Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about the acceptance of capitalism within the Muslim world at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about capitalism and religion. It’s pretty interesting because almost of the major religions with the exception of one has reconciled with capitalism, with the free market economy.
So let’s just define that first. Capitalism or free market economy is the foundation of all West countries. Yes, I understand that some European countries are more socialistic in the sense that they have a progressive tax system, so they tax the rich and they give services to the poor. Same thing in Canada, different parts of the world. But the underlying foundation is a free market economy, it’s a capitalist economy, which allows people to start businesses and make money, accumulate wealth.
But the reality of capitalism—let’s just take capitalism with reference to Christianity, with reference to Jesus Christ. Capitalism today is about accumulating wealth. Jesus Christ was not about accumulating wealth. There’s a lot of greed in the economy, at the individual and at the corporate level, and even at the government level. Jesus Christ was not about greed. There’s a lot of sex-based marketing, marketing with sexual overtones is [00:01:29] all over society, not just here but around the world. Jesus wouldn’t have approved of that either.
Meanwhile, Christianity has reconciled somehow itself with the free market economy, so there’s no tension, ongoing tension, between Christianity and capitalism. Certainly there are specific elements that they address in terms of the division between rich and poor, poverty, things like that, but Christianity is not trying to end capitalism.
Let’s look at the Jewish faith. Again, at its core, the Jewish faith is not about greed and sex-based marketing, accumulation of wealth, but somehow the Jewish faith has reconciled with capitalism, with the free market economy. The Hindu faith, which is the dominant faith in India, has reconciled with the free market system, with capitalism. Buddhism, which is dominant in China, has reconciled—
Again, all of these religions have reconciled with capitalism, with one exception, and it’s the Muslim faith. The Muslim faith has not reconciled with capitalism, with the free market system. They say that capitalists are infidels. And if you go to the core as far as what their religion—their religion is similar to Christianity in the sense that they both believe in not greed, the opposite of greed, humility and charity, giving to the poor, so in a way they’re being perhaps more true to the origins of their own faith.
But that’s not the purpose of this video. The purpose of this video is that there is a tension between the Muslim faith and capitalism. They see capitalists, profit-seeking corporations, the Western way of living – we are infidels in their eyes. And that’s the root of a lot of these tensions because when you go to the extreme—again, most Muslims are not in the extreme category, but some are, the jihadists and so on and Al-Qaeda, these are aspects of the Islam religion that are really at the extreme, that are very, very devout to their religious beliefs—well, they will actually go to some lengths to try and stop the spread of infidels, the spread of capitalism.
And imagine, just imagine from their point of view for a second, these countries, many of them in the Middle East, in many cases there’s a lot of poverty still in some of those countries, take Iran and Iraq. There’s a lot of well-to-do as well. These countries are not all poverty by any stretch. But there is certainly some underemployment. The youth are generally underemployed. They’re financially frustrated. Unemployment rates in the young people are high. And meanwhile, in the distance, they see the gleaming office towers of corporations that pump oil from under their feet and sell it to the Western economies for a huge profit.
So here these young kids are, these young men, they’re 18 to 25, young men, and they’re financially frustrated, they’re underemployed, they’re bored, they’re bored and unemployed, and they can see just a mile down the road a glistening office tower built with the profits of the oil trade being sold to the infidels. From their point of view, it must be an unbelievable thing to live beside, to live amidst that dichotomy, and their faith has not reconciled with that system. So there’s tension within those countries, because they see the inequality of the whole thing. They see the unfairness. Here they are, underemployed, bored…
Now, nothing justifies terrorism. That’s not what this video is about. The video is about understanding that all the major faiths in the world have reconciled with the free market system with the exception of the Muslim faith. Now, what is the solution to that problem? Well, there is a secret – I would say it’s a silent political strategy. Of course, the public strategy is George Bush’s “war on terror,” which I think is an oversimplification. But anyway, that’s obviously the public strategy. And Obama with his drone strikes, he’s addressing…
But the reality is that when you kill these people, these jihadists, these Al-Qaeda leaders, it actually angers a lot of the people in those countries. Like Pakistan, for example, drone strikes making strikes at people in their communities and it’s an unmanned drone. The local populations hate Americans. They hate America. Americans think that everyone loves Americans around the world. It is so not true, and especially in that part of the world. I grew up in Canada, and even there people get frustrated with Americans sometimes.
So if you go to those parts of the world, they hate America. And the drone strikes, although they’re incredibly effective, and the civilian casualties are actually very low when you think about what it is that’s actually taking place, but again, the media over there doesn’t necessarily give the accurate portrayal of that. They say civilians die all the time because it fuels the anger. That’s what those people—they’re angry to begin with, so the media caters to what that demand is. So the media fuels it.
And when people hate America that much, what does it do? It drives more people into those extreme Islam factions that might embrace terrorism as a solution. So the war aspect and killing all these people is not the best solution. It’s the most immediate solution and it is effective, it’s protected us for sure, but I would say it’s a short-term fix. The long-term solution is education.
And as I say, I think there’s a silent political strategy that’s being furthered and supported by most of the Western leaders, which is to promote education in these countries. Even a lot of the reconstruction efforts that we’ve done, America has done in Afghanistan, in Iraq, a lot of it has been based around education. Why is that? Because when people are educated, and in particular things like the Internet—the Internet that allows these people to actually see what’s going on around the world, interact with other people, those other people are “infidels” but they’re not bad people. And so they start to see that being capitalist doesn’t mean you’re evil.
Like if they don’t have the Internet or proper media coverage, then their conception of infidels is that we are devils. We are the devil, we are evil, we are killers, we are the worst thing that they can imagine. But if you give them access to the Internet, to better media coverage, to a place where they can interact with the rest of the world, they can see that we’re not evil, that capitalism has things that are not consistent with the foundation of their faith, but truthfully it’s not consistent with the foundation of our faith either in terms of being charitable and giving them the shirt off your back, no sex before marriage. I mean, our society does not promote those things. So there’s a disconnect there.
But at the end of the day, there are good people here. There are good people, smart people, kind people. Americans are actually, as far as charity goes, one of the most generous populations on the planet, contributing to all sorts of different causes. But do they see those things? No. They don’t see it.
So the Internet and having access to that type of information is very, very important to moderate their views, so that a larger percentage of the people over there are like, “They’re not infidels. They’re not the devil. There are inconsistencies, there are things that aren’t perfect, but they’re not evil.” And it’s going to take a long time for this to happen, but it is happening.
And the Arab Spring that’s spreading throughout the Muslim world is being driven primarily by access to the Internet and social media. These people are starting to see what’s going on in the other parts of the world. There’s a political awakening taking place. And as those people become more aware, not only of the politics within their own country but of the politics that’s happening all around the world, they start to see that those things aren’t necessarily that bad, or that their own situation, with a dictator, for example, in power, is not good and that they can have a better life than the life that they have, and so they’re revolting.
Now, there are a lot of problems along the way. Like Egypt, for example, now that Mubarak is gone, their whole economy is in chaos because the tourism trade collapsed. And tourism was a huge part of their economy, so as soon as those tourists left, the money left, the entire economy is shattered. So the world for them, for the Egyptians, the world before the revolution was actually better than it is right now.
Sound familiar? It’s just like Russia. When Russia left communism in search of capitalism, it got a lot worse first. It got worse first. People suffered more first, and then they even started voting back in communism or elements of communism back into their society because they thought it was better back then than it is right now. Same thing’s happening in the Middle East. It’s going to take time for these economies to rebuild and for the better world to emerge out of the rubble left from the past world, which is what they had before.
But these are very important things to consider because that entire region of the world is going to be changing dramatically over the next 10, 15, 20 years. It’s going to be changing dramatically and the population over there is exploding. So the influence in terms of economic power and just influence around the world is going to grow from the North Africa and Middle East region. That’s the entire Muslim world right there, aside from Indonesia on the Eastern side.
So there’s a lot of change coming and it’s good for us to understand some of the dynamics that result in the extreme elements, and in terrorism, frankly, and also the trends that are at work to slowly shift those populations to a place where probably at some point the Muslim faith will reconcile or Islam will reconcile somehow with the free market system. I would expect that will probably happen in the next, say, 20 years, and that’s going to be a very big change from what it is today and it will alleviate some of the tensions that exist. I’m sure there will be others in its place—there are always tensions—but some of the ones we have today will probably fade, not immediately but 10, 15, 20 years from now. As that faith reconciles with the free market system and develops, those tensions will probably subside somewhat.
Thanks very much for watching this video. I hope it helped you see the world or the religious distinctions in the world with a bit more perspective. I do appreciate you watching. Once again, my name is Patrick, encouraging you to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
NOTE: Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who covers topics surrounding the Middle East and in particular, how western nations should interact with the Muslim World.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.