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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Easter « Previous | |Next »
April 24, 2011

Judging by all the holiday activity during the warm weather of this Easter at Victor Harbor, the seaside resort town for Adelaide, Easter is about holidays and having fun. It has very little to do with Christianity's moral landscape, or its claims that moral truths are handed down from on high.


It is true that Christian religion has, for millennia, been thought the primary source of morality, but the reality is that the new morality is that of the consumer market capitalism. Pleasure is the now core good, self-interest the central ethos and holiday activity is about maximizing happiness. The moral landscape of advertising is the Romantic ethic of self-expression, uniqueness and self-discovery through sensual excess.

Christianity is a minority culture. It is utilitarianism--the greatest happiness for the greatest number --- that primarily shapes our moral landscape now.

The new symbols and images in our public life are those of consumerism not Christian myths, legends, symbols, heritage, narratives or collective memories. Christians say that a Christian Easter fosters community, identity, and continuity, and in the end makes possible history itself, since it embodies the collective memories of the Australian people. By means of it we tell ourselves who we are, where we came from, and to what we belong.

That may have been the case once. It is no longer. Christianity is now an emotion-laden memory, in spite of the attempts by Christians to ensure that Christianity is the core of our culture.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:46 PM | | Comments (8)


It must be getting close to 50 years since I read R.H.Tawney's "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism" so my memory of what it is on about is generalized.
I remember it as advancing the truism that Christianity and capitalism had made an unholy pact to coexist in a voluntary symbiotic relationship where one arm of society harvested souls from the populace and the other harvested profits and each compemented and complimented the other in their respective moralities [or lack].
Or something like that, whether intended by Tawney or not I can't remember.
I wonder if it is worth a re-read?

The Protestant ethic of early capitalism has given way to the hedonist ethic of consumer capitalism self-discovery through consumption on credit and enjoy).

Julia Gillard is out of touch with her affirmation of the old (masculine) ethic of discipline, restraint, manual labor and renouncing or delaying gratification.

Still The old Protestant ethic (of repressive asceticism and labor) of early industrial capitalism continues to haunt us like “dead ghosts", even though the workplace becomes emptied of meaning and purpose.

consumption fails to provide meaning and satisfaction---buy commodities to live a meaningful life ( to express ourselves) produces restlessness, discontent, and numbness.

The working (discipline, restraint and self-denial) and the consumer (hedonism, expression of desire) sides of the self are in conflict

Is Gillard re-affirming the values of self-effacement, discipline and self-control of manual labour against the Romantic ethic of self-expression, uniqueness and self-discovery through sensual excess?

Yet the dependence of classic industrial society on the traditional blue-collar worker has given way to a post-industrial service society in which women dominate the service positions.

The contents of the essay by Joel Hodge was of course bollocks.

What was interesting was how the title Radical LOVE of the Cross was placed next to what is really a sado-masochistic image of cruelty - which sums up the real symbolism and meaning of the Cross and the dreadful applied politics that extends from that dreadful image.

Systematic cruelty has always been a feature of applied Christian-ism, as this reference explains

Sharon Beder wrote an excellent book on this topic:
Selling the Work Ethic: From Puritan Pulpit To Corporate PR

Julia is now faithfully promoting the dismal message.

the work ethic, which has kept capitalist system rolling, is a dismal message. Work and production become ends in themselves.

Today the lure of consumerism — the television set, stereo, car, computer, white goods — keeps people working. People now tend not to identify with their work, but with the consumer items and lifestyle they can purchase by working

If people identify with consumption rather than work, one could argue that the consumerism has replaced the work ethic altogether. After all, the personal qualities consumerism requires — wastefulness, self-indulgence and artificial obsolescence — directly negate the Protestant work ethic that had originally nurtured capitalism.

And if consumption increasingly defines who we are, this sphere of life might offer possibilities of political resistance.

It's not even utilitarianism any more - greatest good of the greatest number, but the greatest good of number one.

The conjunction of Easter and Anzac Day allows the pollies and the majority to get their "sacrifice, mateship, putting others before oneself" hypocritical bleats out in one hit, before returning to the business of ignoring the homeless, instituting work-for-the-disability-pension...

That the hypocrisy of easter/anzac speeches goes unremarked by the media is astounding, or should be.