Dancing on the grave of Capitalism: tacky

‘Are you happy?’ is a question I’ve been asked several times this last week. ‘Global capitalism is collapsing before our eyes,’ they were saying, ‘isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for?’

Not really. For one thing, I’m not entirely sure we are witnessing the collapse of unfettered capitalism. We might be. But the system, as it stands, has powerful allies. Allies like George W Bush, who last week threatened to veto his own ‘essential’ economic rescue Bill if Democrats (or concerned Republicans) made any changes, that might, for instance, program into the rescue measures a level of accountability.

Some groups, it seems, are quite keen on keeping capitalism alive and unchanged in its present form, the one that brought us to this point in the first place, and they want no amendments made to it. They might succeed.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m not over the moon at recent signs of the failure of a system about which we have again and again been told: ‘it’s not nice, but at least it works’. Another is that I am not a malthusian.

Malthus was an economist who believed in the survival of the fittest, that markets would control not just money and products, but populations because the poor would starve if they bred too much. Not as many Christians as you might think abhor malthusian thinking, and many supported sanctions, for example, in Iraq, which killed millions of children but were aimed at making Iraqis so miserable that they would rise up and depose Saddam.

I do not hope that capitalism collapses and people are driven to such despair in the depression that follows that they lynch the bankers and drive the multinationals out of town.

The phrase ‘hungry people don’t stay hungry for long‘, with the undercurrent of violence and nihilism inherent in any hope it offers, appalls me. As a Christian, I cannot hope for misery and potential starvation for millions, even if it achieves a more just world. No, I do not hope this is the beginning of the end.

But I do hope recent events demonstrate to ordinary people, and particularly to the Church, that the current system is neither nice nor practical, and that massive changes in its structure are needed.

But with that hope comes fear. I fear that a rescue plan might work. I fear that people will thus assume that things can carry on as they are. Not just in markets and macro-economic systems, but in their out-workings, all over the world.

from nebuchadnezzarwoollyd.blogspot.com

from nebuchadnezzarwoollyd. blogspot.com

I fear war in eastern Congo, which has already claimed five million lives, will continue because we continue to buy Playstations, X-boxes and mobile phones, most of which cannot be made without coltan bought from murderous militias in the region. I fear Christians will continue to replace such appliances as if they were perishable yet essential food and remain indifferent to our nation’s companies plundering Congo’s wealth, buying up its mineral rights, while those not killed in fighting starve in poverty(last week saw the DRC government offer up even more of its minerals to foreigners who will take that wealth out of the country).

I fear corporations and middle-class individuals, including many western missionaries, will continue to oppose (often violently, as we saw last week) the administration of Evo Morales, a man who has tirelessly fought for equality, justice and opportunity for the poor and indigenous peoples of Bolivia and who halved his own salary upon taking office in order to hire more teachers, but who has offended American business interests there.

I fear more of the same all over the world, but I hope, I pray that change is coming.

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One Response

  1. cheat

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