Darrow Miller and Friends

The Protestant Work Ethic

I enjoyed reading “Whatever Happened to the Work Ethic? The financial bust reminds us that free markets require a constellation of moral virtues” by Stephen Malanga.  Darrow talks extensively about the Protestant work ethic that can help impoverished peoples understand the biblical worldview that lifts people out of poverty and toward a culture of beauty, justice, and truth.  I think you’ll enjoy this article also:

The genius of America in the early nineteenth century, Tocqueville thought, was that it pursued “productive industry” without a descent into lethal materialism. Behind America’s balancing act, the pioneering French social thinker noted, lay a common set of civic virtues that celebrated not merely hard work but also thrift, integrity, self-reliance, and modesty—virtues that grew out of the pervasiveness of religion, which Tocqueville called “the first of [America’s] political institutions, . . . imparting morality” to American democracy and free markets. Some 75 years later, sociologist Max Weber dubbed the qualities that Tocqueville observed the “Protestant ethic” and considered them the cornerstone of successful capitalism. Like Tocqueville, Weber saw that ethic most fully realized in America, where it pervaded the society. Preached by luminaries like Benjamin Franklin, taught in public schools, embodied in popular novels, repeated in self-improvement books, and transmitted to immigrants, that ethic undergirded and promoted America’s economic success.

In addition the article discusses:

  • The role of the government to not disturb men in their toil
  • The “fatal circle of materialism”
  • The success of capitalism based on virtues such as deferred gratification
  • “‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise’ voiced virtues that Franklin and his contemporaries viewed not chiefly as religious but as utilitarian.”
  • The breakup of the work ethic in the 1960s
  • America’s rising debt in the 1980s
  • The financial meltdown of 2008
  • Are civic virtues needed to fix our economy?

Finally, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out our new initiative and free downloads at MondayChurch.org.

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