Francis vs the Neocons

Just in case you haven’t seen it already, here are some fabulous bits from the new pope’s recent exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (full text here):

. . .  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 sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money,  since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Exodus 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

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. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their  own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving  tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become  the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves.

Does this man worship the same God as our Prime Minister who with each passing day reveals that he has steeled his heart against yet another sector of humanity, and the environment, ‘defenceless before the interests of a deified market’.

9 responses to “Francis vs the Neocons

  1. “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,…”

    I don’t know that people defend the idea that economic growth will bring greater “justice and inclusiveness”. Rather the idea is that it brings greater prosperity, which I think has been confirmed by the facts. Justice and inclusiveness are different things entirely, and economics per se can never bring them about. I don’t know anyone who claims that it can.

    • Thanks for commenting, Agelliius. This is well into the great expanse where I don’t know much, but isn’t there an unspoken assumption that the greater prosperity that comes from ‘economic growth, encouraged by a free market’ is somehow to everyone’s benefit? That is, unless it’s explicitly spelled out that one of the effects of this kind of growth is a dramatically widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots, isn’t there at least a tacit argument that all good things, including justice and inclusiveness, will result from it.

      (I love the quote from Chesterton on your blog’s masthead, by the way.)

  2. How clearly expressed. Bravo il Papa!

    I hope someone is forwarding this to Tony and his Gang – Bernardi, Pyne – Morrison, too – Rupert, – and those on the other side as well!

  3. Jonathan:

    Thanks!

    I’m not aware of anyone arguing that economics specifically affects the level of justice and inclusiveness in a society. A lot of people believe that economic growth benefits everyone economically; in other words, some people may be a lot poorer than others, but everyone is better off than they were 50 or 100 years ago.

    Maybe it’s the phrase “better off” that causes the confusion. I imagine a lot of people take “better off” to mean “better off in every way”. Maybe that’s an effect of our society’s worship of money: More money is better, period!

    On further reflection, though, some people do contend that changing the economic system can make everyone better off, not only economically but also in terms of justice and inclusiveness, and those people are … Communists! : )

  4. Ah, but the socialists want to change the system, not just increase profits of the people who own the show.
    I enjoy arguing with the pope

  5. Well, I would guess that the majority of “neo-cons” are not “the people who own the show”; certainly not the ones that I’ve met. To the extent that they advocate the laissez-faire approach, it’s because they sincerely believe it’s the best thing for the most people. At least we can give them the benefit of the doubt.

    As far as socialists wanting to “change the system” (are we to presume for the better?) and “not just increase profits”, you’ll forgive me if I’m not convinced that they are acting purely out of love for their fellow man.

  6. Wow, we really are using words with different meanings. : )

    The linked article was very good, thanks.

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