It’s almost a week ago now that I “had a dig” at Marxism. The post is over HERE, but the basic summary was that I objected to it’s assumes that eventually people will all operate in unity, and that a perfect society free from exploitation will be created. The problem? This contradicts the biblical notion of sinful humanity, and asserts that we can overcome this. Basically, it disregards God, and ignores a need for Jesus.
But I wanted to hit back the other way. A friend of mine was chatting about what I wrote, and we got talking about capitalism. Marx was right on the money, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the problems with (if not the solution to) exploitative capitalism.
Marx’s analysis basically works on a wage-labour relationship. People who work for their subsistence sell their labour to others. Those who buy it are in control of this relationship. Society slips into “commodity fetishism” (i.e. assigning extra desirability, or non-existant qualities to products), and the labour purchasers extract capital by selling something for more than they are paying the worker, in order to make a profit. The most obvious way of looking at this commodity fetishism and so on is in brand labels, where you pay for something that is not actually anything, because it has an associated “myth” of superiority.
So capitalism (the system that you are most likely at the top end of, if you have the time, money and ability to be reading this online) is basically people stepping on the heads of others to reach the top. You get some pretty startling stats (but I’ll leave those to you).
Obviously, this is (for anyone, but particularly a Christian, as we are told to love and to serve, to be a light in the world, to treat others as better than ourselves and to not value material goods) not a great situation at all. But it’s also clear that Marxism isn’t the solution. So what is?
Without God, we are stuck in our sinful nature. Sin says grab stuff now, while you still can. The only way OUT of sin is via the sacrifice of Jesus. Looking in apocalyptic visions, for example revelation, we see that there is still suffering in the world, that Satan still has some stick, even if death is ultimately defeated. Jesus says that we will always have the poor.
There is, basically, no hope for justice, no hope for emancipation, without God. But as Christians, we know God’s love; it conforms us to his image (Have a look at Romans 8), it makes us more like God, it build us up to glorify God. We are meant to take Joy in God, be grateful, and want to share this with others. In response to grace we are to share it, to desire to see others saved, God glorified in more people coming to him.
So what am I saying? We aren’t ever going to get there, until God brings ultimate Justice. But exploitation is sinful, and as Christians we ought to stand and work Joyfully to serve God, and love others. To love them means to reveal God to them, and an essential part of this is modelling Christ’s sacrificial love. God gave all for us on the cross. The Macedonian churched in 2 Corinthians 8 gave beyond their means. As Christians we should make sure that we aren’t treasuring our stuff, our money, and so on, above God’s glory.
If you can serve God, by glorifying him in giving, and using your profit in a way that magnifies Christ, then what’s your excuse?
It’s hard, and as Jesus said to the rich ruler, it’s impossible for us to do it ourselves.
My prayer is that I will become less attached to my stuff, and more dedicated to reflecting God’s love and glory; being on fire for God means hating sin, and the Capitalist world makes it that much easier so easy for those of us at the upper end to ignore, exploit and fail to glorify God in our love.