This is a question I invariably get asked when I talk to Christians about my thesis.
When you asked me that question, I internally rolled my eyes.
It isn’t that the question doesn’t matter. Of course, I want to develop practices that allow us to root out the ways we trust Mammon instead of YHWH. But the question is always front-loaded in the conversation because we trust Mammon instead of YHWH. After all, one of the ways we can see how Mammon works on us is our almost metaphysical assumption that reality will provide us with alternatives. If Coke isn’t our thing, there’s Pepsi. If Kia don’t do the job, there’s Hyundai. And if capitalism is awry, then we are trained by capitalism to expect an alternative. That training means that when an alternative isn’t provided, you are not being serviced and you can take your attention on to someone who values it more appropriately. Gladly, capitalism and the marketplace are not reality (even though they are both very real) and in reality it is sufficient to make a diagnosis (the way we have constructed our economies do not match with the Kingdom of God) without being able to offer a cure.
Only in the absurdity of late-Capitalism does the cure precede the diagnosis, such as when pharmaceutical companies synthesize the drug and then have to invent the disease it treats.
Maybe the best we can hope for right now is that we can diagnose what is wrong with the market and yet still be forced to live within it. This would require a patience that Capitalism cannot easily turn to profit. But naming the wrongness we live within also sets on us a course to name other things properly and thus, to free ourselves from our deceptions. Capitalism makes jobs, we say. Apart from all the housing estates where it doesn’t. Capitalism is the machine of innovation, we say. Ignoring whether the things we “innovate” are worth anything except profit. Capitalism serves justice, we say. But whose justice is it serving?
Capitalism is not inevitable. Neither is it fit for purpose. Capitalism must change or die or be killed and one of those things will happen. The internal contradictions (a fancy way of saying the dark corners where nothing makes sense and great harm is done) are too great. It will pull itself apart or be torn asunder trying to keep itself together. What’s the alternative? It’s the same it has always been. Acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.
Your Correspondent, Remembers that revenge is profitable but gratitude is expensive.