The American economic model is the capitalistic model.
The economy in the US is mixed with the American culture, civilisation and identity. The Americans believe that there is no equivalent of economic achievement anywhere else in the world. The American identity is based on economic achievement and on their economic system. Understanding thissystem, its creation, the beliefs and values that founded this system, is something necessary to understand the American identity. But this system is not universal. To talk about the economic model is to talk about exchange, about our vision of work, wealth, success and failure. The economic system within which we live has a great impact upon the way we live.
Definition of capitalism
Thecapitalist system is the putting-in-common of economic resources with the aim of creating new wealth. At the very origin, the capitalist system is a generous idea and isn’t very different from communism. The fundamental difference is that the driving force behind the collective use of these resources is self-interest. This gives us the difference between a market society and capitalism. The marketsociety existed long before capitalism.
1) The ethic of prosperity
Capitalism is the product of western cultures.
Protestantism is said to be at the origin of capitalism. According to the Protestants, personal gratification should be connected with the public good. If you have wealth, you should use it to produce more wealth.
The Calvinist ethic creates the mental structuresthat are necessary for capitalism.
Calvinism : noun the teachings of John Calvin, laying emphasis on mankind's inability to repent and believe in Christ without God's help, and on predestination.
But capitalism already existed in Europe before Protestantism.
Protestantism emerges along with rationality. The Protestants criticized the Catholic Church for having a magical vision of the world(miracles, virtues of the different Saints, visions…). The Protestants thought it was comparable to idolatry. They thought the way people act towards religion should be more rational. The capitalist system was based on an attempt to rationalize economic consumption.
How does this affect the birth of capitalism in the US?
Modern capitalism is strongly related with Protestantism. There arecircumstances in the life of Protestants that led them to capitalism. Protestants of different nationalities saw themselves as members of a community as they were often oppressed by the others. The concept of community led to a concept of internationalisation benefic to capitalism. This enabled the development of a business spirit.
According to Protestants’ settlements, their project was to create anew country based on Calvinist principles. As a consequence, the early settlers in the US were not motivated by tolerance and freedom. Those who disagreed with the community were left apart from the community. The early settlers were in America to strictly apply the rules of Calvinism.
Besides, life was not fun because the conditions they found when they arrived were harsh. They realised thatbecause of the terrible climate, the crops they brought from Europe didn’t grow. To survive in such a harsh environment, they had to work collectively. They had to put their personal interests after the interests of the community.
The ideological basis of a spirit that encourages prosperity doesn’t just affect capitalism. It also produces a profound link between the spiritual and ideologicalsphere and the material sphere of production, wealth…
Because of the Calvinist ideology, the production of wealth and its accumulation became a central element of the American identity. In the US, being wealthy is seen in a much more positive way than in Europe. It is very American to become wealthy.
The Calvinist ideology contains a contradiction within itself: it is good to accumulate wealth and...