Just check out its core philosophy, with its core terms in bold wording:
The invisible hand of the free market governs everything and the hardworking get prosperous while the lazy suffer poverty.
Sounds pretty familiar and very rational, doesn’t it…
But check it out again with the religious equivalents of the core terms replaced in:
God of the creation governs everything and the faithful get in heaven while the heathen suffer hell.
As you can easily notice, ‘Invisible Hand’ is a replacement for ‘God’, ‘free market’ is a replacement for ‘the creation’, ‘the hardworking’ is a replacement for ‘the faithful’ and ‘the lazy’ is a replacement for ‘the heathen’.
That’s because Capitalism is a Christianity replacement.
So much that it even replicates the Church organization of Medieval Christianity:
The economists (clergy) continually advocate (preach) free market economics (the faith) and interpret the economy (holy book) on behalf of the society (the believers). The critical economists (heretic priests) are outcast by the establishment, not given airtime, ridiculed or censored.
Whatever happens in the economy is interpreted and ‘somehow’ explained by the economists (clergy), and in those explanations, anything good that happens is due to free market economics (the faith), and anything bad that happens is due to straying away from free market economics (having any other faith).
According to the sermon, all that the hardworking (faithful) need to do is to work hard (have faith) and keep staying the course. Because ‘the invisible hand’ will fix all problems, crises, issues without them needing to do anything in particular. All they need to do is to have faith, and putting their trust in the religion by trusting the clergy of the church. Whose only solution to every single problem is more free market (more faith), and if a solution does not work at all, its because the society was not faithful to the free market enough.
Most interestingly, this setup also mirrors the development of Christianity and its Church from their inception to late modernity:
While the economist community that is comprised of economists sanctioned by the religion acts as the clergy of the religion, modern media which took the place of individual church buildings as a medium of communication acts as their medium to preach the religion to the society. This setup is amended by the education institutions and scientific institutions which act as the appendages to the Church, where children are educated/indoctrinated to the religion and its tenets from an early age by instilling them with ideas of competition, consumerism, materialism based success and in general a complete worldview that is created based on the religion’s tenets. The higher education and scientific institutions continue the education/indoctrination, creating the subsequent generations of clergy to preach the religion and run the institutions.
Incredibly, this arrangement also replicates the relationship of the medieval church and the nobility
Medieval church in middle ages acted as the opinion-shaper which molded the society’s opinion and beliefs to comply with then-existing feudal/aristocratic system.
The church advocated hard work and poverty, material conservatism to its faithful. Whereas clergy, especially higher members of the church lived much more comfortable and wealthy lives compared to average population, to the extent that highest members of the church being de facto princes in their own right.
The church also acted as the agent which rationalized the power of the minority rich, who were the feudal aristocratic nobility: While the faithful needed to suffer poverty and work hard, the nobility could enjoy material wealth, luxury and live extravagant lives because it was their god given right to rule.
So the medieval church basically acted as the propaganda/conditioning organ of the establishment by conditioning the public to accept the existing arrangement and rationalize the power of minority elite over them. The people worked hard to create economic value while the minority rich elite collected most of that economic production as theirs without doing any comparable work, because they were the property-owners of the region. Their ownership of that property was rationalized as a god given, holistic right.
Which is exactly the case with modern church of holistic economics: The economic church continually rationalizes the existing system and excuses/explains the power of a minority extreme rich segment who controls the system despite the suffering of a large majority to create the wealth that concentrates in the hands of a very tiny minority. Just because they have been able to concentrate ownership of entire economy in their hands.
Which results in dysfunctional, broken societies.
The above infographic is not even up to date with the latest state of affairs, since now one needs an income of $500,000 /year to be able to enter top %1 in US.
The income needed to exit the bottom 99% of U.S. taxpayers hit $515,371 in 2017, according to Internal Revenue Service data released this week. That’s up 7.2% from a year earlier, even after adjusting for inflation.
Since 2011, when Occupy Wall Street protesters rallied under the slogan “We are the 99%,” the income threshold for the top 1% is up an inflation-adjusted 33%. That outpaces all other groups except for those that are even wealthier.
The role of the church of holistic economics is to justify that situation by advocating that the owners of the economy who amass ever increasing amounts of wealth solely due to their ownership/control of the economy, have that much wealth and control because of their ‘hard work’. Whereas the Church is tasked with also keeping the system going by continually advocating for the policies which created this picture of dysfunctional inequality.
The recipe from the holy book is always the same: More deregulation, more ‘free market’ (faith), more hard work for the faithful. Despite this would inevitably end up making the dysfunctional situation worse, more faith is the only thing the faithful should do.
And the church even affects the believers’ behavior towards others
The believer of the system of Capitalism does not even want to entertain any other idea or system – because if he or she does that, s/he will have broken faith, which means that s/he wont be able to attain salvation (get rich). Because if he entertains any other idea or system, he will lose faith in the religion, therefore he is going to be lost and he is going become a heathen (poor). The only way to salvation (getting rich) is hard work (having faith).
This also explains how people who are basically exploited by the system still keep ‘voting against their own interests’ as it is said – its because they believe that this temporary suffering will pass and they will get rich only if they keep faith.
It doesn’t stop there – the exact behavior of the faithful in Middle Ages against heathens and heretic ideologies is also replicated:
Socialism and similar non-Capitalist systems are heresies – a lack of faith – and giving any thought to any non-Capitalist (non-Christian) system is a lack of faith in God.
Furthermore, the poor (heathen) deserve poverty because they were not hardworking (faithful) enough, while the rich (the faithful) deserve all the riches they have because they were hardworking (faithful) enough. So the believers believe if they also work hard enough, they will be saved as well – and become rich.
Hence the brutal, medieval attitude of the believers of the Church of Capitalism towards the downtrodden or the poor in the society in places like US: Its because they are heathens, they deserve what’s coming to them. If only they were faithful, they could also do much better.
Even if the believer himself is not doing any better, that is…
The believer justifies his situation by just believing that he is doing better even if he actually isn’t doing any better – because, since he is hardworking (faithful), he has to be doing better, right? Because the belief says hardworking is rewarded.
Because recognizing the situation and admitting that despite working hard, the promised riches and comforts did not materialize would be a giant blow to the believer’s psyche, the believer just rationalizes and elevates his situation even if he is not doing well. Look, he is hardworking among the flock of the Church, and therefore he has various small amenities – like a car, an air conditioner, a rented house or a house which was bought at an opportune time point when one could easily buy a house.
By attributing these amenities which are pretty much standard in entire developed world to Capitalism, the believer not only reinforces his religion in his mind, but also thwarts off any potential heresy and the subsequent cognitive dissonance by validating the religion.
He has these things because the god of his religion gave them to him for having faith…
This is the underlying motive behind the tendency of not only the Church clergy’s, but also the ordinary believers’ tendency to attribute anything good that happens to Capitalism. Even if Capitalism had nothing to do with it. Its a self-defense mechanism to avoid cognitive dissonance.
Because Capitalism is the ‘true religion’, and because the elite which benefits from Capitalism wants to increase their riches, the religion must be spread.
Hence, the establishment and its church undertake great effort to spread the religion to any place that is heretic: The clergy incessantly advocate the religion to those who don’t believe in it, and whenever possible and if necessary, the establishment itself directly subdues heretics by force and commands their wealth.
This takes the form of never-ending propaganda by the Capitalist establishment to propagate the system to any country that is outside the system or strays afar from the system, like the immense funding that the private think thanks and the US state apparatus spend in funding different foreign movements and foreign political parties which are in alignment with Capitalism.
The propaganda done to these countries takes the same shape that it takes at home: Anything bad that happens in a heretic country is because of their heresy. And anything good that happens somewhere is because of their faith.
Which materializes in anything bad happening in those countries being due to Socialism or other heresies, whereas anything good happening being due to their scarce observance of Capitalism, the faith. So even if the US sanctions a country to starvation, the ensuing starvation is Socialism’s fault.
And if a country or a society does not heed the call through ‘peaceful’ means like these, then the crusades happen: The foreign country is subjected to sanctions, economic warfare, regime change operations and coups, escalated in that order. And if the foreign country is still non-compliant, the final stage is invoked – the foreign country is attacked or invaded in order to force a compliant capitalist government, aka forced conversion to belief.
Do they really believe what they say?
Akin to the people of those times, it is certain that a large swath of the the believers actually believe in their religion.
And in a similar vein, a large swath of the lower and mid to upper segments of elite (clergy and nobility), do believe what they are saying.
However, just like those times, the upper elite in the Church and nobility are definitely aware of the game that is being played, what is false and what is true, and they participate in the game and do what they do only to keep their power and wealth going at the expense of their own people. Except, a small minority of easily influenced personas among them who actually do believe in what they are told.
That explains the phenomenon of highly educated, intelligent figures in establishment saying incredible things which do not make rational sense – things which sound like what a village idiot would say. Those things appeal to the emotions and beliefs of the believers and enable and rationalize the policies and power of the very elite which repeat those incredibly unreasonable talking points.
A segment of educated mid to upper class professionals also are true believers – because despite their rational, and even in certain cases, atheist outlook which does not accept actual religion, they have taken up Capitalism as a Christianity replacement in order to have a belief which explains the world and gives them promises of a better future that is in their hands. While at the same time rationalizing and explaining the suffering and poverty that they see around them, to ease their conscious.
As seen, Capitalism is a direct replacement for Christianity. It replicates not only the core beliefs and explanations of Christianity, but also replicates the church system and the feudal aristocracy. It functions as a vehicle to keep the power of a minority elite over the society while justifying and sanctifying their position of power and wealth at the expense of rest of their countrymen.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that medieval Christianity and Church kept the society stagnant, backwards, kept its people suffering and helped a non-working or minimally working elite hoard the society’s resources. They kept those resources from being used for betterment and prosperity of society and instead used those resources for their extravaganza. A waste. Modern religion of Capitalism does the same to modern society.
It keeps majority in poverty, in a state in which they are ever harder-working but are receiving little from the economic value they generate. Then it gives that economic value to those who own the economy, who will just hoard that wealth as personal power instead of actually investing it to better the society as was promised. On top of that the same elite use their control of the economy to subvert politics through election funding and corporate media, to take over government and implement more policies that will remove limits to their power and ownership of the economy. This further worsens the economic inequality, impacting entirety of the society.
In the end you end up with large segments of people – actually the majority – suffering in poverty, overworked, disenfranchised, uneducated, not even able to feed their children, not having any hope of breaking out of their situation through education because they cant even access education, dying if they cannot pay for exorbitant privatized healthcare, losing all trust in the society and hope for the future, feeling the need to put their faith in actual religious extremism, extremist movements, ultra-nationalism and in some cases, anything that will just shake the system even if it would be destructive.
Endless numbers of youth who could receive education to become scientists or researchers who could bring great advancements to society, to cure diseases, to fix problems, instead waste their talent away working underpaid jobs without being able to pay for their education…
Hard working people receive only a small fraction of the actual economic value they generate, with the majority of the value going to non-working majority shareholders as profit, ending up people having to overwork in stressed jobs and leaning on pharmaceuticals to keep themselves going, being able to get nowhere near what their parents’ generation was able to get in terms of life standards and security of future…
Even the small to medium businesses go bankrupt because population at large doesn’t have money to buy products or services. This is amplified by the pressure which large players that control concentrated wealth put on small and medium businesses because large players can easily out-compete them, and this pressure speeds up the devolving cycle of concentration of wealth…
This causes the system to start using actual religion and to propagate religious extremism in order to keep the society passive. This stems from the need of the people seeking a relief from their misery, but it greatly speeds up due to establishment’s efforts to use it to protect the status quo, bastardizing the religions and turning them into a tool and violating the sanctity of those actual religions’ core tenets to exploit them for self gain. This ends up in an increasingly radicalizing and reactionary populace which starts to become dangerous for the modern social fabric…
So much that the eventual result even hurts those who benefit from the system, with a religious or extremist segment rising from among the population and gaining power, and subduing or prosecuting anyone who does not fall in line. Including anyone from among the incumbent rich elite – forcing these people either to give up their beliefs, their lifestyle and obey the new dominant extremist societal worldview, or suffer the consequences…
The damages which a belief-based mechanic of societal control for self-aggrandizement does are varied and innumerable. Societies throughout history either fixed the economic injustice which created these, or they collapsed in a myriad of ways.
So what can be done?
The foremost thing to do is recognizing the above mechanics and behaviors and observing them at work in the society and daily actions of the ordinary people and the elite.
This brings in the necessary awareness to deal with the problem, independent of where the person is within the social strata.
If you are a member of lower segments of the society, you must realize that hard work will not bring prosperity in a system that was designed to work unfairly, and even if it brings some material rewards, the rewards will be much less than the actual hard work done. It is an unjust system – its not even ‘rigged’ in that way, the system is just what it is – unjust.
Instead, you must follow a route of pushing change through all means possible, voting for pro-people politicians and parties which fight against inequality to put them in positions of power in all levels of society ranging from municipal seats to parliaments, congresses to presidency. And if possible, you must also join grassroots people’s movements for effecting that change. Because grassroots movements, just work.
Anything to address the unfair system and change it to a more egalitarian system will make everything phenomenally better. Advocate change, criticize the existing unjust and destructive system. Help others see the unjust system as it is.
Buy from cooperatives, work in a cooperative if you can. Support organizations and groups which seek to address inequality, do your business with them and solve your problems through them. Become the change which the society needs.
If you are a member of higher segments of the society, especially as a member of educated white collar professional segment who works in private enterprises, you must realize that even with better, and in some cases noticeable compensation which you may be receiving, you are still getting only a fraction of the actual economic value you generate. The situation gets much better if you actually have a share in the company you work, like the stock options that are so popular in places like Silicon Valley, but even in that case the people who work in such enterprises are estimated to be receiving only up to 10% of the economic value they generate.
Increasing inequality and the lack of purchasing power of the general public not only hurt the prospects of the company where you currently work, but also they diminish the chances of the startup which you may attempt to start in future.
At the same time increasing inequality creates a rift in between you and your society, alienates them from you and pushes you into becoming a minority within the society you live. Even if different urban or suburban regions separate you from the disenfranchised majority, eventually the cows would come home when the society falls into extremism and seeks targets to persecute.
Therefore both for your own benefit and for the benefit of the society, you must fight against inequality by not falling to the trap of the religion that justifies this outrageous state of affairs.
Similar to other segments: Vote for politicians and parties that fight inequality. Take action and volunteer for groups that seek to bring change. Prefer to work in organizations that have less inequality or in organizations which seek to bring a more egalitarian distribution of generated economic value. In your workplace, use your technical knowledge and if possible and legal, the means of the organization you work for, in order to push for a more just economic system. Try to address and diminish the power of religious advocacy of the establishment in conditioning the masses.
Work in cooperatives, or in enterprises which have more egalitarian structures. Any company which gives its employees an acceptable share in the ownership of the company and a say in how it is run, is much better. Any company which does even at least a bit of that is a better choice compared to private organizations that are run as private tyrannies.
You as an educated professional, have a lot of impact when you attempt to change the society. Use it to full extent. Without your compliant cooperation, the existing system cannot continue, and with your participation in movements of change, a more egalitarian and futuristic system can rise.
If you are a member of the current elite, though you are currently the beneficiary of the current system, you must realize that the system is self destructive, and no amount of self-reinforcing pseudo-religious philosophy can change the system’s internal mechanics.
As you can understand by researching the histories of societies which have fallen into extremism after the collapse of societal contract due to rampant inequality and disenfranchisement of the majority, the existing established elite rarely escapes the resulting fallout.
In the wave of rising extremism, the elite must either follow suit and subscribe to the extremist beliefs and practices, or suffer prosecution, even death. This happens the same even if you are an actual subscriber of such beliefs – as the society becomes more extremist, you are expected to follow suit, else you are perceived as non-compliant and eventually end up being targeted and getting persecuted.
There is little chance that your worldview and lifestyle will fit any potential extremist movement which may rise in your society. What’s worse, even if your worldview and lifestyle fit the philosophy of the rising extremist movement at the start, in the long run you would find out that you somehow ended up being viewed as a ‘moderate’ who is not compliant with the creed. You first get reviled by your non-compliance, then you get persecuted if you don’t comply.
Your choices would be either complying by dropping your current beliefs and lifestyle and obeying whatever the mainstream of the increasingly extremist society comes up with, or leaving everything behind and escaping abroad. That is, if you can find any reasonably developed society which escapes the ever-increasing inequality and subsequent social collapse which Capitalism is effecting on all developed countries…
The better choice is taking just a few steps back. Taking just a few steps back by allowing a percentage of the immense wealth that is concentrated in the hands of your minority to be channeled to address the rampant inequality through social programs, social services, investments, through putting concentrated wealth back into the economy by distributing it to majority of people in quantity, through distributing it to people who will spend that money to generate actual economic activity which will end up benefiting the businesses and organizations which you hold a stake in…
You don’t lose anything in the process either – you very well know that after a certain point, that kind of wealth cannot be used, cannot be spent for personal purposes in any meaningful manner, and it can only exist in the form of control of economic organizations through ownership of stocks and investments.
It’s a power scheme. It exists as the relative power which you have compared to other players in the form of wealth. And the relative power of the wealth you have compared to all other players would not tangibly change if every player loses a given percentage of their wealth. Even a large scale distribution of a fraction of that wealth would not upset the cards which the players among your segment hold.
So, choose the better option by taking a few steps back by merely not objecting to the political and social movements which seek to address this unworkable state of affairs, and even by directly supporting them to fix this chasm in the society together.
Leaving the self-reinforcing religious belief that enables and propagates the societal breakdown is in the interest of everyone in the society. There is no logic in insisting in continuing a self-destructive system which is destroying itself in front of your eyes in a predictable manner due to its internal mechanics.
No amount of justification, self-delusion or religious mythology, no amount of belief in the system will change the system’s internal mechanics. Its internal mechanics will continue dragging the system towards its eventual self-destruct, irreverent of the belief which you may put in the system. There are even worse potentials than societal collapse due to our civilization having very powerful weapons of mass destruction at this point in history. Extremism and different forms of societal collapse carry the potential of igniting conflicts which may destroy parts of the world or even human civilization.
Instead of believing in the pseudo-religion of holistic economics, we must believe in ourselves, the people.
We must work together to create a better society by putting our faith in ourselves, by putting our faith in our society, by putting our faith in a better future.
Because we can make such a future happen.