I am reading an excellent book at Steven’s suggestion: Selling Spirituality: The silent takeover of religion, by Jeremy Carrette and Richard King. The book makes many interesting arguments, such as pointing out that whilst religion is commonly criticised as Marx’s ‘opiate of the masses’, there has been relatively little criticism of the ideological institutions and practices of forms of corporate capitalism which present secular ideologies and regimes of thought-control. As well as giving a useful overview of topics such as neoliberalism, colonialism and corporate capitalism for unfamiliar readers, the book presents a persuasive argument that recent forms of western ‘spirituality’ tend to strip out the radical, ethical and social aspects of the religions they are drawn from, and are then sold as consumer products. I found the following list of features particularly useful. Carrette and King suggest that contemporary forms of spirituality can be categorised in terms of the degree of accommodation or resistance they exhibit to each of these features. Perhaps advocates of various versions of mindfulness and mindfulness therapies could do well to reflect upon where they are located on each of these features and the implications of that. Self-interest: an ethic of self-interest that sees profit as the primary motivation for human action. Corporatism: placing corporate success above welfare and job security of employees. Utilitarianism: treating others as means rather than ends. Quietism: tacit or overt acceptance of the inevitability of social injustice rather than a wish to overcome it. Political myopia: a claim to political neutrality – the refusal to see the political dimensions of ‘spirituality’. Thought-control/accommodationism: use of psych-physical techniques, described in terms of ‘personal development’, that seek to pacify feelings of anxiety and disquiet at the individual level rather than seeking to challenge the social, political and economic inequalities that cause such distress.
Log onto any reputable recruitment site and you’ll notice a wide variety of well-paid jobs working for charities. From administrator to director level, the charity sector is no longer limited to well-meaning volunteers and people with the time and personal resources available to support charitable work. Behind every policy analyst, services co-ordinator and graphic designer employed full time by the charity, there is a fundraising team working hard to raise the money needed both to deliver the organisation’s charitable aims and to cover their overheads. Meanwhile the public sector still soldiers on, attempting to navigate the national and local needs of the populous: often providing the very support structures that charities can not succeed without. You may be the kind of person who is drawn to working for either the charity or the public sector, or indeed both. Despite the occasionally large salaries available in these sectors at senior level, you will have to make peace with the fact you will not become rich in this line of work. You are however statistically more likely to donate your disposable income to charity. Hearing about the latest cuts in public sector funding, the local services that can not be supported, and the smaller charities that can no longer compete in their increasingly competitive environment, it feels as though the generosity of the moneyed middle classes can’t sustain our social aims. We don’t hold up the richer members of our church family as paragons of the capitalist society in which we live. Jesus may have said that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but he was also laid to rest in a rich man’s tomb. Some rich people remain rich because they aren’t generous with their disposable income or because they find ways around paying tax, but not all of them; society needs rich and charitable alike to thrive. Charities should be made accountable for the money they raise and the money they spend.
Majority of Millennials Reject Capitalism, Survey Says
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders isn’t the only one hating on “Millionaires and billionaires.” Like Sanders, millennials, who made up more than 80% of his voters in February’s Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada nominating contests, are questioning the entire system on which the United States was founded. A new Harvard University survey found 51% of the participants between the ages 18 and 29 said they do not support capitalism. According to the Washington Post, 42% said they do support capitalism while 33% supported socialism as an alternative. The university’s results echo recent findings from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 and found that 58% of respondents believed socialism to be the “More compassionate” political system when compared to capitalism. When participants were asked to sum up the root of America’s problem in one word, 29% said “Greed.” Harvard senior Zach Lustbader, who helped conduct the poll, told the Washington Post the results may be more indicative of a shifting connotation for the word “Capitalism” itself. “The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” he said. “You don’t hear people on the right defending their economic policies using that word anymore.” While millennials may be latching on to critiques of a system that allows 62 people to own as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, many could be buying into a new brand of capitalism in disguise. Last May, New York Times columnist Teddy Wayne wrote about the “Modern-day yuppie,” a negative term for well-off young professionals often maligned by hipsters. Wayne claims they aren’t as subversive as they think: “Yet all but the most bohemian of hipsters still relish the trappings of late capitalism, when he can get his hands on them: the designer jeans and Chuck Taylors, the small-batch bourbon and maple-marinated tempeh, the borrowed HBO Go password and cracked-screen iPhone.”