The Public Interest

Capitalism, Radicalism, and the New Order

Richard John Neuhaus

Summer 1987

I BEGIN by declaring interest, as the lawyers say. Peter Berger is a colleague and friend of longstanding. Therefore, at the invitation of the editors, I do not propose so much to review his new book as to use it as a point of comparison in commenting on another. The other book is Democracy and Capitalism: Property, Community, and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, professors of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Their title is similar in its reach to that of Berger’s book, The Capitalist Revolution: Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality, and Liberty. With that similarity in titles the similarities end. Between Berger on the one side and Bowles and Gintis on the other, a great gulf is fixed. Between these parties the “contradictions of modern social thought”—about capitalism, democracy, freedom, participation, community, and a host of other questions of consequence—are wondrously, and perhaps usefully, exemplified.

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