Harvey Cox


On his book The Market as God

Cover Interview of March 07, 2017

In a nutshell

The global capitalist=consumerist economy has an entire faith system, which has its own hierarchy, its own institutions, its own marble palaces. It has its own mythology, doctrine of the creation, doctrine of the Fall, doctrine of redemption, even a kind of eschatology, where history is going where it ought to be going – all interpreted and presented in terms of a consumer capitalist economy. It has its own heretics, its own schisms. It encourages us to trust in the god of the system: to trust, even though the god of the economic system doesn’t seem to know what he is doing at times, when things go very wrong. But we are still supposed to trust that in the long run the wisdom of this market god will make things right. There is an old American religious song called “Farther along we will understand why.” There may be a mystery now that the trickle-down theory of economics is not reaching everyone, as Pope Francis reminds us, but if we only wait, if we are only patient, in the long run the market knows best. In other words, to use a term taken directly from theology, the market is omniscient.

It may not appear omniscient, but it certainly claims to be. So we must have confidence that it is omniscient. So I am talking about an entire symbol system here, of myths and stories and narratives, that are parallel to but very different from those of traditional religions such as Christianity or Judaism or Islam – very different and in some ways contradictory.