On WNUR (Chicago)’s This Is Hell!, listen to Eugene McCarraher explain how the “surrogate divinity” of capitalism swallowed our lives:
“A majestic achievement…It is a work of great moral and spiritual intelligence, and one that invites contemplation about things we can’t afford not to care about deeply.”—Commonweal
“An extraordinary work of intellectual history as well as a scholarly tour de force, a bracing polemic, and a work of Christian prophecy…McCarraher challenges more than 200 years of post-Enlightenment assumptions about the way we live and work.”—The Observer
“More brilliant, more capacious, and more entertaining, page by page, than his most ardent fans dared hope. The magnitude of his accomplishment—an account of American capitalism as a religion…will stun even skeptical readers.”—Christian Century
If socialists and Wall Street bankers can agree on anything, it is the extreme rationalism of capital. At least since Max Weber, capitalism has been understood as part of the “disenchantment” of the world, stripping material objects and social relations of their mystery and sacredness. Ignoring the motive force of the spirit, capitalism rejects the awe-inspiring divine for the economics of supply and demand.
Eugene McCarraher challenges this conventional view. Capitalism, he argues, is full of sacrament, whether or not it is acknowledged. Capitalist enchantment first flowered in the fields and factories of England and was brought to America by Puritans and evangelicals whose doctrine made ample room for industry and profit. Later, the corporation was mystically animated with human personhood, to preside over the Fordist endeavor to build a heavenly city of mechanized production and communion. By the twenty-first century, capitalism has become thoroughly enchanted by the neoliberal deification of “the market.”
Informed by cultural history and theology as well as economics, management theory, and marketing, The Enchantments of Mammon looks not to Marx and progressivism but to nineteenth-century Romantics for salvation. The Romantic imagination favors craft, the commons, and sensitivity to natural wonder. It promotes labor that, for the sake of the person, combines reason, creativity, and mutual aid. In this impassioned challenge, McCarraher makes the case that capitalism has hijacked and redirected our intrinsic longing for divinity—and urges us to break its hold on our souls.