There was a time when the advocates of socialism argued that it would lead man to material abundance, whereas free-market capitalism would lead only to increasing misery and would ultimately collapse under its own internal stresses. You don’t hear that too much these days, and for good reason. A century of empirical evidence has shown the contrary — that the free market leads to increasing wealth and material freedom, while socialism leads us only to poverty, state supremacy, and ultimately, mass murder.
These days the attack has shifted. Capitalism does not lead us to poverty; it leads us to too much wealth. This makes us “greedy” and “materialistic.” It leads us to excessive “consumerism.”
Indeed, there has been a recent resurgence of academic critiques and self-help literature lamenting excessive “materialism” and “consumerism,” much of which lays the blame squarely at the feet of free-market capitalism and its lifeblood, money. But does having more money really lead us to a narrow concern with material possessions? Does it lead us to an excessive desire for material wealth? Does it lead us to these things at the cost of spiritual impoverishment and the sacrifice of other concerns?