Repository logo

A Christian ethical approach to economic globalization : an alternative to Samir Amin's humanism and Hans Küng's global ethic and its implications in the Burundian context.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Economic globalization is a relatively recent phenomenon which has become familiar nowadays both in theory and practice. By definition, economic globalization is a transnational phenomenon characteristic of the post-industrial era and whose driving forces are respectively the recent technological innovations (as its engine), media of communication (information technology) as its facilitator, and political liberalism as its underlying political ideology, particularly after the collapse of doctrinaire socialism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its satellites. The phenomenon of economic globalization is ambiguous. It is a symbol of promise for some, yet a symbol of threat and alienation for others. It has both positive and negative effects. In effect, we can appreciate the dividends of economic globalization as they are evident in the growth of international trade, a tendency to universalize liberal democracy as a result of the failure of socialism and its command economy, an apparent international solidarity, economic prosperity as well as the triumph of the market economy. On the negative side, we cannot be blind to the obvious growing marginalization of the poor countries and the poor within countries, the demise of the nation-state coupled with social and political instability, inequality and social injustices between and within countries, ecological degradation and moral decadence due to blind interests in the market and maximization of profit. However, the negative effects seem to weigh more than the positive ones. This raises the question of how to respond to economic globalization. Two responses are analysed and critiqued in this dissertation. The first response, that of Samir Amin, comes from a Neo-Marxist perspective. Amin suggests a reversal of economic globalization altogether. This reversal consists in the reconsideration of the international socialism whereby each state should be allowed to negotiate the terms of interdependence with other states (poly-centrism). The second response is that of Hans Kung, who suggests a global ethic that could give economic globalization a human face. This economy with a human face is an "Aristotelian mean" economy; a kind of economy which is between the welfare state and neo-capitalism. The content of this global ethic supposed to underlie this economy is a set of values drawn from most of the religious traditions of the world. My contention is that neither Amin's international socialism nor Kung's global ethic constitute a satisfactory challenge to the power of the market and profit that are the main motive of economic globalization. Amin's international socialism is unrealistic and unreliable, particularly in this time when Marxist socialism has failed economically and has shown itself unpopular and unhelpful in practice. Kung's idea of global ethic is a powerful suggestion. Nevertheless it lacks a conceptual foundation which would redeem it from the risk of being a mere ethical contract. This conceptual framework should be an alternative to that of the Smithian homo oeconomicus that informs today's economy. The present economic order evolves around the neoclassical narrow understanding of the human being as homo oeconomicus. Thus, if we are to provide an ethic for the phenomenon of economic globalization, we have to build it on a concept that goes beyond the economic man. Such a concept should be an answer to the following double question: What/who are we, and how should we live given what/who we are? The concept that seems to best answer these questions is the concept of imago Dei as relational, central to the Judeo-Christian anthropology. The social, political and ecological implications of imago Dei as relational should help us to reconstruct the human community as the context of moral values, empower the state as the natural society that can work in partnership with the Church as the family of God, and finally consider those values that can help us to consider the enviromnent as something that is not at the disposal of human domination and overexploitation. The ethic of imago Dei as reIational is applied to the Burundian context as its testing ground. With the ethic of imago Dei as relational, the growth of the international trade should benefit the poor instead of marginalizing them, political liberalism would not lead to disorder which the profit seekers exploit to the detriment of the state, solidarity would imply equality and social justice as well as environmental care, and moral values would recover their priority over market judgment in which everything is referred to in terms of commodity. The implications of such an ordering are the following: the humanization of foreign aid and humanitarian service, the orientation of economic investment towards human promotion and not only for profit, a shift from self-enrichment minded political leadership to a leadership open to socio-economic empowerment of the poor as well as environmental care.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2001.


Economics--Religious aspects--Christianity., Globalisation--Religious aspects--Christianity., Kung, Hans, 1928- --Contributions in economics., Amin, Samir, 1931- --Contributions in economics., Theses--Theology.