Posted by: rogermitchell | November 6, 2019

Economics at the end of Christendom

Today a visitor to my blog found this post that I wrote eight years ago in the early stages of the current crisis of the Western system. On reading it I have decided to reblog it. It struck a chord then, and I have a feeling that it will continue to do so even more loudly now that austerity, Brexit and Trump’s America have ensued. It was written specifically with the Christian faith community in mind, depite the fact that as my research shows the wrong turns taken by that community in its history are hugely responsible for the negative direction taken by the Western economic system. Those with the greatest culpability, by my understanding, have the greatest responsibility to change direction and work alongside those who have the overall wellbeing of the family of humanity in view. We need to inseminate the economics of our cities and regions with the politics of love as the nation state and the Western political system continues its terminal decline. This what I and many of my love-activist friends are now up to our eyes in.* And a well as informing this, this repeated post will hopefully concentrate our minds as we approach the coming election.

I am not an economist, but my research** does have profound implications for our contemporary Western economic system. These are both negative and positive. Negative in the sense that it reveals that the origin of Western capitalism, whether or not tempered by social justice considerations, lies in the church’s erroneous embrace of sovereign power as the means to the promised kingdom of God. As a result it is primarily about preserving the power of the powerful. Positive in the sense that an economics  reconfigured on the testimony of Jesus, or what I term kenarchy, rejects the power of profit and makes love and gift the motive for the utilisation of human and natural resources in business and industry. These can, and in some cases already do, grow up alongside the decomposing Western system.

I suggest that four things follow in each case:

Negatively

(i) Money as we now have it is actually a device invented in the seventeenth century when actual gold and silver were lent to the newly emerging nation state in order to pay for war, under cover of which promissory notes for the same amount were printed and used as currency to lend to entrepreneurs.

(ii) The currency that this produced is not actual money but the token of a promise to pay off the debt for the amount written on it. It follows that when this money is again borrowed, it is really debt that is being borrowed. The shift to electronic transactions has further obscured this, but has not altered it.

(iii) All this debt is secured against the necessary profitability of the nation state and the tax returns from the business it facilitates. This, in turn, is based solely on the profits obtained from exploiting the labour skills of human life, or biopower, combined together with the diminishing finite resources of the planet.

(iv) This economic system is coming to an end as the nation state, created by the partnership of church and empire, is increasingly breaking down under the strain of securing the debt. At the same time the planet is less and less able to endure the resultant exploitation and the consumption of human life is becoming increasingly unbearable.

Positively

(i) The primary purpose of business and industry is to supply the needs of the multitude by and for love and gift, not to make a profit in order to hold on to or acquire power.

ii) The implication of the incarnation, affirmed by the resurrection, is that the gifts of human life and creation, applied by faith, can supply the needs of the multitude.

(iii) The current decaying and imploding Western economic system needs to be fully exposed and a new way of life seeded alongside the weeds of capitalism by acts of love and gift. The resurrection of Jesus is the first fruit and clarion call for this.

(iv) It is time to be intensely practical. My research considers past attempts at economic alternatives from the developing Western system in its past history. These include the bold innovations of Joachim of Fiore and Francis of Assisi in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the reappropriation of land by Gerard Winstanley and William Penn’s ‘holy experiment’ in what became Pennsylvania in the 17th century. There are many other past initiatives which need to be disclosed and learnt from. More importantly we need to discover, explore and encourage ongoing and new initiatives.

Clearly these positive points need practical development, and I acknowledge that it is sometimes easier to analyse what is wrong than devise practical alternatives. But I believe that we have now arrived at a point when this is now both possible and imperative. It is part of the purpose of the last three generations of renewal and is the intercessory political action that forerunners are called to right now. So discussion, experimentation and the evaluation of existing attempts to initiate an economics of love and gift is all part of the action that this blog is calling for. Please interact!

*If you have time, take look at some of the Love Economics material from our recent Morecambe By Conversations on a culture of love and kindness https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-1/ ; https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-2/ https://reimagininghealth.com/love-economics-part-4/

**For those unfamiliar with my research, the academic thesis is published as Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty Impregnated the West. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2011. https://wordery.com/search?term=Roger+Haydon+Mitchell%3A+Church%2C+Gospel+and+Empire

A more accessible shorter presentation can be found in The Fall of The Church. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2012.https://wordery.com/search?term=Roger+Haydon+Mitchell%3A+The+Fall+of+the+Church

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.


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