There can be little doubt that capitalism is a productive way to order economic life. But we need to remember, as the protestors have reminded us, that that is all that it is — an economic system based on the entirely reasonable propositions that capital has value, and that supply and demand are the most efficient way to set prices. Capitalism is of no help at all in determining what is morally good — that is something that must instead be determined by the community’s wider values.
And there should be no question that when an economic system fails to reflect those communal values, it should be modified and governed until it does. To say, as some do, that any attempt to control or guide our economic system is neither wise nor possible is to admit that an economic system has decisive control of our lives. For a Christian, such an admission would be nothing less than to yield to idolatry. (Though I do not claim deep knowledge of other religious traditions, I suspect that this is true for them as well.) God alone is the One, and the only One, to whom we can concede such ultimate authority. For the non-theist to make the argument that the laws of economics are immutable is to concede that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves. That is the same argument that those in the grip of various kinds of addiction make: “I am not in control, my addiction made me do it.”