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The Pyrrhic Victory of Secular Capitalism

First published: The Globalist, 01/12/2008

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 defined not only the end of the Cold War but much else besides. America, as a modern, secular democracy, “won” in so far as it remained the world’s sole superpower.

Capitalism “won” to the extent that the way was then clear for the further advance of unfettered globalization with the entry of billions of people into the global market economy.

Economic success and religion

It was believed widely — and still is by some — that economic success would advance the spread of secularism and act as an agent of change to lessen the influence of religious belief.

In effect, the powerful drivers of growth, technology and globalization would reduce economic and social problems to the management of incremental improvement and progress, consigning spiritual and existential issues to the periphery.

Neither of these victories, so to speak, ushered in a new era for secular capitalism, and the religious-secular pendulum has at the very least faltered in its swing towards the secular.

Almost 20 years after the fall of the Wall, insecurity and injustice — perceived or actual — are rampant.

The pursuit of wealth and the acquisition of material goods haven’t become sources of comfort and satisfaction for individuals any more than our version of globalization has become the template for unqualified global economic success.

Protests and fundamentalism

Although mass religious p…more