Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 5–21

Neoliberal Capitalism and the Corruption of Society: A Pastoral Political Analysis

Article

Abstract

In this article, I juxtapose religious and neoliberal capitalistic symbol systems to highlight the existential flaws in capitalism and how it undermines community and society. More particularly, I contend that religious (in this article, Judeo-Christian) and religiously inflected humanist symbol systems possess core values of care, community (space of appearances and the common good), and relational justice that ideally order social life, institutions, and subjectivity. I argue that these core values and practices, which are woven into the semiotic web of Judeo-Christian religions, are missing from the complex web of symbols and narratives that undergird neoliberal capitalism. I argue further that when neoliberal capitalism becomes a hegemonic way of organizing society, there is an attending corruption of social care, the common good, and relational justice.

Keywords

Neoliberal capitalism Semiotics Christianity Care Relational justice Common good 

Any order and any discourse that has anything to do with capitalism leaves aside what I will simply call things to do with love. (Jacques Lacan; quoted in Dufour 2008, p. 149)

It has been my conviction ever since reading Rauschenbusch that any religion that professes concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried. It well has been said: “A religion that ends with the individual, ends.” (King 1998, p. 18)

The problem is not secularization—as is often assumed—but a kind of hidden religiosity that promotes the worship of the gods of the free market. (Reiger 2009, p. 68)

A capitalist spirituality is the psychological sedative for a culture that is in the process of rejecting the values of community and social justice. (Carrette & King 2005, p. 83)

Of late, a number of voices have been critical of neoliberal capitalism, though these critiques and their proffered solutions rarely find their way into mainstream media (Frank 2000; Harvey 2010; Mander 2012). Critics have also included theologians (Reiger 2009; Rogers-Vaughn 2013) and religious leaders and organizations.1 They have raised concerns about the proliferation of neoliberal ideas and, concomitantly, the concentration of power and resources in the hands of a few, the intermarriage of governments and corporate elites, the threat of neoliberal capitalism to democracy, the looming ecological disaster, and the growing impoverishment of billions of people. In this rich, though neglected, conversation, I believe pastoral theologians can offer a unique perspective and critique of neoliberal capitalism. By unique, I mean that a pastoral political perspective can contribute insight into the core flaws of capitalism as a way of organizing society—market society.

In this article, I juxtapose religious and neoliberal capitalism symbol systems to highlight the existential flaws in capitalism and how it undermines interpersonal subjectivity, community, and society. More particularly, I contend that religious (in this article, Judeo-Christian) and religiously inflected humanist symbol systems possess core values of care, community (space of appearances and the common good), and relational justice that ideally order social life, institutions, and subjectivity, even as the concept of sin unveils the many missteps vis-à-vis the use of power and privilege in Judeo-Christian history. Put another way, Judeo-Christian symbol systems, generally and ideally speaking, foster a kind of subject who (a) constructs the Other as person, (b) is capable and willing to care for Others, (c) is embedded in community, and (d) intends and seeks relational justice. I argue that these core values and practices, which are woven into the semiotic web of Judeo-Christian religions, are missing from the complex web of symbols and narratives that undergird neoliberal capitalism. And when neoliberal capitalism becomes a hegemonic way of organizing society, there is an attending corruption of social care, the common good, and relational justice, though individual business people may attempt to graft these values to mitigate the more negative trajectories of capitalist enterprises. In short, the presence of these existential flaws reveals that capitalism possesses an ethos, but not an ethic (cf. Bell 1996, p.338).2 More precisely, the ethos of neoliberal capitalism masquerades as an anthropology, because key anthropological, ethical realities are elided or deemed insignificant. I argue that when capitalism becomes a hegemonic way of organizing society, there is an attending corruption of the state, society, and community that contributes to subjects who (a) construct the Other as an object, (b) care less about the needs of Others (are unencumbered selves), (c) are disembedded from community, and (d) possess a distorted view of relational justice. I begin with a brief discussion of Judeo-Christian symbol systems along with what I contend are its core values and premises that shape subjectivity, the role of the state, and the ordering of social relationships. This is followed by a depiction of the rise of neoliberal capitalism as a not-so-grand narrative that dominates U.S. society, as well as other societies. Included here is a depiction of the key attributes and premises embedded in a neoliberal capitalist symbol system, which reveal an ethos that is devoid of the values necessary for the well-being (weal) of persons living in society.3

Before beginning, I hasten to address questions regarding a pastoral theologian’s foray into economics.4 Robert Nelson (2001) argued that economics or, more precisely, capitalism, seems to function as a religion in U.S. society. Economists and other experts are the current high priests who, in their clericalism, master, protect, and demonstrate their allegiance to the putative arcane knowledge (dogma) of economics as revealed in the sacred texts of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman. Whether capitalism in its current state functions as a religion or not, it is indisputably a part of public (and religious) life and it is, therefore, the pastoral theologian’s task, if not duty, to understand and reflect critically on public and political realities—relying on theological and human science perspectives—that impact the lives of people. Put another way, pastoral theologians assess public realities from the theologically grounded notions of care and justice, deriving their authority from the community of faith grounded in the incarnation of God’s love and compassion for all creation. I would add that pastoral theologians, like other citizens, live and breathe the economic realities of daily life, providing them with firsthand knowledge and experience of capitalism.

Judeo-Christian symbol system: core attributes and premises

Generally speaking, all religions comprise complex symbol systems of narratives, rituals, doctrines, etc., that inform adherents and answer questions such as whom am I to trust, to whom am I to be loyal, how are we to join together and organize ourselves to meet individual and collective needs, how are we to understand and realize the common good, and what virtues are necessary in achieving the identified ends of the group. In narrowing the focus to Christianity, we do not find a monolithic semiotic system, but rather a multitude of semiotic systems used to organize diverse groups, which are called denominations. For the most part, these groups use the same Bible, but they interpret and emphasize different aspects of biblical narratives in organizing and understanding themselves. Naturally, there are often sharp disagreements among Christian denominations, even violence, possibly reminding observers of Freud’s comment about the narcissism of minor differences or Jonathan Swift’s Lilliputians, who had extensive inane religious treatises and debates regarding how one breaks an egg. Despite the plethora of Christian denominations and theological disputations, I contend that, while reductionistic, there are three interrelated and foundational features that ground and emerge from Judeo-Christian semiotic systems, namely, care, community, and relational justice. Granted, these three notions are understood and lived out in diverse ways, but they found and give shape to a Judeo-Christian worldview and subjectivity. In what follows, I identify attributes and premises associated with these concepts vis-à-vis society, the state, and the subject.

The concept of care, broadly speaking, refers to the recognition and appropriate responses to the emotional experiences and needs of other persons (Hamington 2004; Mayeroff 1971). In terms of caring for fellow human beings, care involves, at its most basic and profound level, the recognition and treatment of the Other as a person—unique,5 valued,6 inviolable,7 responsive or agentic.8 Without this personal recognition, there is objectification, which can lead to an eclipse of caring relations. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this personal recognition vis-à-vis care is rooted in the notion of imago dei—that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Each human being, in other words, possesses transcendent value, integrity, and uniqueness that demands respect for his/her inviolability (Zizioulas 2006). Thus care cannot be reserved simply and solely to people who share the same identity, history, or culture. Jews and Christians are commanded to care not only for each other (e.g., widows and children), but also for the stranger (Deut. 10: 18–19; Ps. 146:9; Matt. 25:35; Rom. 12:13), which requires the recognition of the stranger as a person—different, but like us in our personhood. From philosophical perspectives, Buber (1958) addressed this in terms of I-Thou relations, Levinas (1969, 1981) in terms of encountering the face of the Other, and Macmurray (1961) in terms of recognition of the Other as a person. Christian theologians (Farley 1996; Zizioulas 2006), relying on Levinas, have acknowledged the anthropological necessity of recognizing the Other as a person if care is to exist, and they ground this anthropological notion in Judeo-Christian scripture.

The notion of being created in the image and likeness of God raises a question about what “likeness” means. It suggests some identification and shared characteristics. Karen Armstrong (1993) argued that the major religions of the world have at their core the idea of compassion. In Judeo-Christian scripture, we note Jesus’ ministry of compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32; Mark 6:34, 8:2) and his command to be compassionate as God is compassionate (Luke 6:36). There are also commands to forgive and to show mercy (Matt 6:14–15; Mark 11:25; Matt 5:7, 9:1). To be like God has nothing to do with power and omniscience, but rather practicing compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. While the concept of care has wider meanings, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy are, in many ways, clear expressions and ends of care, because they not only involve recognizing and treating the Other as a person, they also involve a willingness to suffer with people, including strangers and enemies. One could argue that the stories of Jesus’ ministry, his commands to be compassionate and merciful, Christian narrative traditions of ministry, and ecclesial practices (e.g., rituals and living a life in common) ideally work together to create a subject that cares for others within and outside the community and society.

Granted, the very same scripture that undergirds this view of care as compassion also reveals a God who is capricious and who, at times, commands the Israelites to annihilate opposing forces—men, women, and children. Similarly, numerous instances in scripture and Christian history demonstrate human failings to recognize and treat others as persons—both those within the community of faith and those outside. Nevertheless, the core or arc of scripture upholds the notion that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, which is linked to the command to love neighbors and enemies—a command that can, of course, be disobeyed. What I wish to claim here is that this idea of imago dei is a signifier of the existential necessity of care and compassion for social and communal survival and life. Put another way, a semiotic strain in Judeo-Christian scripture is this anthropological truth about care in human life—care is necessary not only for social survival, but also for subjective and intersubjective thriving.

We may take it for granted, but the truth is that care is foundational for the viability of social and communal life, something that many feminist scholars (Bubeck 1995; Hamington 2004; Noddings 1984; Oliner & Oliner 1995; Tronto 1993) have recently addressed, arguing that care is a political concept, founding both society and community. Judeo-Christian scriptures consistently reveal the centrality of this anthropological reality, while also recognizing that human beings can easily choose not to care, thereby disrupting community and society. There are three implications of the notion of care vis-à-vis a group, whether it is a community or a society and its attending institutions. First, there are caring relations that found an individual subject, his/her family relations, and the larger group relations—the community and the larger society. By ‘found,’ I mean that mutual recognition and treatment of each other as persons means the creation of what Arendt (1958) called the space of appearances—shared speech and action among individual persons living a life in common. This is a space wherein embedded and obliged members of the community/society possess enough freedom to appear as themselves in both speech and action, precisely because they will be recognized and treated as persons. In this space of appearances, subjects mutually recognize and treat each other as persons and obtain a sense of freedom in their living a life in common—freedom to and freedom for the Other. If there is a breakdown in individual caring relations (i.e., in the recognition and treatment of each other as persons), there is a resulting disruption in group cooperation—a disruption in shared speech and action. For instance, the failure of parents to care for their children leads to painful relational and psychological disturbances within the family (e.g., agonizing miscommunications and conflicts), which negatively impact the community and society. From a different angle, a society or community that possesses narratives, policies, and programs that lead to the marginalization and oppression of a group of citizens negatively impacts the caring relations within the family and between the family and the dominant group. Those who suffer racism, for instance, testify to the elision of societal care and the impact of this loss on individual, family, and communal life (e.g., Haley 1964; King 1998; Mandela 1994). Put differently, racism undermines shared speech and action between whites and blacks, and it disrupts the subjectivity and interpersonal relations of whites and African American families (Baldwin 1963).

A second implication is that care vis-à-vis the community/society refers to the common good and its relation to the state. Froelich (1989, 1993) contended that Aquinas identified three features of the common good. There are goods that are common to human beings, such as food, water, shelter, etc. There are also goods that are common though not enjoyed by anyone in particular unless they are distributed. Lastly, the common good refers to the common ends of a political society. For instance, a society has continuity as an end, which is common to the group and to the individual. Hopefully, then, the needs of individuals and families are closely allied with the common good, but there are times when these may be in conflict for a variety of reasons. Ideally, care is inextricably related to and informed by the common good of a particular group’s narratives and rituals. The very care—informed by the common good—that is necessary for the stability and enhancement of social relations can also be denied or restricted to others who are constructed as less than persons.

Care is also an integral feature of the role of the state. The state, which is a necessary creation in civilization (Macmurray 1961), has a central role in facilitating the realization of the common good and the care or mutual recognition of citizens as persons. Macmurray (2004) wrote that the “basis of the state is the categorical imperative of justice” (p.122). Further, “To maintain equality of persons in relation is justice. . . . My care for you is only moral if it includes the intention to preserve your freedom as an agent” (1961, p. 190). I would add that, for Macmurray, freedom and justice are aspects of the common good. Noddings (1984), Engster (2007), and Tronto (1993) echo this view of the state’s role vis-à-vis its citizens. This does not mean that the state takes over the role of interpersonal caring (as a so-called Nanny State), but rather fosters caring relations and practices through programs, policies, and institutions, as well as addresses failures in care—administration of justice.

Let me offer some illustrations of care and the common good vis-à-vis Judeo-Christian scriptures. The narratives in scripture recount a covenant between God and God’s chosen people. In Genesis and Exodus, stories tell of God making covenants with Noah and all creation, with Abraham and his descendants and, later, with Moses and his people. In these stories, the covenant signifies God’s continued care for this particular group of people. God hears their cries and responds, though not always in a timely fashion and not always in the expected manner. Care and the common good are bound up in this relationship with God and the chosen people. The common good here refers to the beneficial aims of the people in general. For instance, God promises to be with Abraham’s descendants, suggesting not only the continuity of God’s promise, but the continuity of this community, which became a society. This continuity is both general and particular. In other words, the group itself benefits, as do individuals within the group. God’s covenant, though, is not simply concerned with survival or continuity, but with the group’s thriving, expressed in the imagery of a land of milk and honey. Integral to this relationship between the chosen people and God is leadership, not just in the form of a person who leads his/her people toward the common good (Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc.), but also institutions (e.g., Judges, Kings) that were entrusted to maintain the covenant and thereby the common good. In addition, the varied commands noted above indicate that care and the common good are not simply the responsibility of God and the leadership, but of all people living a life in common.

Of course, we are quickly reminded of stories in scripture where care and the common good are restricted to the chosen people and carelessness is shown to enemies (e.g., Egyptians who were drowned or enemies slain). Care and the common good, then, can easily devolve into a focus on our people and, worse, care only for people in the dominant or privileged group. While the carelessness of violence and exclusion of the common good for Others are evident in Judeo-Christian scripture, there are also passages that serve to disrupt any facile notion that care and the common good are only for the chosen or the privileged. Moreover, these admonitions reveal the existential tendency of human beings to restrict care and the common good, while also challenging the chosen people to transcend group myopia and narcissism. For instance, there are biblical admonitions to care for widows and children (Deut. 14:29; 2 Macc. 8:28), for the poor (Exod. 23:11; Lev. 23:22; 1 Sam. 2:8), and for those in prison (Matt. 25:36). Thus, those who do not have power, privilege, and prestige within the group are also deserving of care from God and the community. They are to share in the common good, and, this is not simply the responsibility of the state, but of all citizens. We also note in scripture that we are commanded to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27), which I assume means to care for our enemies—to care about their common good. Similarly, we are to care for the stranger—the Other (Matt. 25:35; Rom. 12:13; Heb.13:2). Also, Jesus reminds us that God can raise up stones to be children of Abraham (Matt .3:9), suggesting that care and the common good are not confined to those who feel entitled to them by ancestry. Care and the common good may seem, at times, confined to those who live within our community or religious group, but Judeo-Christian scripture places a semiotic rock in the shoes of our faith. We are to struggle to care for the alien, the marginalized. We are to consider how the Other is to share in the common good.

Judeo-Christian semiotics portrays care as foundational to relationships not simply and solely with regard to the survival of individuals and the group, but also to the thriving of individuals, the community, and society. When people do not care for each other and/or God and when leadership and corresponding institutions (e.g., monarchy) fail, the society suffers, becoming more corrupt and divisive (e.g., Isa. 3:14–15, 10:2; Jer. 8:22; Ezek. 18:12–17; Amos 4:1, 8:4–9). As Walzer (2012) notes, the prophets arrive with the birth of the monarchy, establishing a conflict between political power and the admonitions of God. Prophecy, Walzer writes, “is also at war with politics itself—not only when politics is a form of self-aggrandizement but also when it is a form of self-reliance and self-help” (p. 67). Granted, not all prophets spoke truth to power (pp. 76–78), and some were closely allied with the monarchy. Nevertheless, there is a trajectory of prophetic admonitions against leaders who have strayed from the covenant, resulting in harm to society, not only with regard to survival but to the diminishment of life-enhancing ways of being in the world. Isaiah, for instance, proclaims that “The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for you have eaten up the vineyard” (3:13–14). The vineyard not only represents the common good of food needed for survival, it also represents a good that is life-enhancing vis-à-vis individuals and the group.

A discussion of the prophets naturally moves me to address the third pillar of Judeo-Christian semiotics, and that is relational justice. Care and the common good are necessary aspects of living together in families, communities, and societies. Yet, we are all too aware of the tragic and evil realities of life, when people and the state, through acts of omission or commission, fail to care, fail to practice compassion, forgiveness, and mercy, and fail to work toward the common good, revealing an attenuation of the space of appearances. Scripture and Christian history are replete with stories of human missteps and resulting relational disruptions. Naturally, many scriptural narratives address the breach between people of faith and God. Breaking or ignoring the covenant disrupts the individual’s and community’s relationship with God and results in corruption, loss, and devastation. In Exodus, for example, we are familiar with the story of the Israelites constructing a golden calf and God’s anger at their disobedience. Moses persuades God to hold back, later returning, after having the Levites kill 3,000 people, to atone for the sins of his people. Atonement is a theme throughout scripture, and it suggests actions necessary to restore a caring relationship between God and the people, as well as between people of faith. The paradigmatic example of atonement for Christians is Jesus who, through his sacrifice, renews (and expands) human relationships with God. A key feature of atonement between humanity and God and between human beings is relational justice, which is necessary because of the reality of sin that disrupts life in society and community. The arcs and aims of justice are restoration of relationships, healing of individual and relational wounds, and the re-establishment of the common good through partially redeemed citizens, leaders, and state institutions (Hendricks 2011). Without relational justice, care and the common good would be like a two-legged stool—ineffectual. All functional families, communities, and societies require forms of relational justice to address the inevitable human failures and restore the possibility of care and the common good.

In summary, Judeo-Christian scripture comprises a complex semiotic system used by believers to develop caring subjects who are ideally oriented toward the common good and relational justice. I have argued that interpersonal care, which is contingent on the recognition and treatment of others as persons, is expressed in acts of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy, which are foundational for developing caring subjects, as well as for the functioning and thriving of communal and social life wherein individual citizens obtain a measure of freedom to appear as themselves and to engage in shared speech and action—space of appearances. The caring subject is embedded in a community and social life, which presupposes the notion of the common good. The role of the state is, in part, to facilitate care among citizens, encourage shared speech and action, and enable the ongoing work of seeking the common good through state-sanctioned rituals, policies, and programs. Naturally, as a result of human failings, we find ourselves not caring, rejecting community, undermining the common good, and committing injustices. Believers recognize the inevitable and tragic nature of sin, as well as the remedy—relational justice in the form of repentance, forgiveness, atonement, etc. As a semiotic system, Judeo-Christian scriptures have and continue to organize social and communal relations, albeit with the realization that sin, human caprice, and indifference undermine even good enough societies and communities of faith.

Capitalism’s rise and neoliberal capitalism’s core premises and attributes

Capitalism, in general, is a complex semiotic system comprising narratives, treatises, rituals, and other practices for ordering relationships and institutions vis-à-vis financial exchange. By articulating the core semiotic features of neoliberal capitalism against the backdrop of the central features of Judeo-Christian symbol systems, I wish to make clear capitalism’s three existential flaws having to do with care, community/common good, and relational justice. These flaws reveal not simply the limits of neoliberal capitalism, but also that it masquerades as an anthropology that undermines society and community when it becomes the dominant symbol system for ordering society and its political institutions. Before defining and depicting the particular characteristics of neoliberal capitalism, it is important to give a brief account of capitalism’s rise to dominance in structuring Western societies or what Taylor (2007) called the social imaginary—the “way contemporaries imagine the societies they inhabit and sustain” (p. 6).

A brief depiction of capitalism and its emergence as a dominant social imaginary

Since neoliberal capitalism has its roots in classical capitalism, it is important to offer a brief working definition of capitalism before discussing its rise as a dominant social imaginary. The fathers of classical capitalism were two British subjects, Adam Smith (1723–1790) and David Ricardo (1772–1823). They were influential in laying the groundwork for the philosophical and legal principles of capitalism. In brief, capitalism is an intricate economic symbol system that outlines the dynamics and ends of financial exchanges. More particularly, this semiotic system is “organized . . . around the institution of property and the production of commodities” (Bell 1996, p. 14), which is determined by a “rational” calculus of cost and price—commodification of goods and services—and the market law of supply and demand.9 The aims and values of capitalism are productivity and profit or the accumulation of capital for the purposes of reinvestment, market expansion, and greater profits. Profit is the central value, motive, and telos that determines “rational” decisions vis-à-vis expanding production, seeking larger markets, wages, hiring, etc. Labor and wages, for instance, are inextricably linked to and ostensibly determined by material production, services, supply and demand, and, naturally, the overarching aim of securing profit (Wolff & Resnick 2012). Surplus labor is integral to the overall profit, which is kept by those who are considered owners of the business. In addition, the means of production, in capitalism, are, for the most part, privately owned, whether by an individual, family, or stockholders (more precisely, legal entities or fictions called corporations that have stockholders). In terms of the relation between consumers and producers, there is Adam Smith’s belief in the “invisible hand” of the market, whereby each individual “rationally” maximizes his/her self-interest in a milieu where supply will equal the demand, increasing the wealth of producers and shareholders (Hendricks 2011).10 In other words, each subject is self-referential, maximizing his/her self-interest, which, it is believed, will lead to an overall “good” for the society.

Adam Smith could not have envisioned the dominance of the market’s invisible hand in Western societies. To understand the emergence of capitalism’s hegemony, we must begin with the decline of modernity. Early in the 20th century, Max Weber wondered how modern economic life was taking over traditional religious modes of being in the world, and his answer was the rise of the rational ethics of Protestantism (Bell 1996, p. 288). Certainly, this was a factor, but other forces and events were taking place to undermine the dominance of “traditional” modes of organizing social relations or social imaginaries. In the West, the edifice of modernity appeared to crumble under the weight of the horrors of two world wars, the Holocaust, and the specter of nuclear annihilation, thus shaking people’s confidence in political and religious institutions and modernity’s notion of human progress. Yet, even before these societal catastrophes, Hannah Arendt (1954), like Weber, noted that the undermining or end of tradition began in the 19th century when philosophers such as Marx, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche “tried desperately to think against the tradition while using its own conceptual tools” (p. 24). The “rise of modern science, whose spirit is expressed in the Cartesian philosophy of doubt and mistrust” (p. 39), further undermined tradition—philosophical and theological.11 This rebellion and the rise of the physical and human sciences were contributors to the end of tradition, though traditional concepts did not “necessarily [lose] their power over the minds of men” (p. 25). Indeed, Arendt contended that some of the traditional ideas are tyrannically held “as tradition loses its living force” (p. 26). The tyrannical grip on traditional concepts should be understood in terms of the threatened crisis of shared meaning and value or a shift in what Charles Taylor (2007) called the social imaginaries of moral orders. Lyotard (1999) noted further that this crisis in the West accompanied an eclipse of a grand narrative and this eclipse fostered a crisis of the legitimation of truth claims, as well as a questioning of authority. Previously, a grand narrative—Christianity—comprised overarching collectively held truths that people accepted and used to provide meaning, organize social relations, and establish social authority. This was a crisis; or as Reiger (2003) wrote, “the rupture of an older way to make sense of the world is indeed one of the markers of our time” (p. 11). This new situation, often called postmodernity, is characterized, in part, by the (a) disbelief in any ultimate reliability in knowledge or truth,( b) disbelief in being able to “discover” the essential nature of an object, (c) doubt regarding unity, understood as sharing a common language, ethos, and language, and (d) denial of the transcendence of norms and values—disenchantment (Cahoone 1996).

There is clearly explanatory power in the idea that there was and is an eclipse of a grand religious narrative for interpreting daily life, making way for a multiplicity of societal narratives and competing claims vis-à-vis meanings, values, authority, and legitimacy. This said, nature abhors a vacuum, and I contend that what filled the vacuum was not the Babel of numerous competing language games, but rather the social imaginary of capitalism. In the West, the rise and spread of capitalism had its roots not simply in the ethos of rational ethics of liberal Protestantism and the eclipse of grand narratives, but in the Western colonialism and industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries (Zaretsky 1973; Zinn 1998). As the United States and other colonial powers sought territory and markets, capitalism was the lingua franca of politicians and business leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries. After World War II, while colonial powers were losing their hold on client states, the supremacy of capitalism continued as government, corporate, and academic leaders devised methods to extend political and economic power without physically colonizing other countries—Bretton Woods (1944) and the creation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are examples. This expansion of capitalism did not remain confined to the creation of institutions that primarily aided Western powers. Klein (2007), for instance, painstakingly outlined the collusion of U.S. government leaders and economic experts (Friedman and other economists from the Chicago School) to destabilize governments and economies (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, etc.) during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s to install a capitalistic system that favored U.S. and European interests (see also Reich 2007, pp. 44–45). The creation of international economic institutions and economic colonization of other countries accompanied an “evangelical” zeal for establishing “free” markets.12

The capitalistic symbol system, in my view, filled the vacuum that occurred, in part, as a result of the demise of a religious grand narrative. It became the not-so-grand, occult narrative, providing a common language with a shared set of beliefs, expectations, and values to make sense of and order the world. Indeed, as Nelson (2001) and Frank (2000) point out, there are aspects of market populism that are seemingly religious in nature.13 Similarly, Dufour (2008) wrote that the commodity narrative and its “most practical expression—the American-style mall . . .—now claims to have replaced the church in its role of cementing social bonds” (p. 59). Or one could say that in the eclipse of the grand narrative, we have replaced monotheism with moneyism.

Neoliberal capitalism

Neoliberal capitalism, which, in its current form, can also be called state-corporate capitalism, is a particular form of capitalism that is distinct from its predecessor Keynesian economics. Keynesian economics focused on state intervention and regulation in limiting the inevitable boom-bust cycles of classical capitalism (Wolff & Resnick 2012). The seeds of neoliberal capitalism sprouted shortly after World War II with political philosopher Friedrich von Hayek’s creation of the Mont Pelerin Society (Harvey 2005, p. 20), which included famed economist Milton Friedman whose Chicago School played a significant role in destabilizing various nations in the attempt to establish neoliberal states during the 1970s and 1980s (Klein 2007). The catalyst for the rise of neoliberal capitalists to positions of power and influence in the United States was the economic crisis of the 1970s.14 Neoliberal capitalists, such as Friedman, reinterpreted or reframed some of Adam Smith’s and David Ricardo’s beliefs and overlooked some of their warnings about corporate powers, though neoliberal capitalists kept the tenet that “the hidden hand of the market was the best device for mobilizing even the basest of human instincts such as gluttony, greed, and the desire for wealth and power for the benefit of all” (Harvey 2005, p. 20, emphasis added). While there is no clear consensus regarding the attributes of neoliberal capitalism, I nevertheless offer what I believe to be its central tenets, namely: (1) human well-being is best achieved by providing entrepreneurial freedoms so that actors can act out of their “rational” self-interests, (2) social goods will be maximized by expanding the reach and frequency of market transactions, (3) anything and anyone can be commodified (Sandel 2012), (4) the state is not to intervene in trying to control markets or restrict the reach of commodification, (5) the state functions to ensure private property rights and deregulation so that there can be free markets and free trade, (6) where markets do not exist, entrepreneurs and the state work together to ensure both privatization and deregulation (e.g., privatization of public education, prisons, healthcare, etc.), (7) corporations are to inform the state as to the laws that will enhance profit and market expansion, and (8) greed can actually be used to benefit society (Couldry 2010; Duménil & Lévy 2011; Harvey 2005, 2010).

Given this all-too-brief description, I turn to the underlying premises of neoliberal capitalism and its corruption of care, community, and relational justice. The dominant or central “anthropological” premise of classical and neoliberal capitalism is the belief in the rational self-interest of individuals as the key to ordering social relationships and attaining “goods.” What is immediately apparent in the “anthropology” of neoliberal capitalism is the Western celebration of individualism and competition, which are inextricably joined to the belief that human beings are rational creatures, individually capable of recognizing and acting (agency as competition) on their desires and needs. That human beings act in self-interested ways is not surprising to anyone, but what classical and neoliberal capitalism propose is to reframe what in the Christian traditions had been seen as a vice or deadly sin (preoccupation with self-interest)—and detrimental with regard to social and communal relations—into a virtue or a good.

This said, let’s look more closely at the notions of rational self-interest and putative social well-being. The mutual attempt to maximize self-interests necessarily involves individuals’ perceptions, judgments or calculations, and behaviors, which are shaped by the values and expectations of the symbols associated with neoliberal capitalism. That is, one’s perception, from a neoliberal perspective, is shaped by one’s wants, desires, and needs, as well as judgment with regard to whether the Other will meet, assist, or obstruct the achievement of one’s desires and needs. I then act in accord with both my “rational” interests and judgments/calculations vis-à-vis the Other who is constructed as either cooperating or obstructing my aims. Judgment here also entails commodification—making instrumental, monetary value judgments about the object, his/her behavior, etc.—and objectification. The Other, in brief, is constructed in I-It terms or instrumentally, which in different language means the Other’s value (conditional and fiduciary) is determined by the degree to which s/he helps or impedes the achievement of one’s self-interests. The attending belief (myth) of rational self-interests overlooks not only centuries of philosophical and theological discussions on how easily reason can be corrupted (Farley 1990; Fingarette 1969), but also more recent psychoanalytic theories and clinical research on how unconscious motivations and emotions distort reason. More importantly, the notion of reason as the employment of rational self-interest leads to an instrumental and reductionistic way of understanding not only the ways human beings act, but also their value—from having intrinsic ontological value to conditional and commodified value.

That human perception, judgment, and reason can be instrumental is not contested here. Instead, what is problematic about neoliberalism’s rational self-interest is that it reverses a Kantian or neo-Kantian Christian anthropological perspective regarding care, society and community, and the role of the state. John Macmurray (1957, 1961), a neo-Kantian and Christian philosopher, argued that recognition of the Other as a person—unique, valued, inviolable, responsive or agentic—is foundational for establishing and maintaining communal and social life. Personal recognition is also the basis of an ethical life lived in community and society. Impersonal recognition, which would include instrumental reasoning (e.g., commodification and objectification), is also part of social life, but it must be subordinate to personal recognition for social and communal life to be viable. A contemporary of Macmurray, philosopher Emmanuel Mounier (1952), similarly stated, “the essence of a person, being indefinable, is never exhausted by its expression, not subject to anything by which it is conditioned” (p. xviii), which is in the background of a market society. Decades later, Orthodox theologian and philosopher John Zizioulas (1985), building on the work of Levinas’s (1969) notion of the face, echoed Macmurray and Mounier (1952) and argued that a person “is so absolute in its uniqueness that it does not permit itself to be regarded as an arithmetical concept, to be set alongside other beings, to be combined with other objects, or to be used as a means, even for the most sacred goal. The goal is the person itself” (p. 47). Moreover, personhood, Zizioulas wrote, “is not about qualities or capacities of any kind” (p. 111). Indeed, “a person is not subject to norms and stereotypes; a person cannot be classified in any way” (p. 9, emphasis added)—his/her uniqueness is absolute in that it is not contingent upon his/her qualities, and this “finally means that only a person is free in the true sense” (p. 9). Macmurray, Mounier, and Zizioulas recognized, in different ways, that human life entails situations of instrumental thinking and perception, but these must be subordinate to recognition and treatment of others as persons. That is, the other qua person is an end in him/herself and not to be assessed or valued in terms of attaining one’s “rational self-interests” unless it is clearly shown to be for the sake of the Other and time-limited. For these philosophers, the eclipse of the personal relation in shaping perception, judgment, and behavior inevitably leads to forms of objectification that result in subjective and intersubjective alienation. In neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system, the core premise of rational self-interest subordinates interpersonal relations to I-It relations, whereby the Other is “rationally” assessed in terms of whether s/he hinders or enables the achievement of one’s self-interest. Whereas in Macmurray’s view a viable social-communal symbol constrains participants for the sake of the common good, in neoliberal capitalism the “only ‘acceptable constraints’ are now those of ‘commodity exchanges’” (Dufour 2008, p. 158). This way of being in the world fundamentally corrupts care and community by manufacturing atomized or disembedded selves interested in satisfying their own wants, desires, and needs. Put another way, in a market society the dominance and apotheosis of rational self-interests produces an objectified subject and Other.

Neoliberal capitalism’s tendency to objectify the Other through “rational” calculations vis-à-vis the commodification of labor and nearly all other human activity (see Sandel 2012) leads to a society dominated by I-It relations. While I-It relations may create a social way of interacting, they nevertheless fundamentally undermines both care and community (Macmurray 1961). To care for another individual demands a basic recognition of him/her as a person—unique, valued, inviolable, and agentic. Granted, there are occasions when one must objectify the other (e.g., diagnosis), but this is temporary, clearly for the sake of the person, and time-limited. In addition, to care for the Other, more often than not, requires some renouncement of one’s self-interest to take into account and meet the interests and needs of the Other. An illustration of this is seen in good enough parents’ care of their child. They recognize the child as a person, possessing unique traits, needs, and desires. Parents frequently set aside or subordinate their own interests and needs for the sake of caring for the child’s needs. There is an asceticism, if you will, in caring for their child. In neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system, one “cares” for one’s own interests, and “care” for the other is dependent on whether s/he is meeting or helping to meet one’s self-interests. Or, an institution “cares” to the degree that its clients provide the corporation with a profit. Notable examples of this are the privatization of health care and prisons. Patients and prisoners are commodified. Care may take place, but it is seen through the lens of profit, which fundamentally corrupts care through making interests and motivations self-referential, as well as the commodification of perceptions and judgments of those responsible for the administration of the institution.15

I note here that there can be “ascetism” in neoliberal capitalism, but renouncing desires and needs is not aimed at caring for the Other or achieving the common good. A neoliberal capitalist may be quite ascetic in renouncing certain desires and needs to further his/her financial self-interests. In Judeo-Christian semiotic traditions, virtue requires renouncing some self-interests or desires for the sake of the common good and the development of ethical character. In a neoliberal capitalistic symbol system, renouncing one’s individual desires, needs, etc., is aimed at caring for one’s own financial gains and position. Virtue and its relation to caring for others becomes twisted into instrumental virtues—virtues with regard to economic skills and techniques (not character)—aimed at achieving individual self-interests and perhaps the wish that, in so doing, society will benefit. In short, the neoliberal capitalist symbol systems foster subjects who are atomized, working hard to care for themselves, which may require, at times, renunciation of desires and needs for the sake of personal gain.

While Judeo-Christian semiotic systems aspire to create a caring subject embedded in a community of faith and able to identify and respond to the needs and interests of Others, the neoliberal narratives and practices foster a narcissistic, atomized subject who seemingly cares whenever situations are advantageous to him/her. Put differently, this semiotic system manufactures selves who are motivated to identify and meet their own desires, wants, and needs. It is this semiotic system that corrupts care into a self-referential reality, obliterating or corrupting the notion that in a healthy society and community “each cares for all others and no one for himself” (Macmurray 1935, p.159). Instead, neoliberal capitalism’s market society is founded on everyone caring for him/herself and no one caring for others—unless it is in one’s financial self-interest.

Implicit in this discussion of care is the notion of the common good, which is an attribute of community and society and not simply a collective of atomized, disembedded subjects pursing their own self-interests (see Taylor 2007). Indeed, in neoliberal capitalism, selves are unencumbered, except in the pursuit of their own interests and in how the Other aids or obstructs their aims. An unencumbered self is not encumbered by the needs and desires of other individuals or the larger society, except when they intersect with his/her own needs and desires. Of course, neoliberals argue that their system does indeed lead to an intersection of mutual aims, contributing to greater wealth or social benefit. If, as the story goes, we all follow our rational self-interests and the government has minimal market intrusions (e.g., regulations), then there will be greater wealth for all. Indeed, neoliberal capitalists are almost entirely focused on the financial wealth of a society (GDP) as a measure of well-being or the common good. Since the United States is dominated by neoliberal capitalism’s ethos and is currently the world’s largest economy and “wealthiest” nation, it would appear to bolster neoliberal claims about the well-being of society. A closer look reveals the narrowness and falsehoods of neoliberal capitalism’s measure of well-being vis-à-vis the common good. If we believe the premise that the mutual pursuit of rational self-interests leads to social benefit vis-à-vis financial wealth, then we would expect to see that most citizens are financially better off. Since neoliberal capitalism’s rise in the 1970s, this has not been the case. Worker productivity has risen since the 1970s, but this has not been accompanied by higher wages for workers, unless, of course, you happen to be in upper management.16 Workers’ wages have remained flat, but for those in the top 1 %, income has risen over 240 % —and exponentially higher for those in the top 1 % of the top 1 %. During the same period, economic inequality has increased to levels not seen since before the Great Depression and has created deep class divisions (Stiglitz 2012). For instance, between 1979 and 2000, the richest 1 % of Americans increased their after-tax income by 200 %, while the median family income decreased (Mander 2012, pp. 180–182). Also, during the first years of the economic disaster (2007–09) CEOs’ salaries increased 185 times more than the wages of the average employee (Mander 2012, p. 82). Other social indicators reveal a lack of well-being. For instance, childhood poverty in the United States is 22 %, while more socially oriented nations have remarkably less poverty (e.g., Denmark at 2 %). In terms of financial well-being, neoliberal capitalism is certainly good for the top tier of society, but hardly for the common good, unless one believes that the monetary scraps from the 1 %’s tables is good enough.

If we pursue other measures of well-being, we note a number of systemic issues in a market-dominated society. Cvetkovich (2012) notes the rise of depression (and medication) in the United States and links it to the vicissitudes of a market society. Economic pressure and uncertainty evoke anxiety, which has been on the rise in the United States even during periods of enormous economic growth (Mander 2012, p. 233). Health indicators such as suicide, obesity, maternal and infant mortality, food insecurity, and life expectancy are all negatively correlated with the rise of neoliberal capitalism’s dominance in the United States (p. 231). So, the premise that individuals pursuing their own rational self-interests will result in the well-being of citizens (common good) is demonstrably false.

Above, I indicated that the common good in Judeo-Christian semiotic systems is ideally connected to the idea of a space of appearances wherein citizens speak and act together, which is contingent upon the mutual recognition and treatment of each other as persons—the basis of care and communal/societal participation and cooperation. Moreover, this is a space wherein embedded and obliged members of the community/society possess enough freedom to appear as themselves in both speech and action, precisely because they will be recognized and treated as persons. These persons obtain a sense of freedom in their living a life in common—freedom to and freedom for the Other. In a neoliberal capitalist society, the space of appearances is attenuated by what Wolin (2008) calls an inverted totalitarianism, wherein the economic symbol system “dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness” (p. 58), which is unlike other forms of totalitarianism that subordinate economics to politics. As in any totalitarian system, there is a corruption of freedom and space of appearances that takes different forms. Inverted totalitarianism corrupts and reduces the idea and exercise of freedom by reframing freedom in terms of the individual’s commercial choices. Freedom is further distorted through a diminution of the space of appearances—where power is understood in terms of acting and speaking together (Arendt 1958)—to a public space of titillating spectacles de jour (Boorstin 1987), which accompany advertisements. Freedom as choice of products and a public space of spectacles are the opiates of the citizenry, screening the reality that plutocrats and oligarchs hold the levers of the state, promoting their own interests and not the common good. Put more succinctly, neoliberal capitalism’s current form is the corporate state, corrupting the view that the state is to seek the common good for all citizens and not simply the financial well-being of corporations. The distorted notion and exercise of freedom and a diminished space of appearances are features of the inverted totalitarianism of neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system, which leads to a society where citizens are to care for their own self-interests and goods, while the state is corrupted into serving the interests of the few and plutocrats reap huge financial rewards at the expense of the common good.

In a totalitarian society—classical or inverted—one can expect to see a distortion not only of care and the common good, but also of relational justice—wrong on the throne and right on the scaffold (Niebuhr 1941, p. 40). Neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system does not and cannot possess a notion of relational justice unless it is grafted on, and in those instances the idea of relational justice never quite fits with the core premise of achieving one’s own “rational” self-interests. One could argue, however, that this semiotic system has a minimal version of fiduciary justice—a relationship of trust vis-à-vis financial exchanges between two or more parties, whether individuals or entities. Cheating or lying would be a breach, requiring some form of repair. Fiduciary justice, though, is not relational justice, because of the absence of necessary recognition and treatment of Others as persons and a very limited understanding of the common good. The concern is not for persons, but rather for economic fairness with the aims of relatively balanced competition and a well-run market. For instance, in a neoliberal capitalistic system it is entirely fair to charge what the market will bear even if it results in people being homeless and lacking food in crises like Hurricane Katrina. A motel owner, for instance, has limited rooms and instead of charging $80 he charges $500, knowing that desperate people will pay the price (see Sandel 2009, pp. 3–6). Sandel (2012) provides numerous illustrations of fiduciary “fairness” that undermine relational justice. I would add that there is a corruption of relational justice whenever laws are promulgated to benefit corporations at the expense of working class, poor, and other marginalized people (e.g., immigrants). This legalized (fictional) “fairness” actually contributes to social injustices, and examples of this are depressingly legion (e.g., minimum wage laws [not living wage], so-called right-to-work laws, immigration reform laws that feed into the prison industrial complex, etc.). Even fiduciary justice goes terribly awry in a neoliberal capitalistic system when banking and other corporate institutions can create a financial disaster and not be held accountable, but instead become even wealthier.17 Unlike Judeo-Christian semiotic systems that possess a notion of relational justice aimed at care and the common good, neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system transforms relational justice into a narrow fiduciary justice that limits justice to financial exchanges, largely weighted toward corporations and the wealthy rather than the common good.

In summary, neoliberal capitalism’s semiotic system has become a dominant way of organizing social and political realities. A central tenet of this symbol system is the idea that the collective pursuit of each individual’s rational self-interests leads to the “well-being” of citizens. This belief shapes perceptions and behaviors, resulting in I-It relations that undermine care, reduce and corrupt the understanding and practice of freedom, distort the space of appearances, and crowd out the idea of relational justice.

Conclusion

All societies rely on complex semiotic symbols systems and their attending social practices in organizing society—public and political spaces and institutions. I first contended that Judeo-Christian (and humanistic) symbol systems have three core features that order society and contribute to the well-being of its citizens, namely, care common good, and relational justice. Naturally, no religious or humanistic semiotic system leads to a utopia, but these core attributes often function to provide people hope that current social failings can be addressed and the common good achieved. Using this as an interpretive frame of reference, I examined the rise of neoliberal capitalism as a dominant semiotic system for organizing social relations, arguing that it undermines care, community, the common good, and relational justice. In so doing, I am not making the case for a return to a Christian theocracy or some kind of Christian social democracy. Rather, I wished to lay claim that the only viable semiotic systems are those that possess, at their core, beliefs about and practices of care, the common good, and relational justice.

Footnotes
1

See, for example, Lutheran World Federation, Message from the Tenth Assembly, Winnipeg, Canada, 2003, http://www.lwf-assembly2003.org/lwf-assembly/htdocs/PDFs/LWF_Assembly_Message-EN.pdf accessed 30 July 2013: World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth, May 2006, http://www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=2985 accessed 30 July 2013.

 
2

A concrete illustration of this is the lack of ethical statements of economists’ organizations (e.g., American Economists Association, National Economic Association, and the World Economics Association).

 
3

The etymological root of the term wealth is weal, which means well-being. Currently, wealth has a more narrow meaning referring to financial abundance, productivity, etc. Instead of measuring well-being, the United States uses GNP (Gross National Product) or GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to determine the health of the economy and by implication the economic “health” of its citizens. In Bhutan they use Gross National Happiness, relying on economic indicators, as well as spiritual and cultural values of the country. Annie Kelly, “Gross national happiness in Bhutan: The big idea from a tiny state that could change the world,” Dec. 1, 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/01/bhutan-wealth-happiness-counts accessed 5 August 2013

 
4

A pastoral analysis involves the use of care as an interpretive framework (understood theologically and also relying on human sciences) to answer the question of what is going on and to develop pastoral interventions.

 
5

We may consider an object unique because of its recognized characteristics and its rarity. If the object were to lose some or all of its characteristics and/or become common, it would no longer be considered unique. This is not the case when the Other is omnipotently constructed as a person. In the omnipotent construction of the baby as a person, for instance, uniqueness is primarily an ontological attribution and secondarily refers to the baby’s specific traits (see Mounier 1952; Levinas 1981; Zizioulas 2006). Uniqueness is not contingent on the attributes, skills, or achievements/productivity of the individual.

 
6

The valuation associated with objects concerns the object’s capacities and qualities vis-à-vis the needs and desires of the individual who assigns the value. An object is valuable because it is rendered so by the individual(s). The valuer constructs the object as being valuable because of its particular qualities and functions. If the object were to lose some or all of its particular qualities or uses, while still remaining what it is, the valuer might withdraw his/her valuation. This said, when it comes to constructing the individual as a person, valuation takes on a different character. The individual as person is of value in him/herself. The valuation of the individual is not simply or solely based on his/her specific qualities, characteristics, or uses/functions, though these are certainly part of the mix. The individual qua person is existentially valuable in him/herself (Raz 2001).

 
7

Philosopher Joseph Raz (2001) argued that respect means equating “being an end in oneself with being of value in oneself, and take that condition as a ground for a certain treatment” (p. 155). Respect means security from being infringed upon or breached vis-à-vis one’s embodied subjectivity—inviolableness.

 
8

Niebuhr’s (1963) anthropology contains the premise that human beings are responsive creatures—agentic. Even an infant has a rudimentary agency as s/he accepts or resists the parent’s ministrations. The parent’s agency includes (a) the omnipotent construction of the baby as person and (b) corresponding actions that communicate to the infant his/her singularity, inherent value, inviolability, and ability to act in the world. This omnipotent construction of the baby as person includes the belief or necessary illusion (and corresponding behavior) that the infant is an agent—an actor who possesses a will and mind of his/her own. This means that a good enough parent accepts and affirms the baby’s resistance—assertions—precisely because it is the baby’s resistance that contributes to the parent’s knowledge of the baby, as well as confirms the baby’s self-experience as an existent—a self (Levin & Trevarthen 2000; Trevarthen 1993).

 
9

I have placed the term “rational” in quotes to suggest the underlying illusion that the so-called Market or those involved in the Market make rational, objective decisions. A cursory reading of the rises and falls of the stock market reveals that greed, fear, hubris, anxiety, and anger play a large role in making “rational” decisions. I would add here that the notion of “rational” vis-à-vis capitalism is a kind of rationalism that is associated with the advancement of each individual’s self-interest. This is decidedly different from a rationalism associated with making decisions with regard to the interests and needs of others (Gergen 1994).

 
10

Hendricks (2011) points out that John Maynard Keynes dismantled this claim, indicating that “supply cannot be counted on to create its own demand” (p. 152).

 
11

A more recent analysis by Dufour (2008) suggests that the Enlightenment ushered in a period of critical thinking that undermined, eventually, collective confidence in traditions and authority.

 
12

Nelson (2001) provides an interesting history of the proponents of capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and their religious fervor in preaching the good news of capitalism. It is interesting that this accompanied a growing decline, as Lyotard (1999) pointed out, of a religious grand narrative for ordering social life.

 
13

There are interesting parallels when comparing neoliberal capitalism to religion; however, capitalism can never function as a religion not simply because it is merely a theory of economic exchanges, but more importantly because it lacks a transcendent claim that “binds” a community of individuals who mutually recognize and treat each other as persons—unique, valued, inviolable, responsive subjects.

 
14

Harvey (2005) argues that the power and influence of neoliberal ideas came to fruition in the 1970s/80s with the proliferation of conservative think tanks, as well as the elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. See also Duménil and Lévy (2011) and Klein (2007) on the rise and influence of neoliberalism and the process of globalization through varied means of force and coercion by Western powers.

 
15

I am not suggesting that nurses or doctors, for example, do not care for their patients. Rather, the overall care is corrupted by the focus on profits and efficiency. So, for instance, there are fewer nurses with more patients to care for.

 
16

Dave Gilson, Overworked America: 12 charts that will make your blood boil, July/August 2011, Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts accessed 22 July 2013.

 
17

Chris Hedges, The greatest crimes against humanity are perpetrated by people just doing their jobs, Truthout, July 23, 2012, http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10476-the-careerists accessed July 27, 2012; Laura Flanders, Are banksters redeemable? Interview with former JPMorgan director John Fullerton, Truthout, July 11, 2012,

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10271-finance-is-lost-are-banksters-redeemable-interview-with-former-jpmorgan-director-john-fullerton accessed 9 July 2012.

 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Meinrad Seminary and School of TheologyMeinradUSA

Personalised recommendations