TiIE i I MILLION Templeton Prize for Progress n Religion was awarded this week to an American exseminarian who attempts to show that capitalism need not be un-Christian.
Michael Novak received the Prize, whose previous winner was Mother Teresa, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace last Wednesday. A lecturer at the Washington DC-based conservative think-tank, American Enterprise Institute, he is the author of The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, published last year.
A former speechwriter for US Vice-Presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, now a self-proclaimed neo-conservative, Prof Novak has held posts at Stanford and New York Universities and a tenured distinguished professorship at Syracuse University.
In Christian Capitalism or Christian Socialism, a pamphlet he co-wrote with Ronald Preston for the Institute of Economic Affairs Health and Welfare Unit, ProfNovak argues against a State that could "engorge itself by swallowing up the liberties of its citizens".
Prof Novak, who studied for seven years for the priesthood, holds up market forces as civilizing influences rooted in acts of "mutual consent" and ultimately working towards "mutual advantage". The wealth of nations, he claims, is due to "the human capacity to invent, discover and create".
In his pamphlet Prof Novak called the combination of capitalism, democracy and pluralism the "true carrier of the dream of the free society."