Monday, February 22, 2016

Capitalism and the Kingdom of God

The question of capitalism, it seems, is how long can we exploit people as cheap labor?

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we have seen labor violations, strikes, and reforms. And then, once employees are treated as humans, the factories move elsewhere. It started in the “civilized” countries: Europe, Russia, the USA. We employed children, women, men, without safety concerns, without shift limits, without any care. Reform movements and unions resolved the situation, along with bloody revolutions and uprisings. And gradually the factories moved elsewhere. Now we exploit Mexicans, Chinese, and Pacific Islanders. And what will happen when those people get their rights? Who will be our slaves then? Indians? Africans? Who next?
I’m not an historian or an economist, but it seems to me that this question of workers’ rights has yet to be answered. Instead we keep pushing it off, finding more people to exploit. 

Is capitalism inherently flawed, and if so, what is the answer? Or is capitalism redeemable, as long as we remember that every person has rights?

As a Christian, this is more than just an economic or historical question. It is a question of ethics. A question of the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, every person is worthy of love. Jesus’ death proves that every single individual on this planet is worth dying for. And we shove whole groups of people into toxic environments making meaningless crap in order to enrich a minority. That is not the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying that money, or even profit, is evil. I am saying that there’s a better way.
What can I do to fight for workers’ rights? What can I do to live a Kingdom life? What can you do?


  1. Hey Elaine: Two thought pieces that might interest you related to this post. The first is a guardian interactive piece on the Rana Plaza factory collapse. The second is a lecture on globalization and its pros and cons. Both are interesting, the first changed how I shop forever (I read all labels, sew a lot, and will never ever buy "fast fashion"-though Patagonia's recent troubles highlight how hard it can be for even companies with the best intentions to get it right 100% of the time). The second is a two part video from a series that we love and I thought he had some interesting points about the positives and negatives of globalization;