Archive for ‘Work Ethic’

March 9, 2014

On the heroic nature of capitalist societies

From Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue i learned that we might still interpret our modern lives on Aristotle’s terms, examining the final goods of our social practices and developing the virtues that sustain them — but also that the heroic world and agonistic┬ásocial structure┬áthat antedated and informed the Nichomachean Ethics has been irrevocably lost: “Nobody now can become a Hector or a Gisli.” Though here i must differ, for was Steve Jobs not a contemporary Achilles? Did he not posses all the latter’s virtues? Was he not also courageous, powerful, obstinate, wealthy, successful, and almost invincible? Did he not carry Apple corp. into a stunning victory over all its enemies? Is he not a mighty hero of our age?

I submit that the social structures of the Illiad or Mahabharata are to be found little changed in the economic realm of corporations, the warring city-states of our times. And the men and women who fight on their behalf embody all the virtues that we now respect and crave: wealth, power, cunning, courage, wisdom, generosity, single-mindedness, obstinacy, pride and glory. MacIntyre, the Marxist turned Thomist, was right to see our world in terms of practices, goods and virtues; only those practices are capitalist, the highest goods power & wealth, and the virtues far from Christian.