REDISTRIBUTING wealth “does not work” in a trickle-down economy dominated by Mammon, the Archbishop of Canterbury has argued. But, should humanity view wealth as a responsibility and gift from God, global inequality may be countered.
Archbishop Welby was being interviewed with the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, at Lambeth Palace last Friday.
The pair were discussing, among other topics, Dethroning Mammon, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, and published
in December. Mr Carney was photographed reading the book on the London
Underground in November (Press, 2 December).
”I will defend finance as absolutely an essential part of the modern economy,” Mr Carney told the programme. “The issue is when there is no broader understanding of finance except profit. . . The failings in finance come when it becomes a game in a square mile or in between each other.”
In his book, the Archbishop writes that he is not “anti-money” but anti people’s attitudes to money. “The more interconnected the world becomes, the more power is held over individuals and nations by economics, by money and flows of finance,” he writes. “Mammon [is] a name given by Jesus to this force.”
Mammon infects global economics and individual relationships; nor is the Church immune, he says: “The more we let ourselves be governed by Mammon, the more power he has, and the more the vulnerable suffer.”
But there were also, Mr Carney argued, “opportunities and blessings” to use Mammon — not for the “end goal” of profit — but to aid the economy, and stifle inequality. “There are some incredible philanthropists in the world [who] also make the effort to see the fruits of their philanthropy,” he said.
On the use of Mammon for foreign aid — in Syria in particular — Archbishop Welby told World at One that, while the Church “recognises that the Government has given and spent huge sums of money” in the region, its decision to only allow 350 unaccompanied refugee children to be transferred to the UK from Europe must be reconsidered (News, 10 February).
The Archbishop declined to talk about the relationship between Mammon and President Trump, but said: “One of the most extraordinary things in our lifetime has been the vast number of people who have been lifted out of poverty. That has been done through an openness in the world economy.
”There have been bad side effects [often suffered] by the most vulnerable, the least capable of dealing with it, in parts of this country, and in the ‘rust-belt’ in the United States . . . where Donald Trump got a lot of his support.
”The neglect of people in those areas is both deeply morally wrong, and unlikely to help our future. But a world economy that is committed to lifting people out of poverty; that is open, hospitable, generous; that does not see things in zero sum terms. . . will enable our planet to support [future generations].”
The Bank of England, Mr Carney said, was working to stabilise this vision in the UK through new codes of conduct. “How do we connect all in society to that global economy in a way that benefits them? Through knowledge, training, and potentially through access to markets,” he said. “This is an incredibly creative country.”
Brexit, the Archbishop said, offered a “moment of re-imagination” and opportunity for the country.