Church attacks capitalism

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York have launched strong attacks on unbridled capitalism, calling speculators “bank robbers”.

Speaking to the annual dinner of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers last night, Archbishop of York John Sentamu criticised modern financial techniques such as short selling, which many hold responsible for the vertiginous drop in HBOS’ value last week.

“To a bystander like me, those who made £190 million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS in spite of a very strong capital base, and drove it into the arms of Lloyds TSB, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers,” he said.

“We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland. Our country has built its financial strength historically on the manufacturing of goods, where money was the medium of exchange.

“In the last week we have seen its systems come close to ruin because now money is no longer being the medium of exchange for goods, but rather is the very item that is being traded.”

The comments follow an article in the Spectator magazine by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in which he suggests sympathy for Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism.

“Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves; he was right about that, if about little else,” Dr Williams wrote.

“And ascribing independent reality to what you have in fact made yourself is a perfect definition of what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures call idolatry.”

The Archbishop is referring to Marx’s theory of alienation, in which workers who create commodities are alienated from the fruits of their labour by the structure of the capitalist economy.