capitalism is a jealous god

I found this great little piece by Ben Griffith here.

Then Capitalism spoke all these words:

I am Capitalism your God–the spirit of the American Dream–who brought you out of the Great Depression, who brought you from poverty and a mere speck on the map to being the greatest empire on earth. You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not think up for yourself a god that disagrees with me, whether he is one who disagrees with the free-market, laissez faire economics, the desire to be filthy rich, or any other of my values. You shall not bow down and worship them; for I, Capitalism your god, am a jealous god, punishing the lazy and those who can’t help themselves with generational poverty, but showing kindness to all those who work hard and dedicate themselves to the pursuit of money and power.

You shall not slander my name in any way. In fact, you should hold classes in your schools that glorify my name and slander the unspeakable name of Socialism. If you question me, I will make sure that you are embarrassed and thrown out of our business circles–doomed to mail rooms and cleaning toilets.

Never stop working…not for anything. Some people believe in rest. But the days are not yours, they belong to the market. And if you think that you can make it in this world, then rest assured, you will never rest. For by hard work and labor, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution, and Wall Street were created, and those who pioneered them still haven’t rested.

Take advantage of whoever you want–even if it’s your father and mother. This is the only way you will prosper and have the retirement that you want.

You shall not murder–that’s illegal–but anything else is fair game. You can slander, defame, and threaten anyone that gets in your way. That is the only way to the top.

You shall not commit adultery–that’s scandalous–but never let your wife distract you from your firm. Don’t get caught having sex with another woman, but the company must come first.

You shall not steal. Well, at least don’t commit accounting fraud or embezzle, but don’t worry about stealing from neighboring countries by using their cheap labor. After all, that’s my sprit of Global Economics.

Be prepared to misrepresent your competitor. It can be a problem when you attack a fellow employee (at least publicly), but that can sometimes be advantageous too. But always paint your competitor as incompetent, selfish, and below you. Lie if you have to, do what you need to succeed.

Covet everything. Covet your neighbor’s house, maids, cars, and everything else that he has. After all, the world is yours for the taking.

Posted on June 8, 2010, in Economics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Shane Clifton

    OK Matt, I love your work, but i will bite. What is capitalism, and what is its alternative? Are you against business and employment? Do you think stopping trade with our neighbours with lower wages will help poverty? Do you think people worked less in pre-modern societies? Was coveting lessened because medieval religions and economic systems insisted that you had to remain as you were – your lot in life was pre-ordained?
    The modern economic system needs critique – i agree, but is ‘capitalism’ (whatever we think we mean by that term) the problem per se?

  2. Dr. Clifton! It is quite an honour to have you comment on my blog. Thanks for visiting!

    I suppose the most basic comment I can make is that the ‘god’ of “Capitalism” only need be a god when it is worshipped. The problem is of course not the concept of a free market economy, but with the way that such a system is played out.

    I certainly am not about to pretend to have any expertise in economics (though I believe you hold a B.Ec.?), though from what I understand, and what my opinion might be, is that the main selection of economic philosophies/systems all have potential and indeed all carry inherent pros and cons. They all, however, suffer from what could be called misuse or abuse in the way people carry them out in real life. Perhaps this is simplistic, but I’m not about to let complexity stop dialogue in its tracks.

    I do not have a problem with business and employment, nor with trade, nor with hard work, nor with social mobility, but with the way they are played out in our current landscape. As you have rightly pointed out, Capitalism itself is not the problem per se, though the way we bring Capitalism to life today certainly is a problem. As an example (which you put on the table), I don’t think *stopping* trade with neighbours will help poverty (the end of free market), but I think more equitably engaging in trade will (“restoration” of free market).

    I don’t think Griffith’s point was to simply slander Capitalism or free markets, but rather to critique (albeit creatively and with license) the way of life of many in the developed nations whose god (or one of) is Capitalism, or at least a certain incarnation of it.

  3. Shane Clifton

    I suspect we share a common outlook – and i pretty well agree with all your comments above. I guess i am somewhat suspicious of rhetorical critiques of capitalism (or globalization, or so-called neo-liberal economics) – much of which masks a basic ignorance of the way economies work. But outside of rhetoric, we certainly must challenge the status quo and argue for or a just economic system.

    For what it is worth, i found your earlier criticism of flags and nationalism noteworthy. Keep up the well-thought out posts. I certainly hope your readership expands.

  4. Agreed. I think the difficulty is in articulating a viable “post-capitalist” framework to offer as an alternative (excuse the use of another “post” term). As Brueggemann talks about, if we want to *prophetically* critique something about the world we also need to offer an imaginative, energising solution as well.

    And thank you for the kind words. They are much appreciated and come at a good time – 2010 has been a difficult year so far. Though I haven’t been able to see you of recent times I still continue to value the time I was able to sit under the guidance of your teaching. I hope that we are able to continue to converse.


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