Global Exit: The Churches and the Total Market
"The total market at the zenity of its power and effectiveness consumes all natural resources and presents itself as without alternative. Without alternative is a sign of omnipotence..Our society exists under the dome of the religion of the total market determining everything..The Latin American liberation church could be an example for the exodus from the house of bondage of global capitalism." This excerpt is translated from the German.
The Churches and the Total Market
By Carl Amery
[This excerpt and outline of Carl Amery's Global Exit, The Churches and the Total Market, Munich 2002 (Luchterhand) is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.langelieder.de/lit-amery.html.]
Carl Amery who has influenced political discussion in West Germany for decades grapples with the question how the earth can survive as a biosphere inhabited by people and how we can regain a life perspective for our descendants.
In this polemical writing, he says that our life world will collapse and become uninhabitable in the course of the nascent millennium. This process will accelerate and become irreversible through the triumph of the total market that at the zenith of its power and effectiveness consumes all natural resources and presents itself as without alternative. Without alternative is a sign of omnipotence. Omnipotence is the characteristic of an ideology or religion. While we believe that our society is a colorful patchwork of values and cultures, it exists in truth under the dome of the religion of the total market determining everything.
In the second part of his analysis, Carl Amery says that the churches of Christendom will very soon sink into complete insignificance and can only regain their vitality and salvific importance by accepting the civilizing commission to work for sustainable biospherically responsible cultures. Consequently he sees a single central civilizing commission for the historical churches of Christendom in the 21st century, namely to start fighting against the religion of the total market and work for a habitable future society. The Latin American liberation church could be an example for the exodus from the "house of bondage of global capitalism".
Carl Amery, born in 1922 and chosen president of the German PEN-center in 1989 was awarded numerous prizes including the 1991 literature prize of the city of Munich. He has written controversial books including The Capitulation or Concrete Catholicism, The Ecological Chance, The Message of the Millenium and Hitler as Forerunner.
Table of Contents
I. The Empire Religion
1. Time-space of the Total Market. 2. Powerlessness and Omnipotence. 3. The Handmaiden of the Lord. 4. Pastoral care and Soul decontamination
II. Christians in the Pantheon
1. Time-space of Christianity. 2. Happiness in the container. 3. Genetic makeup or Clothes make people. 4. Death or Exodus. 5. Criteria of empowerment. 6. Excursus: Los hijos de la chingala
III. Necessary Words and Deeds
1. Crusade and exodus. 2. Worldly, academic and intellectual obstacles. 3. Goals and resources. 4. The Feet of the Idol
The life world that we know and inhabit will collapse and become uninhabitable in the course of the nascent millennium.
The churches of Christendom will sink very soon into complete insignificance in the course of this century.
These two prospects when combined imply an enormous obligation and give birth to an enormous chance.
I The Empire religion/ 1. Time-space of the Total Market
Our life world could perish. This would be the result of our advances in controlling nature and our inability (or unwillingness) to order and supervise these advances in a way that does justice to life.
That this can happen is not illogical. That it must happen is not compelling or inescapable.
Homo sapiens, set free a short time ago in the life world, understands this life world as a danger and quarry. What he needed for survival he found in his head and his senses. He followed the program of all living things (what else could he do?) stored in the reptilian brain: feed yourself honestly or dishonestly, grab what you can, multiply and make yourself as comfortable as the world allows with the resources available to you... (and die of suffocation in one's own excrement)
Homo sapiens - homo demens
What is truly human is not the burglar- and thief skill of the homo oeconomicus: piling crates on one another to reach the bananas as his cousin chimpanzee always managed to do. What is especially human, the real difference to zoology, is reflection on one's own pleasure and pain, glancing at the shadows on the walls of the cave and attempting to order everything (devouring, being devoured, the rising and setting of the sun, the dreamt dialogue with the deceased father, the fear before the thousand eyes of the near hills, the inescapable death) into an understandable model - to establish order out of noise. Thus epics and cathedrals arose, systems of madness and states of absurdity of the most different kinds and shades. The homo sapiens is also inevitably and from the beginning the homo demens, the lunatic in time and space.
Hideous and wondrous cultures arose. Living and dying was wondrous and hideous. The general crisis of the living didn't occur since death, the indispensable counterpart to life, was still too powerful... The snow rabbits multiply and the number of Arctic foxes explodes until the grass wilts, the hares are devoured and the foxes are decimated. Half of the people died when there was a disastrous plague. The clear-cut deforested areas recovered and the wages of maidservants rose. The posh, the high-modern, the global crisis worry us. The homo oeconomicus did not only persist in the brewer's yeast and chimpanzee program but transfigured this into the motor of progress. He invested more and more of his higher abilities (and the whole production factor of research) in the constantly expanding greed spiral. The (ultimately tragic-comic) success of the panic flight before distress and death led away from the death axis that he understood as mockery, insult and a basic error of existence to be overcome unconditionally, not as stabilization.
Opportunism on the Staircase: Genesis of Capitalism
The great ancient systems of higher life, ethics, philosophy and theology are not of much use. They never see the clever bastions with excrement, iron, dynamite and skeleton keys as central themes of their contemplation. They don't have desire for that. They evaluate and devalue all this as necessary annoyances, as the - discrete - delivery of foods through the tradesmen's entrance on the ground floor of the civilization edifice. Only higher values are cultivated and signs of the zodiac discerned on the top floors. When opportunism is too annoying and too much noise is produced on the ground floor, one looks down the staircase and admonishes "right use" of resources which doesn't upset the opportunists. They have found their own philosophical pretexts since Francis Bacon, Adam Smith and Karl Marx.
Thus capitalism as a "parasite of Christianity" often disguised in religious pretexts could be nourished and strengthened unhindered by sniffing inquisitors across centuries until it emerged as the one absurd but overpowering world view and world order, as the most important source and guarantee of civilized blindness or delusion unable to seriously reflect on its own blindness and dangers.
This world view and world (dis-)order formed over centuries. Some see its seed in the pope-emperor dispute of the 11th century which introduced the great distinction of "sacred" and "profane" in the West, the conflict between the Vatican and Barbarossa coinciding with the meteoric rise of the Italian city-states, Imperious high-handed economic colonialism was visible and effective as a system after the collapse of Byzantium in the 4th crusade (1204). Venice and Genoa grabbed the Spice Islands of the Aegean Sea. All essential technical terms of the bankers' language were Italian. What was missing was great liquidity and merciless acquisitive diligence. First, the Spaniards and Portugese (alongside their parasites, the more or less licensed Northern European pirates and the Amsterdam bankers) brought liquidity and acquisitive diligence and then the so-called Protestant ethic of the active bourgeousie. (This ethic can be defined more exactly from an historical perspective.) All this took its inexorable course which Marx' Communist Manifesto described hymnically and gained all the characteristics of a dominant worldwide religion in the course of the 20th century.
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