God’s Social Genius Baffles Capitalists

Under capitalism, everything is game. Whether human life, labor power, earth, knowledge, ideas, thought or other abstract concepts: if it can be bought, sold, traded, invested in or speculated on, it becomes commodified. Once absorbed by capital circulation each are disciplined to the rigors of value creation. Profit for the sake of profit then becomes the meaning of life and the market economy becomes the precious womb. As such, the capitalist will go to great lengths to defend her virtue. The most painstaking measures are followed to open more and more markets; the velocity must increase continually. Law and order is needed and society, in turn, becomes organized to this end. Not for the good of humanity but in the name of surplus-value does the capitalist issue his decree.

For example, in the US, Obamacare has been presented as holding each Americans health at heart and, for no other reason, to protect liberty and life. While a rightful and noble claim, it is a lie nonetheless. The necessity of capital to always be in circulation, to always find ways to valorize, has granted the booming health care industry a secure market and, with legal backing, a compulsory consumer base. A slew of laws followed to make good this need of capital. Hidden in the Affordable Health Care Act is capitalism’s insatiable appetite for creating demand and space to valorize. It has not always been so subtle. In the past, it was more blatant and in-your-face.

In the 1940’s the Untied States manufactured war to come out of the great depression. The years following WWII ruthlessly propelled the US economy to the forefront as the worlds richest country. Increased trade and manufacturing required significant modifications and structural improvements internally. At the base a secure, long-term, consuming class was needed. Family values, in so far as they help valorize capital, were encouraged. This particular need of capital required infrastructure. In 1956 congress authorized the Interstate Highway system to be built. This 47,000 mile network improved upon the roads built under the Federal Road Aid Act of 1916. This reflected the need to organize American life around the orbit of capital accumulation. Increasingly, vehicles were needed to get labor-power to work sooner, more efficiently and to transport produced commodities faster. With this change came a slew of laws necessary to keep pace with the increasing velocity of capital circulation.

Thus, it is not that the capitalist likes you that he gave the car, and it’s not that he hates you that he gives the speeding ticket. His technologies, the car for example, increases the rate of exploitation, creates new demand and industries. Similarly, his laws are also disciplinary for impeding the capital order and with each infraction you will be punished accordingly. Opt to not obey Obamacare and penalties await you. Ignore highway traffic laws and fines await you. To the capitalist and his god, life can not and does not compare in glory to that of profit. His law and order is diametrically opposed to natural law of God.

The genius of God’s social order rests in his law and contained therein are buffers against oppression. Each decree from God is for society at large, for government of nations. For example, his weekly Sabbath of rest is a labor law, for man and animal. On this day no work can be done. Every 50 years is a year of release, every debt is freed.  Every 7th year the land is to rest and regenerate agriculturally. The means of production are to be held in common and can not be held privately by anybody. Just weights and measures must be used. Provisions are made that after a term of service a worker may leave his employment, and with means of production. And so on. If applied, the law of God would utterly destroy capitalism over night.

Jesus Christ, the walking word of God, by his life, taught his students the same thing. But, because God’s order is a natural solvent of exploitation the capitalist, with his theologian, banishes the way of God and preaches that it is the burden. Until it is realized that God’s law is important and vital to the redemptive struggle of humanity, man’s alienation will be the fundamental evil of capitalist society.

In the meantime, the social genius of God will continue to baffle the capitalist.

…I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)

The Nazarene Journal

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