jueves, noviembre 08, 2018

The Contemporary World Economic Crisis: A Christian Challenge

Published on: RYPC Translations | Cite as

The Contemporary World Economic Crisis: A Christian Challenge

Source: chinadigitaltimes.net.
Luis Fernando Ortiz

The recent World Economic Crisis was an event that very few people predicted and some other did not even imagine. In fact, in a visit that the Queen of England made to the London School of Economics, Her Majesty raised a series of questions to the speakers about why none of them could not even foresee this event in any way whatsoever1. A similar case occurred with the rating agency Standard & Poor´s, that assigned a positive rating to garbage certificates of ownership not much before the financial bubble went off in 2008.

Today, three years have passed since the appearance of what is now described as “The Great Recession” –alluding to, because of its impact, the 1929’s economic crisis, which was known as “The Great Depression”– and, despite many things have been said about a recovery, the reality goes totally against it: today, European countries face the possible dissolution of the Euro2, financial bailouts and, also, social movements that want, demand and are currently fighting so that public spending on programs of social interest is not cut back (Education, Health, Housing, etc.). The latter is a common feature in most countries in the world, where the discussion is still about maintaining public finance healthy —as it was the case in the United States a few weeks ago. The way out from deficit, which has been approved and applied by the different governments of the globe has been to cut back spending on the public sector, instead of increasing taxes to rich people, as the multimillionaire Warren Buffet has proposed.3

We must understand that the world has fallen into a crisis, after having tread through a social, economic and political vision called neo-liberalism in most countries for, approximately, two decades; and it would be to show only one half of what is really going on, if we affirm –as most people do– that it is only a financial crisis –an answer that is supported by this vision.

Today, the world is having a debate over letting the market forces act freely (neo-liberal vision) or that the State be more participative within the economy (Keynesian vision)4. We can easily note who is winning the battle. In the application of economic policies around the globe, neo-liberal right is currently imposing its way of seeing the world. The financial plan approved in the United States, as well as the different bailout plans in Europe, and privatizations, for example, in Chile, are expressions of this kind of imposition.

But, as I mentioned, it is a crisis, that is, its last name is not only ‘economic’, but also ‘energetic’, ‘food’, and, more importantly, ‘systemic crisis’. We should understand that it is a Global Crisis, in other words, it involves the entire human population; as the Spanish economist Jose Luis Sampedro said: “The crisis it is not the financial crisis, it is the crisis of the system”. But, which system is he referring to? We cannot deny that it is the ‘capitalist’ system, that has embraced neo-liberalism as its ideological cover.5

This system based in the market and prices as efficient selectors of resources, today, has entered again into a crisis.6 It is not –as I mentioned– only neo-liberal thinking, it is the entirety of the system that has found a peak stopping profit, its very reproduction.

What I want to say is that the crisis is systemic and, for some thinkers, it is even a crisis about civilization. In other words, we cannot sustain our way of life. Why? Because the resources do not allow it anymore, because pollution has already modified our weather and, lastly, because, today, the food crisis is inescapable.

These peaks are found in the foundation of our lives’ reproduction, but are made void by the vision of a financial crisis, making us believe that it is the exclusive fault of banks and stock markets around the world, but not of the way our society is, which can no longer guarantee life to all, Christians and atheists, rich and poor.

Therefore, the governments are currently immersed in rescuing not only banks, but the system as well, and there is also the incompetence of international organisms (IMF, WB, WTO) to intervene in the economy in a real and timely manner. Despite all efforts, the economy is currently falling; this is what happens today in the World Economy.

Now, I apologize with you, the reader, for the shortness and superficiality with which I have dealt the matter; to do it right would need a longer analysis –although richer in substance–; I will address an issue that, maybe, it has not been thought from a christian perspective, and it is the following: How should we answer to this as Christians? Whom do we have to support? Is the capital system compatible with Christianity? And, as a more concrete question resulting from the latter, what should we do, if it were the opposite?

To begin with, there is an inability to answer such questions, first, because to us the great majority of what is going on is not relevant, and we think about it as being outside the biblical grounds, and, therefore, alien to our interests. We thus limit, in such a way, our field of action. There are christian courses and seminars about marriage, youth and the family (all of them seen through American values), and we limit ourselves to make a change and move forward in these aspects. But we seldom worry about the poor and the true cause of its poverty.

This brings, as consequence, that we have our own culture, our isolated “world”. We have professional singers, speakers and writers. These men and women understand very little of the world’s dynamics, but, on the other hand, they enact a great influence over Christians. There are serious problems, not in Africa or Asia, but in our Latin American countries. There are problems, but there are not christian politicians, scientists or professionals that understand what is really going on and propose a path of action.

Secondly, we are unable to answer them because we believe that any thought that shows discomfort with political or economic matters would be a violation of what Paul said: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1. In this sense, the only possible action is to accept what is established without saying a word.

I want to finish by concluding that it is really necessary to re-assess our way of living existing Christianity in our countries, because the influence that comes to us from North America is undeniable. It is a Christianity that does not question what is there, what happens, that finds everything to be very normal and eternal, even where it is dissimilar and ephemeral.

I am not thinking in a revolutionary Christianity to the likes of Che Guevara, however, Christianity is revolutionary per se, that is, it does not find comfort in the standards of normal life, in the patterns of existence of a country or an economic system, but in the standards of God, compassion and renovation.

We must speak and be in dissatisfied with what is going on.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” Proverbs 31:8

This article was translated by Nicolás Manfredi and reviewed by Alfredo Francis, under the grant “God's Evolution” awarded to the Science and Faith Centre (Spain) by the BioLogos Foundation (USA).

  1. NADAL, Alejandro. “Carta a la reina de Inglaterra”. Published in La Jornada, México, August 26, 2009.
  2. WHITNEY, Mike. “Es hora de sacrificar al euro para que no siga sufriendo”, at  <http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=133845&titular=es-hora-de-sacrificar-al-euro-para-que-no-siga-sufriendo> (Read: August 13, 2011).
  3. BROOKS, David. “Dejen de consentir a los ricos, dice Buffet a políticos de EU”, in La Jornada, August 16, 2011, México, <http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/16/economia/024n1eco?partner=rss> (Read: August 16, 2011).
  4. For those of you that know nothing of economic theory, Keynesianism was the academic answer to the 29’s crisis. In those years, neo-classical economists had confidence that the market system (capitalism) would regulate itself and come back to normality. However, this did not happen and it was necessary that the State intervened in order to rescue the economy. Keynes observed this and concluded that it was necessary to regulate capitalism, because it is unstable.
  5. For this point, let us remember that in the years 1950-1970, Keynesianism achieved the same goal that neo-liberalism has achieved today, that is, it worked as an ideological weapon for capitalism. In fact, we can affirm that Keynesianism and neo-liberalism are synonyms of capitalism, one more regulated, the other one left to its own.
  6. The form of capitalism supported by Keynesianism entered into crisis in 1970-71; at this point, neo-liberalism takes the lead in order to sustain the reproduction of the system.

Cite as (ISO 690:2010): ORTIZ, Luis Fernando. The Contemporary World Economic Crisis: A Christian Challenge [online]. RYPC Translations, 7 November 2018. <http://www.revista-rypc.org/2018/11/the-contemporary-world-economic-crisis.html> [accessed: ].