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How Economism Became Our Religion

Richard Norgaard

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The Energy and Resources Group


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Publisher: Economism pervades our political discourse even while it is obviously false: growing and globalizing the U.S. economy have not helped the poor, lower taxes have led to collapsing bridges and poorer schools, and reducing regulations have hastened environmental destruction. These and other beliefs, or economism, have been perpetrated in the name of economics and gained credence comparable to religious beliefs. Economism has even infected the environmental sciences through the notions that ecosystems have services and nature can be thought of as capital. Religion, however, has played a complementary role. The individualism and greed of market thinking historically were countered by social gospel. Now it seems that God works through markets and prosperity gospel has become the fastest growing part of Christianity. Understanding how economism arose is necessary to move beyond it to a just and sustainable society.

ERG 22nd Annual Lecture 2016: Richard Norgaard

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