The synthesis of capitalist religion

Image: Tom Fisk


The ideology spread by the religion of capital obscures exploitation and structural inequalities

In the contemporary world, it is undeniable that the religious logic focused on capital plays a significant role in the way society organizes itself and interacts with the economic system. This complex relationship between religion and capitalism has been the object of analysis and debate by philosophers and sociologists throughout history. In this article, we will explore the symbolic and practical manifestations of this religious logic and its impacts on contemporary society.

Cornel West, in his work, exposes the notion that contemporary capitalism has its own forms of ritualization and sacralization. According to him, capitalism operates like a secularized religion, where market values ​​are venerated and icons of material success are worshipped. Cornel West argues that the cult of individualism and the accumulation of wealth is promoted as a doctrine, providing a sense of purpose and meaning to people's lives. In this way, the religious logic turned to capital manifests itself in a symbolic way, through the idolatry of consumption and financial power.

When we relate Cornel West's ideas with Max Weber's reflections, we perceive a more direct connection between the symbolic and practical manifestations of the religious logic focused on capital. Max Weber highlighted the Protestant ethic and its influence on the development of capitalism. For him, religion plays a crucial role in shaping a “spirit of capitalism”, in which the pursuit of wealth and success is legitimized through the religious interpretation of hard work and frugality. In this sense, the crystallization of the religion of capital finds in the Protestant ethics an ideological basis that sustains its practice.

Added to this, it is important to mention the critical Marxist perspective in relation to this process. For Karl Marx, religion is an opium of the people, a form of alienation that keeps the working class trapped in a false consciousness. The religious logic focused on capital, according to the author, perpetuates inequality and exploitation inherent to the capitalist system, by creating an illusion of justice and divine reward for the rich and powerful.

Marx's critique of the capitalization of religious logic finds resonance in Thomas Piketty's reflections on inequality. in your work Capital in the XNUMXst century, Thomas Piketty demonstrates that economic disparities have increased over time, with an increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite. This reality reinforces the pertinence of Marx's criticism of the religion of capital, since religion continues to be used as a mechanism for justifying and legitimizing this growing inequality.

The religious logic turned to capital, by making the accumulation of wealth and material success sacred, perpetuates the notion that those who possess large fortunes are worthy of their status privileged. This ideology spread by the religion of capital obscures exploitation and structural inequalities, keeping the working class away from awareness of its own living and working conditions.

*Pedro Henrique M. Aniceto is studying economics at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF).

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