Thursday, 25 September 2008

Canterbury, York and Capitalism

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written in the Spectator Face it: Marx was partly right about capitalism.

The Archbishop of York gave a speech to the Institute of Worshipful Company of International Bankers Archbishop Labels HBOS short sellers as “Bank Robbers”.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian Archbishop offers praise for St Bernadette - and Marx
Sadie Gray and agencies in The Guardian Archbishops attack profiteers and ‘bank robbers’ in City
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Archbishops of Canterbury and York blame capitalism excesses for financial crisis
Ruth Gledhill in the Times The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in support of Karl Marx
and Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops
Steve Doughty in the Mail Archbishops attack the ‘bank robbers’ who have brought economy to brink of disaster
BBC Archbishops attack City practices

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 10:40am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

All due respect to John, but he's an expert at religion, not at finance. While I'm not in the UK, it's pretty likely that HBOS had deep seated problems with its business. It may well have deserved to be sold. I'd be inclined to ignore his comments about HBOS.

His comment about why Western nations can afford to bail the capitalist pigs out and not fund development efforts in the Global South is spot on, of course.

Posted by: Weiwen on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 1:57pm BST

Oh dear. Marx did not state what the Archbishop claims he stated and was right about. For Marx the relationship of capital to labour and surplus value was very real. This Dawkins and Hitchens comment (apply it to finance) is bizarre.

As for the York comment, there was no equivalent run on Lloyds TSB for a good reason, and short sellers were froth on a downturn. There might have been a critical difference, had Gordon Brown been decisive and banned short selling a day earlier, but it would not have accounted for that long decline in the HBOS value. As for the $700 bn payout, the hope is that over the long period those assets, as they are called, will be realised. York might have made a comparison between the bail out and the pastoral forum.

When I write my blog I am more and more attracted to writing pieces that just humour these people. They are amateurs who feel they have to comment, but their comment is so limited.

Furthermore, surely referring to Marx is just a red rag to a sensationalist like Ruth Gledhill and others, out of which they can produce another Sharia moment.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 2:31pm BST

Pluralist: yeah. Didya see the Times head line on the Ruth Gledhill article? Sensationalist! (But it's a Murdoch paper, so whaddya expect?)

Posted by: Jay Vos on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 5:52pm BST

I heard an Americam economist the other night commenting on the US economic meltdown. He made the statement that the Western economy is based on credit. He did it rather scornfully, pretty much saying that credit is vital to an advanced economy(I believe the phrase he used was "any economy more advanced than a barter system." In Western practice, credit entails usury. It needn't, of course, Muslim run banks, so I understand, do not practice usury. I find it very interesting that this requirement for usury as the basis of our economy is simply not on the radar of those who would oppose gay inclusion as "approving sin". Have we not approved economic sin in our blind acceptance of usury? And look at how these opponents of "innovative" interpretations of the Gospel go out of their way to pretend there was never a time when Christians considered usury to be sin. Put bluntly, why is it OK to accept the "sin" of usury, but not OK to accept the "sin" of homosexuality? And why is it necessary to pretend that our acceptance of usury did not, in its day, represent a radical revision in understanding something that had for centuries been considered to be sin as though it was not really sin at all?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 7:50pm BST

If there was no City jiggery pokery there would be no Church of England stipends and pension fund.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 10:55pm BST

"Rowan Williams broke with two long-standing Anglican taboos yesterday by becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury officially to visit the French Catholic shrine at Lourdes and by offering at least limited support for Karl Marx's condemnation of unbridled capitalism."

"Seven bishops and some 60 priests joined in a concelebrated Anglican Eucharist in the Upper Basilica of the main church... The day marks the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, the title given to Mary at the Anglican Shrine in the tiny village of Walsinghan, Norfolk, England where Anglicans gather in the thousands each May.
Walsingham also has chapels run by the Orthodox and Roman Catholics.

These extracts from the ACNS site are evidence of the generic catholicity of the Anglican Mother Church's relationship to the apostolic tradition.

Archbishop Rowan of Canterbury, as well as presiding at a Mass for Anglican pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, also preached to an international (and inter-denominational) crowd of 20,000 people at the Mass presided over by the
R.C. Cardinal charged with ecumenical relations.

This is one indication of the seriousness with which the Anglican arm of the Church is taken by our R.C. co-religionists - despite the present contretremps across the denomination. Rowan, in his action in honouring the mother of Christ - together with his condemnation of the financial greed of large corporations - is consolidating our Anglican tradition of the social justice implicit in our Lady's Magnificat. Ave, Rowan!

Let's hope that this is a foretaste of the openness of our Church to further justice issues -like, for instance, Women and Gays in the ministry of the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 11:24pm BST

Oh dear. The Archbishops might be better to stick to theology rather than dabble in the dark arts of high finance. Of all the sins of capitalism, jumping on the bandwagon to condemn short-sellers is analagous to the Anglican obsession with gays. A few eyebrows must have been raised at the Church Commissioners who made a nice return of £147m on £5.67bn worth of investments in global capitalism last year, including a £34m stake in HBOS which invested heavily in what turned out to be toxic assets. It was the catastrophic failure of management which led to HBOS' problems, not the short-sellers. But it would perhaps be unseemly for senior churchmen to criticise chief executives and chairmen of banks - go after the 'tax-collectors' instead.

ABC is on to something when he talks about idolatry. He hasn't read George Soros' latest book on the credit crisis which might be 'The God Delusion' of the financial markets. In it, he condemns market fundamentalism and the faith people place in markets to self-correct. Human behaviour and psychology are as big a factor as any other in how the markets operate.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 12:25am BST

I don't think religion or anything else gets anywhere categorising so called sins. Rather, does this activity do good, and does it do harm, or what effects of both. The obsession with identifying, categorising and attempted policing of sins does no good to anyone.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 12:32am BST

I suspect that the ABC's comments in praise of saints & communism didn't provoke much reaction because very few people pay any attention to or care about what he says about anything at all (but, Mr. Bates, there is no unitary "Anglican church" -- there are several of them, depending on how you count & what you mean by the term -- surely a lapsus calami)

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 3:53am BST

Ford -
Perhaps partly because the constellation of political and social themes that cluster around protest against usury are and have been in recent years decidedly dodgy - since they have often inextricably bound up with the question to the so-called 'Jewish Problem', from 13th Century France to Major Douglas and Social Credit. Today, there are some very interesting and *perhaps* unwholesome alliances between religious and 'money' reformers. for e.g.:

I am no economic expert but though there's a difference between demanding interest on a loan and offering credit, one can still be indebted via the latter route. Why do we borrow money? Because of the relationship between scarcity, capital, surplus value and labour, and in this I am sure happier that Rowan Williams does a left turn than a right. The Nazi response to the 'Jewish problem' was to 'destroy' credit through the productive power of German labour. This is what the phrase 'Arbeit macht frei' means - it wasn't just an ironic insult to those who were being worked to death but a pointed statement of state ideology against the slavery of usury to create wealth.

Posted by: orfanum on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 6:47am BST

Orthodox Jews and Muslims CLAIM they avoid "usury" (charging interest) but it is not true in any objective sense. For example, a sham "partnership" is created between the "borrower" and the "lender." The borrower is obliged to repay the capital "invested" by the lender and a share of the "profits" to the lender. Because of the difficulty in calcualting the share of the profits, they agree on payment to the lender/partner equal to what would have been the interest rate on the loan. After the payments are all made, the "patnership" terminates. It is a huge fiction designed to "fool" God.

Posted by: DaveG on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 6:54pm BST

"They are amateurs who feel they have to comment, but their comment is so limited."

Hmm, don't like the sound of a world where 'amateurs' are disqualified from commenting on things they aren't expert in. That would certainly have shut Jesus up. I'm sure there were great economic reasons for trading in the Temple courtyard, if only he'd grasped them, poor deluded chap.

Posted by: David Keen on Friday, 26 September 2008 at 6:55pm BST


I'm all for amateurs commenting. However, Jesus knew what he was talking about. John Sentamu did not.

In fact, if anything, Lloyds TSB is the asset stripper in this scenario.

Additionally, if I heard right, John basically called for agricultural subsidies for UK farmers. It's well known that such subsidies in Western nations distort the global economy by making the exports of developing nations uncompetitive. John would essentially steal a livelihood from many African farmers - possibly some in his native Uganda.

Posted by: Weiwen on Saturday, 27 September 2008 at 8:17pm BST

You're right, ag. subsidies do make things tougher to ship food internationally and make it competitive--definitely not fair.
However, without them, like the rest of industry, food production would become just another import. Do you really want all your food to come from third world nations? How a bout a nice glass of Chinese milk right about now?

Or as one of the Chinese gov't English students I taught in Beijing put it. "We take your money and factories to build our nation and when our economy gets bigger, we will sell you nothing. Keep everything for us." He seemed dead serious about it.

It's not fair, but I don't like the alternative, either.

Posted by: Chris H. on Sunday, 28 September 2008 at 12:38pm BST

"subsidies do make things tougher to ship food internationally and make it competitive"

Since 1949, our infrastructure has been whittled away to nothing. An organic beef ranch had to close here recently, since the current food infrastructure makes it more cost effective for supermarkets to bring beef nearly the entire way across North America than it is to bring it a 20 minute drive. I can buy American lettuce 365 days a year, and it rots after three days. Locally grown lettuce, when I can get it, and that's NEVER in a supermarket, lasts 2-3 weeks, not having spent the majority of its post harvest existence travelling to me. Yet it is more expensive than the near dead stuff in the supermarket. I can buy tasteless "strawberries" from California any time of the year, but, despite a large strawberry growing sector locally, I NEVER see local ones in supermarkets, local growers have to set up stalls by the side of the road to sell their produce, and it isn't always east to find them. Local farmers have given up the idea that they can sell their produce to us through the major food reatilers. They either set up stalls by the side of the road, or ship their produce elsewhere, and en route, it passes eactly the same items coming from elsewhere to us. Tell you what, instead of allowing major supermarket chains to decide local agricultural realities, and massively increase the carbon footprint of our food in the process, we'll eat what we grow, you eat what you grow, and we'll trade with each other for the things we can't grow.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 28 September 2008 at 7:19pm BST
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