On Fridays, we are posing questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019). Bruce presses for a “post-capitalist pastoral theology” that empowers people to resist the system (instead of adapt to it), to embrace communion and wholeness in relation to others and the earth (instead of functioning in accord with the values of production and consumption) and to pursue interdependent reliance within the web of human relationships (instead of accepting shame-based personal responsibility narratives).
*This is our third Friday with Bruce. See this for Part I and this for Part II.
RD.net: You say that neoliberalism is not only about economics. That it is a full-fledged religion that encompasses everything! How does neoliberalism affect politics and culture too?
BRV: The political is implicated in the economic. When I say “political,” I’m not simply talking about that media-driven horse race we call “politics.” Under neoliberal governance, politics has become a house of mirrors. Again, George Carlin: “Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners.” When I use the word “political,” I’m talking about the way power flows through society. In neoliberal times, the dramatic increase in economic inequality is matched by an increase in political inequality. Right-wing neoliberal intellectuals and politicians pontificate about wanting “smaller government.” This is another lie. It actually takes a monstrously large and intrusive government for economic elites to maintain control over the masses. Thus, both political parties, in the USA, support large government. Growing inequality is not due to technology or globalization, as even progressives often claim, but to the seizure of state power by class elites. Monopoly corporations, and individuals whose wealth is equal to the GDP of small countries, are able and willing to impose their will on legislation, as well as the courts and penal systems. Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part III”