Christianity, economy and neoliberalism…


This is from a facebook discussion (slightly rewritten for literary aesthetic reasons), where someone asked me what the Christian views on Ron Paul and Austrian economics would be. I am not an economist myself, but I believe that economical theories that are built on the idea of ‘constant growth’ are unrealistic and dangerous for various reasons, and I believe that we should cultivate an economic of enough, not too much, for ourselves, and generosity for all who need it. I know I’m not living up to that the way I should, but there’s not other way to live the way of Christ, the way of love, the life of good news and reconciliation…

I know this is a messy text, but I just wanted to keep it for myself, and maybe one of my readers may be interested…

Me: I would say that the teachings of christ and the NT, and almost all of Christian traditions are completely incompatible with hyperindividualism or any systems where economics are elevated over people, or any jungle law system including economic neodarwinism. Instead taking care of the poor, the downtrodden and those left behind should be prioritised over any system of economics or ideology…
The conservative christian right would say otherwise probably…
Okay, I understand. But Ithink they all want the same outcome for the poor, they just differ in their means. I think liberal see the means mostly in assets as responsability. Socialist thinkers and christians more in charity. I think that last one gives us a good feeling about ourselves, but I just isn’t that effective but more culturalimperialistic and bougeoisstyle.
Me: Whatever you see as superficial outcome for the poor, I don’t think the outcome for the person itself and for the world is even remotely the same. Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus can not live for themselves only, like the idea of the american dream and similar ideas would, nor for the hoarding of stuff and posessions. Btw, Charity originally did not mean the ‘give and stay on a distance’ but it comes from the latin word ‘caritas’ or ‘universal love for fellow humans, like loving and being friend and giving. From the church in the book of acts in the bible to St-Francis to Shane Claiborne in this time, the Christian tradition that cares most for the poor is the one that is content with ‘enough’ and shares the rest -not just stuff, but time and life- with those who need it.
The neoliberal underlying dogma seems to me that everyone is equal in chances of making it, and therefor blames those who didn’t. which is completely unfair and utterly unrealistic, but for those who did make it it’s easy to blame the ones who didn’t… Jesus would care most about them, and we Christians need to relearn this.

Like Paul writes in the bible:

1 Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
so what do you think? (except for that I could’ve used a lot of Jesus’ words instead of this quote from Paul)
shalom
Bram
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5 responses to “Christianity, economy and neoliberalism…

  1. “I am not an economist myself, but I believe that economical theories that are built on the idea of ‘constant growth’ are unrealistic and dangerous for various reasons, and I believe that we should cultivate an economic of enough, not too much, for ourselves, and generosity for all who need it.” I totally agree. In my job I am learning a lot about ecology and economics and I am trying to match that with my christian faith. And in fact, it’s often a very good match… I’m reading a lot now and will try to put my thoughts into writings – but for now, blog articles like this are a great motivation for me to keep on examinating, thinking, discovering… So thanks for sharing this!
    Won’t you come to Juliet Schor’s talk next Saturday? I think it might be inspiring…

  2. Pingback: To hell with the European Union… | Brambonius' blog in english

  3. I think you are on the right track. Interesting enough the goal of Adam Smith (the father of modern economics and capitalism) was to create a system that would take the fallen nature of humanity and put it to work to end poverty and hunger. The idea being that the greed nature of humanity to get more stuff would bleed over into the creation of more jobs and opportunities, which in turn would allow more people to rise out of poverty.

    Unfortunately while capitalism did raise the standard of living, it did so for a select few within a specific area (i.e. people within the western capitalists world tend to see more benefits than those in non-capitalists societies). Capitalism also had the unforeseen consequence of hyperindividualism and hyperconsumerism where nothing is ever enough.

    I say all that to say that despite the ‘good’ capitalism has done, it is still a flawed system of economics just like Marxism. As believers we must walk between both systems in a tension while listening to Jesus to help us navigate the crazy world around us.

    (BTW – Derek Morphew’s book “South Africa and the Powers Behind” does a great job at looking at the spirit side of capitalism, fascism, and Marxism as well as political and cultural ideology. If you have the chance, I would highly recommend reading it!!)

  4. Pingback: the love of money vs. the way of Christ… | Brambonius' blog in english

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