Strider raises many excellent points.Some excerpts …
A while ago, I commented on the IPA Review’s motives for running in their March issue a cover story on Islam having a free market heritage (‘Islam’s free market heritage’). My friend Prodos has expressed to me (and in his blog) some concerns about the accuracy of that article.
Once Capitalism Day 2007is over(this Sunday) I’ll have a lot more to say about this.
The article essentially claims that through Ibn Khaldun, an Islamic writer of the fourteenth century, as well as due to some earlier writers, Islamic civilisation pre-empted development of many of the ideas which Adam Smith was in the 18th century to express in The Wealth of Nations, one of the principal philosophical foundations for free market capitalism.
… Khaldun, through his writings, did not create a free market capitalist economy across the Dar-ul-Islam.
Indeed, it could be best said that he was good at describing and justifying various micro-economic aspects of trade which existed in his society, and which could be expected to exist in most pre-industrial economies. Such systems could be considered, to varying degrees, as ‘free market’ but without involving the degree of organisational and financial complexity of free market capitalism.
… having given this subject much thought over the past few weeks, I’m not so concerned about whether Islam has a free market heritage, as to whether Islam has a free market future.
That is probably the more interesting question.
After all, Marxists believe that Communism has a free market heritage, but that eventually, the capitalist system will reach a point where it is overthrown and replaced by communism.
From The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: “According to Marx capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. Communism was the inevitable end to the process of evolution begun with feudalism and passing through capitalism and socialism.”
Of course, all parasitical systems have a sort of free market “heritage”, don’t they?
Free people andfree markets produce. Thugs see this and try to figure out how to plunder the goodies and enslave the producers.
But in the West, if we talk about, for instance,an Aristotelian heritage, we mean that the ideas and methods of Aristotle and the Greeks have acted as a seed, which grows and develops further. There is a cultural “genetic” link between Aristotle and the pro Reason, pro Rights, pro Individualism of the West today. The West has inherited
Chris Berg and Andrew Kemp of the Institute of Public Affairs write: “It is no coincidence that Makkah (modern Mecca), the site of Islam’s seventh-century theological birth, was also home to a thriving trading community. The early history of the Muslim world is a history of commerce—religious texts describing this period are replete with contextual references to commercial institutions, merchants and markets, commodities traded and commercial practices.”
So Mohammed invented Islam in the midst of a thriving commercial environment. So what? Did Islam extend this? Did Islam capture any of the spirit of this trading community? Or was it indifferent or even hostile to theunique and gloriousuniverseof free exchange?
In fact the Prophet of Islam was an enthusiasticplunderer. He and his followers profited from conquest, not trade. This is no secret.
A few reasons why Free Market Capitalism and Islam are not mutually compatible:
1. Dhimmitude significantly limits the rights and opportunities of non-muslims
2. Sharia law does stifle the ability to develop the sort of legal environment needed for modern capitalism to operate, and indeed limit the scope of modern democracy, as well as preventing political leaders from being held accountable through the ballot box
3. a greater degree of prohibitions, on ideas as well as on actions (try being an atheist and see how long you last), will limit free discussion and individual initiative
4. the Jihadist dialectic, which appears to be inherent in Islam, would threaten the peace and security needed to build a stable economy and political institutions.
… there are many prohibitions. Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion.
If you are a non-believer (eg atheist, Bahai,or Alevi) you can be killed.
If you are an apostate (ie abandon Islam) you can be killed.
If you say something which is critical of the existing status quo, it can be considered as blasphemy and you can be killed.
… Placing such severe limits on what people can think or say or believe is stifling for individual initiative and creativity – which is the engine room for Capitalism.
So, my conclusion is that either these four points would result in the collapse of a pre-existing Free Market Capitalist economy, or Free Market Capitalism would eventually secularise Islam, reducing its social importance to the point where it was no longer a potentially repressive element.
Read Strider’s complete article HERE