Is this the best idea for Europe’s future? I believe it is.
The bankruptcy of the secular “market-state”
Across Europe and elsewhere, there is an inchoate awareness that big government and big business have colluded at the expense of the people. Both central bureaucratic states and unbridled markets are disembedded from civil society, and civil society is subordinated to the global secular “market-state.”
This convergence of state and market can be described as secular because it subjects human relationships, civic ties and social bonds to abstract values and standards, such as commercial exchange or centralised regulation. This subjects the sanctity of life and land to the combined power of state and market, thereby threatening the autonomy of civil society and faith groups. The “market-state” marks a distinctly secular arrangement:
- It promotes an increasing centralisation of power and concentration of wealth at the expense of local government, small- and medium-sized businesses (that are often family owned) and the autonomy of civil society as a whole. As such, the power of states and markets transgresses the civic and ethical limits that have been defended by different religious traditions.
- The “market-state” invests the secular sphere of power and wealth with quasi-sacred significance by sacralising either politics or economics, and often both at once. For example, the primacy of rights and contracts over social bonds and civic ties tends to subordinate both theological and civil virtues to the spirit of acquisitiveness and the commercial society.
- The “market-state” subsumes the sanctity of life and land under the secular sacrality of power and wealth – one can argue that the secular settlement of the global “market-state” risks profaning the sacred and sacralising the profane.