“He that will not work shall not eat.” With these famous words pulled from 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Capt. John Smith uttered a phrase that both saved Jamestown and breathed a capitalistic nature into the very fabric of American society. Nearly 300 years later, German theologian Max Weber would ascribe the rise of capitalism to the Protestant work ethic, combined with the Calvinist doctrine of asceticism and predestination. Since the dawn of America, from the original pilgrims and colonists to the Founding Fathers and subsequent presidents, American civil society has generally coupled the economic system of capitalism with the moral system of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Although many of the Founding Fathers were deists, almost all understood an economic system of industriousness and elbow grease as a morally superior paradigm.
Holding the highest office in the United States of America can be the loneliest of positions. It certainly is a role that no one can relate to. That’s why communication is key for our presidents. It’s fascinating to dig through old documents that time has yellowed to discover how Gen. Ulysses S. Grant felt when first witnessing “Lincoln’s revolutionary tool for making sure that neither distance nor intermediaries diffused his leadership” — the telegraph.
From the Magna Carta to John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau, Western tradition is saturated with the idea that individuals have the right to resist tyrannical oppression. Our American heroes, history, and political attitudes make the challenging underdog a bestselling character. But when the virtue of resistance is so thoroughly encoded in our philosophical DNA, it is difficult to recognize legitimacy in a narrative that would condemn the underdog in the name of higher virtue. The tension in Hong Kong — a city built between the fault lines of liberal democracy and communism — crystallizes these differences.
After ten great years under the banner of Values & Capitalism, we are pleased to announce that our program will now be known as AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life.
Why make the change?
In the beginning, God put Adam in the garden “to tend and keep” it (Genesis 2:15). Theologians have seen something more in this than an incidental phrase. Instead, they have seen a general commission from God to humanity to labor creatively for the betterment of the...
Dr. Paul Miller, Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, has been named the 2019–2020 Visiting Professor for AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life.
A position that rotates each academic year, our Visiting Professors are partner faculty members who are selected to contribute to the initiative’s work in various ways. Past Visiting Professors have served as instructors for our Summer Honors Program, given lectures...
If you are reading this essay, I can be sure of one thing: You have achieved something of significance, and you hope to do still more. You wish to write a book, start a company, help the poor and disadvantaged, become a doctor or lawyer, or make a scientific discovery. In contemporary parlance, you want to change the world and chase your passions.
AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019–2020 Young Scholar Awards. This year we received impressive applicants from schools across the country on topics ranging from public policy, economics, law, and political...