Spencer Hess and Laurie Johnson talk about the “Spoils of Egypt” concept from Christian theology, how it has operated in the past, and what is keeping people from using it now. In the past, Christian theologians have often “plundered” secular theology for its riches, taking what was useful and true in light of Christian revelation, and leaving what was not. Today, much philosophy is left un-plundered because it is perceived to be “evil” and untouchable. This is certainly true of critical theory and Marxism.
But while much of the positive claims of Marxism, such as atheism and materialism, can and should be left behind, the deposit of negative theory regarding the abstract and impersonal domination of capital and the market ought to be carried off as spoils, because in order to get anything done we must understand our world accurately.
As an example, the “Benedict Option” Christians understand that liberalism has changed their world and needs to be rejected, but their response of cloistering in manufacturing towns and trying to please the capitalist owners indicates they do not yet understand the effects of the impersonal domination of the capitalist system. There is no easy compromise with the globalized capitalist system that will allow us to withdraw to little communities in peace.
Ellen Wood, The Origins of Agrarian Capitalism
Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option
Milton Friedman, Free to Choose, PBS documentary
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