My thoughts on Easter Sunday received the inevitable backlash yesterday, including the suggestion that I was politicising Easter from someone who claimed to be a true Christian.
My response was clear:
I see the whole New Testament as profoundly political
Read the Magnificat
The first sermon on Jubilee — and the message to those who enslaved with debt
The Sermon on the Mount
The instruction to love others as you do yourself
The attitude to the money changers
The bias to the poor
The problem of ‘the eye of the needle’
The instruction on money
Then read Acts 2 and see how those who really followed saw the requirement
This is all radical politics
And the resurrection? This was about the transition to that new understanding and the forgiveness of the sins of the past
As Michael Hudson would have it, the forgiveness of our debts
Being Christian and endorsing the neoliberal world are incompatibilities, as I read it
It seems the Pope and Justin Welby may be on my side right now
I thought I might elaborate on that last point. Justin Welby said yesterday, according to the Guardian:
The next wave coming is the economic one … We have a choice there as a nation and as a society and as a world. Do we take hold of our destiny and make sure the differences are mitigated, abolished where possible — or do we just let things happen, do we let the market rule, in which case there will be enormous suffering.
We depend on each other at the most fundamental level. Therefore we have to re-look at how we value each other. That includes how we value each other in financial terms, who bears the burdens of our society … If we don’t re-look at that, there is no justice in our society.
I would suggest that is a fairly radical call for the reiganisation of society.
And the Pope was thinking along the same lines. In a relatively little publicised letter sent 'To our brothers and sisters of popular movements and organizations' on Easter Sunday he said, amongst other things, in this address to those mainly in developing countries:
My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share.
I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce. The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard. Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you. Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable. This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.
Moreover, I urge you to reflect on “life after the pandemic,” for while this storm shall pass, its grave consequences are already being felt. You are not helpless. You have the culture, the method, and most of all, the wisdom that are kneaded with the leaven of feeling the suffering of others as your own. I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food) .
I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre. Our civilization – so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few – needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.
If that's not political, I am not sure what is.
I do not see how neoliberalism and Christian faith overlap. We do need to renew ourselves. And rid ourselves of that thinking.