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An Other Kingdom by John McKnight, Walter Brueggemann, Peter Block

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1 THE FREE MARKET CONSUMER IDEOLOGY

I will pull down my barns and build bigger barns.

—Luke 12:18

The free market consumer ideology rests on four pillars: Scarcity, Certainty, Perfection, and Privatization. We take as true and inevitable that the contracts of commerce, resting on these pillars, which produce the commercial order, are the defining producer of our cultural order.

The culture produced by the free market consumer ideology relies on the idea of needs—real or manufactured—that can only be satisfied by production, distribution, and purchase. Monopoly is the unstated intention. It stands on autonomy as an organizing principle of culture; it is indifferent to gifts. When the apostle Paul asks, “What do you have that you have not been given?” the neighborly culture would say that everything I have has been given. The free market consumer ideology declares that everything I have I’ve earned. 

This contract culture sends us down a track laid down by systems. In the systems world, whatever is un-organized and un-managed does not exist. Institutions are its structure of preference, and the “free” market a core conviction. Its idea of free is the absence of limits and restraints. There should be no restraints when it comes to production, distribution, or creating a compelling reason to purchase.

This reliance on needs, autonomy, and “free” supports the market’s core beliefs in scarcity, certainty, perfection, and privatization.

SCARCITY

If I speak in the tongues of mortals ...

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