Pope Francis’s Marxist economic analysis reflects the Left’s long march through the Catholic Church

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’s recent “Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the Bishops, Clerk, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World” outraged conservatives, most notably Rush Limbaugh, because it attacks capitalism.  Even though I trust Rush, he admitted that he was just relying on Reuters when he expressed his dismay that Pope Francis would take on the free-market.   I therefore decided to read the Exhortation myself to see if Reuters (which approved of the exhortation) and Rush (who did not approve) were right.  I ended up skimming the 224-page document to get a sense of context and to assure myself that Rush was not misled by Reuters and that Reuters was not misled by its own ideology.   As it happens, both Reuters and Rush were right.

Before I begin, though, let me say that the Pope’s economic remarks are only a small fraction of a larger work that should not be ignored.  Indeed, when Pope Francis is not addressing specifically economic issues, the faithful should pay attention to his words if the Church is to survive in a world with increasing competition for people’s souls.

Pope Francis points out that these external pressures on the Catholic Church include competition from other religions, as well as pressure from what the Pope describes as a world “pervaded as it is by consumerism,” that breeds “the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”  Because of this this highly competitive ideological market, the Pope says — rightly, I think — that the Church must update and adapt its tactics, both among the faithful and to outsiders, while still keeping to its core mission of spreading Christ’s words and ministering to his flock.

But what about his Marxist language? Yes, it’s there and it’s really Marxist. Here are just a few excerpts to give you the flavor:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.

[snip]

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

At one level, these words repeat what the Church has said since its inception, which is that the faithful have an obligation to the poor. What’s new, and what cannot be denied, is that the words the Pope uses — e.g., “inequality,” “exploitation,” and “oppression” — have a definite pink, Marxist tinge. In the next paragraph, that tinge goes full red as the Pope makes an explicit attack against capitalism:

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

It’s rather peculiar that Pope Francisco says that capitalism “has never been confirmed by the facts.” The history of world economic successes and failures should prove all the facts that anyone could want.  The countries with the highest standards of living have always been capitalist. Moreover, as I noted in an earlier post, true capitalism has social and economic mobility. In a free market, while poverty inevitably exists (“For ye have the poor always with you,” Matthew 26:11), it’s a way station for people on their way to greater economic security, rather than an end point. In non-capitalist societies, however, the same families are mired in poverty for generations. This situation reaches its apex in communist societies, where entire populations are mired in poverty for generations.

The Pope doubles down on his Marxist economic analysis when he defends a managed economy as the best way to relieve income “inequality.” He seems unaware that economic inequality is not a byproduct of capitalism but is, instead, a byproduct of managed economies with their inevitable “crony capitalism” (which is a fancy word for corruption).

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.

There’s no way to pretty this up. The Pope is not saying that the best economic system is a free market system tempered by a moral citizenry.  Moreover, if he’s saying that poor Third World countries suffer from free-market systems, and that these systems explain their appalling poverty, he’s just wrong. The fact is that poor, Third World countries don’t suffer from an excess of free-market systems. They suffer from corrupt governments, medieval theocracies, and socialist economic systems, all of which use the strong hand of government to interfere with the marketplace.

The laws of economics are both as abstract and as inexorable as the laws of physics. Governments that try to override them only end up perverting their inevitable, implacable outcomes. Icarus soared for a few minutes until his poorly designed wax wings ended in his fatal fall to earth. Government interference works for a few years as it pumps paper money into the economy, or redistributes from rich to poor, but then true wealth disappears and the managed, manipulated economy collapses, leaving a few winners (usually government cronies) and a lot of desperately poor losers. We give our losers welfare, but they’re still losers in a system in which true wealth diminishes as the government continuously impoverishes the wealth-creators in our society.

Okay. So the Pope went full Marxist. Why did he do that? I think the answer is a simple one: he’s from Latin America. The Latin American Catholic Church went Leftist in the 1950s and 1960s, when it developed “liberation theology.” This time line coincides perfectly with Pope Francis’s coming-of-age as a Catholic priest.

“Liberation theology” is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:

Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.

Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.

Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.

Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.’”

As you can see, liberation theology’s defining concept is “social justice,” which is what all Leftist faiths (Unitarians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reform and Conservative Jews, etc.) espouse. The United Nations, in 2006, explicitly defined “social justice” as economic redistribution:

The United Nations’ 2006 document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations”, states that “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…” The same document reports, “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” The report concludes, “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”

So no, you’re not imagine that Pope Francis is preaching Marxism to the flock. He is a product of his time and place: namely the Catholic Church in Latin America from the 1950s through to the present. The Church there is a Marxist institution and he has absorbed those teachings.

What we are seeing is simply another example of the Left’s march through institutions. The Quakers, once pacifists, now promote the Palestinian’s genocidal ambitions against Israel. The Girl Scouts of America, once a youth organization promoting wholesome values for children, now sponsors pro-abortion speakers and is basically run by a far-Left drag queen who made anti-woman, pseudo-snuff videos.  The Boy Scouts of America now allows gays (showing that, on the Left, its okay if troop leaders or older scouts molest little boys into the future, but it’s not okay if priests in the 1960s once molested little boys).  Notre Dame, once a bastion of Catholic education in America, now invites Barack Obama to give pro-abortion speeches on its campus.  Hollywood, which once was run by patriotic Republicans, now promotes anti-American Leftism throughout the world.  And of course, there’s the pervasive Leftism that now permeates America’s public schools and all of its universities.

When we read the Pope’s words, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t see himself as a Marxist.  He is, instead, preaching core Church doctrine as he sees it.  The problem is that, while no one was really paying attention, core Church doctrine in Latin America fell victim to the Left’s long march through institutions.  When Francis was given the papacy, he simply took that ingrained doctrine with him.  Now that he is Pope, he’s not just spreading Christ’s gospel, he’s spreading the gospel of Liberation Theology, which he was trained to see as inextricably intertwined with Catholicism itself.

There is no doubt in my mind but that Pope Francis is a truly good man, graced with extraordinary compassion.  He loves the Church and does not wish to see it destroyed.  The primary purpose of the Exhortation is to allow the church to grow and thrive in modern times.

Given Pope Francis’s mission and his goal, it’s tragic that he fails to see that the Marxist, redistributive policies he genuinely believes are part of Catholic doctrine also spell the death knell for the Church.  Why do I say that?  I say that because I defy you to name me one society in the world that managed to be both socialist and communist, and still be genuinely (as opposed to nominally) Christian.  To the extent that Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, revolves around the individual — his conscience, his soul, his redemption, his relation to Christ, his worthiness to live (“I say to you, choose life”) — Christianity is antithetical to socialism, which promotes the collective at the expense of the individual and replaces the individual’s conscience with the demands of the state.

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Comments

  1. Simplemind says

    Hey  I just skimmed what you wrote, but since you skimmed what he wrote and commented I figured you wouldn’t mind.
    So you say he said capitalism hasnt been proved.  What he said is that trickle down theories haven’t been proved.   He isn’t the only one who says this.  Ben Stein is very vocal about this as well, saying the data actually don’t prove out trickel down.
    As to whether he “adopted the language of marxism”  in truth, marxism adopted the language of the church.
    In essence, I think he is attempting to reclaim that which has been usurped by the commies.  Criticisizing society was ever the role of church leaders.
    I think expecting the Pope to give a solid endorsement of captialism of any sort is not going to happen. None of them ever have. This is of course a broken world and the least bad scenario turns out to be capitalism. But that doesn’t get an endorsement from a Pope, they always want us to do better. 
    IF you are suggesting he is actually is a Marxist, that coo coo bananas.  You really think he wants to replace God with Government? That’s Marxism. 
    The least of the World’s current problems right now is the Pope. Agree?

  2. Matt_SE says

    Nice piece, Book.
    First off, for disclosure, I’m a lapsed Catholic…I don’t think that’s relevant, but whatever.
    I’d read another piece saying that maybe the problem was a bad translation: the word “inevitable” in the quote should’ve said “by itself.” It sounded plausible, up until I read the expanded analysis in your post.
    I agree with the Pope that there are many things competing for peoples’ attention these days. These get in the way of a focus on the spiritual life. This however, prompts a reaction in me that the church can be too focused on the afterlife and not enough on this one. A cynic might wonder if the Pope cares about quality of life as much as fealty to the church.
    Talk of updating the church’s tactics worries me. Other Christian sects like Anglicans have “updated” their tactics/doctrine and it devastated their congregations.
    Generally, these churches support government initiatives. But increasing governmental responsibility coincides with retreating personal responsibility. Think of the murder of Lee Rigby in the UK, and how a crowd of people just stood around waiting for “the authorities” to arrive…I would’ve killed those bastards myself!
    As personal responsibility recedes, so does any personal connection to the poor. It’s now “someone else’s problem.” The Pope can argue the theory about how individuals and government action can exist simultaneously, but that flies in the face of hundreds of years of experience.
     
    The funny thing about this Pope going full Liberation Theology is that I believe he’s excommunicated people from the church for explicitly that reason. Maybe he just doesn’t want to appear to be going that route.

  3. Simplemind says

    I don’t think he’s a marxist nor a liberation theologist. he’s a liberal though not doubt and a reformer.
     “until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence.”
    So basically as a typical liberal he thinks violence is a result of social arrangments. That is often true, but not exclusively true, so you will never eliminate violence even if you could reverse “exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples” which you can’t. 
    Now that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t tell people they don’t have to try. His job is to tell people to try harder and do better.  He’s not a marxist, he’s just a liberal.  I guess you may not like the choice, but not the first time we’ve ever had a liberal Pope either. Not sure anyone else would be any better.   Kinda like McCain vs Obama. Bad choices, if McCain won we wouldve had a President more liberal than I wanted. He lost, we still wound up with a President more liberal than I wanted.   Things happen for a reason. Stay tuned. It is going to be an interesting decade.

  4. Charles Martel says

    The pope is an Argentinian. He grew up in an economy that is based on the sort of crony capitalism that Obama and his fellow fascists are intent on imposing on America. To him, capitalism describes the base operations of the parasites who run (and ruin) the Argentine economy. The U.S. equivalent is the leftist 1 percenters of Manhattan, Washington, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley. The man simply hasn’t a clue when it comes to how a relatively corruption-free market works.
     
    But interposed with his naive musing about the economy are spot-on observations about the consumerist mentality. If conservatives supposedly determine the value of people in terms of the amount of money a transaction will let them net from them, the left views humans in terms of convenience—thus, its adoration of abortion and euthanasia. Both are manifestations of a mentality that concerns itself solely with gain and avoidance of the discomfort created when you view people as something other than spreadsheet factors or lumps of flesh in need of dismemberment or plug pulling.
     
    There is a poison pill, though, in his musings on a just economy: The left has always been a criminal enterprise intent of acquiring maximum sway over an economy. Francis’ admonitions apply as well to a Cuba, New York, Detroit, or Venezuela as they do to the boardrooms of Wall Street. The Pelosis and the Reids, the Streisands and the Midlers, and the Gateses and the Ellisons have no intention of using their wealth in any way remotely resembling what the pope calls for. His encyclical disses the left by making demands that very few leftists are capable of meeting, let alone understanding.
     
    One of the saving graces of Catholicism is that papal encyclicals, no matter how wonderfully written and reasoned, are not ex cathedra teachings and are not binding on the consciences of Catholics. I like Francis and his attempts to engage the dissolute post-modern mind. His awkward economic reasoning I attribute to the misfortune of having grown up in one of the world’s most dysfunctional economies.

    • says

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Charles.  Your last paragraph also answered a question that I’d thought about — namely, whether this exhortation was subject to the doctrine of papal infallibility.

  5. says

    Book’s analysis is quite correct on the fundamental points. Sun Tzu’s highest achievement of battle skill is displayed by the Left’s march through institutions. Instead of fighting the military occupation with bombs or overthrowing the government with force, you use infiltration to take over these organizations and then have them bomb and kill their own people.
     
    That is how to win a war without fighting, as you just mind control your loyal minions and make them kill each other. Wife against husband. White son vs black daughter. Poor father against rich technocrat son. Raped women vs unraped women. Feminists vs femininity. Pacifism vs war for profit. It’s all good for the Left’s war mill grist.
     
     

  6. says

    Wish there was a “Like” button for comments!
     
    I agree with Charles.  I’ve also noticed the usual suspects have been using the Pope’s words to bash the “fat cats” who seem to reside exclusively on Wall Street.  I don’t know about them, but my retirement accounts reside on Wall Street and I’m hardly a “fat cat.” 
    The words of Pope Francis are directed equally to the fat cats living in DC, Pacific Heights (why, yes, Ms. Pelosi, I am referring to you!), Hollywood, Aspen, Manhattan, Ann Arbor, and other enclaves and includes people like Gates, Zuckerberg (sp?), George Clooney, Michael Moore, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, as well as “Captains of Wall Street.” 
    Furthermore, “Capitalism” as practiced in China, Russia, and some African countries is particularly brutal.  The wealth does not “trickle down,” but stays within the elite.  We need to remember–and remind the LSM–the Pope is addressing the Universal Church, not merely the United States.

  7. says

    To be clear, I doubt Book came to the conclusion about Marxist ties to the Pope or the Catholic Church merely because of the current Pope’s history or actions. Book has learned the hidden truth, the dark whispers, about the Leftist Alliance’s wetwork done in the last century. This is something not even lower level Leftist defectors like Horo knows about.
     
    Thus now that she has accepted this truth, her mind is more easily able to grasp connections between seemingly coincidental trends and events. I call this the instinct, something people use in the gut or the nose to sniff out evil.
    Without the awareness of historical Leftist subversion of feminism, gay activists for equality, Hollywood, the Roman Catholic Church, Rhodesia, South Africa, China, South America, etc, it would be incredible hard to come up with the conclusion she did using merely the current Pope’s publicly available comments and actions.
     
    The ability to detect patterns and sniff out trouble is an acquired ability in an analyst. It is not 100% accurate, but it is more accurate than people expect of intuition and gut instincts unpaired with rational explanations.

  8. says

    Very interesting, well-studied and readable article. I know nearly nothing about economics and am therefore likely unable to say anything about the main point of the article. I will only say that the Marxism that is apparently detected in the teachings of the Pope is loathsome.
     
    I do, however, have a comment on, or perhaps rather a question about, a statement from Mr. Martel’s comment.
     
    “One of the saving graces of Catholicism is that papal encyclicals, no matter how wonderfully written and reasoned, are not ex cathedra teachings and are not binding on the consciences of Catholics.”
    I always thought that papal encyclicals were actually binding for the conscience and behavior of Catholics. I always thought that encyclicals were very important, weighty and essential doctrinal documents, of which the contents  and teachings are binding and obligatory for Catholics to accept and follow.  Just what is the authority and influence of encyclicals on the practices of Catholic believers?
     

  9. Danny Lemieux says

    The hammer not only took the words right out of my mouth but then spun them into gold. Spot on! It’s a good thing that I do not look to the Pope for economic guidance, as he has zero experience with how capitalism works…his own experience with Argentina is totally contrary to capitalist principles and more closely resembles the oligarchical traditions of the Spanish empire.
     
    Then again, the Pope may be prescient, as it will be only a matter of time before the social justice Left transforms our own country into Argentina del Norte, unless people wake up very soon to what is happening here.

  10. Charles Martel says

    Kevin_B, good question. No, encyclicals are not binding on Catholic consciences, only ex cathedra pronouncements are. The difference is that encyclicals are pastoral letters in which a pope brings to bear his insights on a particular moral or theological problem, but not as a matter of dogma.
     
    Almost all of the books pope emeritus Benedict XVI wrote—there are dozens—contain asides to the effect, “These are my thoughts, but they are not necessarily the Church’s or yours.” Encyclicals are much the same.
     
    When speaking on matters of hard doctrine, the Catholic teaching is that the pope is infallible, protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error. For example, a pope could never in a million years advocate for women’s ordination, abortion, divorce, or same-sex marriage.
     
    Catholic  economic theories, which range from the personalism of Chesterton and Belloc to the odious Marxism of certain Latin American clerics, are not part of the Church’s core teachings—although their proponents would assert that their theories derive from them. Francis can pontificate all he wants in a teaching letter, but it is best to take it as an essay in the truest sense–a stab at a topic–rather than a magisterial teaching of the Church. 

  11. Mike Devx says

    I too think Charles nailed it.  This Pope has spent his entire life in a culture whose Catholicism is dominated by liberation theology, and whose economy is dominated by crony capitalism and corruption.  The liberation theology that this Pope knows so well is deeply hostile to free market capitalism; and I doubt this Pope has had much reason to understand the critical difference between crony capitalism plus corruption, and free market capitalism.
     
    When he looks at the USA, I am sure he sees rampant, wild consumerism and materialism, and in far too many cases, a very shallow spiritual depth among its Catholics. “Cafeteria Catholics”, if you will, or to adapt the phrase “Weekend Warrior” from the military, “Weekend Catholics”.
     
    If Bono of U2 can learn – and he has – so can this Pope.  Let’s hope he does.   Right now I can only consider him, on this issue, ignorant.
     

  12. JKB says

    Christianity is socialist.  It is not, or used to be anyway, the same as those who seek to use physical force.  But being socialist, it does make easy prey for the frustrated faithful who become impatient and tragically align with the secular socialists to their eventual demise.  
    The comment below, from a writer in 1886, explains is quite well.  But we should remember two facts.  The argument is over how much socialisim and the malignancy, not either/or.  Also,  free market capitalism did more for the poor of the world in 180 years than the Catholic church or any religion did in 2000 years.  
    “Christianity, as a late writer has pointed out in words well chosen,* is the only system of socialism which commends it self as having a rational basis, and its founder the most practical teacher of it that the world has ever seen. ” The aim of all socialism is the securing of equality in the social condition of mankind, and if equality is to be secured at all it will be secured only by changing the hearts of men, and never by setting to work, in the first instance, upon the conditions.” But the present impulse of socialism is not Christian, but rather one willing to put an end to Christianity. And it is a system of machinery, like the kingdom of a tyrant, not of souls, like that of Christ. Now the Christian system did not rest on force at all. It was communistic, but not socialistic, as the word is properly used; for its very essence was the freedom of the individual will. 
     
    * Socialism and Legislation, Westminster Review, January, 1886. “

    • says

      I think, JKB, that there is a difference between “socialist” as used in that 1886 essay and as it plays out today.  To the extent that the Church demands that individuals within the Christian community voluntarily give and take according to abilities and needs, yes, Christianity can be called socialist.  The key point, though, is that word “voluntarily.”  Pope Francis, however, is calling upon nations to change their economic systems.  That’s modern socialism.  It’s not voluntary and, rather than having all the moral and social virtues of true charity, it destroys generosity, individiual worth, morals, souls, and wealth.

      • JKB says

        I read that quote to say something similar.  Christianity is socialist, as many socialists have tried to leverage, but it has some legitimacy because Christianity worked to change men’s hearts rather than impose it by force.  
         
        I see this as part and parcel of why so many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, fall into being fellow travelers with the secular socialists.  They lose faith/patience with the changing men’s hearts and adopt the “by force of government” methodology.  It is a fools choice but as you reiterate it has become common and infested the institutions.  
         
        Of course, at the same time, the Christian doctrines were under attack by factions of the secular socialists to remove the influence of the non-state centered religions in society.  We now see some of the end game where the secular socialists are directly attacking the religious socialists through abortion, contraception, gay marriage to the point of imposing those “by force of government”.  i really have no sympathy for organized religion at this point.  They made their bed now they can lay in it.  Or actually be destroyed as all fellow travelers of secular socialists are eventually.  
         
        I discount the label “modern socialist”.  They are the same.  They are more apparent now that they’ve infested the institutions.  And, in history, when the churches held more power, those who are secular socialists now, used those good offices for their desire to control/abuse others.  I suspect the only reason there is a flavoring of the socialist now is that the true nature of the socialist has been hidden and ignored by even those intellectuals who present themselves as opposed to it.  Communism was offered up as the boogeyman when it was the socialist part of those “communist” nations that were the worst for the “comarades”.  But it was the socialism that they wished to spread.  And that would only work if they could get people to believe it didn’t have its real nature. 
         
        As has been said of the devil so can be said of socialism.
         
        The greatest trick of socialism, was getting people to believe it was benign and the acceptable alternative to communism.  
         
        Socialism cannot be eradicated.  Even the most anti-socialist will at times support socialistic programs (public roads, education, etc.).  The debate is upon the level and whether programs that are more redistributive, with minimal broad public benefit are adopted.
         
        The Socialist, under this definition, would be the man who, in general, distrusts the effects of individual initiative and individual enterprise ; who is easily convinced of the utility of an assumption, by the State, of functions which have hitherto been left to personal choices and personal aims ; and who, in fact, supports and advocates many and large schemes of this character. 
         
        A man of whom all this could be said might, in strict justice, be termed a Socialist. The extreme Socialist is he who would make the State all in all, individual initiative and enterprise disappearing in that engrossing democracy of labor to which he aspires. In his view, the powers and rights of the State represent the sum of all the powers and all the rights of the individuals who compose it ; and government becomes the organ of society in respect to all its interests and all its acts. So much for the Socialist. “

        • says

          ” Even the most anti-socialist will at times support socialistic programs (public roads, education, etc.).  The debate is upon the level and whether programs that are more redistributive, with minimal broad public benefit are adopted.”
           
          The Debate is about the kind of social cooperation required to get a job done, not the level of socialist power, input, or funding.
           
          90% of the federal government’s functions can be done using Kickstarter bottom up hierarchies and funding. Which includes education, private education, and home education. Roads are for helping to run an Empire and to connect various cities together. Thus the state funds it for different reasons than what a society of merchants or peasants would find valuable.
           
          In a lot of ways, there is no such thing as a society. There’s just a bunch of individuals who act in groups.

      • says

        A society is composed of people who have to be socialists of one degree or another.
         
        A good person can make even a dictatorship do good things. A bad person can even make a nation of saints into demons.
         
        It’s all about how humanity selects its leaders. Human cooperation will always fall under an authority, a society, or a network of individuals. Only those who reject society’s authority and live as hermits are more free, though even they will come to desire human company once in awhile.
         
         

  13. says

    March Hare…”The words of Pope Francis are directed equally to the fat cats living in DC, Pacific Heights (why, yes, Ms. Pelosi, I am referring to you!), Hollywood, Aspen, Manhattan, Ann Arbor, and other enclaves and includes people like Gates, Zuckerberg (sp?), George Clooney, Michael Moore, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, as well as “Captains of Wall Street.” 
     
    How about people like Al Gore (net worth around $200 million) and the Clintons (net worth also around $200 million)? While I admit I haven’t perused the Pope’s words carefully, so far I haven’t seen any indication that he recognizes this basic fact: POWER is always transmutable into wealth, and in our society PUBLIC RECOGNITION is also transmutable into wealth.
     

  14. Gringo says

    The “capitalism” that Pope Francis observed in Argentina has decided differences from that practiced in the US. As others have pointed out, there is a strong strain of crony capitalism in Argentina. Not that crony capitalism can’t be found in the US, but that it is less prevalent than in Argentina.
     
    A further difference is that in Argentina and in much of Latin America, a contract is simply a piece of paper which is to be adhered to only if it is to one’s advantage. By contrast, a US company will do its utmost to adhere to the terms of a contract. At least that was my assessment of our Argentine “partners,”  back in the day when I worked there.
     
    Having seen how our Argentine “partners” operated, I asked the opinion of a friend of my father, who had worked for the World Bank in Latin America for 20 years. His reply was that indifference to the terms of a contract was a carryover from the Spanish. Additional support for my point of view came several years ago from a childhood friend who married an Argentine and has done some consulting work in Argentina. He also agreed with my “contract not worth the paper it is printed on” assessment of the Argentines.
     
    An additional continuity from the Spanish:”Obdezco pero no cumplo” – I obey but I do not comply- was the standard operating procedure in in Spanish colonies to directives from the mother country. This attitude would carry over into the interpretation of business contracts,or law, for that matter.
     
     In defense of the “take the money and run” attitude towards running businesses that permeates Argentina, one factor in this attitude is the arbitrary power of government. Hyperinflation, which can always be blamed on government policy,  and which Argentina had in the ’70s and ’80s. definitely fosters a “take the money and run” attitude. For further example of arbitrary government power, look at the Kirchner government’s  freezing of energy prices, its confiscation of retirement accounts, or its prosecution of economists for publishing truthful inflation figures.
     
    When you never know what the government is going to come up with to confiscate your money- and hyperinflation can be considered a form of confiscation- you had better accumulate as much money as quickly as possible. Potential starvation will trump ethics every time.
     
    [Anyone who blames the US for the existence authoritarian regimes in Latin America need only look at Juan Peron and Evita III, a.k.a. Cristina Kirchner. The authoritarian gene runs wide and deep in Latin America.]
    Had Pope Francis seen a more honest business environment than the one he lived with in Argentina, he might have a different attitude towards capitalism.
     
    For Popes and politics, consider reading Murder in the Vatican: The CIA and the Bolshevik Pontiff. The book claims that Pope Paul I, with a Socialist father and a devoutly Catholic mother, had his initial seminary education paid for by the Socialist Party: a mole to burrow underground. Note that the author considers this a good thing. The author also claims that the CIA murdered Pope Paul I. If Pope Paul was as the author claimed- a mole to burrow underground into the Church, then his untimely death, for whatever reason, wasn’t such a bad outcome- which is not the opinion of the author.
    http://tinyurl.com/Murder-in-the-Vatican
    Book, I have tried using HTML tags via your new setup, but they don’t seem to work for me.

  15. says

    What I’m curious about is whether the current Pope wants to make more countries like his home nation. That would sort of break the wall separating religious influence over government, and government authority over religious conscience.

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