“Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for a private profit; decisions regarding supply, demand, price, distribution, and investments are made by private actors in the market rather than by central planning by the government; profit is distributed to owners who invest in businesses, and wages are paid to workers employed by businesses and companies.”
Capitalism cannabilises our lives into digestible calculated chunks of meat. It removes the fact that life is meant to be comprehensive, all-consuming, and overwhelming. Capitalism warps life into a mechanistic Cartesian animal that we are meant to endorse through our naive belief that it matters what we actually purchase. And in the stage of commodified interplay, in a twist of Lacanian humor, what we’re really buying is the right to be sold.
Capitalism bastardises anything it touches*.
A Christianity committed to capitalism is a Christianity that can only look inward. When I use the word capitalism, I am not merely speaking of the notion or drive for commerce, but the drive to turn everything and anything into a perversion of itself. Evangelism is one such perversion. It has taken an ancient idea and has deformed it into : (1) a way to market Jesus (2) a way to turn people into products (3) a way to pat our egos when we ‘make the sell’ and (4) a structure designed to measure whether something is successful or not. Evangelism in the Greek is good news. Its what was given to a commander/leader after a victorious war. It was a term loaded with political rhetoric. For Jesus’ followers to begin using this, they were making a political statement.
A subversive one. It wasn’t a salvific one.
We also get the idea of gospel from what has now been deemed as the good news. In Jesus’ spoken language the word gospel simply means hope. If Christianity is captive to capitalism than hope has to be marketed. and if hope can be marketed than it stops being hope. See, capitalism has had a huge hand in forming the Christianity we know now.
It even has had a hand in the way we see Jesus.
Capitalism wants to rule the world, the irony is, most think the other option, if capitalism were to fall, would be communism. And another point of Lacanian humor here is, that if capitalism wants to rule the world and use democracy to filter its reign, than itself is nothing short of communism under the guise of another name.
this seems also quite counter to how Jesus responded and dealt with people. Jesus sometimes turned those who wanted to follow away, or encouraged them to go back home. He told some that if they were to follow they might die.
This isn’t a good way to get people to join your cause if you are hell-bent on turning people into commodified currency.
Jesus seemed to think his cause were the people, not necessarily what he got out of it. It also seems he was more dedicated to spreading love, acceptance and peace rather than a five-step plan on how to get rich and die happy.
Not that those things are wrong.
But the flaw in a large majority of capitalistic philosophy is that it comes down to the one person to find that happiness under the guise of quite possibly ‘using’ others to get to that point. A Christianity dedicated to its own success seems to be an obscene de-manifestitation of what Christ was all about. He challenges us to love our neighbours and enemies and even be willing to die for them, this doesn’t seem to be very capitalistic.
A Christianity that is redeemed from Capitalism is a Christianity committed to seeing tranformation over numerification. A Christianity that is post-capitalistic is committed to the other because it realizes that abjection was birthed out of capitalistic fervor. It’s not into hegemony, but rather embracing a new way to see Christ through the eyes of a much needed diversity that capitalism seems so afraid of.
Although, capitalism seems to embrace individuality it actually assumes everyone should and could be the same. It says that everyone has a right to privatize their dreams, but itself is a system. A system is a group of things comprising itself. Itself is a group attempting to inform individuals to follow their dreams in a similar manner. The dreaded infomercial is a great example of this. Because it gives ‘the caller’ (you and I) the illusion that we get to choose the item we want for the toy of our ‘choosing’. Except that they have already chosen the item for us and now under the influence of consumerist creativity is making the item more attractive ‘if you buy now’.
The you in that statement is the same you that capitalism promises to make happy. Except Christianity doesn’t promise to make you happy, it does seem to offer that it might kill you, or might make things difficult and hard to handle. Sure, there will be times of laughter and joy, but Christianity is meant to transform things not make things look good. Christianity seems to promise suffering, but a suffering experienced in community. A suffering when
This is where a Christianity under the gaze of capitalism fails, it promises something that Jesus never did. This new kind of Christianity* promises to upset our rhythms and the way we think and anticipates that those changes might have some sort of transformational knock-on affect. If that’s true, we need to rescue Christianity from consumerism, please.
* By inference, anything that capitalism consumes also ends up bastardizing anything and everything it touches
Books to check out to give us a better picture of Jesus:
- A New Kind Of Christianity by Brian Mclaren
- Jesus Wants To Save Christians by Rob Bell
- How (Not) To Speak of God by Peter Rollins
- Jesus Bootlegged by George Elerick