TUMBY BAY - Have you ever wondered why Capitalism and Christianity seem to sit so well together?
You have observed James Marape, for example, and politicians before him conflate wealth and religion ideas like making Papua New Guinea the ‘richest black Christian nation on Earth’.
Or fundamentalist Christians like Scott Morrison believing God wants them to be rich. Or run countries.
I think the answer is in the Christian bible. If ever there was a manual for capitalists the bible has to be it.
Here are a few examples.
The bible makes it very plain that humans are ‘created in the image and likeness of God’ and as such have control over the earth.
‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’
If that’s not an invitation to pillage resources and ruthlessly exploit lesser sentient beings I don’t know what is.
As for being fruitful and multiplying, doesn’t that presage and legitimise the massive destruction that too many humans have wreaked upon the planet in their greedy quest for wealth?
“God helps those who help themselves,” is not in the bible and is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, among others, but it is still a logical extrapolation of the right of dominion.
‘Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.’
The accepted definition of ‘submit’ is to yield to a superior force, authority or will of another person.
How else to interpret this as other than that women are lesser beings, certainly not equals or partners?
‘If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.’
Here we see the paramount importance of property so beloved of our capitalist friends. The trinkets that the thief might steal are considered more valuable than human life. How insane is that?
And there’s more of it in the same vein.
‘And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’
This is the excuse that has underwritten the deadly practice of revenge down the ages and which informs hideous actions of all sorts, both in reality and in literature.
Every increasingly violent film that comes out of Hollywood is predicated on this idea.
And speaking about violence what about this one?
‘Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.’
I wonder how many of the worlds arms dealers and promoters of the lucrative military industrial complex thank the bible for that little gem.
Not to mention all of those Christian lunatics swaggering about with their increasingly sophisticated personal armaments in places like the United States.
There are many mixed messages and contradictions in the bible and, sure, there are feel-good moments too – ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ - but if you’re a dedicated capitalist what do they mean to you?
‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ - Treat others as market forces dictate?
‘Turn the other cheek’ - An invocation to an employee not to fight back, to cop it sweet?
The bible gives a lot of authority to the capitalists just as it gives a lot of power to the men who wrote or dictated it.
If we are serious about reining in the outrages committed in the name of capitalism the nexus between it and Christianity has to be broken.
And it is probably time Christianity’s religious leaders took a long, hard look at capitalism itself.
As Christian Chiakulas writes in ‘Christianity created capitalism; it must now destroy it’:
“All true followers of Jesus Christ must recognise that a system that lets millions of people die until it is profitable to save them is incompatible with the Kingdom of God and must be abolished.”