The soul of man under capitalism

On the day the G20 summit opens in Pittsburgh, author Jeremy Seabrook in the Guardian argues that in order to solve global problems such as climate change and the economic crisis, we need to escape our market-driven definition as greedy individuals.

Published on 24 September 2009 at 11:19
Image: PE, Bryan Wright, STRK3

The global imagery of capitalist plenty has long ago been usurped, not only by other visions of an earthly paradise, but also other versions of prosperity. Capitalist ideology has ceased to be abstract theory and is made tangible in every object of desire set before us. At the same time, in this promiscuous spillage of commodities, a whole moral universe is implicit.

Puritans and moralists sometimes identify consumerism, the bonus culture, the acquisitive society, live-now-pay-later philosophy as "greed". But these, like all other sins and vices, have been recast by the altered moral order. Many of what were regarded as human failings have been transformed into economic virtues. Covetousness has become ambition, envy now reappears as a manifestation of a healthy competitive spirit, gluttony is only a natural desire for more and lust a necessary expression of our deepest human reality. Temptation is no longer an impulse to be resisted: it is our duty to yield to it in the name of that most exalted of purposes, "consumer confidence". Read full article in the Guardian...


World government under construction

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As it meets for the third time in a year marked by a global economic crisis, the G20 is increasingly viewed as "the new forum for world government," writes Nicolas Tenzer, chairman of the think tank, I-défi-E (Initiative for the development of French expertise in Europe and abroad) in the columns of Le Figaro. Since its launch 10 years ago, the G20 has certainly overtaken the G7-G8 as the most credible agency for dealing with global economic issues. But "it is by no means perfect, nor has it the capacity to resolve all of the world's problems," warns Nicolas Tenzer. It remains an informal organization, which does not pay sufficient attention to the interests of developing countries — and it has yet to find "a magical solution" to overcome the problem of rivalry motivated by national interests. Until the G20 is backed up by "mirror structures" in international financial organizations — specifically in the IMF and the World Bank — it will continue to make "reasonable progress," but is unlikely to provide the venue for "a revolutionary breakthrough."

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