In recent years I have delivered a number of papers in which I sought to apply theological thinking – from incarnational theology to a “theology from below” – to our current condition in South Africa. I was particularly impressed by the first Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management, which I attended in Hong Kong five years ago. At that international gathering of theologians, economists and senior church officials, we identified the market economy which dominates so much of the world as a self-serving mechanism for elites which is not providing for the needs of most of world’s people, nor for the environment which sustains life on earth.
In Hong Kong, we asked to replace the current global governance of money and financial systems with a less exploitative system that distributes resources and income more equitably. This sounds impractical, I said at the time, but as stewards of God’s creation we know that nothing is impossible with God.
The economic ordering of society and the question of how we develop our material resources is directly relevant to the violence we have seen in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in the last few days. For much deeper forces than anger over the jailing of Mr Zuma are at work in the mayhem we are seeing. As in many other countries, the market economy is failing to address poverty, inequality and unemployment.