Traditionally, Western thought framed human life as evolving in a three-dimensional space: the economic, the political, and the philosophical. Nowadays, as in times past, this tradition sets its origins in classical Athens, a time when the happy and self-sufficient public life of politics and the solitary one of philosophy were nourishing on the surplus generated by the economy. The economy was confined to the private sphere of the household and excluded from the public sphere that was occupied by politics. The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault retells the history of the West following the less traversed economic side of the story by conducting a philological history that traces the meanings that were attached to the notion of oikonomia in Greek speaking antiquity. Doing so, the book offers a twist on the historical narrative of the present: it argues that the rise of the “economy of the mystery which from eternity has been hid in God who created all things” (Ephesians 3:9) in Greek-speaking Christianity of late antiquity plays a decisive role in this history. By reinserting this too-often ignored chapter, the book goes beyond closing a great gap in the histories of economic thought, philosophical inquiries, and political theory. As the research conducted in the book is of a genealogical nature, The Origins of Neoliberalism holds (and demonstrates) that recovering the mysteries of the economy in early Christianity is of great relevance for any critical engagement with neoliberalism, let alone overcoming it.
Posts Tagged ‘economics’
A lengthy profile by John Cornwell, which appears in the November issue of Prospect, examines the biography and the philosophical work of Alasdair MacIntyre, particularly in regard to the relevance of his Marx-inflected Thomism for confronting the ongoing crisis of capitalist economies in Europe and the U.S.
The tendency in recent years of some U.S. evangelical and Pentecostal Christian preachers to celebrate immense wealth, rather than critique it—what is known as the “prosperity gospel”—is not unique to those forms of Christianity or to the United States. According an article by Mary Fitzgerald in The Irish Times, Meera Nanda’s new book, The God Market, chronicles a similar movement emerging in India.
From Princeton University Press, historian Jerry Z. Muller has a new book on Capitalism and the Jews.
In the Boston Review, Colin Dayan argues that woefully little has changed since the colonial era with respect to Western perceptions of Haiti as a cretin backwater. Moreover, the institutionalized graft that the colonialist ideology underwrites remains in full effect.
At Tikkun Magazine, Harriet Fraad points to five sources that have “devastated the American moral, economic, psychological, and social landscape.”
As we’ve sometimes noted here, advocates have claimed that Islamic, Sharia-compliant financial products and systems are safer than conventional ones. At Davos, reports Reuters, a top regulator for the government of Qatar disagrees.
I have written a good bit recently about the intense religious responses to the Haiti earthquake, as congregations regroup in public spaces in search of meaning and mutual support. To approach such events from the vantage point of religious studies is to attend to how groups engage with powers in an unseen cosmic realm that they themselves have constructed. Now I find myself thinking about how crucial it is to engage in frank analysis about rebuilding Haiti in terms of the unseen world of hidden, covert, and sometimes illegal political and economic deals between both Haitians and Americans (and others) that have been instrumental in shaping the overlapping crises that Haitians confront. So far, many social scientists and policy commentators have written about rebuilding as if other countries, international organizations, and the Haitian government itself relate to the Haitian nation in public, official, legal, and traceable ways, when this is often simply not the case.
The World Economic Forum has released “Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post-Crisis Economy,” an annual report on issues related to the role of faith in global affairs. John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, which collaborated on the report, explains its rationale: “The economic and financial crisis is an opportunity to re-articulate the values that should underpin our global institutions going forward. The world’s religious communities are critical repositories of those values.”
In the New York Times, Heather Timmons reports on the looming debt crisis in Dubai and the questions that it elicits concerning the legal mechanisms of Islamic finance.
Obama’s speeches are glorious. They are a joy to listen to and to read later. He is able to dig deep into the rich rhetorical tradition of the Christian world and of the Founding Fathers, and to articulate a call for awakening that is powerful. But how far is it from our world, from our time? There is an anachronistic edge not only in the cadence, but also in the logic—nothing here about the desertion of populations by the government, the allowance of the few to dominate the wealth produced by the many, and the turn to violence when other means wither in the quiver. Ethical systems cannot be built upon each other without any consideration of social transformations. It is not language alone that we must attend to, but even more so to the social context of the language. Celebrations of “American character” and of the “God-given promise that all are equal” are emotive, powerful symbols of an age that is now no longer with us.
Last week as I listened, along with many other Americans and others around the world, to President Bush’s most recent effort to reassure us about the current economic meltdown I had a “Road to Damascus” moment. It happened as I heard Bush repeat the word “faith”. […]
Granted that there is a global economy, global culture, global law, global civil society, even global festivals, why are global institutions both so promising and so weak? I want to turn to Jürgen Habermas, Europe’s leading social philosopher, for help, looking particularly at his remarkable essay of 1998, “The Postnational Constellation and the Future of Democracy.”