At least one blogger has laid into Rowan Williams for being a 'Marxist', in the light of his critique of the crisis in the banking sector. Williams, and John Sentamu, are both singing from the same hymn sheet in condemning some City practices and calling for better scrutiny of the financial markets.
It turns out that Rowan Williams cites Karl Marx only once, and this is what he says:
"Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves; he was right about that, if about little else." (emphasis mine)
(Ht Ruth Gledhill, Times main story here, and more quotes on her blog here)
So Williams says that Marx got just 1 thing right, and now he's a Marxist? That must make me a member of Al Qaeda, since I agree with Osama bin Laden on the existence of God. I must admit that Times headline really doesn't help "Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in support of Karl Marx" - that's not quite what Williams is getting at! But hey, now an army of the usual suspects will pile in, misquote Rowan without reading what he's actually saying, and the focus will switch.
So lets stick with the real story here. The Archbishop of York said to a group of bankers (you've got to love his guts - talk about Daniel in the lions den):
"To a bystander like me, those who made £190million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS, in spite of its very strong capital base, and drove it into the bosom of Lloyds TSB Bank, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers.
"We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland, where the share value of a bank is no longer dependent on the strength of its performance but rather on the willingness of the Government to bail it out, or rather on whether the Government has announced its intentions so to do."
and the real bomb:
"the President of the United States recently announced a $700 billion bailout plans for banks and financial institutions. One of the ironies about this financial crisis is that it makes action on poverty look utterly achievable. It would cost $5 billion to save six million children's lives. World leaders could find 140 times that amount for the banking system in a week. How can they now tell us that action for the poorest on the planet is too expensive?"
If you were planning to get enraged about Rowan Williams, don't. If you were planning to get enraged about media reporting, don't. If you were planning to get enraged about bloggers not getting their facts right don't. Get enraged about this. Bush can find hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the banking sector, but not even 1% of this to stop people dying of starvation or for lack of clean water. If this doesn't show that capitalism is sick to the heart, then I'm Karl Marx.
Update: Thinking Anglicans has a good round up of links for this one.