Andrew G. Bjelland: Show tolerance for the religious orientation of American companies

Don’t disparage Mammonites but try to understand their faith.

(Mark Lennihan | AP photo) The Charging Bull statue is shown in New York's financial district, Sept. 8, 2020.

Nearly 200 U.S. companies downplay the import of Vladimir Putin’s “special military action in Ukraine” and continue conducting business with Russia. Some commentators are highly critical of their refusal to participate in sanctions against that country and its leader. Some even advocate the boycotting of such companies’ products.

These commentators fail to acknowledge that business entities are people too, my friends. They must be granted the freedom to exercise their religion as they deem fit. The companies in question are merely expressing their deep devotion to Mammon, the god of wealth and material acquisition. To criticize them for doing so clearly violates the spirit of religious toleration.

Some flesh-and-blood persons are also celebrants of Mammon. For example: Jared Kushner’s $2 billion deal with Mohammed Bin Salman exemplifies how a joint commitment to Mammonism transcends socio-cultural differences. Shared devotion to Mammon now explicitly links the House of Trump with the House of Saud.

Rather than disparaging Mammonites, we should attempt to better understand their faith and celebrate their freedom to practice it as they deem fit.

Adherents of Mammonism believe their object of worship, even in the most dire of circumstances, wields his Invisible Hand to wondrously ensure the greatest good for the greatest number. Of course their divinity ensures maximal benefits accrue chiefly to the unswervingly devout.

Mammon has but one prophet, namely, Profit. Mammonites’ conduct vis-a-vis Putin’s Russia and other autocratic regimes is wholly in accord with Profit’s liberating message and their creed’s most fundamental directives.

Mammon’s 10 Commandments:

• Honor greed, for it is good.

Fail to follow the Profit at your own peril. School yourself in ignoring the risks or harms you impose on others. Sympathy and empathy are inspirations of the Evil One. Steel yourself against them.

• Accept humans for what they are, creatures of Mammon, ever in pursuit of wealth and power.

Conventional morality can unduly limit true devotion, entrepreneurial ambition and market innovation. Let legality be your guide—when needs must.

• Oppose regulation at every turn.

Regulatory interference in the market is an abomination. Whenever others wish to purchase goods or services, exercise your sacred freedom to provide them.

• Maximize your political leverage.

Make donations that ensure legislators will enact laws beneficial to your commercial ventures. Seek out and fund public officials who are free-market fundamentalists and taxation minimalists. Venerate the Archdaemon ALEC, the patron daemon of Mammonite politicians.

• Lawyer up and don’t be a no-account.

Surround yourself with shrewd lawyers and creative accountants. Their counsel enables you to test the bounds of legality while avoiding criminal liability.

• Fulfill your contractual obligations. Most of the time.

All contracts are to be honored unless doing so would work to your disadvantage. Contractual complexity, ambiguity and loopholes are your friends. They permit you to honor contracts by their breach.

• Maximize your market share.

Become a dominant player within the system. Monopolize your business niche to the fullest extent possible.

• Reap the benefits of sound employee relations.

The fairest wage is the lowest wage the market will bear. Anxiety and job insecurity, if skillfully managed, work to your advantage.

• Be a team player.

Loyalty is a major virtue. Always carry out your superiors’ commands, cover-up their illegalities, praise their achievements and anticipate their desires.

• Comport yourself appropriately, remembering at all times: It’s only business. Big Business.

Nothing is personal. Everything is for sale. All relationships are transactional. Every individual has their price.

Patriotic Americans tolerate differences. Respect for and understanding of Mammonites will ensure the triumph of a communitarian spirit. In the final analysis, we are all in this together.

Andrew G. Bjelland

Andrew G. Bjelland, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus, philosophy department, Seattle University. He resides in Salt Lake City.