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individualism, desire and the christian self

It is frequently said that we live in an individualistic society.

This is not all bad. The fact that individualist philosophy values the individual’s worth is fantastic.

Not so fantastic in light of Christian theology is the individualist insistence on rejecting all forms of external interference on one’s interests. This is not simply because of the existence of God, the ultimate “external” authority, but also because of the unrealistic, even naive, view of human existence it represents.

What human is able to live according to their own interests, unabated by the interests of society? We live in a world of social connections in which even our most basic needs are dependent on relationships. I think for example of food whereby most of the people I know are completely disconnected from the production and manufacture of almost everything they eat.

How would individualism even work in a world such as this? Read the rest of this entry

oh the idolatry: humanity, injustice & climate change

Even if the deniers were right – which is impossible to credit on rational grounds – the core argument of [A Moral Climate] is that the fossil-fuelled global economy is dangerous to planet earth and to human life, not just because it is warming the climate of the earth but because it is deeply destructive of the diversity and welfare of the ecosystems and human communities from which surplus value is extracted and traded across highways, oceans and jetstreams. The rituals encouraged by the recognition of global warming – turning off lights, turning down the heater, cycling or walking instead of driving, holidaying nearer to home, buying local food, shopping less and conversing more, addressing the causes of fuel poverty locally and internationally –  are good because they are intrinsically right, not just because they have the consequence of reducing carbon emissions. Such actions correct modern thoughtlessness. They sustain the moral claim that it is wrong to live in a civilisation that depends upon the systematic enslavement of peoples and ecosystems to the high resource requirements of a corporately-governed consumer economy. …

… Actions which will have the effect of mitigating climate change are also actions which reaffirm the embodied relationship between inner desire and the outer world of what Christians call Creation. For this reason such actions are intrinsically good, and will promote flourishing even if, as a minority of dissenters suggest, greenhouse gases are not the primary driver of global warming.

– Michael Northcott, A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming, 273-274. Read the rest of this entry

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.

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