Capitalism and The Kingdom
October 11, 2017
Let’s look at the pillars on which Capitalism rests, and set our findings on their nature against those basic teachings by which Jesus taught that The Kingdom of Heaven might be ushered into the world.
I will tell you now that Capitalism will be found to be AntiChrist; it will be found to be not only of an opposite nature to The Kingdom; but also actively doing so very very much to prevent, to forestall The Kingdom from entering into our hearts and lives. Capitalism then I am going to argue works enormously against Jesus; and that Jesus and his Incarnate message has survived over two millennia now is itself good evidence for his and his teaching’s truth and power in the face of human systems built upon self and property rights.
My arguments might sound Puritanical; and perhaps ethically they are; but more tot he point is their rational power; which I believe speaks for itself even into the ears and minds of those who at the outset are fiercely against what I am proposing to say.
As with most of our historical systems of society, exchange and government, Capitalism is a system which stands or falls on property rights; Capitalism is in fact the distilled quintessence of this reliance on property rights.
By the word property I mean not just goods, but money, as well as person’s extent of influence, and also her accessibility to services, to non-material rights and privileges; everything a person considers to belong to them or to be their privilege or right; all that which a person might consider to be, psychologically-speaking, a legitimate or palpable extension of themselves.
Because property is in fact no more than this: a belief, usually shared in or acquiesced in by others, that one’s self has dominion over a certain object., process, idea, entity etc. Psychologically, this sense of dominion represents an expansion, largely an egoistical expansion, of the ‘owner’s’ self so as that this self ‘occupies’ the items of property. Thus it is that when a person is robbed he often feels having been violated as a person; indignant, angry, ready for retaliations.
There’s no escaping that these are the norms of reaction and understanding concerning ownership of property and its theft from oneself. And we are all tainted with this poison; even the most Christian of us cannot but help be tainted because this Capitalist system is infused utterly in our way of life, our daily living and our thinking and outlooks. Many of us do not even consider there might be other ways of organisation or living together; our educations have not allowed us to; or maybe we just prefer to ‘muck-in’ and join the general struggle and competition for ‘getting onto the property ladder’ - I don’t just mean home dwellings.
Without property rights there is no competition for obtaining things; because there is no obtaining things and accumulating things; and so persons are unable to accrue power and sway through accrued property rights as they are universally competing to do so right now.
People are told, upon no authority other than apologistics, that property-owning and accumulation are innate in us as human beings; that this faculty is like a genetic-imprint which we cannot help but be like and pursue. As I say, there is no authority for us assuming so other than that we hear from those who wish to retain things as they are. Maybe these apologists are despairing of humankind and so opt for what they presume is the default and ‘lowest common denominator’ position of free enterprise competition and what is in fact an extension of biological science into the realms of politics, economics, society.
Many, perhaps most who are persuaded of the ‘only viable way’ being Capitalism are condoning and advocating a ‘survival of the fittest’ and a ‘natural selection’ in these political science areas. This of course again is only to be expected; since Darwin’s ideas are so all-pervasive in our outlooks and ways of life today; to an extent that they are rapidly replacing in the realms of social science and politics the older (and better) outlook which has been inclusive of if not based upon a Christian consideration for others and the doing charitable works, This Christian consideration was permeated through society so that even those who did not consider it worthwhile were constrained to pay it lip service; and many ordinary people, as well as organisations, made allowance for this kindness to others in their set-up s and daily lives.
The fact that ‘the weakest to the wall’ is largely and matter-of-factly and not punitively, but as a given, nowadays the commonplace consideration and stance to uptake for most of us, shows how much kindness has bled away from our societies, and how much blasé and acquiescent nods of assent to ‘how it really is’ - another propagandist saying – are prevalent. People may even feel genuinely sad that ‘it is the way it is’ but powerless to change it; but this is a defeat of soul and a way of paying oneself justifications for behaving in an antiChristian manner.
Like in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books in the episode of The Walrus and The Carpenter, The Walrus weeps tears of sorrow for the oysters which he is gladly and fervently eating up as the oysters are soothed by his kind and generous words to them. Words and lip service, good intentions, sorrows, regrets are of no use at all; unless and until they are transformed into deeds which aim to help and to aleviate a bad situation. Consider how many things we do which are done to soothe our own qualms rather than for a genuine pity and love for the persons affected adversely by circumstance.
Take for instance Jesus’s words that when we do alms, do charitable deeds, we should do so ‘in secret’ and not blazon out our good deeds in the public squares. In our days we have many companies and government offices and their staff proclaiming their alms doing and doing so as a part of their own marketing campaigns, to boost the public image of their companies, and as a bargaining chip in deals and sales pitches they make. There is no utility to genuine alms giving other than to the recipients; to do alms otherwise, for self-promotion, for instance, is to be no better than was Simon the Sorcerer in The Book of Acts who would buy with money from Simon Peter the power to do God’s miracles.
But this all-pervasive Capitalism which adulterates nearly our every thought; how might we even begin to alter people’s consciousness about its supposed necessity and its utility, even as it being ’the best of a bad bunch’?
We let’s look a little more at property and at how property-owning corrupts one’s heart and soul; the more so the more property a person owns. Very little of what Capitalist economies produce and sell are directly relevant to human life and existence. With an accumulation of property comes to a person anxieties and worries about a) how to hang onto it’ b) how to increase it’ c) how to mange it to stop it deteriorating, d) how to guard it from others who want it’ and so on – the more one possesses in general the more one obsesses. Thus take a look around you, perhaps at your own outgoing monthly bills and reckon up quickly how much you are paying to have your own property protected in some fashion.
There are insurances; for the home, for the vehicles; for the valuables at home; for accidents; life assurance; there are taxes for the Police Service and the Fire Service and for a host of other legal and regulatory services and protections. There are your firewall protections; your locks and bolts on your houses and outbuildings, alarms and patrols; and a host of services such as PayPal and eBay and Amazon underwriting of losses you incur without reason, these are just a few items in almost every Westerner’s life which are sold and presented to customers solely because of fear of loss of property.
There are those security checks one has to buy for oneself so as to be able to be employed; the licence costs that proves you can drive, and authorises you to do so, and which validates your insurance. The lists are endless.
Our Capitalist economies, because of their nature as being based on property-owning and rights, need, require, cannot be without a huge hedging around us and it and based solely on the presumption always that there is a danger in trusting others and in exposing ourselves and our property; all of which has to be offset. The cost to us of this hedging is enormous; not just financially but spiritually also. Perhaps half or more of our current consumerist service economies are founded on this fear and distrust and need for (institutionalised) attempts at authentication and protections of all kinds.
(For one there is no real authority but God and his son Jesus Christ; for two, the institutionalised authorities are as likely to want their own ‘pounds of flesh’ from you and hold you over a barrel and to squeeze from you as much as possible for giving you their OKs. Even governments, especially governments; make no mistake governments are not out to protect and defend you nor to be paternal helps to you and providers for you. For all the fine words they spill out like broths.
So we are constrained into, shut-down, and in our fortress-self states we are directed wholly to think that ‘what we have we hold’ against all comers – this is our default outlook. We are led to believe that personal increase in property means greater standing, greater security, a better life. There is no longer any such idea that ‘enough is as good as a feast’.
Sadly some people get enthusiastic, and so urgently take up following the trail of property-owning with vigour and delight, thinking themselves on a romp or adventure to outdo their rivals and competitors. There exists nothing finer, better, or more desirable in their outlooks than this children’s game of ‘beat your neighbour out of doors’.
These are often the persons who do honour to an idea of meritocracy; which say that those most gifted and talented get to the senior positions in life. Again basically a Darwinian ‘natural selection’ ‘survival of the fittest’ idea; and one which aims to justify and to salve consciense for take for oneself too much of the resources of the world.
A God-centred view of meritocracy is one which attributes all a person’s gifts and talents, and all he or she has to God’s gracious indulgence of him/her. There is no question that a man or woman deserves what s/he has been given by God in the way of gifts and talents; no one is able to accrue credit before God; we are all ‘unprofitable servants’ whom he has love and care for beyond our deserts.
That’s enough on Capitalism and how it builds itself up to be effectively antiChrist.
The idea that our property is viewed by us psychologically as being an extension of ourselves; and in particular, whenever personal power is being wielded, and for one’s own ends, it is predominantly one’s ego which one is extending into one’s property; this idea of extension is very important for Jesus and his teachings. Because Jesus was utterly anti-ego, anti-extension of ourselves in a wielding of power over others; Jesus’s way is The Way of renunciation; of a surrender of self, a dissolution of ego; and a concomitant devotion of all we are to him and to following his teachings and example.
We hear from Jesus that:
"He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it".
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--along with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life"
"Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. or even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” _ _“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.…”
These saying of Jesus speak for themselves of his understating of how we are to behave and so be able to gain entrance to The Kingdom. It is clear we are not to be ever for ourselves; we are to be first and foremost for him and for the furtherance of his Kingdom.
When we lose ourselves to Jesus there is no property we might need, ask, or hope for. God will provide to us; thus Jesus’s word is based absolutely on trust; and thus is absolutely the opposite case to those hedges and precautionary protections galore that we feel we are forced to put in place under our present Capitalist economic and political confinements.
This is exactly what Jesus means when he tell you: “You will know the Truth; and the Truth will set you free”. Jesus is The Truth and his word is Truth, which sets you free of all these worries and anxieties for protecting what you call your own goods and privileges etc, and trying to extend them as one attempts to extend oneself and one’s sway.
It is totally, without a shadow clear to me that Jesus and his Way is firstly: The Way, the only way, and the definitive Way; and secondly that with its competition, its pseudo-Darwinism, it’s Pharisaical justifications of meritocracy and of ‘the weakest to the wall’, Capitalism is antiChrist, and wholly opposed to Jesus and his word and Way.
It is clear to me that as long as we have capitalism we shall have to struggle as Christians in this world against it, and our journey toward Christ will be all the harder because of the existence and all-pervasiveness of Capitalism.
Capitalism not only excuses people’s bad, evil behaviours, it encourages these, it works to obliterate Christianity, as we have seen from the outright commercial hijacks of Christian festivals and remembrances, so that in many minds no Christian thought of connection to these occasions exists any longer. When was the last time you saw a Nativity scene on a Christmas giftwrap, product packaging, or Advent Calendar?
Capitalism is antiChrist because it represents a competitive struggle for the extension of the ego; as against Christ’s holy renunciation of self and of the things of self. Thus those who succeed in Capitalism perpetuate the mindset behind it; setting bad examples for others who know no better.
A young lad from Somalia was talking about his dream to get to The West. He was saving money to risk a journey with people traffickers. All OK so far. But his dream was to ‘play for Arsenal’, a British top Premier League soccer club; and here my sympathies parted from his company. Yes by all means come to Europe and settle. Work, earn, marry, start a family, contribute, draw off; yes all these do, do ,do – but why do you want that ‘eminence’, that ‘secular’ pinnacle of the Top of the Temple from which to be ‘king of the castle’? Shame on your teachers if it is they who have so encouraged you. ‘Enough is as good as a feast.’
_“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” _