Sustainable market needs God

The concept of God, understood as an objective expression of highest ideal, is often misunderstood in the context of its relevance to a market economy. Common ideal helps to optimize actions of individuals within a given system without the need for a coercive state. As J. C. Wandemberg argues: 

„Sustainability can be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by definition unattainable in a given time and space. However, by persistently and dynamically approaching it, the process results in a sustainable system.” Wandemberg

Throughout centuries religious systems were responsible for maintaining the integrity of a definition of a common ideal. This allowed markets to grow in a sustainable environment. An economist Jesus Huerta de Soto confirms this claim suggesting that:

Religion plays an important role in the life of an economy. It transmits from generation to generation certain patterns of behavior and moral traditions that are essential for the rule of law, which makes economic exchange possible. For example, if contracts are not kept, society can fall apart. Religion, not the state, is the primary means for imparting to us a sense of our obligations to keep our promises and to respect the property of others.

Catholics always insisted upon the integrity of the Church with Pope as the judge figure. This hierarchical system allowed to resolve dogmatic disputes within the Church community by means of the principle of authority. Oneness of the early Church enabled the European mind to build a common interpretative framework. Markets did not have to cope with burdens of ideological barriers and capitalism could thrive in the environment of private law, low taxes and voluntary contracts.

Fragmentation of the common ideal in European civilization through protestant reformation and later by enlightenment philosophers pushed western civilization into a more and more bureaucratic system that has been dependent on goal-oriented individuals focused on short-term survival:

„The restriction of effectivities/affordances gives rise to goal-seeking or „rational” individualistic behaviors as a requirement for short-term survival within this type of organizational structure and restrictive environment.” Wandemberg

Materialistic, debt-fuelled nation-states of today are a product of a ‚rational’ approach to economics. Short-term goals took priority over long-term planning. As a consequence future generations are currently at peril. Now is the time to once again revivify the source of sustainability that gave rise to western capitalist society – the concept of God. And I dare to believe that with a good combination of both humility and intellect this generation can make it happen.

Sources:

*Wandemberg, JC (August 2015). Sustainable by Design. Amazon. p. 122. ISBN 1516901789. Retrieved 16 February 2016.

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