The Capitalist Situation and Spiritual Life

Aye l’oja, orun n’ile (The world is a marketplace we [all] visit, [and] the otherworld is home)

(Yoruba saying, quoted/translated by Wole Soyinka)

When we start talking about capitalism’s role in the modern spiritual world, it’s useful to start with a little advice from Michel Foucault. When he was pressed as to whether he was anti-psychiatry, he stated that he didn’t think psychiatry was ‘bad.’ Rather, he said, psychiatry was “dangerous…but everything is dangerous.” When we talk about capitalism’s influence in our spiritual lives, I suggest thinking like that–it isn’t bad, but dangerous; there is no way to escape danger in this life so we should appreciate the nature of that danger.

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