. Except that instead of holding the Neo-Calvinists, it restrains the lesser beings that would trouble them -- namely, the poor.

More prosaically, "Neo-Calvinism" is the idea that the rich are more morally worthy than the poor. Their wealth does not confer virtue -- rather, it signifies it. It is the most potent and dangerous of several modern Capitalist sects, because it unifies moral righteousness with an ideology of power.

Calvin, along with notable reformation successors like Martin Luther, believed that a person's salvation was predestined: God (being infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, etc.) had determined in His own time that you or I should be saved or damned. Nothing that we do in our lives can affect that; the decision is already made. In pure Calvinism, this doesn't let you off the hook for moral behavior, because moral behavior is said to be an indicator of your fate.

So good people are good not because they do good things, but because God said they were. "Goodness" is merely an indicator.

As is prosperity. Wesley once famously lamented that as Methodists lived good lives (rising early, working hard, practicing thrift and sobriety), they tended to prosper -- which had the unfortunate side effect of causing them to focus on that worldly prosperity.

Neo-calvinism essentially forgets about God, and makes commerce itself the religion. Prosperity is still a signifier of moral worth -- but instead of being a secondary signifier, it's primary. It indicates stronger character, superior "fitness." It's a close kin to Greedism, but it's more powerful because it marshalls concepts like virtue and fairness to its service. It's related to Objectivism -- and I daresay most Objectivists are Neo-Calvinists -- but it permits a spiritual dimension that can be lacking amongst Randians.

Neo-calvinists are everywhere, all around us. Wherever you find someone who cries "It's not fair!" when they notice that the wealthy pay proportionally greater taxes than the poor, you have found a Neo-Calvinist or one of his fellow-travellers.

Comments

escoles, you come up with the most interesting terms. â??Greedism.â? Is that perchance a more malevolent state or system of â??greedâ? or â??greedinessâ??

I have to admit that I got quite a kick out of reading some sites addressing the meaning of â??Neo-Calvinism.â? Derek Melleby proposes â??that Neo-Calvinism could better be understood as â??Nuanced-Protestantism.â??â? Gideon Strauss refers to Neo-Calvinism as â??postmodern calvinism.â? And, of course, there is more, including â??Neo-Calvinism in a Nutshell.â?

Your exposé of Neo-Calvinism is persuasive. I found an article â??Are Calvinists Predestined to Succeed?â? by Brian Thomas interesting. I suppose that there might be some wealthy people of all religions who donâ??t think taxes are fair. I wonder how much of this mindset can be attributed to Neo-Calvinists. In your first link, escoles, under â??Usury and Capitalism,â? there is mention that Calvin â??...also said, though, that money should be lent to people in dire need without hope of interest.â? But then, our world is full of â??should-bes.â?

Add new comment