Free Enterprise and Violence

“The competition that goes with the much-touted system of free enterprise is, in a word, an economic ‘war to the knife,’ an exercise of sheer violence that, so far, the law has not been able to regulate. In this competition ‘the best man wins’ – and the weaker, more moral, more sensitive necessarily lose. The system of free competition is a form of violence that must be absolutely condemned.

“The violence done by the superior may be physical (the most common kind, and it provokes hostile moral reaction), or it may be psychological or spiritual, as when the superior makes use of morality and even of Christianity to inculcate submission and a servile attitude; and this is the most heinous of all forms of violence.”

– Jacques Ellul, Violence: Reflections from a Christian Perspective, Seabury Press, NY, 1969)

Jacques Ellul

Jacques Ellul was active in the French Resistance Movement during World War II, a social critic, lay theologian, sociologist, Professor of Law and Government at the University of Bordeaux, and prolific author.  His legacy includes The Technological Society, Propaganda, The Political Illusion, and The Presence of the Kingdom.

Click HERE for information on Jacques Ellul from the International Jacques Ellul Society.

6 thoughts on “Free Enterprise and Violence

    • Thanks, Robert. Listen to the campaign speeches. The free market system is lifted up as god. And the word “freedom” confuses reality. In my faith “freedom” is something for which I am set free – not freedom from but the joyous freedom for communion with my neighbors. I may need to write about this. “For freedom Christ has set you free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” And again, “For your were called to freedom; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” These words of Paul to the Galatians apply, in my deranged mind, directly to systems as well as to individual relationships. An unfettered “free market” system is one of biting, devouring, and consuming each other.


    • Karin, It certainly is that. Please take a look at my reply to Robert. I need to write more about this. None of it will be surprising to you, but, in some ways, it seems, I am becoming clearer myself as to the underpinnings of my perspective. There’s a huge iceberg down there. The advantage of years is that what’s beneath the surface of expressed faith is becoming more visible to my own mind and spirit. Thanks for the support.


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