Rowan Williams makes his Marx

By Simon Barrow
September 26, 2008

While disastrous things have been done in his name, Karl Marx's status as a moral prophet against greed was reinforced from an unexpected source this week - the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Rowan Williams once called himself a "bearded leftie", but his radical leanings have always been solidly shaped by theology rather than ideology, and since his accession to Canterbury they have tended to be less pronounced. Yet this was the man whose first draft of the 1974 Jubilee Group founding statement (the group was an alliance of socialist Christians) was rejected as too strong.

The good archbishop has been showing his colours again on the debate about the credit crunch, the banking crash and market forces, however. And once again, the nuance wrapped around the passion (he argues that the financial world needs fresh scrutiny and regulation and that in our attitude to the market, we run the risk of idolatry) will make it difficult for his many critics to dismiss his observations in the way they might like to.

That said, the Church of England, as we have pointed out, has much to do in putting its own financial house in order and in modelling some fruitful alternatives in an economic world in turmoil.

The debate on markets will also be refuelled theologically by Philip Blond in his forthcoming book 'Red Tory', which argues for a conservative ethic that is based on social justice and distanced from the 'negative radicalism' of neoliberal free marketeerism.

It chimes a little with Cameron, but the Conservative Party's big investors are unlikely to be persuaded, methinks.

Still, anything that makes us think afresh about the suffocating cross-spectrum political consensus on economics is to be welcomed, and I'm sure Philip will have many sharp and salient (and off-the-wall) things to say.

See Dr Williams' article in The Spectator here:

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.