I think my meaning is not far from what you've described here. When I say "critique of capitalism" it is not to suggest that they all have read Das Capital and embrace the Communist Manifesto, or that they necessarily have a well defined alternative economic and political system in mind. Rather, the religious left about which I speak has a systemic analysis of injustice and exploitation, of racism, of under-development, and poverty and inequality, and that systemic analysis points to capitalism either explicitly or implicitly. Their outlook may be driven more by moral principles, biblical injunctions, or other "non-materialist" perspectives, but they draw many of the same conclusions or observations as their more ideologically-materialist counterparts on the left.
Thanks for helping to zero in on some commonly understood meanings.
At 08:17 AM 6/10/98 -0400, Justin Schwartz wrote:
>> When I refer the "religious left," I am speaking about people with a
>> comparable critique of capitalism, but who approach that critique from a
>> faith-based, as opposed or in addition to a political/economic or
>> materialist, perspective. They too do not all agree on what should replace
>> it or how to get there, and have the added disagreements between them over
>> theological issues.
>If you mean the religious left is confined to explicitly socialist
>religious peoples, that's a small group. Catholic Workers, Jim
>Wallis-Soujourners types. But the religious activists I have known
>generally reject what they describe as materialism (greed),
>competitiveness, and accept what most Marxists would regard as a standard
>if somewhat superficial--and not always superficial, cf Penny Lernoux, if
>anyone remembers her--analysis of capitalism. I don't mean, the labor
>theory of value, but rather the general idea that the world exconomy runs
>on exploitation and injustice and can't fixed by merely ameliorating
>these. I would say that most so-called socialist activists I know,a s
>opposed to theorists, operate on ther same wavelength.
>I should note taht even rather conservative versions of Christianity
>sometimes have an articulated critique of capitalism. Catholicism is a
>case in point.