The Bad Religion Of Capitalism

How we went from worshiping the sacred to the profane

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The church I was wed in, in the shadow of luxury condos and covered in bank advertising

In Religion In Human Evolution, Robert Bellah says “Religion is a system of beliefs and practices relative to the sacred that unite those who adhere to them in a moral community.” Modern, ‘educated’, consumers don’t live in such a religious community, but we still live in community of belief. To paraphrase Bellah, ‘Capitalism is a system of beliefs and practices relative to the profane that unite those who adhere to them in an immoral community.’ We follow a religion of sorts, just a bad one.

That’s what we’ll discuss in this blog post, but first we have to bonfire some vanities.

The Monopoly Of Reality

The central conceit of Capitalism is that is simply a realistic philosophy that delivers results. It might not be pretty, but it works. It’s just the way it is. People are inherently selfish, but if this nature is harnessed through artificial intelligence (corporations) it can produce the greater good. Thus Capitalism as a belief system produces real miracles (planes! TVs!) and thus has a monopoly on reality. Everything else is just belief.

You can see to dominance of this bad religion quite visibly in any city. Just look up. The tallest spires we raise are to banks. What we worship…

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Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.