Capitalism & Human Nature

Whatever may be true of primitive societies it is at least arguable that the sophisticated society does present certain obstacles to understanding the nature of man, not, however, because it is industrialised but because it is capitalist or profoundly affected by capitalism.  As Karl Marx remarked, ‘According to Adam Smith, society is a commercial enterprise.  Every one of its members is a salesman.  It is evident how political economy establishes an alienated form of social intercourse as the true and original form and that which corresponds to human nature’.  A certain distortion of the nature of man is built into the capitalist culture which makes it difficult for us to recognise ourselves for what we are, to recognise, in fact, what we want. (59-60)

Herbert McCabe | Law, Love and Language

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