Wednesday 29 March 2023


 In 2019 a book was published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press in the USA that in nearly 800 pages in length. Its author is Eugene McCarraher, Associate Professor at Villanova University; its title: The Enchantments of Mammon - How Capitalism Became The Religion Of Modernity. I bought my copy in 2021 but didn't make the time to begin reading until January of this year. My loss. This book is a masterpiece of scholarship and a wonderful testimony to the value of a morality that puts people before profit. 

Professor Eugene McCarraher and the front cover of his masterpiece, published in 1919 just before the coronavirus pandemic struck

By the end of January, reading a little almost every day, I had left my bookmark at p.152 with the first five chapters under my belt. Since then, my own work on the 1919 Levant Mine Disaster chapter in Mine to Die, my book that is heading for publication in 2024, has delayed the publication of this blog post which is the first in a series of perhaps five posts that will give you the essence of Professor McCarraher's scholarship and vision.

Here, as tasters, are some of the reviews of The Enchantments of Mammon:

"... a game changer - the history of capitalism will never look the same." - Jackson Lears

"Capitalism emerges here ... as an affront to the divine creation of which we are a part. An astonishing work of history and criticism." - Casey Nelson Blake

"McCarraher argues that modern capitalism has not been a secularizing movement from enchantment to disenchantment, but rather an alternative, competing form of enchantment. He is sharply critical of the underlying assumptions and damaging consequences of modern capitalism with its emphasis on extractive efficiency and profit-making. A powerful, impressive work." - Brad Gregory

"In the world of economic enchantment masquerading as hard-eyed realism, McCarraher urges us to keep open an imaginative window through which to glimpse alternatives." - Bethany Moreton

"The author’s dogged idealism is uplifting. But Romantic countercultures have had an unsuccessful time challenging the church of Mammon. Sometimes, as McCarraher notes, their ideas have simply been monetised and co-opted into the next wave of capitalist accumulation. And at least some readers may be less surprised than he is at how hard it is to live in heaven, given the expectations there. There seems to be little sense here of original sin, or the tragic dimension to life.

But it feels wrong to quibble with a book that is so refreshingly original and splendidly pulled off. In any case, where pessimism might take hold, the author’s Christian faith gives him a trump card. For McCarraher, it is simply the case that “the Earth is a sacramental place, mediating the presence and power of God”. That cannot change, however obscured the truth is by a destructive lust for power

Tuesday 7 March 2023


 My source for this blogpost has been an article by Tom Bawden, published in the 'i' on Thursday 2 March 2023. Those of you familiar with the pattern and substance of my posts will know that I have become a self-styled Jeremiah figure, lamenting the failure of those who misgovern us to treat this deadly virus with the attention and seriousness required. 

For 'Exile Is Coming' read 'The Virus Is Still Here'  

The death toll in the UK has now passed 220,000; those suffering the effects of so-called 'Long Covid' number over two million. Yet the UK population has been lulled into a state of ignorance where most people assume the pandemic is over and the threat eradicated. Politicians have been driven by an ideology that prioritizes the supposed needs of the market and the unthinking pursuit of profit. They have been supported by a media that shares those same beliefs. The outcome has been what we see whenever we move outside our homes: a world that acts as if the virus has disappeared. 

Tom Bawden writes:

'... experts warn we are still nowhere near seeing the back of Covid-19 - even though cases are temporarily falling the UK and public safety measures such as mask-wearing have been reversed'.

The group of leading Covid scientists canvassed by the 'i' newspaper were agreed that the situation was likely to remain much the same in the next twelve months. It is quite feasible that things could be even worse in five years time, although the hope remains that such a bleak assessment will not be justified. The point

Friday 3 March 2023


OPEN DEMOCRACY is a movement I support with a fiver a month subscription. Each day I get a news letter from them in my email box. 

Autocracy can be defined as government by a person or people in his or their interests, holding absolute power. Democracy has been defined as government of the people, by the people, and in the interests of the people.  

Here is OPEN DEMOCRACY's mission statement: 

About us

Open Democracy is an independent international media platform. We produce high-quality journalism which challenges power, inspires change and builds leadership among groups underrepresented in the media. Headquartered in London, we have team members across four continents.

We are a mission-focused organisation, which means we always think about the impact our journalism can have. Our investigative journalism has triggered legal changes, parliamentary probes, lawsuits and criminal investigations and we also offer a rich diversity of stories and perspectives from across the world. We help voices otherwise excluded from the media to reach larger audiences, and we campaign on key stories, pushing for a more open, democratic and egalitarian world.

Our stories frequently get picked up across the global media, including The New York Times, CNN, France 24, El PaĆ­s, National Geographic, Sky News, ITV News, Newsnight, BBC Radio 4’s Today, The World This Weekend and File on Four, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, The Times, Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, Channel 4 News, LBC and Private Eye in 2021 alone. attracts more than 11 million visits per year, and we provide a vital space for analysis, comment, and debate on issues ranging from democracy, gender and human rights to economics and climate change. We have projects publishing in Russian, Spanish and Portuguese as well as English. In the past two years, we’ve been nominated for and won a number of prestigious journalism prizes, from the Gabo Award to the Paul Foot and British Journalism Awards.

I know there are millions of us in this country who are drawn to the vision of socialists such as Jeremy Corbyn. We know that the political system is not working in our interests. We know that those who have wealth and power are determined to thwart our moves towards making society fairer and more equal when that