Criticism of Capitalism

Mainly between 1896 and 1906 Christoph F. Blumhardt occupied himself with the monetary system of the time, taking a highly critical approach. His analysis led him to see the motivating force of capitalism in the continually increasing importance of stock markets and capital:

Capital is the tyrant of the people of our time. No longer than for 100 years it has been as important as to degrade people without money to being a nothingness. In former times land and forests were not considered capital. In our time everything becomes money, everything is evaluated accordingly. The demon of capital, which is speculation, pervades everything. And ultimately we are driven into debt. That is the reign of capital.” (Speech in Bad Boll, 1899-11-04)

According to Christoph F. Blumhardt the capitalization of every condition of life was bringing about major shifts of power in society. People’s needs in life, exactly what everyone should be naturally due, were being called into question heavily, especially for the lower classes. To reestablish particularly those people’s rights in life ought to be the aim. For this reason Christoph F. Blumhardt took sides as a Social Democrat as well as a representative in the Wuerttemberg Parliament, strongly arguing for cooperative forms of economy, for the abolition of customs duties, for free trade, and for general education of the people. He did not aim at a revolution, but at the fulfilment of general human needs as well as at the forming of new communities:

We do not want a coup d’état, a revolution, where everything is turned over, we want the revolution that was announced by Jesus, the revolution of the capital! Capital tyrannizes today’s people. …. Now we need to take small practical steps, we need to decapitate capital a little. For my part I am prepared to do everything. I am not basking in riches, there is a strong necessity to fend for myself too. I am helping to decapitate capital though, which means damage to my own business. However, my friends, this belongs to the sphere of charity, and that is not how we will be able to help humanity. … This is why I must revert to the future kingdom; the conditions in society need to be formed newly so as to prevent anybody from trembling whenever they lack money.” (Speech in Bad Boll, 1899-11-04)

Christoph F. Blumhardt became a Social Democrat, took part in that party’s debates, was a critic of the manner of mutual criticism, and still felt the “people’s” rebellion in social-democratic communities to be an honest search of those concerned for truth and justice. To him the socialdemocratic movement was an expression of what nowadays we call the “civil society” and which he expected to create a new age and society.