The Macksey Journal


This paper seeks to analyze the immediate historical connections between classical liberalism, classical capitalism and modern capitalism. Using an extended metaphor of Capitalism as the Bride of Liberalism, it is argued that capitalist thought necessarily followed from the liberal philosophical scheme. By highlighting the continuity between classical and modern capitalism, the legitimacy of the liberal framework is brought into question, especially in light of widespread economic inequality. The central claim of the paper is that the unfortunate connection between the historical philosophic framework of classical Liberalism and the actualized economic consequences of modern Capitalism harms the legitimacy of the Liberal structure as a functioning political model from which to elevate the human person from subject to citizen and the State from limiting freedom, equality and fairness to uplifting these essential realities. The thought of political theorist C.B. Macpherson is employed to highlight internal contradictions in the writings of Locke, especially his Second Treatise of Government. Further, the thought of 20th century American prelate Bishop Fulton Sheen is used to support the argument that liberalism and capitalism are inseparably connected. Finally, the criteria of legitimacy laid out by Rawls is used to analyze the legitimacy of the liberal framework. It is questioned whether liberalism advances the political virtues of freedom, equality and fairness which it so publicly values, at least on a theoretical basis.