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Christian opposition to Neoliberalism

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For thousand years various religions attempted to suppress the excessive greed in men, as this is a prerequisite for stability and functioning of society. In this respect neoliberalism is really Devil Creed as it consider greed to be a virtue ("greed is good"). In other words from the point of view of Christian theology neoliberalism is nothing but a flavor of Satanism (Wikipedia):

Its core beliefs revolves around individualism, egotism, Epicureanism, self-deification and self-preservation, and propagate a worldview of natural law, materialism, Social Darwinism, Lex Talionis ("eye for an eye"), and mankind as animals"

... ... ...

It is atheistic philosophy which asserts that "each individual is his or her own god and there is no room for any other God. "

Neoliberalism explicitly rejects the key ideas of Christianity -- the idea of ultimate justice for all sinners. The idea that a human being should struggle to create justice in this world while realizing that the ultimate solution is beyond his grasp.

As Reinhold Niebuhr noted a world where there is one center of power and authority (financial oligarchy under neoliberalism) "preponderant and unchallenged... its world rule almost certainly violate basic standard of justice". The same is true about globalization as

"no world government could possibly possess for generations to come, the moral and political authority to redistribute power between nations to the degree in which highly cohesive national communities have accomplished this end in recent centuries".

He warned that

"Lacking a deep understanding of the complexities of national aspirations and cultural differences, US foreign policy often lingers between two extremes of offering economic advantage to secure cooperation or overcoming intransigence through military force".

The problem with "greed is good" slogan it cultivates cruelty toward other people, As Pope Francis noted "To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others ... a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion ..."

Here are selected quotes from Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. 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 “disposable” 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”.

54. 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. 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; and 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

55. 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. Ex 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.

56. 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 defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Idolatry of money and finance; "Greed is good" as the key ethical principle of neoliberalism

Its key ethical principle of neoliberalism (only for the elite, never for prols or middle class) is "Greed is good" (as Gordon Gekko the personage of Wall Street (1987 film) quipped in the film). This strata of people (which starts on the level of CEO of major corporation) who preach those principle is assumed to be Übermensch. People below are considered to be "under humans", or "inferior humans" (Untermenschen)

According to Wikipedia, the inspiration for the "Greed is good" speech seems to have come from two sources. The first part, where Gekko complains that the company's management owns less than three percent of its stock, and that it has too many vice presidents, is taken from similar speeches and comments made by Carl Icahn about companies he was trying to take over. The defense of greed is a paraphrase of the May 18, 1986, commencement address at the UC Berkeley's School of Business Administration, delivered by arbitrageur Ivan Boesky (who himself was later convicted of insider-trading charges), in which he said, "Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".

As Pope Francis notes glorification of greed is socially destructive. While in all previous "classic" religions (including such social religion as Marxism) excessive greed was morally condemned, neoliberalism employed a slick trick of adopting "reverse", Nietzschean Ubermench morality. Here is a relevant quote from his Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

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. Ex 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.

56. 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 defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

Like Bolshevism and National Socialism before neoliberalism needs a huge propaganda machine comparable with the propaganda machines of Bolsheviks and the Third Reich. Neoliberal ethics is pushed through the throat by hundreds of radio stations, cable TV channels (with Fox as the most prominent stooge of neoliberal propaganda), magazines and newspapers (Wall Street Journal, NYT, etc). This ethics is presented as a specific philosophy of Randism which is an ultimate expression of neoliberal ethics.

Here analogy with Bolshevism became even more stark. When you think about the current Republican Party, you can distinguish a small circle of ideologues consisting by-and-large of Ayn Rand followers. In a way it reminds the original Ann Rand circle called "collective", which like Bolshevik's core consisted of Jewish intellectuals, such as Greenspan. And that is not a positive characteristic. Murray Rothbard, a member of Rand's circle for several months in 1958, described the Randroids as “posturing, pretentious, humorless, robotic, nasty, simple-minded....dazzlingly ignorant people.” (Sex, Ayn Rand and the Republican Party)

Like in Marxism the view of other classes (in this case lower classes) by this new alliance is hostile. They are parasites, moochers, etc (exactly like capitalist class in Marxism), all feeding from the state, which in turn deprives "masters of the university" the spoils of their ingenious activity. Neoliberalism professes open and acute hostility to "lower classes", as if modeled on Bolsheviks hatred of "capitalists". This hate (like hate in general) paradoxically gives neoliberalism a driving force: as Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen quipped: "Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities."

And this Ubermench feature of neoliberalism attracts young people in the same way they were attracted to national socialism with its hate of racially inferior nations. In a way neoliberalism converted the concept of "Arian race" into the concept of morally and intellectually superior transnational elite.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Feb 01, 2019] Christianity Opposes Neoliberalism by Robert Lindsay

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Russians say that the preposterous Protestant fundamentalist evangelicalism is a "pseudo-religion that represents Western egoism and noting more." This type of Protestantism is obviously anti-Christian at its very core, but this is precisely the type of bastardized and heretical Christianity that would be expected to unfold in the radical individualist atmosphere of the US. ..."
"... You may be interested to know that many Russian Orthodox Christians think the radical individualist Libertarianism so popular in the US is actually "Satanic." What they mean by that is that it is the polar opposite of the Church's teaching. ..."
"... You can have Christ or you can have Mammon. Which do you choose to worship? You surely cannot worship both. ..."
"... The modern economy is built largely on fraud; it creates money out of thin air. Who's going to pay for all of this? Why, the simple worker is going to, who produces the value behind all of this bubble. We need a fair economic system where money and capital are equivalent, and are the expression of real work. ..."
Apr 15, 2014 | robertlindsay.wordpress.com

The truth is that neoliberalism really does against the teaching of the Church, especially the Orthodox and Catholic branches of the Church which adhere more to the true religion.

The Russians say that the preposterous Protestant fundamentalist evangelicalism is a "pseudo-religion that represents Western egoism and noting more." This type of Protestantism is obviously anti-Christian at its very core, but this is precisely the type of bastardized and heretical Christianity that would be expected to unfold in the radical individualist atmosphere of the US.

You may be interested to know that many Russian Orthodox Christians think the radical individualist Libertarianism so popular in the US is actually "Satanic." What they mean by that is that it is the polar opposite of the Church's teaching.

... You can have Christ or you can have Mammon. Which do you choose to worship? You surely cannot worship both.

Moscow Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church:

The modern economy is built largely on fraud; it creates money out of thin air. Who's going to pay for all of this? Why, the simple worker is going to, who produces the value behind all of this bubble. We need a fair economic system where money and capital are equivalent, and are the expression of real work.

His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

[Feb 01, 2019] THE NEOLIBERAL MARKETIZED ECONOMY AND POLITICS

Jan 07, 2019 | cup.columbia.edu

The Origins of Neoliberalism - Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault - Columbia University Press

The process of the marketization of the economy from Mill to Becker described earlier is concluded in Becker's notions of "Human Capital" and "Economics of Crime and Punishment."

Becker reformulates the ethical modes by which one governs one's self by theorizing the economic self as human capital that generates labor in return for income. Such self-government is conducted by economizing one's earning power, the form of power that one commands over one's labor. Theorizing self-government as a form of command over one's own labor, Becker inserts the power relations of the market, which Smith identified as purchasing power over other people's labor, into the ethical sphere of the relationship between a person andherself.

Becker's theory of self-government also entails a transformation of the technologies of the self into an askesis of economizing the scarce means of the marketized self that have alternative uses for the purpose ofmaximizing the earning and purchasing power one commands in the mar- ketized economy.

The marketization of the self that turned zoon oikonomikon into a power-craving homo economicus also makes him governable by the political monarch, as demonstrated in the Economic analysis of Crime and Punishment. Economic man is governed through the legal framework of the mar- ket economy. Human action is controlled by tweaking a matrix of punishments and incentives that make the governed subject, as a prudent creature who craves to maximize his economic power, freely choose the desired course of action that will ensure economic growth. At the same time that Becker's technologies of the conduct of the marketized self establish a neoliberal self-mastery, they also enable the governmental technology of conducting one self conduct in the all-encompassing and ever growing marketized economy. Although Becker seems to reverse the ageold ethical question, that is, how can a human, as a governed subject, become free in the economy, into the technological one of how one can make a free human governable, the end result is pretty much the same, as the economy is reconstituted as a sphere in which the subject is seen as free and governed.

A neoliberal interpretation of Hobbes's economic power is found in Tullock and Buchanan's use of economic theory to "deal with traditional problems of political science," that is, to trace the works of Smithian economic power that have by now been transposed onto the political sphere: Incorporat(ing) political activity as a particular form of exchange; and, as in the market relation, mutual gains to all parties are ideally expected to result from the collective relation. In a very real sense, therefore, political action is viewed essentially as a means through which the "power" of all participants may be increased, if we define "power" as the ability to command things that are desired by men. To be justified by the criteria employed here, collective action must be advantageous to all parties. (Tullock and Buchanan 1962:23)

[Jan 29, 2019] The Religious Fanaticism of Silicon Valley Elites by Paul Ingrassia

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As our society rushes toward technological ataraxia , it may do us some good to ponder the costs of what has become Silicon Valley's new religious covenant. For the enlightened technocrat and the venture capitalist, God is long dead and buried, democracy sundered, the American dream lost. These beliefs they keep hush-hushed, out of earshot of their consumer base. Best not to run afoul of the millions of middle-class Americans who have developed slavish devotions to their smartphones and tablets and Echo Dots, pouring billions into the coffers of the ballooning technocracy. ..."
"... The problem with Silicon Valley elites is a bit simpler than that. They are all very smart, but their knowledge is limited. They know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition. Hence they see everything as an engineering problem, something with an optimal, measurable solution. ..."
"... As Tucker Carlson is realizing, Artificial Intelligence eliminating around 55% of all jobs (as the Future of Employment study found) so that wealthy people can have more disposable income to demand other services also provided by robots is madness. This is religious devotion either to defacto anarcho-capitalism, transhumanism, or both. ..."
"... @TheSnark -- valid observation: The Silicon Valley elites " know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition." Religion is not an engineering issue. Knowing a little about history, philosophy, human condition would help them to understand that humans need something for their soul. And the human soul is not described by boolean "1"s or "0"s ..."
"... Zuckerberg's comment about the Roman Empire is bizzare.to say the least. Augustus didn't create "200 years of peace". The Roman Empire was constantly conquering its neighbors. And of the first 5 Roman Emperors, Augustus was the only one who defintly died of natural causes ..."
"... This time period was an extremely violent time period. The fact that Zuckerberg doesn't realize this, indicates to me that while he is smart at creating a business, he is basically a pseudo-intellectual ..."
Jan 10, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

They've rejected God and tradition in favor of an egoistic radicalism that sees their fellow man as expendable.

As our society rushes toward technological ataraxia , it may do us some good to ponder the costs of what has become Silicon Valley's new religious covenant. For the enlightened technocrat and the venture capitalist, God is long dead and buried, democracy sundered, the American dream lost. These beliefs they keep hush-hushed, out of earshot of their consumer base. Best not to run afoul of the millions of middle-class Americans who have developed slavish devotions to their smartphones and tablets and Echo Dots, pouring billions into the coffers of the ballooning technocracy.

While Silicon Valley types delay giving their own children screens, knowing full well their deleterious effects on cognitive and social development (not to mention their addictive qualities), they hardly bat an eye when handing these gadgets to our middle class. Some of our Silicon oligarchs have gone so far as to call these products "demonic," yet on they go ushering them into schools, ruthlessly agnostic as to whatever reckoning this might have for future generations.

As they do this, their political views seem to become more radical by the day. They as a class represent the junction of meritocracy and the soft nihilism that has infiltrated almost every major institution in contemporary society. By day they inveigh against guns and walls and inequality; by night they decamp into multimillion-dollar bunkers, safeguarded against the rest of the world, shamelessly indifferent to their blatant hypocrisy. This cognitive dissonance results in a plundering worldview, one whose consequences are not yet fully understood but are certainly catastrophic. Its early casualties already include some of the most fundamental elements of American civil society: privacy, freedom of thought, even truth itself.

​Hence a recent New York Times profile of Silicon Valley's anointed guru, Yuval Harari. Harari is an Israeli futurist-philosopher whose apocalyptic forecasts, made in books like Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow , have tantalized some of the biggest names on the political and business scenes, including Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. The Times portrays Harari as gloomy about the modern world and especially its embrace of technology:

Part of the reason might be that Silicon Valley, at a certain level, is not optimistic on the future of democracy. The more of a mess Washington becomes, the more interested the tech world is in creating something else, and it might not look like elected representation. Rank-and-file coders have long been wary of regulation and curious about alternative forms of government. A separatist streak runs through the place: Venture capitalists periodically call for California to secede or shatter, or for the creation of corporate nation-states. And this summer, Mark Zuckerberg, who has recommended Mr. Harari to his book club, acknowledged a fixation with the autocrat Caesar Augustus. "Basically," Mr. Zuckerberg told The New Yorker, "through a really harsh approach, he established 200 years of world peace."

Harari understands that liberal democracy is in peril, and he's taken it upon himself to act as a foil to the anxieties of the elite class. In return, they regale him with lavish dinner parties and treat him like their maharishi. Yet from reading the article, one gets the impression that, at least in Harari's view, this is but a facade, or what psychologists call "reaction formation." In other words, by paying lip service to Harari, who is skeptical of their designs, our elites hope to spare themselves from incurring any moral responsibility for the costs of their social engineering. And "social engineering" is not a farfetched term to use. A portion of the Times article interrogates the premise of Aldous Huxley's dystopian 1932 novel Brave New World , which tells the story of a totalitarian regime that has anesthetized a docile underclass into blind submission:

As we boarded the black gull-wing Tesla Mr. Harari had rented for his visit, he brought up Aldous Huxley. Generations have been horrified by his novel "Brave New World," which depicts a regime of emotion control and painless consumption. Readers who encounter the book today, Mr. Harari said, often think it sounds great. "Everything is so nice, and in that way it is an intellectually disturbing book because you're really hard-pressed to explain what's wrong with it," he said. "And you do get today a vision coming out of some people in Silicon Valley which goes in that direction."

Here, Harari divulges with brutal frankness the indisputable link between private atheism and political thought. Lacking an immutable ontology, man is left in the desert, unmoored from anything to keep his insatiable passions in check. His pride entices him into playing the role of God.

Big Government Isn't the Way to Fix Big Tech The Tech Giants Must Be Stopped

At one point in the article, Harari wonders why we should even maintain a low-skilled "useless" class, whose work is doomed to disappear over the next several decades, replaced by artificial intelligence. "You're totally expendable," Harari tells his audience. This is why, the Times says, the Silicon elites recommend social engineering solutions like universal income to try and mitigate the more unpleasant effects of that "useless" class. They seem unaware (or at least they're incapable of admitting) that human nature is imperfect, sinful, and can never be perfected from on high. Since many of the Silicon breed reject the possibility of a timeless, intelligent metaphysics (to say nothing of Christianity), such truisms about our natures go over their heads. Metaphysics aside, the fact that our elites are even thinking this way to begin with -- that technology may render an entire underclass "expendable" -- is in itself cause for concern. (As Keynes once quipped, "In the long run we are all dead.")

Harari seems to have a vendetta against traditions -- which can be extrapolated to the tradition of Western civilization writ large -- for long considering homosexuality aberrant. He is quoted as saying, "If society got this thing wrong, who guarantees it didn't get everything else wrong as well?" Thus do the Silicon elites have the audacity to shirk their entire Western birthright, handed down to them across generations, in the name of creating a utopia oriented around a modern, hyper-individualistic view of man.

When man abandons God, he begins to channel his religious desire, more devouring than even his sexual instinct, into other worldly outlets. Thus has modern liberalism evolved from a political school of thought into an out-and-out ecclesiology, one that perverts elements of Christian dogma into technocratic channels. (Of course, one can debate whether this was liberalism's intent in the first place.) Our elites have crafted for themselves a new religion. Humility to them is nothing more than a vice.

The reason the elites are entertaining alternatives to democracy is because they know that so long as we adhere to constitutional government -- our American system, even in its severely compromised form -- we are bound to the utterly natural constraints hardwired by our framers (who, by the way, revered Aristotle and Jesus). Realizing this, they seek alternative forms in Silicon Valley social engineering projects, hoping to create a regime that will conform to their megalomaniacal fancies.

If there is a silver lining in all this, it's that in the real word, any such attempt to base a political regime on naked ego is bound to fail. Such things have been tried before, in our lifetimes, no less, and they have never worked because they cannot work. Man should never be made the center of the universe because, per impossible, there is already a natural order that cannot be breached. May he come to realize this sooner rather than later. And may Mr. Harari's wildest nightmares never come to fruition.

Paul Ingrassia is a co-host of the Right on Point podcast. To listen to his podcast, click here .


Fran Macadam , January 10, 2019 at 2:58 am

"in the real word, any such attempt to base a political regime on naked ego is bound to fail. Such things have been tried before, in our lifetimes, no less, and they have never worked because they cannot work."

But they can create hells on earth for many decades, in which millions are consumed, until played out.

George Crosley , , January 10, 2019 at 7:47 am
As Kipling so aptly put it, in the final stanzas of a poem:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

madge , , January 10, 2019 at 9:03 am
"The reason the elites are entertaining alternatives to democracy is because they know that so long as we adhere to constitutional government -- our American system, even in its severely compromised form -- we are bound to the utterly natural constraints hardwired by our framers (who, by the way, revered Aristotle and Jesus)."

Um, you do know that one of the gravest dangers the founders feared was democracy? And the bulwarks they put in place are all meant to constraint majority rule? Now, if the argument you are making that the elites have so corrupted the hoi polloi that only rule by a minority of REAL AMERICANS can save us, say so, don't do the idiotic dodge of invoking democratic arguments while obviously advocating minority rule.

TheSnark , , January 10, 2019 at 10:23 am
The problem with Silicon Valley elites is a bit simpler than that. They are all very smart, but their knowledge is limited. They know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition. Hence they see everything as an engineering problem, something with an optimal, measurable solution.

As a result, they do not even understand the systems they have built; witness Zuckerberg struggling to get Facebook under control.

If they go the way the author fears it will be by accident, not design. Despite their smarts, they really don't know what they are doing in terms of society.

CLW , , January 10, 2019 at 3:07 pm
This is an interesting topic meriting serous thought and analysis; instead, we get corny, hyperbolic alarmism. You can do better than this, TAC.
Sisera , , January 10, 2019 at 8:05 pm

As Tucker Carlson is realizing, Artificial Intelligence eliminating around 55% of all jobs (as the Future of Employment study found) so that wealthy people can have more disposable income to demand other services also provided by robots is madness. This is religious devotion either to defacto anarcho-capitalism, transhumanism, or both.

They're literally selling out human existence for their own myopic short-term gain, yet have a moral superiority complex. I suppose the consensus is that the useless class gets welfare depending on their social credit score. Maybe sterilization will lead to a higher social credits score. Dark days are coming.

Great article.

peterc , , January 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm
@TheSnark -- valid observation: The Silicon Valley elites " know everything about electronics, computers, and coding, but know little of history, philosophy, or the human condition." Religion is not an engineering issue. Knowing a little about history, philosophy, human condition would help them to understand that humans need something for their soul. And the human soul is not described by boolean "1"s or "0"s
R Henry , , January 11, 2019 at 2:14 pm
Western Culture is struggling to adapt to the new communication technologies that inhabit the Internet. That the developers of these technologies see themselves as gods of a sort is entirely consistent with human history and nature.

The best historical example of how new communication technology can change society occurred about 500 years ago, when the printing press was developed in Europe. A theologian and professor named Martin Luther (Perhaps you have heard of him?) composed a list of 95 discussion questions regarding the then-current activities of The Church. That list, known as the "95 Theses" was posted on the chapel door in Wittenburg, Germany. Before long, the list was transcribed and published. The list, and many responses, were distributed throughout Europe. The Protestant Reformation was sparked.

The Press and Protestant Reformation it launched remains a primary foundation of today's Western Culture. It has initiated much violence, much dissension, war with millions of deaths, The Enlightenment, and much else. The printing press ushered in the modern era.

Just as the printing press enabled profound change in the world 500 years ago, The Internet is prompting similar disruption today. I think we are in the early stages, and estimate that our great great grandchildren will be among the first to fully appreciate what has been gained and lost as a result of this technology.

grumpy realist , , January 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm
So the arrogance of religious believers convinced that they know "the TRUTH!", are the only ones to do so, and are justified in forcing non-believers to act as "God says!" is to be completely ignored?

Methinks we're seeing a huge case of projection here .

Frederick , , January 12, 2019 at 12:03 am
The problem is also that once those religious foundations are gone, they don't come back easily. How can you talk to an atheist/muslim/buddhist who doesn't even believe that lying is always sin? People in the west have started to think that all our nice freedoms and comfort have magically come from the heart of humans, that we are all somehow equal and want the same things but the bible tells us the real story: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

Then we have religions who fundamentally do not even view death as a problem. Now this is where we enter the danger zone. In the west we have lived on such a good, superior Christian foundation we seem to have forgotten how truly horrible and inferior the alternatives are. Suddenly you get people who endorse cannibalism and child sacrifice again, I have seen this myself. How do you even explain to somebody that this is wrong when he fundamentally disagrees on the morality of killing?

People don't understand that Christian morality was hard fought for, they refuse to understand that human beings do not have a magical switch that makes them disapprove of murder.

Thousands were burned alive in England just for wanting to read the bible. It is like a technological innovation. We found a trick in the human condition, we discovered the truth about humanity. Now these coddled silicon valley people who have grown up in a Christian society with Christian morality and protections in their arrogance think that Christian behavior is the base of human morality anyway and needs no protection. Thanks to them in no small part the entire world is currently doing its utmost to reject the reality of the bible. We see insane propositions that say we should not judge people. Or that everyone is equal. Of course the bible never says that with the meaning they imply, but it was coopted beautifully for their own evil agenda. Yes evil, did I mention that our technocratic genius overlords don't believe in that either?

How can you talk with somebody that has rejected the most base truths of human life. How can you say a murderer is equal to a non-criminal? You must understand that these new age fake Christians truly think like this, they truly believe that everyone is equal. You can't allow yourself to think that 'oh they just mean we are all equal like.. on a human level, in our humanity'. Nono, I made the mistake to be too charitable with them. They actually think we are all equal no matter what. I found it hard to believe that we have degenerated so much, I have been in a quasi state of shock for a long time over this.

Pete from Baltimore , , January 12, 2019 at 8:57 am
Zuckerberg's comment about the Roman Empire is bizzare.to say the least. Augustus didn't create "200 years of peace". The Roman Empire was constantly conquering its neighbors. And of the first 5 Roman Emperors, Augustus was the only one who defintly died of natural causes

This time period was an extremely violent time period. The fact that Zuckerberg doesn't realize this, indicates to me that while he is smart at creating a business, he is basically a pseudo-intellectual

Connecticut Farmer , , January 12, 2019 at 10:09 am
" one of the gravest dangers the founders feared was democracy?"

Wrong! They didn't fear democracy per se', only democracy run amok, hence the checks and balances

[Jan 12, 2019] The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says the data-gathering capacity of devices such as smartphones risks bringing humanity closer to the arrival of the Antichrist.

Jan 12, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc , January 08, 2019 at 08:38 AM

I chuckled when I read the headline but then read Patriarch Kirill's remarks and he's onto something real imo

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/russian-orthodox-church-says-smartphones-a-harbinger-of-the-antichrist-2019-01-08

"Russian Orthodox Church says smartphones a harbinger of the Antichrist"

"MOSCOW (AP) -- The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says the data-gathering capacity of devices such as smartphones risks bringing humanity closer to the arrival of the Antichrist.

In an interview shown Monday on state TV, Patriarch Kirill said the church does not oppose technological progress but is concerned that "someone can know exactly where you are, know exactly what you are interested in, know exactly what you are afraid of" and that such information could be used for centralized control of the world.

"Control from one point is a foreshadowing of the coming of Antichrist, if we talk about the Christian view. Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the world wide web that controls the entire human race," he said."

[Jan 11, 2019] Blowback from the neoliberal policy is coming

Highly recommended!
Seeing Tucker Leaders show no obligation to American voters suggest that the collapse of neoliberalism is coming...
Notable quotes:
"... Excessive financialization is the Achilles' heel of neoliberalism. It inevitably distorts everything, blows the asset bubble, which then pops. With each pop, the level of political support of neoliberalism shrinks. Hillary defeat would have been impossible without 2008 events. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

bruce wilder, January 11, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Barkley insists on a left-right split for his analysis of political parties and their attachment to vague policy tendencies and that insistence makes a mess of the central issue: why the rise of right-wing populism in a "successful" economy?

Naomi Klein's book is about how and why centrist neoliberals got control of policy. The rise of right-wing populism is often supposed (see Mark Blyth) to be about the dissatisfaction bred by the long-term shortcomings of or blowback from neoliberal policy.

Barkley Rosser treats neoliberal policy as implicitly successful and, therefore, the reaction from the populist right appears mysterious, something to investigate. His thesis regarding neoliberal success in Poland is predicated on policy being less severe, less "shocky".

In his left-right division of Polish politics, the centrist neoliberals -- in the 21st century, Civic Platform -- seem to disappear into the background even though I think they are still the second largest Party in Parliament, though some seem to think they will sink in elections this year.

Electoral participation is another factor that receives little attention in this analysis. Politics is shaped in part by the people who do NOT show up. And, in Poland that has sometimes been a lot of people, indeed.

Finally, there's the matter of the neoliberal straitjacket -- the flip-side of the shock in the one-two punch of "there's no alternative". What the policy options for a Party representing the interests of the angry and dissatisfied? If you make policy impossible for a party of the left, of course that breeds parties of the right. duh.

Likbez,

Bruce,

Blowback from the neoliberal policy is coming. I would consider the current situation in the USA as the starting point of this "slow-motion collapse of the neoliberal garbage truck against the wall." Neoliberalism like Bolshevism in 1945 has no future, only the past. That does not mean that it will not limp forward in zombie (and pretty bloodthirsty ) stage for another 50 years. But it is doomed, notwithstanding recently staged revenge in countries like Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil.

Excessive financialization is the Achilles' heel of neoliberalism. It inevitably distorts everything, blows the asset bubble, which then pops. With each pop, the level of political support of neoliberalism shrinks. Hillary defeat would have been impossible without 2008 events.

At least half of Americans now hate soft neoliberals of Democratic Party (Clinton wing of Bought by Wall Street technocrats), as well as hard neoliberal of Republican Party, which created the " crisis of confidence" toward governing neoliberal elite in countries like the USA, GB, and France. And that probably why the intelligence agencies became the prominent political players and staged the color revolution against Trump (aka Russiagate ) in the USA.

The situation with the support of neoliberalism now is very different than in 1994 when Bill Clinton came to power. Of course, as Otto von Bismarck once quipped "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." and another turn of the technological spiral might well save the USA. But the danger of never-ending secular stagnation is substantial and growing. This fact was admitted even by such dyed- in-the-wool neoliberals as Summers.

This illusion that advances in statistics gave neoliberal access to such fine-grained and timely economic data, that now it is possible to regulate economy indirectly, by strictly monetary means is pure religious hubris. Milton Friedman would now be laughed out the room if he tried to repeat his monetarist junk science now. Actually he himself discarded his monetarist illusions before he died.

We probably need to the return of strong direct investments in the economy by the state and nationalization of some assets, if we want to survive and compete with China. Australian politicians are already openly discussing this, we still are lagging because of "walking dead" neoliberals in Congress like Pelosi, Schumer, and company.

But we have another huge problem, which Australia and other countries (other than GB) do not have: neoliberalism in the USA is the state religion which completely displaced Christianity (and is hostile to Christianity), so it might be that the lemming will go off the cliff. I hope not.

The only thing that still keeps neoliberalism from being thrown out to the garbage bin of history is that it is unclear what would the alternative. And that means that like in 1920th far-right nationalism and fascism have a fighting chance against decadent neoliberal oligarchy.

Previously financial oligarchy was in many minds associated with Jewish bankers. Now people are more educated and probably can hang from the lampposts Anglo-Saxon and bankers of other nationalities as well ;-)

I think that in some countries neoliberal oligarchs might soon feel very uncomfortable, much like Soros in Hungary.

As far as I understood the level of animosity and suppressed anger toward financial oligarchy and their stooges including some professors in economics departments of the major universities might soon be approaching the level which existed in the Weimar Republic. And as Lenin noted, " the ideas could become a material force if they got mass support." This is true about anger as well.

[Jan 08, 2019] Orthodox Christian Initiative for Africa -- Neoliberalism and the Gospel - Or- "Christian Businessman", an oxymoron

Notable quotes:
"... Jesus The Market is Lord ..."
"... How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him ..."
"... Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy ..."
"... Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth ..."
"... Concise Oxford Dictionary ..."
Jan 08, 2019 | grforafrica.blogspot.com

Neoliberalism and the Gospel - Or: "Christian Businessman", an oxymoron

Khanya (Orthodox Christians from South Africa)

Jesus The Market is Lord

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word (I Kings 18:21).
It seems to me that for many Christians the Gospel of Neoliberalism has replaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I've known that for a long time, and have blogged about it before ( here , and here , and here ).
But today I was reminded of it again when several people brought various articles on it to my attention:As one of these articles points out, Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us | Paul Verhaeghe | Comment is free | theguardian.com :
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.
Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers".
And this Sick of this market-driven world? You should be | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian :
Today the dominant narrative is that of market fundamentalism, widely known in Europe as neoliberalism. The story it tells is that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. The less the state regulates and taxes us, the better off we will be. Public services should be privatised, public spending should be cut, and business should be freed from social control. In countries such as the UK and the US, this story has shaped our norms and values for around 35 years: since Thatcher and Reagan came to power. It is rapidly colonising the rest of the world.
But in some ways this point is the most telling, and raises the question that Elijah put to the Israel of old: Sick of this market-driven world? You should be | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian :
Neoliberalism draws on the ancient Greek idea that our ethics are innate (and governed by a state of nature it calls the market) and on the Christian idea that humankind is inherently selfish and acquisitive. Rather than seeking to suppress these characteristics, neoliberalism celebrates them: it claims that unrestricted competition, driven by self-interest, leads to innovation and economic growth, enhancing the welfare of all.
When a Christian script was running in many people's minds (see Counterscript to know what that refers to) Greed was regarded as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but in the Gospel according to Neoliberalism, it is the supreme virtue.
And for many Christians, the Neoliberal script has started to drown out the Christian one, and so raises the question of Elijah: How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him .

"Baal" is a word that means lord or master, and the deity referred to was Melqart, the god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was a god of rain and fertility, and hence of material prosperity, and was invoked by Phoenician traders for protection of their commercial enterprises. In other words, the cult of Baal was a prosperity cult, which had lured the people of Israel, and was actively promoted by their Phoenician queen Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. The people of Israel had the prosperity script playing in their minds.

In our day too, many Christians have the prosperity script playing in their minds.

The post immediately preceding this one, on Neopentecostal churches and their celebrity pastors [& here ] , points to a phenomenon that Christian missiologists like to refer to as inculturation or contextualisation, which, in a good sense, means making the Christian gospel understandable to people living in a particular culture or context. But in the prosperity gospel preached by some Neopentecostals, the Christian gospel has been swamped by the values of Neoliberalism. One could say that "prosperity theology" is the contextualisation of the Christian gospel in a society dominated by Neoliberal values, but to such an extent that the result is syncretism.

But while the Neopentecostals sometimes do this explicitly, many other Christian groups do it implicitly, and we need to ask ourselves where our values really come from -- from the gospel of Jesus Christ, or from the gospel of the Market. Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, but the Market, or Melqart, or Mammon, is the love of money incarnate.

When the world urges us to celebrate the virtues of Greed, whether subtly or blatantly, do we resist it? Are we even aware of what is happening? Or do we simply allow that script to play in our heads, telling us "You deserve it"?

Last week a couple of journalists were asking me why Neopentecostal churches that preach a properity gospel, like T.B. Joshua's Synagogue Church of all Nations, are growing in popularity, and one answer is that given by George Monbiot in the article quoted above -- that the values of Neoliberalism, promoted by Reagan and Thatcher, are now colonising the whole world.

Blessed are the sarcastic, for they shall succeed in business

Khanya

I have sometimes suspected that the phrase "Christian Businessman" was an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, and that suspicion was reinforced by an article I have just read on the Web. Harvard Study Shows that Sarcasm is Actually Good for You :

Data from a recent study entitled, The Highest Form of Intelligence: Sarcasm Increases Creativity for Both Expressers and Recipients, suggests that the delivery and deciphering of sarcasm offers psychological benefits that have been largely underappreciated and long overlooked.
The article tells us that the research was sponsored by Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School and INSEAD ("The Business School for the World").
For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of the saying "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit."
The article I just cited tells us that people who believe that are stupid and uncreative.
So what is sarcasm, and why is it something that Christians should avoid if possible?
sarcasm n. Bitter or wounding remark, taunt, esp. one ironically worded [1]
The English word sarcasm is derived from the Greek sarkasmos , which suggests the image of a predator devouring its prey. So if, as the article, suggests the people most likely to succeed in business are those who habitually go around making nasty remarks about others, and the most effective bosses are those who habitually tear strips off their underlings, the term "unscrupulous businessman" is a pleonastic redundancy.
Well what's new? I think most of us knew that.
I think we all knew that "business ethics" was a contradiction in terms. I recall seeing a cartoon in Mad magazine that had some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for commemorative postage stamps (remember them?), and one showed two people hugging each other, each with knife in hand, stabbing the other in the back. That was to commemorate 100 years of business ethics.
What's new in this article is a kind of psychological proof that nastiness works, that being sarcastic gives you the edge in business. So sarcasm is a virtue to be inculcated and cultivated. Yet it is the very opposite of ubuntu and Christian values.
Nearly every Sunday in Orthodox Churches we sing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12).
Why so often?
Perhaps because of the frequency with which we are bombarded with propaganda to do the opposite.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy , but being sarcastic is the very opposite of being merciful.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth . Wrong, say the business gurus. Blessed are the pushy.
It is perhaps easier to find Christian values among the scruffy beatniks and drop-outs from society than among the business leaders.
As one beat generation writer said to the square who offered him an advertising job: 'I'll scrub your floors and carry out your slops to make a living, but I will not lie for you, pimp for you, stool for you or rat for you.'[2]
It is the worshippers of the bitch-goddess Success who hold out sarcasm as a virtue and a behavioural ideal.
______________
Notes
[1] Concise Oxford Dictionary , Fifth Edition.
[2] Lipton, Lawrence. 1959. The holy barbarians . New York: Messner.

See also

Christ divided: liberalism, ecumenism and race in South Africa

Orthodox Church & Capitalism: Orthodox Fathers of Church on poverty, wealth and social justice Is capitalism compatible with Orthodox Christianity?
The orthodox old beggar who helps orphans Capitalism, Protestant Ethics & Orthodox Tradition
Capitalisms' ideology Grace and "the Inverted Pyramid"
Église orthodoxe Pères, la richesse et le capitalisme Fathers of Church & Capitalism : Interest, Usury, Capitalism
The holy anarchists... in the Egyptian Desert

Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
Orthodox Monasticism
LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!
"African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God..."

[Jan 08, 2019] Peace, Economic Injustice and the Orthodox Church - Society Articles - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Notable quotes:
"... In an increasingly fragmented world, the Orthodox churches acknowledge and defend the dignity of every human being and cultivate human solidarity. In addressing violence in the marketplace, even if people accept in their hearts the virtues of justice and peace, the market operates with its own autonomous logic and economic practices. It is guided by the belief that there can be a 'total free market' in which unregulated competing economic relationships of individuals in pursuit of their economic gains can lead to optimum good. It advocates that free markets without government 'interference' would be the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources. ..."
"... Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist (1997-2000) and Nobel Laureate in Economics notes that economic globalization in its current form risks exacerbating poverty and increasing violence if not checked, because it is impossible to separate economic issues from social and political issues. ..."
"... Orthodoxy believes that all political and economic theories and practices are subject to criticism and modification aimed to overcoming those aspects of them that generate violence and injustice. ..."
"... The logic of the market must not only seek the maximization of profits favoring and serving only those who have economic capital and power. Economic practices must ensure just and sustainable development for all people. We cannot talk about a really free economy without entering into particular judgments about what kinds of exchange are conducive to the flourishing of life and what kinds are not. ..."
Jan 08, 2019 | www.goarch.org

The peacemaking vocation of the church is a dynamic process of a never-ending personal and communal transformation that reflects the human and fallible struggle to participate in God's Trinitarian life. St. Nicholas Cabasilas epigrammatically summarizes the Orthodox view on peacemaking: "Christians, as disciples of Christ, who made all things for peace, are to be 'craftsmen of peace.' They are called a peaceable race since 'nothing is more characteristic of a Christian than to be a worker for peace." In being "craftsmen of peace" the Orthodox churches unite themselves in prayer, vision, and action with all those Christians who pray that God's Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. The aspiration to live in peace and justice unite Christians with people of living faiths and ideologies in a shared vision, hope, and actions for less violence, injustice, and oppression. An effective intervention in situations of conflict, injustice and oppression requires the churches not to ignore what is possible to learn from advances in political sciences and economics as well as from successful economic and political policies and practices that aim to transform conflicts into life opportunities.

In addressing the root causes of injustice and violence in the marketplace, the Orthodox Churches recognize the autonomy of the inherent rationality of the market and leave the development of economic theories and policies to those who understand its dynamics better. The Churches, however, critique economic theories and practices based on their performance and their effects upon the people. Their criticism contributes towards a revisionary logic of the market that favors economic practices that generate greater opportunities for a more equitable and just distribution of power and resources.

Today, one-and-a-half billion people live in areas affected by instability, conflict or large-scale, organized criminal violence. The causes of conflict arise from economic, political and security dynamics. Political exclusion and inequality affecting regional, religious, or ethnic groups are associated with higher risks of civil war, while inequality between richer and poorer households is closely associated with higher risks of violence. The disparity between the rich and poor between and within nations is increasing. Unemployment is on the rise, pushing more and more people into poverty, malnutrition, poor health, depression, violence, insecurity, fear, and desperation. There are nearly one billion undernourished people on our planet and this number is increasing by 68 people every minute; that is more than one every second. The human cost of violence cannot be ignored by anyone who considers all human beings to be icons of God.

The economic and monetary crisis that leads to an increased disparity between rich and poor is understood mostly by the Orthodox Churches to be primarily a 'spiritual' and/or cultural crisis. It is attributed to unrestrained individualism that leads to an excessive desire for wealth and to consumerism. Individualism and consumerism have disconnected people from loving God and their neighbor, thus preventing them from reflecting in their lives God's love for all creation.

St. John Chrysostom, a notable preacher of the undivided Church, stated that not to be an advocate of the poor would be "the worst inhumanity." [1] Being the advocate of the poor leads him to refute point by point all the arguments by which the affluent justified the marginalization of the poor and their indifference towards them. Christ in a privileged manner is identified with the poor. The poor are not the spectacle of human misery and suffering that evokes compassion or disgust, but they are the icons of Christ, the presence of Christ in the broken world. This is their dignity! If you refuse to give bread to the poor, you ignore Christ who desires to be fed: "You eat in excess; Christ eats not even what he needs At the moment, you have taken possession of the resources that belong to Christ and you consume them aimlessly." [2] The poor for St. John Chrysostom are the liturgical images of the most holy elements in all of Christian worship: the altar and the body of Christ. [3]

The Orthodox Churches advocate a culture of compassion in which people share their material resources with those in need. Charity and compassion are not virtues to be practiced just by those who have the material resources and means. They are virtues that promote the communal love that Christians should have for all human beings. Every human being, regardless of whether he or she is rich or poor must be charitable and compassionate to those lacking the basic material resources for sustenance. [4] St. Basil exhorts the poor to share even the minimal goods that they may have. [5] Almsgiving leads people to God and grants to all the necessary resources for sustenance and development of their human potential. However, a voluntary sharing of resources in the present world is not enough. Building a culture of peace demands global and local institutional changes and new economic practices that address at more fundamental level the root causes of poverty. It calls for a fusion of the Christian culture of compassion with the knowledge that we have acquired through experience and the advances of social science about the structural sources of poverty and its multifaceted aspects that urgently need to be addressed through reflective concerted actions.

In an increasingly fragmented world, the Orthodox churches acknowledge and defend the dignity of every human being and cultivate human solidarity. In addressing violence in the marketplace, even if people accept in their hearts the virtues of justice and peace, the market operates with its own autonomous logic and economic practices. It is guided by the belief that there can be a 'total free market' in which unregulated competing economic relationships of individuals in pursuit of their economic gains can lead to optimum good. It advocates that free markets without government 'interference' would be the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources.

Many economists and institutions of global development agencies embrace economic globalization as indisputable reality and suggest that there is no alternative to this. They assume that Neoliberalism contributes to the prosperity and the equitable development of all nations. Unfortunately though, its economic practices have not been designed to meet the immediate needs of the world's poor people. Global inequalities between nations and within nations are widening. Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist (1997-2000) and Nobel Laureate in Economics notes that economic globalization in its current form risks exacerbating poverty and increasing violence if not checked, because it is impossible to separate economic issues from social and political issues.

The Orthodox Churches are not in a position to suggest concrete alternatives to economic globalization, nor do they intend to endorse or reject complex economic policies and practices that regulate the global economy. Yet, based on the eschatological orientation of the Christian gospel, Orthodoxy believes that all political and economic theories and practices are subject to criticism and modification aimed to overcoming those aspects of them that generate violence and injustice.

The logic of the market must not only seek the maximization of profits favoring and serving only those who have economic capital and power. Economic practices must ensure just and sustainable development for all people. We cannot talk about a really free economy without entering into particular judgments about what kinds of exchange are conducive to the flourishing of life and what kinds are not.

The Churches are led by their faith to take an active role in fostering economic practices that reflect God's peace and justice. These economic practices integrate in their logic those elements of social life that promote a culture of compassion that unites all human beings in peace and justice. Indispensable aspects of this culture are: respect for the dignity and the rights of all human beings; equitable socio-economic relationships; broad participation in economic and political decision-making; and just sharing of resources and power.

Once, we put human faces to all those millions of people who suffer the consequences of an inequitable distribution of power and resources, it becomes evident that it is an indispensable aspect of the church's mission to the world to be involved through prayers and thoughtful actions in noble efforts to eradicate poverty and injustice.

[Jan 07, 2019] Steve Bannon's Coalition of Christian Traditionalists

Notable quotes:
"... Whereas previously many conservatives focused on disputing the legal legitimacy of progressive policies, some conservatives have switched to opposing these policies under the banner of religious freedom. ..."
Jan 07, 2019 | www.theatlantic.com

In Bannon's telling, the greatest mistake the baby boomers made was to reject the traditional "Judeo-Christian" values of their parents. He considers this a historical crime, because in his telling it was Judeo-Christian values that enabled Western Europe and the United States to defeat European fascism, and, subsequently, to create an " enlightened capitalism " that made America great for decades after World War II.

The enormous amount of media attention he has received and his various interviews , talks , and documentaries strongly suggest that he believes the world is on the verge of disaster -- and that without Judeo-Christianity, the American culture war cannot be won, enlightened capitalism cannot function, and " Islamic fascism " cannot be defeated.

This is where Bannon invokes the "Russian traditionalism" of Vladimir Putin, and it's important to recognize why he does so. In his 2014 Vatican talk, Bannon made it clear that Putin is "playing very strongly to U.S. social conservatives about his message about more traditional values." As a recent Atlantic essay convincingly argues, upon his return to office in 2012, Putin realized that "large patches of the West despised feminism and the gay-rights movement." Seizing the opportunity, he transformed himself into the "New World Leader of Conservatism" whose traditionalism would offer an alternative to the libertine West that had long shunned him.

... ... ...

...Bannon also highlights differences between Judeo-Christian traditionalism and the thinking of Alexander Dugin, who he (hyperbolically) credits as being the intellectual mastermind of the traditionalist movement in Russia. In contrast to mainline American social conservatives, Dugin sees the anti-globalism and anti-Americanism of certain expressions of Islam as having much in common with his own distinctive brand of traditionalism. In fact, Dugin views conservative American evangelicalism as an aberration from historical Christianity, and a cipher for neoliberal capitalism.

In contrast to Bannon's realpolitik, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian minister of foreign affairs, has called for a greater long-term cooperation with the West -- for a "partnership of civilizations" to combat modern geopolitical problems, especially ISIS. In his words , "We believe that universal human solidarity must have a moral basis resting on traditional values which are essentially common for all of the world's leading religions. I would like to draw your attention to the joint statement made by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis, in which they reiterated their support for the family as a natural center of life for individuals and society." The same values that motivate Russia's foreign policy (especially its role in the Middle East) are, to Lavrov, the bedrock of the Christian civilization represented by the Patriarch and the pope.

[Jan 07, 2019] Distributism -- Economics as if People Mattered

Notable quotes:
"... The second reason is now more pertinent than when it was first given. The capitalist system, by its very nature, places the preponderance of wealth in the hands of a small minority. ..."
"... As G.K. Chesterton rightly stated, the problem with capitalism is that it produces too few capitalists! ..."
"... The above were only some of the reasons why the Distributists, who formed the Distributist League in 1926, thought that the capitalist economy would eventually collapse. These were not, however, the only problems which they found with the system. ..."
"... The idea that if every man simply seeks after his own economic interest, all will be provided for and prosper, was almost universally rejected during these decades. We see strong reactions to economic liberalism in Russian Communism, German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Austrian, Portuguese, and Spanish Corporatism, British Fabian Socialism, along with the American "New Deal" leftism. Thus, in the 1930s and 1940s, most of the world was ordered by ideologies which explicitly rejected the premises of economic liberalism. We must, also, not forget the international economic crash of the late 20s and early 30s, which produced economic depression, totalitarian regimes, and, finally, world war. ..."
Jan 07, 2019 | katehon.com

Peter Chojnowski

In truly "prophetic" utterances, the analysis of present circumstances, along with a consideration of the laws written into human nature which manifest themselves in history, can yield a prediction concerning the general outline of things to come. This judgment of the well-informed and perceptive mind, is somewhat undermined by only one factor. The universe and the "universe" of human society in which the inherent laws written into human nature by its Creator reveal themselves in historical events, is also a universe which contains free creatures who are undetermined as regards the means they can employ to achieve their specifically human end. Human freedom inserts a variable in the material necessity of the universe.

This contingency and variability has its ultimate source in the spirituality of the human soul. It is precisely on account of his materialistic rejection of the human soul, that Karl Marx, for instance, could make such ridiculously precise predictions as to the "necessary" movement of economic, political, and social history. This does not mean, however, that there is not an inherent natural law which determine which human endeavors will "work" and which will lead to catastrophe.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were a group of scholars, theologians, philosopher, social critics, and poets, who predicted the inevitable demise of the capitalist economic system which was just developing in Continental Europe, but had been operative for 100 years in England. When you read their works, especially the British authors of the early 20th century, here we include Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, and Arthur Penty, one is struck by the fact that their analyzes are more valid today than they were 70 or 80 years ago, their predictions more likely to be imminently fulfilled.

What they predicted was nothing less than the collapse of the capitalist system. In the case of Belloc, in his book The Servile State, it was predicted that capitalism would soon transform itself into an economic and social system which resembled the slave economies of the pre-Christian and early Christian eras. Why did they predict such a collapse or inevitable transformation? In their writings, many reasons are given, however, we can narrow them down to three. The first, they referred to as the "capitalist paradox." The paradox is a consequence of capitalism being an economic system which, in the long run, "prevents people from obtaining the wealth produced and prevents the owner of the wealth from finding a market." Since the capitalist strives both for ever greater levels of production and lower wages, eventually "the laborer who actually produces say, boots cannot afford to buy a sufficient amount of the boots which he himself has made." This leads to the "absurd position of men making more goods than they need, and yet having less of those goods available for themselves than they need."1

The second reason is now more pertinent than when it was first given. The capitalist system, by its very nature, places the preponderance of wealth in the hands of a small minority. This monopoly on the money supply by banking and financial concerns, becomes more absolute as the capital-needing consumer must go to the banks to borrow money. Usury, now called "interest," insures that those who first possesses the money for loan, will end up with a greater portion of the money supply than they possessed before the loan was issued. As wages stagnate and interest payments become increasingly impossible to make, massive numbers of defaults will inevitably produce a crisis for the entire financial system.2

When entire nations default on loans, there will be a crisis throughout the entire international financial system. Demise is, therefore, built into the very structure of the capitalistic system in which capital (i.e., all kinds of wealth whatsoever which man uses with the object of producing further wealth, and without which the further wealth could not be produced. It is a reserve without which the process of production is impossible)3 is primarily in the hands of the few.

As G.K. Chesterton rightly stated, the problem with capitalism is that it produces too few capitalists! The third fact concerning capitalism which the Distributists thought would inevitably bring down the system or lead to its fundamental transformation, was the general instability and personal insecurity which marks a full-blown capitalist economy. What accounts for this general feeling of insecurity and instability, which characterizes both the individual "wage-earner" and the society living under capitalism, is the always present fear of unemployment and, hence, of destitution and the fact that a laborer's real wages leave him with only enough money to cover the expenses of the day. Saving, so as to provide an economic hedge against the misfortune of unemployment or personal crisis, becomes almost impossible.4

The above were only some of the reasons why the Distributists, who formed the Distributist League in 1926, thought that the capitalist economy would eventually collapse. These were not, however, the only problems which they found with the system.

The social consequences of the majority being unable to afford real property, the decline and, eventual, disappearance of the trade guilds and vocational corporations, the "necessity" of wives and mothers entering the "work force," the end of small-scale family -owned businesses and farms, the decline of the apprentice system were all indictments of capitalism in the mind of those who sought to chart out a "third way" between capitalism, which is simply liberalism in the economic sphere, and socialism.

There is little doubt that the problems with capitalism which were cited by the Distributists have only grown in their proportion in our own time. The concentration of wealth, exemplified by the recent merger of Citicorp and Travelers which produced the largest banking institution in the United States with assets of $700 billion, simply boggles the mind. The institution of usury, always an necessary adjunct of economic liberalism, has caused in recent years more bankruptcies and personal debt than ever before in history. Nations, such as Indonesia, are tottering on the brink of social, economic, and political chaos because of their inability to pay the interest on their hundreds of billions of dollars in bank debt. If such a nation should go into default, it could threaten to throw a whole variety of nations into recession, depression, or worse.

It is not proper to say that the predictions of the imminent demise of capitalism were totally without fulfillment. The 1920s, 30s, and 40s witnessed reaction after reaction to the radical individualism which is the fundamental idea of liberal capitalism. Truly, the market is the institutionalization of individualism and non-responsibility. Neither buyer nor seller is responsible for anything but himself.5

The idea that if every man simply seeks after his own economic interest, all will be provided for and prosper, was almost universally rejected during these decades. We see strong reactions to economic liberalism in Russian Communism, German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Austrian, Portuguese, and Spanish Corporatism, British Fabian Socialism, along with the American "New Deal" leftism. Thus, in the 1930s and 1940s, most of the world was ordered by ideologies which explicitly rejected the premises of economic liberalism. We must, also, not forget the international economic crash of the late 20s and early 30s, which produced economic depression, totalitarian regimes, and, finally, world war.

There is one fact which separates our day from the days of the 30s and 40s, however. The concentration of wealth and capital, the inadequacy of a man's pay to provide the basics of life and to provide for savings for the future, the lack of real property generously and broadly distributed, is masked by the reality of easy credit. Easy credit, which is not ultimately "easy" at all on the borrower, anesthetizes the populace to the grim facts of capitalist monopoly. Since we seem to be able to get all the things that we want, the reality of real money being increasingly unavailable to the average man is lost in the delusionary state of the consumerist utopia. Only when the "benefit" of usurious credit is cut off, do we realize the full extent of the problem. The greatest problem with liberal capitalism, however, is not the concentration of wealth or real property, the greatest "existential" problem created by capitalism is the problem of the very meaning and reality of work. To work is essential to what it means to be a human being. Next to the family, it is work and the relationships established by work that are the true foundations of society.6 In modern capitalism, however, it is productivity and profit which are the basic aims, not the providing of satisfying work. Moreover, since "labor saving" devices are the proudest accomplishments of industrial capitalism, labor itself is stamped with the mark of undesirability. But what is undesirable cannot confer dignity.7

It is not merely that industrial capitalism has produced forms of work, both manual and white-collared, which are "utterly uninteresting and meaningless. Mechanical, artificial, divorced from nature, utilizing only the smallest part of man's potential capacities, [sentencing] the great majority of workers to spending their working lives in a way which contains no worthy challenge, no stimulus to self-perfection, no chance of development, no element of Beauty, Truth, Goodness."8 Rather, capitalism has so fundamentally alienated man from his own work, that he no longer considers it his own. It is those with the financial monopoly who determine what forms of work are to exist and which are "valuable" (i.e., useful for rendering profits to the owners of money).9 Since man spends most of his days working, his entire existence becomes hollowed out, serving a purpose which is not of his own choosing nor in accord with his final end.

In regard to the entire question of a "final end," if we are to consider capitalism from a truly philosophical perspective, we must ask of it the most philosophical of questions, why? What is the purpose for which all else is sacrificed, what is the purpose of continuous growth? Is it growth for growth's sake? With capitalism, there is no "saturation point," no condition in which the masters of the system say that the continuous growth of corporate profits and the development of technological devices has ceased to serve the ultimate, or even the proximate, ends of mankind. Perhaps, the most damning indictment of economic liberalism, indeed, of any form of liberalism, is its inability to answer the question "why."

A) Corporatism: The Catholic Response

1) The History of the "Third Way"

To understand the history of the "Third Way," a name given to an economic system which is neither Marxist nor Capitalist by French corporatist thinker Auguste Murat (1944), we must consider the social, political, and economic realities which originally motivated its main advocates. Originally, "Corporatism," later to be termed "Distributism" by its British advocates Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, was a response on the part of German traditionalists and Catholics to the inroads which the ideology of the French Revolution had made into their country in the early and middle years of the 19th century. The institutions which were being defended in Corporatist thought were the ancient "estates" or "guilds" which had been the pillars of Christian Germany for centuries. These corporate bodies, grouping together all the men of a particular occupation or social function, were an institutional opposition to the revolutionary doctrines of individualism and human equality. One early rightist thinker, Adam Muller, upheld the traditional idea of social stratification based upon an organic hierarchy of estates or guilds (Berufstandische). Such a system was necessary on account of the essential dissimilarity of men. Moreover, such a system would prevent the "atomization" of society so much desired by the revolutionaries who wished to remake in a new form that which had been pulverized by liberalism.10

2) Von Ketteler and the Guild System

It was, however, a German nobleman and prelate, Wilhelm Emmanuel, Baron von Ketteler (1811-1877), Bishop of Mainz, who directed Corporatism into new avenues and forced it to address new concerns. The realities which Bishop von Ketteler knew the Catholic mind had to address was the new reality of industrialism and economic liberalism. As Pope Leo XIII himself admitted on several occasions, it was the thought of Bishop von Ketteler which helped shape his own encyclical letter on Catholic economic teaching Rerum Novarum (1891).11 The "new things" His Holiness was addressing were capitalism and socialism. Both meet with his condemnation, although capitalism is condemned with strong language as an abuse of property, a deprivation of the many by the few, while socialism is dismissed outright as being contrary to man's inherent right to own property.12

Von Ketteler, also, in his book Die Arbeiterfrage und das Christenthum (Christianity and the Labor Problem), attacks the supremacy of capital and the reign of economic liberalism as the two main roots of the evils of modern society. Both represented the growing ascendancy of individualism and materialism, twin forces that were operating to "bring about the dissolution of all that unites men organically, spiritually, intellectually, morally, and socially." Economic liberalism was nothing but an application of materialism to society." The working class are to be reduced to atoms and then mechanically reassembled. This is the fundamental generative principle of modern political economy."13 What Ketteler sought to remedy was "This pulverization method, this chemical solution of humanity into individuals, into grains of dust equal in value, into particles which a puff of wind may scatter in all directions."14 Bishop von Ketteler's solution to this problem of the pulverization of the work force and the ensuing injustice which this would inevitably breed, was to propose an idea which was the central concept of medieval and post-medieval economic life, the guild system. When responding to a letter from a group of Catholic workers who had submitted the question "Can a Catholic Workingman be a member of the Socialist Worker's Party?," Bishop von Ketteler outlined the basic structure of these vocational guilds or Berufstandische: First, "The desired organizations must be of natural growth; that is, they must grow out of the nature of things, out of the character of the people and its faith, as did the guilds of the Middle Ages." Second, "They must have an economic purpose and must not be subservient to the intrigues and idle dreams of politicians nor to the fanaticism of the enemies of religion." Third, "They must have a moral basis, that is, a consciousness of corporative honor, corporative responsibility, etc. Fourth, "They must include all the individuals of the same vocational estates." Fifth, "Self-government and control must be combined in due proportion."

The guilds which von Ketteler was advocating were to be true social corporations, true vocational "bodies" which were to have a primarily economic end, and yet, be animated by the "soul" of a common faith. These "bodies," just like all organic entities, would be made up of distinct parts all exercising a unique role in their particular trade. In the days of corporate giants and trade unions, it is, perhaps, impossible to imagine vocational organizations which include both owners and workers, along with technicians of all types. These organizations would regulate all aspects of their particular trade, including wages, prices for products, quality control, along with certifying that all apprentices has the requisite skills to adequately perform the guild's particular art.

3) The Guild System and Social Solidarity

Following the intellectual path charted by von Ketteler, another German Catholic, Franz Hitze (1851-1921), wrote of the social, psychological, and, even, spiritual purposes which would be served by the vocational corporations or guilds. Claiming that "economic freedom" was only a myth serving to disguise the fact that capital actually ordered things completely with a single eye to its own advantage, Hitze saw no alternative to the economic and social control traditionally exercised by the guilds. It would be such organizations which overcame the antagonism between capital and labor which fed Marxist propaganda. In his book Kapital und Arbeit und die Reorganisation der Gesellschaft (Capital and Labor and the Reorganization of Society), Hitze states that such organizations would also end the fierce competition which is totally inconsistent with the idea of the Common Good and social solidarity. This idea that an economy can be ordered on the basis of "mutuality" and the identification of the interests of employer and employee, is difficult for those who assume that an economic system must be powered by competition and self-interest. It must be remembered, however, that such was the economic system of Christendom until the guilds were destroyed by the advent of the French Revolution.

What these traditional vocational groups were able to foster during the ages in which they ordered the life of the craftsman, was a decentralization both of property and of economic power. They, also, enabled the average craftsman to have a real say in the workings of his trade. Such economic "federalism" or decentralization prevented the development of financial monopolies. As Hilaire Belloc states, "Above all, most jealously did the guild safeguard the division of property, so that there should be formed within its ranks no proletariat upon the one side, and no monopolizing capitalist upon the other."15

B) Chesterbelloc and Distributism

It was in the early years of this century, that Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, joined by a former Socialist Arthur Penty, inspired by Rerum Novarum, attempted to articulate an economic system which stood on a totally different set of principles than did the "new things" of capitalism and socialism. The name they gave to this system, Distributism, awkward as they themselves realized, expressed not the socialist idea of the confiscation of all private property, but rather, the wide-spread distribution of land, real-property, the means of production, and of financial capital, amongst the greater part of the families of a nation. Such a concept, along with their encouragement of the guild system, of a return to the agrarian life, and of their condemnation of the taking of interest on non-productive loans, formed the core of this "new" economic model.

In his book Economics for Helen, Belloc identifies the nature of the Distributist State by distinguishing this type of state and social and economic system from that of the Servile State and the Capitalist State. The Servile State is the one of classical antiquity, in which vast masses of the people work as slaves for the small class of owners. In this way, the economic state of antiquity is very similar to the economic system of our own time, insofar as a very small minority possess real property, land, the means of production, and financial capital, while the great mass of the population does not possess these goods to any significant degree. How does Belloc distinguish the Servile State from that of the Capitalist State, in which he counts the Britain of his own time? The difference is that, whereas the Servile State is based on coercion to force the greater part of the population, which does not possess property, to work for those who do, the Capitalist State employs "free" laborers who can choose to sign a work contract with one employer or another. In the liberal Capitalist State, one is "free" to choose to apply for work or accept work from one of the various owners of the means of production. In return for this work, the laborer receives a wage which is a small portion of the wealth that he produces.16

What distinguishes the Distributist State from the two States mentioned above, is that instead of a small minority of men owning the means of production, there is a wide distribution of property. In this regard, Belloc defines property as "the control of wealth by someone."17 Property must, then, be controlled by someone, since wealth which is not kept or used up by someone would perish and cease to be wealth.

1) England's Journey for Distributism to Capitalism

It is Belloc's historical thesis, that it was not the industrialism of the late 18th and early 19th centuries which brought about the rise of capitalism, but rather, England was a capitalist state in the making long before the emergence of the railroad or the factory. The Servile State, the state in which a small number of owners controlled the land and the men who worked the land, was a mark of the Roman civilization which gradually transformed itself, under the influence of the Catholic Church, into the feudal system in which the servus went from being a "slave" who owned nothing, to being a "serf" who could retain [some] of what he produced in the fields. The serf had the right to pass the land down to his own kin and he could not be throw off his land. Thus, the personal security and economic and social stability which characterized the Roman estate system, was carried over into medieval times.18

This historical movement, under the aegis of the Church, towards a man working on the land which he himself owned, and working for his own benefit and for that of his family, came to an end in England in the 16th century during the reign of King Henry VIII. Since the Distributist State had grown up under the eye of Holy Mother Church, it should not be surprising that it would end when She was attacked and surpressed. According to Belloc, it was King Henry's confiscation of the monastery lands in England, and his action of parceling them out among his wealthy supporters, which marked the beginning of the transformation of England from a nation in which property, the land, and the means of production were widely distributed, to one in which a small number of families control increasingly greater shares of the land. The coming of protestantism marked the transformation of the average Englishman from independent yeoman to tenant farmer. The concentration of wealth would occur, then, long before England would become the industrial power of the world in the 19th century.19

2) Small is Beautiful

There can be no doubt as to the most general form of family ownership foreseen and advocated by Belloc and Chesterton. For them, the most humane and stable economic system was one in which a majority of families farmed land which they themselves owned, doing it with tools which were also their own.20 Here he was following the lead of Pope Leo XIII, who in Rerum Novarum, advocates a similar aim: "We have seen therefore that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership and its policy should be to induce as many as possible to obtain a share in the land, the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged... A further consequence will be the greater abundance of the fruits of the earth. Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them; nay, and those that are dear to them. . . men would cling to the country of their birth, for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life."21

Being Englishmen, the idea that the land meant wealth was inevitably ingrained in their conception of economics. Ownership of the land by the families who themselves worked the land would also mean financial stability, no fear of unemployment, a family enterprise which could engage, in some measure, all members, an ability to put aside food and supplies to create a hedge against destitution, a way of providing not only for one's children but for one's children's children, along with creating an economic structure which is not oriented towards corporate profits but towards providing for familial subsistence and a local market. Belloc speaks of this type of Distributist economy as the one most general throughout the history of mankind, with the possible exception of the slave economy. Capitalism and Socialism are certainly recent interlopers on the human economic scene.22

Next we must address the ways in which such a Distributist idea can be implemented on the personal and community level. In this regard, our next article will focus on the concept of a "parallel economy" formed by those who wish to begin to implement the economic teachings of Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno, along with focusing on the agrarian idea both as Catholic thought and human good sense.

[Jan 07, 2019] Russian Orthodox Church against liberal globalization, usury, dollar hegemony, and neocolonialism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Source: Katehon ..."
"... Consolidation of mankind on the basis of the moral commandments of God is fully consistent with the Christian mission. This incarnation of globalization provides an opportunity for fraternal mutual assistance, free exchange of creative achievements and knowledge, respectful coexistence of different languages and cultures, the joint protection of nature - would be a reasonable and pious. ..."
"... If the essence of globalization is only to overcome the division between the people, the content of its economic processes had to be overcome inequalities, the prudent use of earthly riches, equitable international cooperation. ..."
"... In contrast to the immutability and universality of moral commandments, the economy cannot have a universal solution for all peoples and all times. A variety of people, God created in the world, reminds us that every nation has its task by the Creator, each valuable in the sight of the Lord, and everyone is able to contribute to the creation of our world. ..."
"... Although outwardly visible collapse of the world colonial system, the richest states of the world in pursuit of the ever-receding horizons of consumption continue to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. It is impossible to recognize to be just international division of labor in which some countries are suppliers of absolute values, especially human labor or raw materials irreversible, while others - suppliers of conditional values in the form of financial resources. ..."
"... Money payed for non-renewable natural resources are often taken in the literal sense "from the air", due to the work of the printing press - thanks to the monopoly position of issuers of world currency. As a result, the abyss in the socio-economic status between the nations and entire continents is becoming increasingly profound. This one-sided globalization, giving undue advantages to some of its participants at the expense of the others, entails a partial and, in some cases, virtually completes loss of sovereignty. ..."
"... If mankind needed freely traded currencies throughout the world to serve as a universal yardstick for economic calculations, the production of such units should be under fair international control, where all states of the world will proportionally participate. Possible benefits of such emissions could be channeled to the development of the poverty-stricken regions of the planet. ..."
"... National governments are increasingly losing their independence and becoming less dependent on the will of their own people, and more and more - the will of the transnational elite. Themselves, these elites are not constituted in the legal space, and is therefore not accountable to neither the people nor the national governments, becoming a shadow regulator of social and economic processes. Greed shadow rulers of the global economy leads to the fact that a thin layer of "elite" is getting richer and at the same time more and more relieved of the responsibility for the welfare of those whose labor created the wealth. ..."
"... Moral society should not increase the gap between rich and poor. Strong does not have the moral right to use their benefits at the expense of the weak, but on the contrary - are obliged to take care of those who are dispossessed. People who are employed should receive decent remuneration. ..."
"... Whole countries and nations are plunged into debt, and generations that are not yet born are doomed to pay the bills of their ancestors. ..."
"... Business expectations in lending, often ghostly becomes more profitable than the production of tangible goods. In this regard, it must be remembered about the moral ambiguity of the situation, when money is "make" new money without the application of human labor. Declaring credit sphere to be the main engine of the economy, its predominance over the real economic sector comes into conflict with the moral principles, reveled by God condemning usury. ..."
"... Attempts by indigenous people of the rich countries to stop the migration flow are futile, because come in conflict with greed of their own elites who are interested in the low-wage workforce. But even more inexorable factor driving migration was the spread of hedonic quasi -religion capturing not only elite, but also the broad masses of people in countries with high living standards. Renunciation of procreation for the most careless, smug and personal existence becomes signs of the times. The popularization of the ideology of child-free, the cult of childless and without family life for themselves lead to a reduction in the population in the most seemingly prosperous societies. ..."
"... We must not forget that the commandment to all the descendants of Adam and Eve, said: "Fill the earth and subdue it." Anyone who does not want to continue his race will inevitably have to give way to the ground for those who prefer having children over material well-being. ..."
"... Globalization has accelerated the consumer race disproportionate to earth resources granted to mankind. Volumes of consumption of goods in those countries, which are recognized worldwide for the samples and which are equal to billions of people, have long gone beyond the resource capabilities of these "model" countries. There is no doubt that, if the whole of humanity will absorb the natural wealth of the intensity of the countries that are leaders in terms of the consumption, there will be an environmental disaster on the planet. ..."
May 26, 2016 | orthochristian.com

Source: Katehon

The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has published a draft of the document "Economy in the context of globalization. Orthodox ethical view. " This document demonstrates the key positions of the Russian Church on a number of issues relating to the economy and international relations.

1. The Russian Orthodox Church demonstrates that it supports only the trends in modern international processes that aim to build a multi-polar world, and the dialogue of civilizations and cultures on the basis of traditional, non-liberal values:

Consolidation of mankind on the basis of the moral commandments of God is fully consistent with the Christian mission. This incarnation of globalization provides an opportunity for fraternal mutual assistance, free exchange of creative achievements and knowledge, respectful coexistence of different languages and cultures, the joint protection of nature - would be a reasonable and pious.

If the essence of globalization is only to overcome the division between the people, the content of its economic processes had to be overcome inequalities, the prudent use of earthly riches, equitable international cooperation.

2. At the same time a large part of the document critically examines the process of globalization. Church officials say that globalization "remove barriers to the spread of sin and vice." The Russian Church condemns Westernization and dissemination of the Western cult of consumption, noting that "the Western way of development" is a road to nowhere, to hell, and the abyss:

Catch-up model of modernization", having before people's eyes uncritically perceived external sample, not only destroys the social structure and spiritual life of the "catch-up" societies, but often does not allow to approach the idol in the material sphere, imposing unacceptable and ruinous economic decisions.

In contrast to the immutability and universality of moral commandments, the economy cannot have a universal solution for all peoples and all times. A variety of people, God created in the world, reminds us that every nation has its task by the Creator, each valuable in the sight of the Lord, and everyone is able to contribute to the creation of our world.

3. The Church denounced neocolonialism and the exploitation of the Third World by Western multinationals. The Russian Orthodox Church considers such a policy to be deeply unjust and sinful. Control over the financial sector as the main weapon of the new colonialism is specially marked:

Although outwardly visible collapse of the world colonial system, the richest states of the world in pursuit of the ever-receding horizons of consumption continue to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. It is impossible to recognize to be just international division of labor in which some countries are suppliers of absolute values, especially human labor or raw materials irreversible, while others - suppliers of conditional values in the form of financial resources.

4. The Christian approach to the economy that the Russian Orthodox Church insists on is primarily ontological. The only alternative to the global fictitious liberal economy can only be a real Christian economy. The hegemony of global plutocracy, which is based on financial capital and the dollar as the universal currency, can be countered only by a global policy of sovereignty:

Money payed for non-renewable natural resources are often taken in the literal sense "from the air", due to the work of the printing press - thanks to the monopoly position of issuers of world currency. As a result, the abyss in the socio-economic status between the nations and entire continents is becoming increasingly profound. This one-sided globalization, giving undue advantages to some of its participants at the expense of the others, entails a partial and, in some cases, virtually completes loss of sovereignty.

5. As one of the ways to solve this problem (dollar hegemony), the Church proposes to establish international control over global currencies:

If mankind needed freely traded currencies throughout the world to serve as a universal yardstick for economic calculations, the production of such units should be under fair international control, where all states of the world will proportionally participate. Possible benefits of such emissions could be channeled to the development of the poverty-stricken regions of the planet.

6. However, the strengthening of international institutions, according to representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, should not lead to the strengthening of the transnational elite. The unconditional support of state sovereignty against the transnational elite is a distinctive feature of the position of the Orthodox Church. This differs the Orthodox from Catholics, who are members of the globalist transnational centralized structure, in contrast to the Orthodox Churches, which are united in faith, but not administratively.

National governments are increasingly losing their independence and becoming less dependent on the will of their own people, and more and more - the will of the transnational elite. Themselves, these elites are not constituted in the legal space, and is therefore not accountable to neither the people nor the national governments, becoming a shadow regulator of social and economic processes. Greed shadow rulers of the global economy leads to the fact that a thin layer of "elite" is getting richer and at the same time more and more relieved of the responsibility for the welfare of those whose labor created the wealth.

7. The gap between rich and poor, predatory morality of "free capitalism" in the version of Hayek, and neoliberal thoughts, according to the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, is incompatible with Christian teaching:

Moral society should not increase the gap between rich and poor. Strong does not have the moral right to use their benefits at the expense of the weak, but on the contrary - are obliged to take care of those who are dispossessed. People who are employed should receive decent remuneration.

8. The Russian Church openly declares his attitude to usury as a sinful phenomenon, and notes the destructiveness of the global debt economy:

Whole countries and nations are plunged into debt, and generations that are not yet born are doomed to pay the bills of their ancestors.

Business expectations in lending, often ghostly becomes more profitable than the production of tangible goods. In this regard, it must be remembered about the moral ambiguity of the situation, when money is "make" new money without the application of human labor. Declaring credit sphere to be the main engine of the economy, its predominance over the real economic sector comes into conflict with the moral principles, reveled by God condemning usury.

9. Such an important aspect of modern life like mass migration is not left unattended. Unlike the Catholic approach that unduly favors migrants, particularly in Europe, the Orthodox notices the negative nature of the process, as well as the fact that it leads to confrontation of different identities and value systems. In addition, the Orthodox Church propose to look at the roots of this phenomenon. The reason for the migration is the liberal, hedonistic ideology bleeding the peoples of Europe and the interests of the capitalist elite, who need a cheap and disenfranchised workforce:

Attempts by indigenous people of the rich countries to stop the migration flow are futile, because come in conflict with greed of their own elites who are interested in the low-wage workforce. But even more inexorable factor driving migration was the spread of hedonic quasi -religion capturing not only elite, but also the broad masses of people in countries with high living standards. Renunciation of procreation for the most careless, smug and personal existence becomes signs of the times. The popularization of the ideology of child-free, the cult of childless and without family life for themselves lead to a reduction in the population in the most seemingly prosperous societies.

We must not forget that the commandment to all the descendants of Adam and Eve, said: "Fill the earth and subdue it." Anyone who does not want to continue his race will inevitably have to give way to the ground for those who prefer having children over material well-being.

10. The Russian Church noted that the current level of consumption and the ideology of infinite progress are incompatible with the limited resources of the planet:

Globalization has accelerated the consumer race disproportionate to earth resources granted to mankind. Volumes of consumption of goods in those countries, which are recognized worldwide for the samples and which are equal to billions of people, have long gone beyond the resource capabilities of these "model" countries. There is no doubt that, if the whole of humanity will absorb the natural wealth of the intensity of the countries that are leaders in terms of the consumption, there will be an environmental disaster on the planet.

This document is very important because it shows that the Russian Orthodox Church not only occupies a critical position in relation to the liberal globalization, but also offers a Christian alternative to globalization processes. While Catholics and most Protestant denominations have passionate humanist ideas, and in the best case, criticize globalization from the left or left-liberal positions, the Russian Orthodox Church advocate sovereignty and national identity. The most important aspect of the Orthodox critique of globalization is the idea of multipolarity and the destructiveness of modern Western civilization's path.

It in known that the problem of human rights is thoroughly Orthodox: "The power and means for promoting worldwide equality and brotherhood lie not in waging crusades but in freely accepting the cross." He urges a radically personal solution, one that takes as its model the saint, the martyr, and the ascetic. Here Anastasios draws on the traditional Orthodox understanding of freedom, which is ordered and tempered by ascetical practice, self-control, and placing limits on material desires. Churches are to become "laboratories of selfless love," places where the Kingdom of God is manifest on earth. "Our most important right is our right to realize our deepest nature and become 'children of God' through grace," he says.

Lest this approach be interpreted as a justification of passiveness and quietism, Anastasios also urges Christians to exercise their ethical conscience in the world. "Christians must be vigilant, striving to make the legal and political structure of their society ever more comprehensive through constant reform and reassessment," he says.

[Jan 07, 2019] Distributist economy for the Orthodox countries - Katehon think tank. Geopolitics Tradition by Ovidiu Hurduzeu

Notable quotes:
"... An exclusive interview with Dr. Ovidiu Hurduzeu, Romanian economist and sociologist, and one of the main proponents of Distributism in Romania. Special for Katehon.com ..."
Mar 01, 2016 | katehon.com

An exclusive interview with Dr. Ovidiu Hurduzeu, Romanian economist and sociologist, and one of the main proponents of Distributism in Romania. Special for Katehon.com

Why distributism?

To understand the importance of distributism, we need to compare it to both communism and capitalism, the two systems that distributism is opposed to. In a distributist society there is wide and equitable distribution of property and ownership. In communism you have collective ownership and collective redistribution of property. People do not have economic freedom; they are wage-slaves to the state. In the so called "free, democratic and capitalist" society, the capital, and most of the property, belong to a small class called 'capitalists', while the mass of the citizens are obliged to work for the few capitalists in return for a wage. Distributism does not separate ownership and work any longer. It seeks to establish an economic and social order, where most people have real, debt-free productive property. (In capitalism, the "property" of the common person is mortgaged or purchased on credit; it is merely a rented good). In practical terms a distributist order is achieved through the widespread dissemination of family-owned businesses, employee ownership, cooperatives, and any other arrangement resulting in well-divided property.

What are the main problems that plague Romania and other Eastern European countries? How can they be solved?

The main problem that has confronted Romania and other Eastern European countries is the reckless adoption of the neoliberal economic model. In the aftermath of communism's collapse, the collective ownership of land and the means of production (state assets) were transferred to the private sector (local oligarchs and foreign individuals and companies). Such a process was the main culprit behind the huge concentration of wealth, widespread poverty and the destruction of the national economies. Today, Eastern Europe is made up of what distributists call "servile states", with Romania being a case in point. Politically and economically, the country is enslaved to the globalist power centers, while its citizens are constrained to work under servile conditions in the rich EU countries, or are wage-slaves for transnational corporations operating in Romania. There is no long-term solution unless the system of property rights is completely reformed. Only the widespread ownership of property will make Romanians sufficiently well off so that they can have a say in how they are governed.

Romania is a Christian-orthodox country while distributism is a catholic economic doctrine. Do you see some contradictions here?

Distributism is more than an economic doctrine. It is a set of concrete economic practices based on the Christian anthropology of the person. The main economic actors of liberalism are homo oeconomicus and homo interlopus, while distributism can function only within a community of persons. What I mean by person and personal has nothing to do with the atomistic individualism of liberalism. It refers to the relational aspect of creation. Both Catholicism and Orthodoxy envisage the human person in relation to God, to other human beings, and to the rest of creation. The personalist aspects of distributism and its "small is beautiful" tenet are what makes it very attractive to the orthodox world. It is not surprising that Solzhenitsyn greatly admired the famous distributist thinker G.K. Chesterton. Solzhenitsyn conceived his own version of distributism as a "democracy of small areas" (Rebuilding Russia) in the tradition of Russian zemstvos. Catholic writers such as G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc were very influential in disseminating the distributist ideas of the West. And yet distributism could never really challenge liberalism and its economic doctrines. In the light of history, one can discern two main reasons for its failure in the Western countries. One reason is the forgetfulness and abandonment of the Person and of the community of persons created in the image and likeness of God; another reason is the loss of the agrarian tradition that Distributism was based on. The Western world replaced the person with the monadic individual of liberalism, while the agrarian Weltanschauung gave way to an addiction to technology and unbridled commercialism.

Distributism had its moment of glory in the 1920's. What can you tell us about the "Green Rising"?

The aftermath of World War I saw an agrarian-distributist revolution, known as "the Green Rising", which swept across Europe from Ireland and Scandinavia through Germany to the Slav world. G.K. Chesterton underscored its historical significance: "It is a huge historical hinge and turning point, like the conversion of Constantine or the French Revolution...What has happened in Europe since the war (World War I) has been a vast victory for the peasant, and therefore a vast defeat for the communists and the capitalists." Chesterton does not exaggerate at all. "To observers in the 1920's" - writes the conservative writer Allan C. Carlson in the 'Third Ways' – "the future of Eastern Europe seemed to lie with the peasant 'Green', not the Bolshevik 'Red' ". The Green Rising saw agrarian parties, with their radical distributist programs, come to power in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Finland, and strongly influenced the situation in the Baltic States and Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, the great distributist movement of the 1920's was largely crushed by the mid 1930's, and is now mostly forgotten.

What distributist principles of organizing an economy are most suitable to the orthodox countries? Is a "Christian-orthodox economy" still possible?

A Christian-orthodox economy is not only possible; it is the only way that could lead to the transformation of our societies for the better. When communism collapsed, the liberals injected the virus of a plutocratic economy and rampant individualism into our societies. If communists dispossessed the populace in the name of collective ownership and a communal monopoly, the liberals created a dispossessed "lonely crowd" that was forced to work for subsistence wages in the name of the "free market". Both communism and the "new capitalists" instituted master-slave relations in the former Soviet bloc. That is unacceptable from a Christian point of view. As Christians, we cannot accept the neoliberal tenet that "there is no such thing as society" (Margaret Thatcher). Individualism and ruthless competition are utterly unchristian. A Christian orthodox society is a cooperative one in which loving our neighbors is the norm, and the common rules are enforced in a way that maximizes personal responsibility. Due to their communal organization, there was simply no poverty among the first Christians; they had no fear of becoming slaves in order to support themselves. Today, a distributist society should challenge the neo-liberal economic model in the way the cooperative society of the first Christians challenged the slave-based economic order of the Roman Empire. We are not talking here about idealism, utopia or socialist solutions in the form of welfare and punitive taxation. We do not want to repeat the cycle of disempowerment and dependency. We need to provide the conditions for social justice through a widespread distribution of property, the remoralization of the markets, and recapitalization of the poor.

Does Romania have an intellectual tradition of non-liberal economic thought? What value does this heritage have for today's economists?

Indeed, Romania had a solid intellectual tradition of non-liberal economic thought. A mention must be made to the agrarian economists Virgil Madgearu (one of the leaders of the National Peasant Party), Mircea Vulcanescu (one of Romania's greatest thinkers ever, he died in prison as a Christian martyr), and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, the founder of the ecological economy. They belong to different economic schools and yet they share the same fondness for agrarian and Christian values. Today's Romanian economists are too busy following orders from the West to pay any attention to the great Romanian economists of the past.

How can the distributist principles be implemented in real economic policies? Are there any political forces in Romania that want to bring the distributist ideas into reality?

The country needs a new "Green rising" to complete what the Romanian agrarians left unfinished. "If the Peasants' Party is to be victorious in elections" - wrote Virgil Madgearu – "the shape of things would be changed." The National Bank would no longer be the economic fortress of the Liberal oligarchy. Trusts would no longer enslave and exploit the state. Their selfish and venal leaders would no longer be enthroned in overseeing positions over the country's destiny. Civil liberties, nowadays suffocated, and stolen civil rights would be fully restored, and the constitutional-parliamentary regime would become a reality, benefiting the development of popular masses as well as civilization."

Unfortunately, I do not see any real chance for Romania of adopting sweeping changes like the ones envisaged by Madgearu in the 1920's. There are no political forces in today's Romania strong enough to challenge the dominance of liberalism.

Do you see any relevance of the distributist model to Russian society in general, and the Russian economy in particular?

I think that distributism is germane to Russian realities and not a foreign import like communism and liberalism. And it is the only economic model that can vanquish the Liberals on their own ground (the economy). Russia, like the Third Rome, should not forget the lessons of Byzantine recovery. When confronted with a series of serious crises in the 7th century, the Byzantine Empire adopted a brilliant distributist strategy. As a consequence, it went from near disintegration to being the main power in Europe and the Near East. The pillar of this strategy was the peasant-soldier who became a producer rather than consumer of the empire's wealth. Fighting for their own lands and families, soldiers performed better. As staunch Christians, the Byzantines survived by simplifying their social, political, and economic systems within the constraints of less available resources. They moved from extensive space-based development to simplified, local, intensive development. (That's the lesson the Soviet Union did not learn, and failed as a result.) "In this sense, Byzantium" - writes Joseph A. Tainter – "may be a model or prototype for our own future, in broad parameters but not in specific details."

Today's Global Empire is an integrated hyper-complex system that is very costly to human society. It has reached the limits of its expansion and faces collapse because it tries to solve its problems in the same outdated way: investing in more complexity and expansion. So far its growth has been subsidized by the availability of cheap human and natural resources, as well as a "world currency" that the Global Empire totally controls. A multipolar world and a finite planet make investment in complexity no longer a problem-solving tool – the costs exceed the benefits. If Russia could adopt distributism and follow the Byzantium-like strategies of intensive development, the Third Rome can save herself and become a genuine "prototype of our future".

[Jan 07, 2019] Our Neoliberal Orthodoxy

Jan 07, 2019 | publicorthodoxy.org

The institutional church, in the afore-mentioned "Orthodox countries," basically functions as a neoliberal corporation. If we think of bishops and patriarchs as "top managers" (CEOs), and priests as lower-level administrators, in charge of specific, money-making divisions, and the lay people as simple workers (or, worse, resources), the parallel is striking. The church normally enjoys the monopoly status, and exploits it to a very high degree. There are many direct and indirect benefits that the church (just as any major corporation in the neoliberal world) enjoys: the state support, which ranges (depending on the country) from special, tax-free status for its property and income, priests' salaries and pensions paid by the state, to the privileged access to state officials, party leaders and the media, privileged treatment in the (in)justice system, etc. In return, the church provides useful ideological narratives, and the "moral support" to the dominant socio-political system.

When it comes to its internal functioning, the parallel with the neoliberal corporate world is even more discernible. The selection of new top managers (bishops) is highly nontransparent, subject to various types of corruption, and only occasionally and secondary based on meritocracy and their (real) social contribution. In many (although, to be fair, not all) dioceses, if you're a priest (lower-level administrator) that means that your primary duty is to make money and send the assigned sum/percentage to the top management (bishop and/or patriarch). The more money you produce/collect the better. If you're really successful (you send a lot of money), and you make the senior management really happy, you will be rewarded by certain privileges and the management will be ready to overlook many of your misconducts, incompetence, lack of the very elementary Christian sense of compassion, etc. It normally does not matter whether you're a good priest or not (in the old-fashioned sense, that is someone who cares about the people, who is fully invested in liturgical services and parish life in a self-sacrificing way, who aspires to live, as much as possible, according to the Gospel, and so forth); following our neoliberal church, making a lot of money makes you a good priest. (This, of course, does not mean that there are no many wonderful bishops and priests, who exercise their pastoral service with the utmost care and love, to which the above described system does not apply.)

If you are, on the other hand, a priest who believes in Christ, who tries to practice your faith through the loving relationships with other people, if you, out of that faith and love, use the church property in such a way that is beneficial for others and for the whole community, but you do not produce "profits," you're potentially in trouble. If you, moreover, dare to speak your mind, to tell the truth, to criticize the "management" for their misconducts, for not living Christian lives, for not really practicing Orthodoxy and so on -- you're, more often than not, finished.

The neoliberal senior management does not tolerate disobedience, protests, different ways of thinking. Neoliberalism is not there to promote freedom, critical thinking, creativity, general well-being, or, for that matter, anything else that might be meaningful from a human and humane point of view. It is there to affirm obedience, vertical distribution of power, and, above all, profits, that contribute to the replication and expansion of power. This neoliberal, corporate slavery is, of course, not advertised that way; it is normally advertised as "competitiveness," "flexibility," "innovation," and so forth. In the church context, it is advertised as "tradition," "centuries-old practices," "Christian life," "reverence," etc.

The alliance between big businesses, political ideologies and religion is not something new. In the U.S. the alliance between the corporate sector and the religious (church) institutions is a very well-known phenomenon. Not so much in the Orthodox world, which often believes that it is immune to the various monstrosities coming from the "West." And many in the West believe the same, except that they formulate it differently -- for them Orthodoxy appears as fundamentally incompatible with the "Western values." It's a high time to reconsider and reject this narrow ideological frame, which seriously distorts the image of (our neoliberal) reality.


Davor Džalto is Associate Professor and Program Director for Art History and Religious Studies at The American University of Rome President of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity.

Public Orthodoxy seeks to promote conversation by providing a forum for diverse perspectives on contemporary issues related to Orthodox Christianity. The positions expressed in this essay are solely the author's and do not represent the views of the editors or the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

[Dec 09, 2018] Prosperity theology - Wikipedia

In Christian tradition, the love of money is condemned as a sin primarily based on texts such as Ecclesiastes 5.10 and 1 Timothy 6:10. The Jewish and Christian condemnation relates to avarice and greed rather than money itself. Christian texts (scriptures) are full of parables and use easy to understand subjects, such as money, to convey the actual message, there are further parallels in Solon and Aristotle,[1] and Massinissa-who ascribed love of money to Hannibal and the Carthaginians.[2].
Avarice is one of the Seven deadly sins in the Christian classifications of vices (sins). The Catholic Church forbids usury.
While certain political ideologies, such as neoliberalism, assume and promote the view that the behavior that capitalism fosters in individuals is natural to humans,[2][3] anthropologists like Richard Robbins point out that there is nothing natural about this behavior - people are not naturally dispossessed to accumulate wealth and driven by wage-labor
Neoliberalism abstract the economic sphere from other aspects of society (politics, culture, family etc., with any political activity constituting an intervention into the natural process of the market, for example) and assume that people make rational exchanges in the sphere of market transactions. In reality rational economic exchanges are actually heavily influenced by pre-existing social ties and other factors.
Under neoliberalism both the society and culture revolve around business activity (the accumulation of capital). As such, business activity and the "free market" exchange (despite the fact that "free market" never existed in human history) are often viewed as being absolute or "natural" in that all other human social relations revolve around these processes (or should exist to facilitate one's ability to perform these processes
Notable quotes:
"... Conwell equated poverty with sin and asserted that anyone could become rich through hard work. This gospel of wealth, however, was an expression of Muscular Christianity and understood success to be the result of personal effort rather than divine intervention. [5] ..."
"... They criticized many aspects of the prosperity gospel, noting particularly the tendency of believers to lack compassion for the poor, since their poverty was seen as a sign that they had not followed the rules and therefore are not loved by God ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org
[Video] Interview with Kate Bowler on Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel , March 18, 2014 , C-SPAN

According to historian Kate Bowler , the prosperity gospel was formed from the intersection of three different ideologies: Pentecostalism , New Thought , and "an American gospel of pragmatism, individualism, and upward mobility". [4] This "American gospel" was best exemplified by Andrew Carnegie 's Gospel of Wealth and Russell Conwell 's famous sermon "Acres of Diamonds", in which Conwell equated poverty with sin and asserted that anyone could become rich through hard work. This gospel of wealth, however, was an expression of Muscular Christianity and understood success to be the result of personal effort rather than divine intervention. [5]

... ... ...

In 2005, Matthew Ashimolowo , the founder of the largely African Kingsway International Christian Centre in southern England, which preaches a "health and wealth" gospel and collects regular tithes, was ordered by the Charity Commission to repay money he had appropriated for his personal use. In 2017, the organisation was under criminal investigation after a leading member was found by a court in 2015 to have operated a Ponzi scheme between 2007 and 2011, losing or spending £8 million of investors' money. [43]

... ... ...

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States featured prayers from two preachers known for advocating prosperity theology. [45] Paula White , one of Trump's spiritual advisers, gave the invocation. [46]

... ... ...

36] Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic argues that prosperity theology contributed to the housing bubble that caused the late-2000s financial crisis . She maintains that home ownership was heavily emphasized in prosperity churches, based on reliance on divine financial intervention that led to unwise choices based on actual financial ability. [36]

... ... ...

Historian Carter Lindberg of Boston University has drawn parallels between contemporary prosperity theology and the medieval indulgence trade . [69] Coleman notes that several pre–20th century Christian movements in the United States taught that a holy lifestyle was a path to prosperity and that God-ordained hard work would bring blessing. [16]

... ... ...

In April 2015, LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks stated that people who believe in "the theology of prosperity" are deceived by riches. He continued by saying that the "possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor". He also cited how Jesus differentiated the attitudes towards money held by the young rich man in Mark 10:17–24, the good Samaritan, and Judas Iscariot in his betrayal. Oaks concluded this portion of his sermon by highlighting that the "root of all evil is not money but the love of money". [90]

In 2015, well known pastor and prosperity gospel advocate Creflo Dollar launched a fundraising campaign to replace a previous private jet with a $65 million Gulfstream G650. [91] On the August 16, 2015 episode of his HBO weekly series Last Week Tonight , John Oliver satirized prosperity theology by announcing that he had established his own tax-exempt church, called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption . In a lengthy segment, Oliver focused on what he characterized as the predatory conduct of televangelists who appeal for repeated gifts from people in financial distress or personal crises, and he criticized the very loose requirements for entities to obtain tax exempt status as churches under U.S. tax law. Oliver said that he would ultimately donate any money collected by the church to Doctors Without Borders . [92]

In July 2018, Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, in the Jesuit journal La Civilità Cattolica , examined the origins of the prosperity gospel in the United States and described it as a reductive version of the American Dream which had offered opportunities of success and prosperity unreachable in the Old World . The authors distinguished the prosperity gospel from Max Weber 's Protestant ethic , noting that the protestant ethic related prosperity to religiously inspired austerity while the prosperity gospel saw prosperity as the simple result of personal faith. They criticized many aspects of the prosperity gospel, noting particularly the tendency of believers to lack compassion for the poor, since their poverty was seen as a sign that they had not followed the rules and therefore are not loved by God . [93] [94]

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism us the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Alan Ritchie , 31 Oct 2018 22:24

Neoliberalism, the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology . Dual streams of bull shit to confuse the citizens while the Country's immense wealth is stolen.

[Dec 03, 2018] Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What sticks in the neoliberalism craw is that the state provides these services instead of private businesses, and as such "rob" them of juicy profits! The state, the last easy cash cow! ..."
"... Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church. ..."
"... when Thatcher and Reagan deregulated the financial markets in the 80s, that's when the trouble began which in turn led to the immense crash in 2008. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism is just another symptom of liberal democracy which is government by oligarchs with a veneer of democracy ..."
"... The state has merged with the corporations so that what is good for the corporations is good for the state and visa versa. The larger and richer the state/corporations are, the more shyster lawyers they hire to disguise misdeeds and unethical behavior. ..."
"... If you support a big government, you are supporting big corporations as well. The government uses the taxpayer as an eternal fount of fresh money and calls it their own to spend as they please. Small businesses suffer unfairly because they cannot afford the shyster lawyers and accountants that protect the government and the corporations, but nobody cares about them. ..."
"... Deborah's point about the illogical demands of neoliberalism are indeed correct, which is somewhat ironic as neoliberalism puts objective rationality at the heart of its philosophy, but I digress... ..."
"... There would not be NHS, free education etc. without socialism; in fact they are socialism. It took the Soviet-style socialism ("statism") 70 years to collapse. The neoliberalistic capitalism has already started to collapse after 30 years. ..."
"... I'm always amused that neoliberal - indeed, capitalist - apologists cannot see the hypocrisy of their demands for market access. Communities create and sustain markets, fund and maintain infrastructure, produce and maintain new consumers. Yet the neolibs decry and destroy. Hypocrites or destructive numpties - never quite decided between Pickles and Gove ..."
"... 97% of all OUR money has been handed over to these scheming crooks. Stop bailing out the banks with QE. Take back what is ours -- state control over the creation of money. Then let the banks revert to their modest market-based function of financial intermediaries. ..."
"... The State can't be trusted to create our money? Well they could hardly do a worse job than the banks! Best solution would be to distribute state-created money as a Citizen's Income. ..."
"... To promote the indecent obsession for global growth Australia, burdened with debt of around 250 billion dollars, is to borrow and pay interest on a further 7 billion dollars to lend to the International Monetary Fund so as it can lend it to poorer nations to burden them with debt. ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
szwalby , 8 Jun 2013 06:03
This private good, public bad is a stupid idea, and a totally artificial divide. After all, what are "public spends"? It is the money from private individuals, and companies, clubbing together to get services they can't individually afford.

What sticks in the neoliberalism craw is that the state provides these services instead of private businesses, and as such "rob" them of juicy profits! The state, the last easy cash cow!

TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 06:01
Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church.

It's subsumed the entire planet, and waiting for them to see sense is a hopeless cause. In the end it'll probably take violence to rid us of the Neoliberal parasite... the turn of the century plague.

fr0mn0where -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
@CaptainGrey -

"Capitalism, especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won and countless people have gained as a result."

I agree with you and it was this beneficial version of capitalism that brought down the Iron Curtain. Working people in the former Communist countries were comparing themselves with working people in the west and wanted a piece of that action. Cuba has hung on because people there compare themselves with their nearest capitalist neighbor Haiti and they don't want a piece of that action. North Korea well North Korea is North Korea.

Isn't it this beneficial capitalism that is being threatened now though? When the wall came down it was assumed that Eastern European countries would become more like us. Some have but who would have thought that British working people would now be told, by the likes of Kwasi Kwarteng and his Britannia Unchained chums, that we have to learn to accept working conditions that are more like those in the Eastern European countries that got left behind and that we are now told that our version of Capitalism is inferior to the version adopted by the Communist Party of China?

jazzdrum -> bullwinkle , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
@bullwinkle - No , when Thatcher and Reagan deregulated the financial markets in the 80s, that's when the trouble began which in turn led to the immense crash in 2008.
Eddiel899 , 8 Jun 2013 05:51
Neo-liberalism is just another symptom of liberal democracy which is government by oligarchs with a veneer of democracy.

This type of government began in America about 150 years ago with the Rockefellers, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Ford etc who took advantage of new inventions, cheap immigrant labour and financial deregulation in finance and social mores to amass wealth for themselves and chaos and austerity for workers.

All this looks familiar again today with new and old oligarchs hiding behind large corporations taking advantage of the invention of the €uro, mass immigration into western Europe and deregulation of the financial "markets" and social mores to amass wealth for a super-wealthy elite and chaos and austerity for workers.

So if we want to see where things went wrong we need only go back 150 years to what happened to America. There we can also see our future?

WilliamAshbless -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:49
@CaptainGrey

The beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won

Free education and the NHS are state institutions. As Debbie said, Amazon never taught anyone to read. Beneficial capitalism is an oxymoron resulting from your lack of understanding.

cpp4ever -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 05:41
@CaptainGrey -

especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won and countless people have gained as a result.

At one and the same time being privatized and having their funding squeezed, a direct result of the neoliberal dogma capitalism of austerity. Free access is being eroded by the likes of ever larger student loans and prescription costs for a start.

ATrueFinn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 05:41
@ SpinningHugo 08 June 2013 10:02am .

Nah. They achieved this by copying the west.

I would not go that far. The Western Capitalist Party is only now getting to be as powerful as CCP and China started the "reforms" in the late 1970s.

succulentpork , 8 Jun 2013 05:36

they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments

Let's not get carried away here. Let's consider some of the things governments can do, subject only to a 5 yearly check and challenge:

  1. force people upon pain of imprisonment to pay taxes to them
  2. pay out that tax money to whomever they like
  3. spend money they don't have by borrowing against obligations imposed on future taxpayers without their agreement
  4. kill people in wars, often from the comfort of a computer screen thousands of miles away
  5. print money and give it to whomever they like,
  6. get rid of nation state currencies and replace them with a single, centrally controlled currency
  7. make laws and punish people who break them, including the ability to track them down in most places in the world if they try and run away.
  8. use laws to create monopolies and favour special interests

Let's now consider what power apple have...

- they can make iPhones and try to sell them for a profit by responding to the demands of the mass consumer market. That's it. In fact, they are forced to do this by their owners who only want them to do this, and nothing else. If they don't do this they will cease to exist.

generalelection , 8 Jun 2013 05:26
The state has merged with the corporations so that what is good for the corporations is good for the state and visa versa. The larger and richer the state/corporations are, the more shyster lawyers they hire to disguise misdeeds and unethical behavior.

If you support a big government, you are supporting big corporations as well. The government uses the taxpayer as an eternal fount of fresh money and calls it their own to spend as they please. Small businesses suffer unfairly because they cannot afford the shyster lawyers and accountants that protect the government and the corporations, but nobody cares about them. Remember, that Green Energy is big business, just like Big Pharma and Big Oil. Most government shills have personally invested in Green Energy not because they care about the environment, only because they know that it is a safe investment protected by government for government. The same goes for large corporations who befriend government and visa versa.

... ... ...

finnkn -> NeilThompson , 8 Jun 2013 05:20
@NeilThompson - It's all very well for Deborah to recommend that the well paid share work. Journalists, consultants and other assorted professionals can afford to do so. As a self-employed tradesman, I'd be homeless within a month.
finnkn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 05:17
@SpinningHugo - Interesting that those who are apparently concerned with prosperity for all and international solidarity are happy to ignore the rest of the world when it's going well, preferring to prophesy apocalypse when faced with government spending being slightly reduced at home.
sedan2 -> Fachan , 8 Jun 2013 05:11
@Fachan -

Dont see a lot of solutions in this article - as long as our sentiments revolve around envy of the rich, we wont get very far

Yeah, there actually wasn't anything in this article which even smelled of "envy of the rich". Read it again.

KingOfNothing -> 1nn1t , 8 Jun 2013 05:03
@1nn1t - That is a point which just isn't made enough. This is the first group of politicians for whom a global conflict seems like a distant event.

As a result we have people like Blair who see nothing wrong with invading countries at a whim, or conservatives and UKIP who fail to understand the whole point of the European Court of Human Rights.

They seem to act without thought of our true place in the world, without regard for the truly terrible capacity humanity has for self destruction.

REDLAN1 , 8 Jun 2013 05:03
Deborah's point about the illogical demands of neoliberalism are indeed correct, which is somewhat ironic as neoliberalism puts objective rationality at the heart of its philosophy, but I digress...

The main problem with replacing neoliberalism with a more rational, and fairer system, entails that people like Deborah accept that they will be less wealthy. And that my friends is the main problem. People like Deborah, while they are more than happy to point the fingers at others, are less than happy to accept that they are also part of the problem.

(Generalisation Caveat: I don't know in actuality if Deborah would be unhappy to be less wealthy in exchange for a fairer system, she doesn't say)

Herbolzheim , 8 Jun 2013 04:49
Good critique of conservative-neoliberalism, unless you subscribe to it and subordinate any morals or other values to it. She mentions an internal tension and I think that's because conservatism and neoliberal market ideology are different beasts.
NotAgainAgain -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 04:47
@CaptainGrey -

There are different models of capitalism quite clearly the social democratic version in Scandinavia or the "Bismarkian" German version have worked a lot better than the UKs.

DavidPavett , 8 Jun 2013 04:45

Yet, mealy-mouthed and hotly contested as this minor mea culpa is, it's still a sign that financial institutions may slowly be coming round to the idea that they are the problem.

How is it a sign of that? We are offered no clues.

What they don't seem to acknowledge is that the merry days of reckless lending are never going to return;

Try reading a history of financial crashes to dislodge this idea.

... even if they do, the same thing will happen again, but more quickly and more savagely.

This may or may not be true but here it is mere assertion.

The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt.

At this point I start to have real doubts as to whether Deborah Orr has actually read even the Executive Summary of the Report this article is ostensibly a response to.

All the comments that follow about the need for public infrastructure, education, regulated markets and so on are made as if they were a criticism of the IMF and yet the IMF says many of those same things itself. The IMF position may, of course, be contradictory - but then that is something that would need to be demonstrated. It seems that Deborah has not got beyond reading a couple of Guardian articles on the issues she discusses and therefore is in no position to do this.

Thus, for example in its review of world problems of Feb 2013 the IMF comments favorably that in Bangladesh in order to boost competitiveness

Efforts are being made to narrow the skills gap with other countries in the region, as the authorities look to take full advantage of Bangladesh's favorable demographics and help create conditions for more labor-intensive led growth. The government is also scaling up spending on education, science and technology, and information and communication technology.

Which seems to be the sort of thing Deborah Orr is calling for. She should spend a little time on the IMF website before criticising the institution. It is certainly one that merits much criticism - but it needs to be informed.

And the solution to the problems? For Deborah Orr the response

... from the start should have been a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe, a "structural adjustment", as the philosopher John Gray has said all along.

Does anyone have any idea what this is supposed to mean? There are certainly no leads on this in the link given to "the philosopher" John Gray. And what a strange reference that is. John Gray, in his usual cynical mode, dismisses the idea of progress being achieved by the EU. But then I suppose that is consistent from a man who dismisses the idea of progress itself.

... Conservative neoliberalism is entirely without logic.

The first step in serious political analysis is to understand that the people one opposes are not crazy and are not devoid of logic. If that is not clearly understood then all that is left is the confrontation of assertion and contrary assertion. Of course Conservative neoliberalism has a logic. It is one I do not agree with but it is a logic all the same.

The neoliberalism that the IMF still preaches pays no account to any of this [the need for public investment and a recognition of the multiple roles that individuals have].

Wrong again.

It insists that the provision of work alone is enough of an invisible hand to sustain a market.

And again.

This stuff can't be made up as you go along on the basis of reading a couple of newspaper articles. You actually have to do some hard reading to get to grip with the issues. I can see no signs of that in this piece.

EllisWyatt -> NotAgainAgain , 8 Jun 2013 04:43
@NotAgainAgain - We are going off topic and that is in no small part down to my own fault, so apologies. Just to pick up the point, I guess my unease with the likes of Buffet, Cooper-Hohn or even the wealthy Guardian columnists is that they are criticizing the system from a position of power and wealth.

So its easy to advocate change if you feel that you are in the vanguard of defining that change i.e. the reforms you advocate may leave you worse off, but at a level you feel comfortable with (the prime example always being Polly's deeply relaxed attitude to swingeing income tax increases when her own lifestyle will be protected through wealth).

I guess I am a little skeptical because I either see it as managed decline, a smokescreen or at worst mean spiritedness of people prepared to accept a reasonable degree of personal pain if it means other people whom dislike suffer much greater pain.

Again off topic so sorry about that

NotAgainAgain -> mountman , 8 Jun 2013 04:43
@mountman -

The critical bit is this

"There is a clear legal basis in Germany for the workplace representation of employees in all but the very smallest companies. Under the Works Constitution Act, first passed in 1952 and subsequently amended, most recently in 2001, a works council can be set up in all private sector workplaces with at least five employees."

http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations/Countries/Germany/Workplace-Representation

The UK needs to wake up to the fact that managers are sometimes inept or corrupt and will destroy the companies they work for, unless their are adequate mechanisms to hold poor management to account.

ATrueFinn -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 04:42
@ SpinningHugo 08 June 2013 9:26am

More people lifted out of poverty in China over the last 25 years than the entire population of South America.

Maybe we need the Chinese Communist Party to take over the world?

ATrueFinn -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 04:40
@ CaptainGrey 08 June 2013 8:43am

Capitalism, especially the beneficial capitalism of the NHS, free education etc. has won

There would not be NHS, free education etc. without socialism; in fact they are socialism. It took the Soviet-style socialism ("statism") 70 years to collapse. The neoliberalistic capitalism has already started to collapse after 30 years.

irishaxeman , 8 Jun 2013 04:40
I'm always amused that neoliberal - indeed, capitalist - apologists cannot see the hypocrisy of their demands for market access. Communities create and sustain markets, fund and maintain infrastructure, produce and maintain new consumers. Yet the neolibs decry and destroy. Hypocrites or destructive numpties - never quite decided between Pickles and Gove, y'see.
EllisWyatt -> JamesValencia , 8 Jun 2013 04:38
@JamesValencia - Actually on reflection you are correct and I was wrong in my attack on the author above. Having re-read the article its a critique of institutions rather than people so my points were wide of the mark.

I still think that well heeled Guardian writers aren't really in a position to attack the wealthy and politically connected, but I'll save that for a thread when they explicitly do so, rather than the catch all genie of neoliberalism.

bullwinkle -> bluebirds , 8 Jun 2013 04:38
@bluebirds -

@CaptainGrey - deregulated capitalism has failed. That is the product of the last 20 years. The pure market is a fantasy just as communism is or any other ideology. In a pure capitalist economy all the banks of the western world would have bust and indeed the false value "earned" in the preceding 20 years would have been destroyed.

If the pure market is a fantasy, how can deregulated capitalism have failed? Does one not require the other? Surely it is regulated capitalism that has failed?

snodgrass , 8 Jun 2013 04:36
97% of all OUR money has been handed over to these scheming crooks. Stop bailing out the banks with QE. Take back what is ours -- state control over the creation of money. Then let the banks revert to their modest market-based function of financial intermediaries.

The State can't be trusted to create our money? Well they could hardly do a worse job than the banks! Best solution would be to distribute state-created money as a Citizen's Income.

EllisWyatt -> 1nn1t , 8 Jun 2013 04:35
@1nn1t - Some good points, there is a whole swathe of low earners that should not be in the tax system at all, simply letting them keep the money in their pocket would be a start.

Second the minimum wage (especially in the SE) is too low and should be increased. Obviously the devil is in the detail as to the precise rate, the other issue is non compliance as there will be any number of businesses that try and get around this, through employing people too ignorant or scared to know any better or for family businesses - do we have the stomach to enforce this?

Thirdly there is a widespread reluctance to separate people from the largesse of the state, even at absurd levels of income such as higher rate payers (witness child tax credits). On the right they see themselves as having paid in and so are "entitled" to have something back and on the left it ensures that everyone has a vested interest in a big state dipping it hands into your pockets one day and giving you something back the next.

Broken system

1nn1t -> Uncertainty , 8 Jun 2013 04:34

@Uncertainty - Which is why the people of the planet need to join hands.

The only group of people in he UK to see that need were the generation that faced WW2 together. It's no accident that, joining up at 18 in 1939, they had almost all retired by 1984.
BruceMullinger , 8 Jun 2013 04:31
To promote the indecent obsession for global growth Australia, burdened with debt of around 250 billion dollars, is to borrow and pay interest on a further 7 billion dollars to lend to the International Monetary Fund so as it can lend it to poorer nations to burden them with debt.

It is entrapment which impoverishes nations into the surrender of sovereignty, democracy and national pride. In no way should we contribute to such economic immorality and the entire economic system based on perpetual growth fuelled by consumerism and debt needs top be denounced and dismantled. The adverse social and environmental consequence of perpetual growth defies all sensible logic and in time, in a more responsible and enlightened era, growth will be condemned.

[Dec 03, 2018] Neoliberalism is a secular religion because it relies of beliefs (which in this case are presented using the mathematical notation of neoclassic economics)

Like bolshevism this secular regions is to a large extent is a denial of Christianity. While Bolshevism is closer to the Islam, Neoliberalism is closer to Judaism.
The idea of " Homo economicus " -- a person who in all his decisions is governed by self-interest and greed is bunk.
Notable quotes:
"... There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice. ..."
"... In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else. In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here. ..."
"... We all probably know the answer to this. In order to maintain the consent necessary to create inequality in their own interests the neoliberals have to tell big lies, and keep repeating them until they appear to be the truth. They've gotten so damn good at it. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers. ..."
"... It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard ..."
"... Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church. ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
TedSmithAndSon -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 12:24
@theguardianisrubbish -

Unless you are completely confused by what neoliberalism is there is not a shred of logical sense in this.

There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice.

In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism.

Savers in a neoliberal society are lambs to the slaughter. Thatcher "revitalised" banking, while everything else withered and died.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom, communism is definitely not. Neoliberalist policies have lifted millions of people out of poverty in Asia and South America.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else. In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here.

I find it ironic that it now has 5 year plans that absolutely must not be deviated from, massive state intervention in markets (QE, housing policy, tax credits... insert where applicable), and advocates large scale central planning even as it denies reality, and makes the announcement from a tractor factory.

Neoliberalism is a blight... a cancer on humanity... a massive lie told by rich people and believed only by peasants happy to be thrown a turnip. In theory it's one thing, the reality is entirely different. Until we're rid of it, we're all it's slaves. It's an abhorrent cult that comes up with purest bilge like expansionary fiscal contraction to keep all the money in the hands of the rich.

Jacobsadder , 8 Jun 2013 11:35
Bloody well said Deborah!

Why, you have to ask yourself, is this vast implausibility, this sheer unsustainability, not blindingly obvious to all?

We all probably know the answer to this. In order to maintain the consent necessary to create inequality in their own interests the neoliberals have to tell big lies, and keep repeating them until they appear to be the truth. They've gotten so damn good at it.

iluvanimals54 , 8 Jun 2013 07:58
Today all politicians knee before the Altar that is Big Business and the Profit God, with his minions of multinational Angels.
TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 06:01
Neoliberalism is a modern curse. Everything about it is bad and until we're free of it, it will only ever keep trying to turn us into indentured labourers.

It's acolytes are required to blind themselves to logic and reason to such a degree they resemble Scientologists or Jehovah's Witnesses more than people with any sort of coherent political ideology, because that's what neoliberalism actually is... a cult of the rich, for the rich, by the rich... and it's followers in the general population are nothing but moron familiars hoping one day to be made a fully fledged bastard.

Who could look at the way markets function and conclude there's any freedom? Only a neoliberal cult member. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be dissuaded. They cannot be persuaded. Only the market knows best, and the fact that the market is a corrupt, self serving whore is completely ignored by the ideology of their Church.

It's subsumed the entire planet, and waiting for them to see sense is a hopeless cause. In the end it'll probably take violence to rid us of the Neoliberal parasite... the turn of the century plague.

[Dec 03, 2018] Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain Hoisted from the Archives

Dec 03, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Thatcher (aka "Milk Snatcher" ) pushed neoliberalism and globalization as the solution of New Deal Capitalism problems. Now the UK arrived at the dead end of this "1 Neoliberal Road" and now needs to pay the price. So much for TINA.

From a pure propaganda standpoint, Neoliberalism is just a sanitized-sounding expression, to cover-up the fact that what we really see here is re-branded corporatist ideology.

That's why the crisis of neoliberalism created Renaissance for far-right movements in Europe, which now threaten to destroy its "globalization" component and switch to "national neoliberalism" (aka Trumpism) as the solution to the current crisis of neoliberalism ( aka "secular stagnation" which started in 2008).

Ideology is as dead as Bolshevik's ideology became in early 60th. And I see Trump as a somewhat similar figure to Khrushchev. An uneducated reformer with huge personal flaws, but still a reformer of "classic neoliberalism." Which was rejected by voters with Hillary Clinton, was not it ?

As financial oligarchy is pretty powerful and, as we now see, have intelligence agencies as a part of their "toolset", the trend right now is to rely on "patriotic military" and far-right nationalism to counter neoliberal globalization.

We will see where it would get us, but with oil over $100 Goldman employees might eventually really find themselves under fire like in Omaha beach.

Hayek, while a second rate economist, proved to be a talented theologian, and he managed to create what can be called "civil religion" not that different from Mormonism or Scientology.

It was mostly based on Trotskyism rebranded for financial elite instead of the proletariat and the network of think tanks instead of "professional revolutionaries" of the Communist Party ("Financial oligarchy of all countries unite", "All power to Goldman Sacks and Bank of America," etc.).

Pope Francis did a pretty good theological analysis of this secular religion in his Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013. Rephrasing Oscar Wilde, we can say that "objective analysis is the analysis of ideologies we do not like".

He pointed out that neoliberalism explicitly rejects the key idea of Christianity -- the idea of equal and ultimate justice for all sinners as a noble social goal. The idea that a human being should struggle to create justice ( including "economic justice") in this world even if the ultimate solution is beyond his grasp. "Greed is good" is as far from Christianity as Satanism.

As Reinhold Niebuhr noted a world where there is only one center of power and authority (financial oligarchy under neoliberalism) "preponderant and unchallenged... its world rule almost certainly violate the basic standard of justice".

Here are selected quotes from Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

... Such a [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. 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 "disposable" 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 it's disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers."

54. 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. 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; and in the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

[Dec 11, 2017] Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy

Should probably be "neoliberal religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy
Notable quotes:
"... Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue. ..."
"... Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored! ..."
"... Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not. ..."
"... What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium? ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Adam Eran, April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue.

Positions on the wedge issues (abortion, the gays) are actually difficult to prove with scripture–not that it has the kind of authority it did before 35,000 variations on old manuscripts were discovered in the 17th century. (Marcus Borg is the scholar to consult here).

Meanwhile, the big issues - e.g. covetousness, forbidden very explicitly in one of the 10 commandments - is an *industry* in the U.S.

I'll believe these evangelicals are guided by the bible when I see them picketing Madison Avenue for promoting covetousness, or when I see them lobbying for a debt jubilee.

Michael Hudso says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored!

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not.

hunkerdown , April 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Ideals only serve in practice to create primordial debts, buttress power differentials, and enable selective malfeasance. I fail to see the social utility of any of those products and believe humanity would be better off repudiating them and their vectors. Disease is not a public good.

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Well I am using this definition of ideal: "a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation". I guess you are welcome to your definition.

JTMcPhee , April 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think "America" is maybe a shibboleth of some sort, but there is not a dam' thing left of the stuff I was taught and brought to believe, as a young person, Boy Scout, attendee at the Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship, attentive student of Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Fleming in Civics, Social Studies and US History classes, and all that. I was well enough steeped in that stuff to let "patriotism" overcome better sense, strongly enough to enlist in the Army in 1966.

Maybe you think "The Birth of a Nation" captures the essence of our great country?

What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium?

[Jan 13, 2017] They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them.

Notable quotes:
"... For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

" In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak. He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse". This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people. The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project. The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed. The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective. I wish Alexei Yurchak would explore more implications of Roman Jacobson's "poetic function of language" and its connection to Russian experiment in communism. It seems to me, as a Russian native speaker, that Russians put stress on form, sound, and poetics. The English-language tradition prioritizes content and meaning. Can we speak of "Hermeneutics" of the West versus "Poetics" of Russia? Perhaps the tragedy of Russia was under-development of Hermeneutics? How does one explain the feeble attempts to throw a light of reason into the loopy texts and theories of Marks, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin? Perhaps the Russians read it as a kind of magical text, a poetry, a bad poetry -- not Pasternak or Blok -- but kind of poetry nevertheless?

Nils Gilman on April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures. Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

[Jan 13, 2017] Hypernormalisation

Notable quotes:
"... Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits. ..."
"... Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them. ..."
"... By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working. ..."
"... Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing. ..."
"... The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth. ..."
"... Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't. ..."
"... The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.) ..."
"... I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin. ..."
"... I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him. ..."
"... Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House. ..."
"... Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose. ..."
"... The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. ..."
"... Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens. ..."
"... The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders. ..."
"... In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. ..."
"... This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election ..."
"... I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics. ..."
"... We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality ..."
"... It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE .. ..."
"... "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief." ..."
"... During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else. ..."
"... to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already) ..."
"... But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Bryce McBride via Mises Canada,

This past November, the filmmaker Adam Curtis released the documentary Hypernormalisation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-fny99f8amM

The term comes from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. The book argues that over the last 20 years of the Soviet Union, everyone knew the system wasn't working, but as no one could imagine any alternative, politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that it was. Eventually this pretending was accepted as normal and the fake reality thus created was accepted as real, an effect which Yurchak termed "hypernormalisation."

Looking at events over the past few years, one wonders if our own society is experiencing the same phenomenon. A contrast with what economic policy-makers term "normalisation" is instructive.

Normalisation is what has historically happened in the wake of financial crises. During the booms that precede busts, low interest rates encourage people to make investments with borrowed money. However, even after all of the prudent investment opportunities have been taken, people continue borrowing to invest in projects and ideas that are unlikely to ever generate profits.

Eventually, the precariousness of some of these later investments becomes apparent. Those that arrive at this realization early sell up, settle their debts and pocket profits, but their selling often triggers a rush for the exits that bankrupts companies and individuals and, in many cases, the banks which lent to them.

In the normalisation which follows (usually held during 'special' bank holidays) auditors and accountants go through financial records and decide which companies and individuals are insolvent (and should therefore go bankrupt) and which are merely illiquid (and therefore eligible for additional loans, pledged against good collateral). In a similar fashion, central bank officials decide which banks are to close and which are to remain open. Lenders made freshly aware of bankruptcy risk raise (or normalise) interest rates and in so doing complete the process of clearing bad debt out of the system. Overall, reality replaces wishful thinking.

While this process is by no means pleasant for the people involved, from a societal standpoint bankruptcy and higher interest rates are necessary to keep businesses focused on profitable investment, banks focused on prudent lending and overall debt levels manageable.

By contrast, the responses of policy-makers to 2008's financial crisis suggest the psychology of hypernormalisation. Quantitative easing (also known as money printing) and interest rate suppression (to zero percent and, in Europe, negative interest rates) are not working and will never result in sustained increases in productivity, income and employment. However, as our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions, they have to pretend that they are working.

To understand why our leaders are unable to consider alternative policy solutions such as interest rate normalization and banking reform one only needs to understand that while such policies would lay the groundwork for a sustained recovery, they would also expose many of the world's biggest banks as insolvent. As the financial sector is a powerful constituency (and a generous donor to political campaigns) the banks get the free money they need, even if such policies harm society as a whole.

As we live in a democratic society, it is necessary for our leaders to convince us that there are no other solutions and that the monetary policy fixes of the past 8 years have been effective and have done no harm.

Statistical chicanery has helped understate unemployment and inflation while global cooperation has served to obscure the currency depreciation and loss of confidence in paper money (as opposed to 'hard money' such as gold and silver) that are to be expected from rampant money printing.

Looking at unemployment figures first, while the unemployment rate is currently very low, the number of Americans of working age not in the labour force is currently at an all-time high of over 95 million people. Discouraged workers who stop looking for work are no longer classified as unemployed but instead become economically inactive, but clearly many of these people really should be counted as unemployed. Similarly, while government statistical agencies record inflation rates of between one and two percent, measures that use methodologies used in the past (such as John Williams' Shadowstats measures) show consumer prices rising at annual rates of 6 to 8 percent. In addition, many people have noticed what has been termed 'shrinkflation', where prices remain the same even as package sizes shrink. A common example is bacon, which used to be sold by the pound but which is now commonly sold in 12 ounce slabs.

Meanwhile central banks have coordinated their money printing to ensure that no major currency (the dollar, the yen, the euro or the Chinese renminbi) depreciates noticeably against the others for a sustained period of time. Further, since gold hit a peak of over $1900 per ounce in 2011, central banks have worked hard to keep the gold price suppressed through the futures market. On more than a few occasions, contracts for many months worth of global gold production have been sold in a matter of a few minutes, with predictable consequences for the gold price. At all costs, people's confidence in and acceptance of the paper (or, more commonly, electronic) money issued by central banks must be maintained.

Despite these efforts people nonetheless sense that something is wrong. The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump to the White House represent to a large degree a rejection of the fake reality propagated by the policymaking elite. Increasingly, people recognize that a financial system dependent upon zero percent interest rates is not sustainable and are responding by taking their money out of the banks in favour of holding cash or other forms of wealth. In the face of such understanding and resistance, governments are showing themselves willing to use coercion to enforce acceptance of their fake reality.

The recent fuss over 'fake news' seems intended to remove alternative news and information sources from a population that, alarmingly for those in charge, is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is . Just this month U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act into law. United States, meet your Ministry of Truth.

Meanwhile, in India last month, people were told that the highest denomination bills in common circulation would be 'demonetized' or made worthless as of December 30th. People were allowed to deposit or exchange a certain quantity of the demonetized bills in banks but many people who had accumulated their savings in rupee notes (often the poor who did not have bank accounts) have been ruined. Ostensibly, this demonetization policy was aimed at curbing corruption and terrorism, but it is fairly obvious that its real objective was to force people into the banking system and electronic money. Unsurprisingly, the demonetization drive was accompanied by limits on the quantity of gold people are allowed to hold.

Despite such attempts to influence our thinking and our behaviour, we don't need to resign ourselves to pretending that our system is working when it so clearly isn't. Looking at the eventual fate of the Soviet Union, it should be clear that the sooner we abandon the drift towards hypernormalisation and start on the path to normalisation the better off we will be.

DontGive Jan 7, 2017 9:03 PM

CB's printing is not a bug. It's a feature.

Long debt bitches.

Doña K TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:05 AM

I did not learn anything from that movie. One man's collage of events.

We just take revenge on the system by living well.

Luc X. Ifer TBT or not TBT Jan 8, 2017 12:06 AM

Correct. I seen with sufficient level of comprehending consciousness the last 5 years of it - copy-cat perfection with the current times in US(S)A, terrifying how similar the times are as it is a clear indication of the times to come.

HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 9:06 PM

Great article. I think it does describe the USSA at the present time. Everything works until it doesn't.

malek HRH Feant Jan 7, 2017 11:40 PM

The funny thing is I had almost identical thoughts just a few days ago. But I was thinking in comparison more of East Germany's last 20 years before they imploded - peacefully, because not a single non-leading-rank person believed any of the official facts anymore (and therefore they even simply ignored orders from high command to crush the Leipzig Monday demonstrations.)

navy62802 Jan 7, 2017 9:14 PM

I'm ok with a world led by Trump and Putin.

christiangustafson Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Great piece!

I was just thinking that the whole economic world sees us in a sort of equilibrium at the moment. There will be some adjustments under Trump, but nothing serious. We shall see ..

Eeyores Enigma Jan 7, 2017 9:17 PM

Repeat something often enough and it becomes hypernormalised. With that in mind the number of eyes/minds/hits is all that matters. This has been known and exploited for hundreds of years.

That a handful of individuals can have a monopoly over the single most important aspect of whether you live or die is the ultimate success of hypernormalisation. CENTRAL BANKING.

Manipuflation Jan 7, 2017 9:22 PM

Mrs.M is of the last Soviet generation. Her .gov papers say so. There is never a day when I don't hear something soviet. She still has a her red pioneer ribbon. I have tried to encourage her to write about it on ZH so that we know. Do you think she will? No. She's says that we can't understand what it was like no matter what she says.

Mrs.M was born in 1981 so she has lived an interesting life. I married her in 2004 after much paperwork and $15000. I wanted that female because we got along quite well. She is who I needed with me this and I would do it all over again.

Needless to say, I do not support any aggression towards Russia. And to my fellow Americans, I advise caution because the half you are broke ass fucks and are already ropes with me.

That is the only news anyone needs to know.

wisebastard Jan 7, 2017 9:25 PM

the monkeys made me think ZH should make a post with monkeys evolving into humans that then de-evolve into Paul Krugman

GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 9:34 PM

I recall the joke from the old Soviet Union: "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work." In the USSA these last few years, Barry pretends to tell the truth. Libtards pretend to believe him.

BabaLooey GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:05 PM

Wrong. They believe him. Look at the gaggle of libtard/shiteaters at Soetero's Friday night bash at the White House.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/01/07/stars-obamas-white-hou...

Fucks. ALL of them.

max_leering GeezerGeek Jan 7, 2017 11:35 PM

Geezer, I'd change only one thing... I believe libtards bought Barry's bullshit hook, line and sinker... it was the rest of us who not-so-subtly were saying WTF!!!

Salzburg1756 Jan 7, 2017 9:35 PM

White Nationalists have lived in the real world for decades; the rest of you need to catch up.

JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:06 PM

Reagan used to quip that in the Soviet Union, the people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. We're not the Soviet Union, but we have become a farce. Next stop - the fall. Followed by chaos, then onto something new. The new elites will just be the old elites, well, the ones that escape the noose.

evokanivo JustPastPeacefield Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

what noose? you think joe 6p is going to identify the culprits? i think not. "no one saw this coming!!!" is still ringing in my ears from the last time.

jm Jan 7, 2017 10:14 PM

I really don't know how people can keep on getting clicks with this tired crap. It didn't happen in 2008 just get over it. The delusional people are the people that think the world is going to end tomorrow.

wwxx jm Jan 8, 2017 6:08 AM

Maybe the world has ended, for 95 million? I haven't paid a single Fed income tax dollar in over 8 yrs., for a specific reason, I refuse to support the new normal circus, and quite frankly I would have gotten out during the GWBush regime, but I couldn't afford to at the time.

wwxx

EndOfDayExit Jan 7, 2017 10:17 PM

The real ugly problem with the Soviet Union is that whatever they broke it into isn't working well either. Same with the USSA. No one really knows what to do. Feudalism would probably work, but it is not possible to go back to it. My bet is that we will end up with some form of socialism, universal income and whatever else, just because there is no good alternative for dealing with lots and lots of people who are not needed anymore.

BingoBoggins EndOfDayExit Jan 8, 2017 6:15 AM

Do you mean useless eaters or fuckers deserving the guillotine? Russia's problem post collapse was the good ol' USSA and its capitalist, plunderer banking mavens.

NAV Jan 7, 2017 10:23 PM

The Soviet Union pushed its old culture to near destruction but failed to establish a new and better culture to replace it, writes Angelo M. Codevilla in "The Rise of Political Correctness," and as a result the U.S.S.R fell, just as America's current "politically correct" and dysfunctional "progressive utopia" will implode.

As such, Codevilla would agree that the US population " is both ever-more aware that the system is not working and less and less willing to pretend that it is."

As for the U.S.S.R., "this step turned out instead to destroy the very basis of Soviet power," writes Codevilla. "[C]ontinued efforts to force people to celebrate the party's ersatz reality, to affirm things that they know are not true and to deny others they know to be true – to live by lies – requires breaking them , reducing them to a sense of fearful isolation, destroying their self-esteem and their capacity to trust others. George Orwell's novel 1984 dramatized this culture war's ends and means : nothing less than the substitution of the party's authority for the reality conveyed by human senses and reason. Big Brother's agent, having berated the hapless Winston for preferring his own views to society's dictates, finished breaking his spirit by holding up four fingers and demanding that Winston acknowledge seeing five.

"Thus did the Soviet regime create dysfunctional, cynical, and resentful subjects. Because Communism confused destruction of 'bourgeois culture' with cultural conquest, it won all the cultural battles while losing its culture war long before it collapsed politically. As Communists identified themselves in people's minds with falsehood and fraud, people came to identify truth with anything other than the officials and their doctrines. Inevitably, they also identified them with corruption and privation. A nd so it was that, whenever the authorities announced that the harvest had been good, the people hoarded potatoes; and that more and more people who knew nothing of Christianity except that the authorities had anathematized it, started wearing crosses."

And if you want to see the ruling class's culture war in action today in America, pick up the latest issues of Vogue Magazine or O, The Oprah Magazine with their multitude of role reversals between whites and minorities. Or check out the latest decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court forcing people to acknowledge that America is not a Christian nation, or making it "more difficult for men, women and children to exist as a family" or demanding via law "that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity."

As to just how far the ruling class has gone to serve the interests and proclivities of its leaders and to reject the majority's demand for representation, Codevilla notes, "In 2012 no one would have thought that defining marriage between one man and one woman, as enshrined in U.S. law, would brand those who do so as motivated by a culpable psychopathology called 'homophobia,' subject to fines and near-outlaw status. Not until 2015-16 did it occur to anyone that requiring persons with male personal plumbing to use public bathrooms reserved for men was a sign of the same pathology

"On the wholesale level, it is a war on civilization waged to indulge identity politics."

http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-rise-of-political-correctness/

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:11 PM

This article is so flawed! People[impoverished] aren't trying to jump over a wall patrolled by guards into Mexico -YET. Tyler, why do you repost shit like this?

daveO Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 12:56 AM

That's because the Yankees, fleeing high taxes, can move to the sunbelt states w/o freezing. The USA went broke in 2008. Mexico got a head start by 22 years when oil prices collapsed in '86.

MASTER OF UNIVERSE Jan 7, 2017 11:28 PM

The only way to normalize banking in a contemporary banking paradigm of QE Infinity & Beyond is to start over again without the bankers & accountants that knowingly bet the ranch for a short term gain at the expense of long term profitability. In Japan an honourable businessman/CEO would suicide for bringing this kind of devastation to the company shareholders.

In America they don't give a shit because it is always someone else other than the CEO that takes the fall. 08 was proof that America is not equipped to participate in a Multinational & Multipolar world of business & investment in business. America can't get along in business in this world anymore. Greed has rendered America unemployable as a major market participant in a Globally run network of businesses.

America is the odd man out these days even though the next POTUS promises better management from a business perspective. Whilst the Mafia Cartel bosses trust TrumpO's business savvy the rest of the planet Earth does not.

Yen Cross Jan 7, 2017 11:53 PM

Are you kidding me??? >

Hypernormalisation I think we need a few MOAR syllables connected by fake verb/adjective < reverse /destruction- of the English language.

Manipuflation Yen Cross Jan 8, 2017 1:23 AM

Yen, I have a bottle of Bacardi rum here. It was on sale. Should I open it up? We could become experts....well at least I could.:-)

BingoBoggins Jan 8, 2017 8:12 AM

A liberal friend laid this movie on me to show me why he supported Hillary. A smart cookie, a PHd teaching English in Japan. A Khazarnazi Jew, he even spent time in Kyiv, Ukraine pre-coup, only mingling with "poets and writers". He went out of his way to tell me how bad the Russians were, informed as he was prior to the rejection of the EU's usurious offer.

He even quite dramatically pulled out the Anti-Semite card. I had to throw Banderas in his face and the US sponsored regime. I had respect for this guy and his knowledge but he just - could - not - let - go the cult assumptions. I finally came to believe Liberal Arts educators are victims of inbred conditioning. In retaliation, he wanted to somehow prove Putin a charlatan or villian and Trump his proxie.

This, after I'd point out his evasion and deflection every time I addressed his bias and belief in the MSM propaganda mantras of racism, misogyny, xenophobia - all the usual labeling bullshit up to insinuating Russia hacked the election. Excerpts from a correspondence wherein I go full asshole on the guy follow. Try and make sense of it if you watch this trash:

HyperNormalization 50:29 Not Ronald Rayguns, or Quadaffi plays along. Say what? They're, i.e. Curtis, assuming what Q thought?

1:15 USSR collapses. No shit. Cronyism in a centralized organization grown too large is inevitable it seems. So the premise has evolved to cultural/societal "management". Right. USSR collapses but let's repeat the same mistakes 'cause "it's different this time". We got us a computer!

Then Fink the failed Squid (how do Squids climb the corporate ladder?) builds one and programs historical data to,,,, forecast? I heard a' this. Let me guess. He couldn't avoid bias, making his models fallacious. Whoops. Well, he does intend to manipulate society, or was that not the goal? Come again? Some authority ran with it and ... captured an entire nation's media, conspired with other like-minded sycophants and their mysterious masters to capture an election by ... I may be getting ahead of myself.

Oh, boy, I have an inkling of where this is going. Perceptions modified by the word, advanced by the herd, in order to capture a vulnerable society under duress, who then pick sides, fool themselves in the process, miss the three hour tour never to live happily ever after on a deserted isle because they eschew (pick a bias here from the list provided). The one you think the "others" have, 'cause, shit, we're above it all, right? " Are we not entertained" is probably not the most appropriate question here.

Point being, Curtis, the BBC documentarian, totally negates the reality of pathological Imperialism as has been practiced by the West over the last half century, causing so many of the effects he so casually eludes to in the Arab Spring, Libya, Syria, Russia, the US and elsewhere. Perhaps the most blatant is this; Curtis asserts that Trump "defeated journalism" by rendering its fact-checking abilities irrelevant. Wikipedia He Hypernormalizes the very audience that believes itself to be enlightened. As for my erstwhile friend, the fucker never once admitted all the people *killed* for the ideals he supported. I finally blew him off for good.

To Hell In A Ha... Jan 8, 2017 7:06 AM

I've been using the term Hypernormalisation to describe aspects of western society for the last 15 years, before Adam Curtis's brilliant BBC documentary Hypernormalisation , afflicting western society and particularly politics. There are lies and gross distortions everywhere in western society and it straddles/effects all races, colours, social classes and the disease is most acute in our politics.

We all know the hypernoprmalisation in politics, as we witness stories everyday on Zerohedge of the disconnect from reality...

jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 7:44 AM

It is called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE ..

Allow me to quote something here ..

Enter Operation Stillpoint: William Colby, William Casey and Leo Emil Wanta.

At the time it started, President Reagan wanted to get a better handle on ways to keep the Soviets from expansionary tactics used to spread Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin's philosophy of communism around the world. He looked to his Special Task Force to provide a means of doing so. One thing was certain: The economy of the Soviets had never been strong and corruption, always present in government and always growing at least as fast as a government grows, made the USSR vulnerable to outside interference just as the United States is today.

According to Gorbachev's Prime Minister, Nikolai Ryzhkov, the "moral [nravstennoe] state of the society" in 1985 was its "most terrifying" feature: "[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this – from top to bottom and from bottom to top."

Again, it sounds like today's America, doesn't it?

Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze made equally painful comments about the lawlessness and corruption dominating the Soviet Union. During the winter months of 1984-85, he told Gorbachev that "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed."

"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong," Frantz Fanon said in his 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks (originally published in French as Peau Noire, Masques Blancs). "When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit with the core belief."

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

During their final days as a world power, the Soviet Union allowed cognitive dissonance to rule its better judgment as so many Americans are doing in 2012. The handwriting on the wall was pretty clear for Gorbachev. The Soviet economy was failing. They did none of the necessary things to save their economy. In 2012, the handwriting on the wall is pretty clear for the American people. The economy is failing. The people and the Congress do none of the necessary things to save their economy. Why? Go re-read the definition of cognitive dissonance. That's why. We have a classic fight going on between those who want government to take care of them who will pay the price of lost freedom to get that care, and those who value freedom above all else.

On one day we have 50 state attorneys general suing Bank of America for making fraudulent mortgages, and on the next we have M.F. Global losing billions upon billions of customer dollars because they got mixed with the firm's funds – which is against the law – or we have J.P. Morgan Chase losing $2 billion (or is it $5 billion?) in bad investments. As Eduard Shevardnadze said, "Everything is rotten. It has to be changed." As I would say it, "There is no Rule of Law in America today. There has been no real Rule of Law since George Herbert Walker Bush took office."

No one listened then; no one is listening in America now. The primary reason? Cognitive dissonance. -- Chapter 2, "Wanta! Black Swan, White Hat" (2013)

Okay then, forget what was said in 1985, that was later reported in 2013 ..

Let's fast forward to Oct. 30, 2016 ..

Shall we? I mean, it is a bit MOAR -- relevant!

https://youtu.be/8tYTSR9gheQ

And, for those that must have further amplification .. (And, some .......... fun!)

https://www.youtube.com/user/fooser77/playlists

BingoBoggins jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 8:20 AM

You reminded me I bookmarked this on Chrome, so I dared to venture there to retrieve it;

https://books.google.com/books?id=cbC_AwAAQBAJ&pg=PP21&lpg=PP21&dq=crony...

Vageling jcdenton Jan 8, 2017 9:16 AM

Lee Wanta. I've heard of him before. He was screwed over for some bullshit charges. And the CIA made a firm warning... How long did that dude spent in jail?

Just looked up his story as it was blurry. Cronyism at its finest. So now that I got my refreshing course. Trump stole/adopted (however you want to look at that) his plan and the project the gov (DOT) proposes sucks donkey balls compared to Wanta's.

So where are all the climate hoaxers now by the way? You'd figure they'd be all over this.

American Gorbachev Jan 8, 2017 10:10 AM

to me the PTB are "Japanifying" the u.s. (decades of no growth, near total demoralization of a generation of worker bees (as in, 'things will never get any better, be glad for what little you've got' etc... look what they've done to u.s. millenials just since '08... fooled (crushed) them TWICE already)

But the PTB Plan B is to emulate the USSR with a crackup, replete with fire sale to oligarchs of public assets. They will Japan as long as they can (so it will be difficult to forecast any crackup anymore than six months beforehand). Hope they have a Gorbachev lined up, to limit the bloodshed

[Jan 09, 2016] Overshoot The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

www.amazon.com

Amazon.com

By J. Mann on April 8, 2005

Masterpiece, offers solution for THE problem of our time/div> I am astonished at the quality of this book, which is about the eighth book in a personal reading program that included Paul Roberts' The End of Oil, Kenneth Deffeyes' Beyond Oil, Jared Diamon's Collapse, Cottrell's Energy and Society, Michael Klare's Blood and Oil, and others, all extremely good and relevant books. The task this author undertakes is to help readers find a new perspective from which to constructively and usefully interpret inevitable and major changes the world around us. By taking this approach, the author is providing the very essential tool we need to cope with these changes.

The issue is our ecological footprint.

Catton uses the term "Age of Exuberance" to represent the time since 1492 when first a newly discovered hemisphere and then the invention of fossil-fuel-driven machines allowed Old-World humans to escape the constraints imposed by a population roughly at earth's carrying capacity, and instead to grow (and philosophize and emote) expansively. He then reminds us that we are soon to be squeezed by the twin jaws of excessive population and exhausted resources, as our current population is utterly dependent on the mining and burning of fossil energy and its use to exploit earth's resources in general. In spring 2005, the buzz about "the end of cheap energy" is reaching quite a pitch, and when and if the "peak oil" scenario (or other environmental limit-event) is reached, the impact on our social / political world will be enormous. Already the US is brandishing and using its superior weaponry to sieze control of oil assets; this same kind of desperate struggle may well erupt at all levels of society if we don't find a way to identify the problem, anticipate its consequences, and find solutions. Catton offers a perspective based on biology / ecology -- not bad, since we are indeed animals in an ecology and we are indeed subject to the iron laws of nature and physics.

With this perspective we can avoid ending up screaming nonsense at each other when changes begin to get scary. My urgent recommendation is, read this G.D. book and do it now.

[Jan 09, 2016] Even a cursory look at things reveals the overwhelming scope of things and quickly leads to despair

Notable quotes:
"... It has to be explained that Stoics believe that nothing external to the individual is secure, and thus the truly important thing is virtue, based on ethics and moral. ..."
"... Stoicism is the appropriate philosophy for what awaits us. It brings out the best of us and it eases the anguish. The illusion of control is our worst enemy. Matters are completely out of our control and Nature will deal with them as she pleases. ..."
peakoilbarrel.com
Javier , 01/09/2016 at 5:29 am

I wholeheartedly agree that even a cursory look at things reveals the overwhelming scope of things and quickly leads to despair.

It doesn't have to lead to despair. I recommend Stoicism , which is the way Greeks and Romans coped with their own decline.

In the words of Seneca:

"Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes." (De Provid. v.8)

It has to be explained that Stoics believe that nothing external to the individual is secure, and thus the truly important thing is virtue, based on ethics and moral. Virtue can not be taken from an individual whatever the circumstances, and helps him deal with adversity. That is what Seneca means with "nothing of our own that perishes" .

Stoicism is the appropriate philosophy for what awaits us. It brings out the best of us and it eases the anguish. The illusion of control is our worst enemy. Matters are completely out of our control and Nature will deal with them as she pleases.

[Nov 23, 2015] Game of musical chairs became more difficult: the US economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs.

Notable quotes:
"... A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction. ..."
"... More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people dont bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well. ..."
"... This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even finally reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating) ..."
"... backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs. ~~Harold Pollack~ ..."
"... Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, ..."
"... George Orwell: I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly. ..."
"... Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Avraam Jack Dectis said...
A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction.

A bad economy moves people toward the margins, afflicts those near the margins and kills those at the margins.

This is what policy makers should consider as they pursue policies that do not put the citizen above all else.

cm -> Avraam Jack Dectis...
"A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction."

More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people don't bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well.

This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even "finally" reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating)

Dune Goon said...

"backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs." ~~Harold Pollack~

Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, not enough elbow room for Daniel Boone, let alone Jack Daniels! Not enough space in this county to wet a tree when you feel the urge! Every tiny plot of space has been nailed down and fenced off, divided up among gated communities. Why?

Because the 1% has an excessive propensity to reproduce their own kind. They are so uneducated about the responsibilities of birth control and space conservation that they are crowding all of us off the edge of the planet. Worse yet we have begun to *ape our betters*.

"We've only just begun!"
~~The Carpenters~

William said...

"Many of us know people who receive various public benefits, and who might not need to rely on these programs if they made better choices, if they learned how to not talk back at work, if they had a better handle on various self-destructive behaviors, if they were more willing to take that crappy job and forego disability benefits, etc."

George Orwell: "I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly."

cm said in reply to William...

A valid observation, but what you are commenting on is more about getting or keeping a job than managing personal finances.

Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately.

Neoliberal economics the Christian response

BMS World Mission
A buzzing bee is a symbol for enterprise and busyness. But bees, as we read in the papers, are endangered. Scientists warn of the possible extinction of bees and the incalculable consequences that this may have to the pollination and production of food.

Half of the forty billion bees living in the USA are needed just to pollinate the immense rows of almond trees in the Central Valley of California, for example. These are stressed bees, whose beehives are loaded in lorries which travel for three days and nights from one end of the country to the other, woken up at intervals that are vastly different from their natural cycles, often fed an unbalanced diet made up only of almond nectar, exposed to the aggression of the new neonicotinoid insecticides required by mono-cultures and obliged to fight viruses which probably become active because the bees are tired and exhausted.

All that is too much, so silence descends on the almond tree valleys because one third of the bees have died. Why carry on with that mass extinction year after year? Because from an economic point of view it is worthwhile. Fewer bees means the price obtained by bee keepers who rent out their hives goes up. The almonds of Central Valley are a 1.9 million dollar business. This seems to justify even the mass death of the animal without which natural pollination of most fruit, vegetables and cotton will not be possible. Perhaps we will be able to develop a mechanical buzz to do their work. But is that what we want? Because that is what neoliberal economics are about.

Neoliberalism is an economic approach where the private sector, rather than governments, controls economic life, characterised by privatisation of public services, the opening of national markets to multinational interests and severe limits on government spending.

Neoliberal economics wants to have a deregulated marked where the most powerful winn all"

Right now the underlying idea of neoliberal economics is to have a deregulated market where the most powerful win all. From the enormous riches thus created by the few, so the neoliberal belief goes, everyone will profit because the capital will be invested in the global market. Unfortunately, that assumption has been proven wrong time and again. The wealth 'trickling down' to more than 80 per cent of humanity from the riches and consumption of its richest 20 per cent is more like the crumbs that fall down from the banquet than a fair participation in the meal.

Economic Justice for All was the first explicit Church critique of the neoliberal economic assumption that everything is fine when profit is fine that I ever ran across. This document, produced at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States in 1986, was followed by the outstanding confession of faith which the Alliance of the Reformed Churches prepared in a processus confessionis lasting seven years and involving consultations on all six continents.

When the World Assembly of Reformed Churches met in Accra, Ghana, in 2004, it cried out its belief in the necessity of overcoming neoliberal economics, saying:

"The root causes of massive threats to life are above all the product of an unjust economic system defended and protected by political and military might. Economic systems are a matter of life or death… Neoliberal economic globalisation… is an ideology that claims to be without alternative, demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor and creation. It makes the false promise that it can save the world through the creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance which amounts to idolatry."

"More like the crumbs from the banquet than a fair participation in the meal"

The accusation of the churches towards the economic system could not have been stronger. Since then, all of the main churches of Christianity have published documents, encyclicals and resolutions on neoliberal economics and none of the ecumenical assemblies, no matter whether on the European or World level, can meet anymore without addressing the economic issue of life that is moving more and more towards the centre of discussion and becoming obvious as the root of the problems our globalised society is facing.

But the churches are not only reflecting, praying and writing about the economic question. They are joining in the widespread movements practising alternative economics. From German Evangelical churches using their influence as one of their country's largest employers and changing their own economic practices, to Italian Protestants setting up ecological benchmarks and the Anglican Communion using its clout as an investor to challenge corporate culture, Christians are fighting neoliberalism in practical ways.

The economic disaster which produces ever growing disequilibrium between the majoritarian poor world and the small rich world (not any more to be geographically located in southern and northern hemispheres, but apparent in the so-called wealthy societies), is not a question of charity. It's not about collecting money to share with the poor. It is a question of rules that can guarantee rights of participation in the global market for the more vulnerable players.

Christian leaders and movements have always been in contact with politics and global market players to discuss the economic order. This contact often fails to achieve the desired results, as with the talks held between the World Council of Churches, the World Bank and the International Monetary fund in 2002/2003. Talks in which the two global financial institutions asserted that their mission does not include the promotion of human rights and spelled out their conviction that any growth of the markets will bring relief to the poor as well.

On the other hand, especially in the United States, there are Christian movements opposing the main financial players not merely in spirit, but in financial activities. Meetings like the annual Christian Economic Forum want to counteract the World Economic Forum of Davos using the same ideology but wanting to create different power groups. Sponsored by organisations like Crown Financial Ministries, they make charity one of their arguments, propose biblical teaching for resolving people's financial problems and teach wealth as a consequence of receiving God's blessing. But they seem to be unaware of how the very same rules that permit their sponsors to sustain them are at the origin of the financial exploitation of the majoritarian world.

There is no doubt that the churches constitute one of the main critiques of the current economic system. Sometimes their voices are a prophetical outcry against the trend that measures any success only in financial profit. They are creating awareness of economic injustice in a manner that could be described as 'capillary' – at the local, limited level. From that consciousness-building grows alternative economic thought and action all over the world.

How might good economics look in the future?

The major Christian economic movement calls for rules. The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites in order to decree that nobody had to be enslaved anymore. The rising power of a few should not become the stumbling block of the many. That's why churches are demanding rules that guarantee the dignity of the vulnerable.

Jean Jacques Rousseau put it this way: "Between the strong and the weak, freedom oppresses and it is the law that frees." These rules shall come forth from ecclesiastical communities that experience principles of communion as dominant over and against the ones of exclusion, that give weight to sharing over and against the imperative of possessing.

Christian action, local or global, can show working alternatives, live out economical testimony inspired by the biblical message, and create new ways of financial reasoning. As usual, it all starts off from spiritual change, it's all a matter of a spiritual conversion.

Herbert Anders is the editor and co-author of Equomanual: a handbook for a spirituality of economic justice, member of the working group on Globalization and Environment of the Federation of the Protestant Churches in Italy and member of the co-ordination team of the Church Action for Labour and Life network of the Conference of European Churches.

[Jun 18, 2015] Pope encyclical, climate-change live reaction and analysis

Notable quotes:
"... Senior Catholic figures in the US and UK have said the Pope's central message is: what sort of world do we want to leave for future generations? ..."
"... Kurtz deflected criticism from Republican president contenders such as Jeb Bush that the Pope was straying from the pulpit into political terrain. "I don't think he is presenting a blue print for saying this is exactly a step by step recipe," Kurtz said. "He is providing a framework and a moral call as a true moral leader to say take seriously the urgency of this matter." ..."
The Guardian

3.00pm BST10:00

Our Rome correspondent Stephanie Kirchgaessner has filed a new report on the encyclical and reaction to it. Here's an extract:
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pope's top official on social and justice issues, flatly rejected arguments by some conservative politicians in the US that the pope ought to stay out of science.

"Saying that a pope shouldn't deal with science sounds strange since science is a public domain. It is a subject matter that anyone can get in to," Turkson said at a press conference on Thursday.

The pontiff's upcoming document is being hailed as a major intervention in the climate change debate – but what exactly is an encyclical?

In an apparent reference to comments by Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who said he did not take economic advice from the pope, Turkson said that politicians had the right to disregard Francis's statement, but said it was wrong to do so based on the fact that the pope was not a scientist.

"For some time now it has been the attempt of the whole world to kind of try to de-emphasise the artificial split between religion and public life as if religion plays no role," he said. Then, quoting an earlier pope, he said the best position was to "encourage dialogue between faith and reason".

I'm going to finish up the liveblog now and we'll be switching to rolling news coverage on the Guardian's environment site.

Ban Ki-moon reacts:
The secretary-general welcomes the papal encyclical released today by His Holiness Pope Francis which highlights that climate change is one of the principal challenges facing humanity, and that it is a moral issue requiring respectful dialogue with all parts of society. The secretary-general notes the encyclical's findings that there is "a very solid scientific consensus" showing significant warming of the climate system and that most global warming in recent decades is "mainly a result of human activity".

Ban called on governments to "place the global common good above national interests and to adopt an ambitious, universal climate agreement" at the UN climate summit in Paris this December.

There are shades of the Pope's own language there. In the encyclical, he says: "International [climate] negotiations cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good".

2.38pm BST09:38

Suzanne Goldenberg

US church leaders said they saw the message as an urgent call for dialogue and action – one they intend to amplify on social media and in the pulpit.

"It is our marching orders for advocacy," Joseph Kurtz, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archbishop of Louisville. "It really brings about a new urgency for us." Church leaders will brief members of Congress on Thursday, and the White House tomorrow on the encyclical.

Kurtz deflected criticism from Republican president contenders such as Jeb Bush that the Pope was straying from the pulpit into political terrain. "I don't think he is presenting a blue print for saying this is exactly a step by step recipe," Kurtz said. "He is providing a framework and a moral call as a true moral leader to say take seriously the urgency of this matter."

2.33pm BST09:33

Suzanne Goldenberg

Here's a selection of some more US faith group reaction: Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Stockton:

This document written for all people of good will challenges institutions and individuals to preserve and respect creation as a gift from God to be used for the benefit of all.

Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Rabbi in Residence, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, San Francisco:

I'm inspired and grateful for the Pope's high profile leadership and commitment to environmental justice.

Imam Taha Hassane, Islamic Center of San Diego:

Local and National Muslim Leadership support policies that both halt environmental degradation and repair that which has already occurred. We stand with any leader, secular or spiritual, who is willing to speak out against this issue.

2.23pm BST09:23

Cardinal Vincent Nichols in the UK has echoed US Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz in his view of what the Pope's central message is: what sort of world do we want to leave for future generations to inherit? The Press Association reports:
Speaking at Our Lady & St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, in Poplar, east London, against the backdrop of the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said one of the key messages of the document was asking "what kind of world we want to leave to those who come afterwards".

The pope's message challenged the idea that infinite material progress was possible, with more goods and more consumption, that "we have to have the latest phone", said the cardinal, who is head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

2.13pm BST09:13

The US House of Representatives' Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition says – in an apparent reference to climate denial on the US right – that "the political will of many is still askew" when it comes to tackling global warming. It hopes the Pope's encyclical might change that:
For those unmoved by the science of climate change, we hope that Pope Francis' encyclical demonstrates the virtue and moral imperative for action. Today's announcement further aligns the scientific and moral case for climate action, yet the political will of many is still askew. The time to act on climate is now, and failure to do so will further damage the planet, its people, and our principles.

Michael Brune, the executive director of the US-based Sierra Club, which has more than 2m members, and has waged a very effective campaign against coal power plants, said:

Pope Francis's guidance as a pastor and a teacher shines a light on the moral obligation we all share to address the climate crisis that transcends borders and politics. This Encyclical underscores the need for climate action not just to protect our environment, but to protect humankind and the most vulnerable communities among us. The vision laid out in these teachings serves as inspiration to everyone across the world who seeks a more just, compassionate, and healthy future.

Updated at 2.16pm BST

2.06pm BST09:06

And talking of short reads, I've written a little piece on eight things we learned from the encyclical.

1.54pm BST08:54

In case you don't have enough time to read the 100+ page encyclical itself (the length varies depending on the language and font size of the versions kicking around),

1.53pm BST08:53

Some more reaction from UK charities on how governments meeting in Paris later this year should listen to the Pope.

Adriano Campolina, chief executive of ActionAid International, said:

The Pope's message highlights the important links between climate change, poverty and overconsumption. They are part of the same problem and any lasting solution to climate change must tackle these fundamental issues.

The powerful truth in Pope Francis' message reaches far beyond the Catholic Church or climate campaigners. Action on climate requires both environmental and social justice. As negotiators work on a climate deal for Paris, our leaders must show the same moral and political courage that Pope Francis has.

Christian conservation group A Rocha said: "national governments should follow the Pope's example and take 'meaningful action' on climate change".

One of the most senior figures in the US Catholic church, Joseph Edward Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, has been speaking at a US press conference. He said that that perhaps the central message of the encyclical is: what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?

Here are some highlights from Kurtz:

It's really a very beautiful and very extensive treatment of what Pope Francis has called our common home.

...

The Pope over and over again says that care for the things of this Earth is necessarily bound with care for one another and especially those who are poor. He calls it an interdependency.

...

He speaks on very indivudal choices as well as the public sphere

...

Over and over again he talks about the world as a gift

...

He uses a phrase he's used very often: to reject a throwaway culture.

...

He talks about very specific things, about slums in which people are forced to live, the lack of clean water, about the consumerism mentality.

And that perhaps this is the centre of his message: what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?

...

Our pope is speaking with a very much pastor's voice and with a deep respect for the role of science.

Three essential areas that our Catholic community is being called to being involved in:

1) to advocate, a local, national and global level, to advocate for the common good. We know that faith if done well, actually enriches public life. And we know that technology tells us what we can do, but we need moral voices that tell us what we should do

2) [the video cut out at this point so I'm afraid I missed his second point]

3) The use of our resources, in whole we build buildings, should honour the Earth

Here's the Pope himself on that issue of what we leave future generations:

Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.

We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet's capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.

Summary

Updated at 2.21pm BST

1.20pm BST08:20

World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said:
Today's release of Pope Francis' first encyclical should serve as a stark reminder to all of us of the intrinsic link between climate change and poverty. We know the scientific, business and economic case for action to combat climate change and I welcome the pope's emphasis on our moral obligation to act.

He added:

The pope's encyclical comes at a pivotal moment in the lead up to December's Paris meeting on climate change.

1.06pm BST08:06

Here's some more reaction from religious groups, who say people should heed the Pope's call to action.

Dr Guillermo Kerber of the World Council of Churches, which has previously promised to rule out future investments in fossil fuels, said:

The World Council of Churches welcomes Pope Francis' encyclical which catalyses what churches and ecumenical organizations have been doing for decades on caring for the earth and climate justice issues. By affirming human induced climate change and its impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable communities, the Encyclical is an important call to urgently act as individuals, citizens and also at the international level to effectively respond to the climate crisis.

Dr. Steven Timmermans, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, said:

We affirm Pope Francis' moral framing of the threats posed by climate change. We have too many brothers and sisters around the world living on the edge of poverty whose livelihoods are threatened-and too many little ones in our congregations set to inherit a dangerously broken world-to believe otherwise. For too long the church has been silent about the moral travesty of climate change. Today, the Pope has said, 'Enough is enough,' and the Christian Reformed Church welcomes his voice.

Sister Pat McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said:

We welcome Pope Francis' critique of the current, dominant economic model that prioritizes the market, profit and unharnessed consumption and regards Earth as a resource to be exploited.

Updated at 3.49pm BST

1.02pm BST08:02

Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the US-based Evangelical Environmental Network, which lobbies American politicians on environmental issues, welcomed the Pope's encyclical. He said:
It's time to make hope happen by fuelling the unstoppable clean energy transition, stopping the ideological battles, and working together.

Creating a new energy economy that benefits all and addresses climate change is not about a political party but living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We urge all people of good will, especially fellow Christian conservatives to read and study these timely words from Pope Francis.

12.55pm BST07:55

The New York Times' Justin Gillis says (fairly, in my opinion) that the Pope is more cautious on the science behind climate change than many scientists.
...amid all his soaring rhetoric, did the pope get the science right?

The short answer from climate and environmental scientists is that he did, at least to the degree possible in a religious document meant for a broad audience. If anything, they say, he may have bent over backward to offer a cautious interpretation of the scientific facts.

For example, a substantial body of published science says that human emissions have caused all the global warming that has occurred over the past century. Yet in his letter, Francis does not go quite that far, citing volcanoes, the sun and other factors that can influence the climate before he concludes that "most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases" released mainly by human activity.

The world's most authoritative body on climate science, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found in its landmark report last year that global warming is "unequivocal" and humanity's role in causing it is "clear".

12.47pm BST07:47

The Pope is surprisingly specific on what he does like, and sees as part of the solutions to climate change.

For instance, he name-checks energy storage, something that Tesla's Elon Musk made waves with over his recent announcement of a home battery, and is seen in some quarters as important to help alleviate the intermittent nature of some renewable power.

Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies.

And he likes community green energy schemes, akin to one in a UK village that was the site of the country's biggest anti-fracking protests but now hopes to build a sizeable solar power installation:

In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.

12.16pm BST07:16

Bob Perciasepe of US thinktank Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, has blogged on the unique role the Pope can play in the climate change arena and how he might influence American minds:
Scientists, environmentalists, politicians, business executives, and military leaders have all raised concerns for years about the real risks of climate change. But few individuals are as influential as the pope. By calling on people to act on their conscience, Pope Francis provides a powerful counterpoint to what has become a largely ideologically-driven debate, especially here in the United States.

12.12pm BST07:12

Nicholas Stern, the economist and author of an influential report on climate change, said the encyclical was of "enormous significance".
The publication of the Pope's encyclical is of enormous significance. He has shown great wisdom and leadership. Pope Francis is surely absolutely right that climate change raises vital moral and ethical issues. It is poor people around the world who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as an intensification of extreme weather events. And the decisions that we make about managing the risks of climate change matter not only for us, but also for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

He added:

Moral leadership on climate change from the Pope is particularly important because of the failure of many heads of state and government around the world to show political leadership.

And here's what the Pope himself says about world leaders' failure to act on climate change and environmental problems:

Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.

Updated at 12.12pm BST

12.09pm BST07:09

John Hooper

The pope's effort to sever the link between population growth and environmental deterioration should not, however, detract from the importance of what else he has to say. This is the first encyclical to be devoted entirely to environmental issues, though it is certainly not the first time a pope has spoken out on the destruction of the environment.

As the encyclical notes, Paul VI first raised the issue as long ago as 1971, describing it as a "tragic consequence" of uncontrolled human activity. Saint John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI, inveighed against mankind's ill-treatment of nature – or as they viewed it, creation.

Far more explicitly than his predecessors, however, Francis heaps the blame on to the part of humanity that is rich. He accepts that the poorer nations should "acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and combat corruption more effectively." They ought also to develop less pollutant sources of energy.

12.00pm BST07:00

The Pope suggests that you can't care about nature and support abortion, which the Catholic church strongly opposes:
Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?

The other elephant in the room is birth control and overpopulation, though the Pope seems to have anticipated criticism on that. He takes the line, supported by many environmentalists, that consumption is the problem, not overpopulation. The encyclical says:

To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.

Updated at 1.14pm BST

11.56am BST06:56

The head of the UN's environment programme, Achim Steiner, has echoed the UN's climate chief in saying today's text should be a clarion call for action.
This encyclical is a clarion call that resonates not only with Catholics, but with all of the Earth's peoples. Science and religion are aligned on this matter: The time to act is now.

We (UNEP) share Pope Francis' view that our response to environmental degradation and climate change cannot only be defined by science, technology or economics, but is also a moral imperative. We must not overlook that the world's poorest and most vulnerable suffer most from the changes we are seeing. Humanity's environmental stewardship of the planet must recognise the interests of both current and future generations.

Updated at 12.02pm BST

11.53am BST06:53

The Pope on biodiversity loss, GM and more

On the loss of species and ecosystems

Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.

...

a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

On GM
It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM) ... The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application ... This is a complex environmental issue
On water quality
One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances.
On fossil fuels
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions.

Updated at 11.58am BST

11.49am BST06:49

At the Vatican press conference, Peter Turkson, a Ghanian cardinal of the Catholic church, says US climate sceptics are entitled to their view.

"The other big thing about Republicans and presidential figures saying they will not listen to the Pope is that is their freedom, their freedom of choice," he said, in an apparent reference to Jeb Bush (see 11:21).

He said "it's easy to say because the Pope is not a scientist he shouldn't talk about science", and said "I would not attach much credibility" to those criticisms.

11.42am BST06:42

At 1.30pm BST, Donald William Wuerl, one of five cardinals who lead the US archdiocese, will be holding a press conference on the encyclical. I'll try to summarise some of it here on the blog.

11.39am BST06:39

The pontiff included a personal handwritten note in his communication. It ended with a plea for help: "United in the lord, and please do not forget to pray for me."
- Rocco Palmo (@roccopalmo) June 18, 2015

"In bond of unity, charity and peace," Pope entrusts #LaudatoSi to world's bishops w/ personal note, asks prayers: pic.twitter.com/bJ9fXGvbnC

11.37am BST06:37

On technology and business

One recurring motif throughout the encyclical is a general scepticism or outright hostility to technological solutions to environmental challenges, and to the role that big business should play in tackling climate change.

For example:

Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others

...

To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

He doesn't like carbon trading either. In this passage he seems to be referring to the only current global carbon trading scheme, the CDM:

The strategy of buying and selling "carbon credits" can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.

And some sections sound like they could have been ghostwritten by Guardian columnist George Monbiot:

Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations?

11.33am BST06:33

The Pope isn't just concerned about climate change. He has some very colourful turns of phrase about other environmental problems, such as pollution and waste:
The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.

11.31am BST06:31

The Pope on climate change and the science

Here's the English version of the encyclical on the Vatican's site.

The Pope makes reference to the huge body of work by national science academies and international bodies such as the IPCC on climate science:

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.

He warns of serious consequences if we don't act on climate change:

If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.

As many studies have already pointed out, the Pope notes that the world's poor are expected to suffer most from global warming:

It [climate change] represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.

11.28am BST06:28

Suzanne Goldenberg

Suzanne Goldenberg

The message brought an outpouring of support from environmental groups, climate scientists, and leaders of all religions, eager to counter a series of pre-emptive attacks on the Pope from conservatives.

The response was a first glimpse of a vast and highly organised mobilisation effort around the letter visit, and a papal visit to the US in September.

The Pope will get an another chance to exhort leaders to act – this time in person – when he addresses both houses of Congress.

With that high profile visit in mind, campaigners argued the Pope's intervention had re-set the parameters of the discussion surrounding climate change, from narrow political agenda to broader morality. The Pope's message was above religion, they said.

"The Pope's message applies to all of us," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "He is imploring people of good will everywhere to honour our moral obligation to protect future generations from the dangers of further climate chaos by embracing our ethical duty to act," she said.

Cafod, the Catholic charity went so far as to suggest that that was the Pope's design all along.

"The Pope has deliberately released the encyclical in a year of key UN moments that will affect humanity," said Neil Thomas, director of advocacy. "He is reading the signs of his times and telling us that the human and environmental costs of our current way of life are simply too high."

Ray Bradley, the climate scientist, said: "He has no political agenda. He speaks from the heart (not the Heartland) with unimpeachable moral authority. Who else can address this issue without the taint of politics? Moreover, Pope Francis has a particular responsibility to those without a voice at the centres of power in affluent countries.

But the Pope's message is expected to resonate most strongly among the environmental campaigners operating within the Church.

For activist priests and nuns, who have lobbied oil companies and called on their own parishes to divest, the encyclical puts the Vatican's stamp of approval on years of effort, often at the sidelines.

That on its own has galvanised campaigners, said Sister Joan Brown, a Franciscan in New Mexico who has worked on climate change for more than 20 years.

"I've never seen anything like this in the faith community or otherwise," she said.

The pope's message set off a flood of new activity that has been more than a year in the planning.

In deference to the Pope, mainstream environmental groups will be operating in the background.

"We've been asking environmental groups to hold back on this...so that the message isn't one that would maybe cause more polarisation, rather than less," Sister Joan said.

But the Catholic church – and activist wings among other religious communities – are jumping in to try and amplify thePope's message and build momentum for action on climate.

The archbishop's office in Atlanta signed up scientists and engineers to help parishes, and parishioners, reduce their carbon footprint. The Bishop of Des Moines is planning to hold a press conference at a wind farm.

The Evangelical Environmental Network also came out strongly behind the Pope.

More than 300 rabbis signed on to a letter calling on Jewish institutions and individuals to divest from "carbon Pharaohs" or coal-based electric power, and buy wind power instead.

Updated at 11.48am BST

11.27am BST06:27

Observers of the climate talks and Christian, development and environment groups have warmly welcomed the Pope's encyclical.

Former UN general secretary Kofi Annan, said:

As Pope Francis reaffirms, climate change is an all-encompassing threat: it is a threat to our security, our health, and our sources of fresh water and food ... I applaud the Pope for his strong moral and ethical leadership. We need more of such inspired leadership. Will we see it at the climate summit in Paris?

Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's deputy chief executive, said:

The Pope is right – climate change is a problem for all of humanity that is hitting the world's poorest hardest. His words could and should add real urgency to efforts to protect people and planet. World leaders meeting at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year should be in no doubt that the world expects them to put aside short-term national interest and move us all closer to a safer and more prosperous future.

Andrew Steer, president and chief executive of the US-based World Resources Institute:

The pope's message brings moral clarity that the world's leaders must come together to address this urgent human challenge. This message adds to the global drumbeat of support for urgent climate action. Top scientists, economists, business leaders and the pope can't all be wrong.

Updated at 11.54am BST

11.21am BST06:21

The encyclical is unimpressed by those who deny the science of climate change:
regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions.

The pushback from Republican and the rest of the US right, where climate scepticism is a badge of honour, has already begun. Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, said yesterday: "I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope."

And as our US environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg found out last week at a gathering of US climate sceptics, the Pope's encyclical is at the top of their list of concerns.

Suzanne Goldenberg visits the Heartland Institute's conference in Washington, an annual gathering of climate sceptics, to hear what delegates – including US senator James Inhofe and blogger Marc Morano – think about the Pope's encyclical on the environment and climate change

11.14am BST06:14

The Pope has invited his 6m Twitter followers to take notice of his encyclical today, too:
- Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015

I invite all to pause to think about the challenges we face regarding care for our common home. #LaudatoSi

As a mock movie trailer for the encyclical put it earlier this week, he's "an easy man to follow and a hard man to silence".

11.12am BST06:12

The Pope on UN climate talks

Christiana Figueres, the UN's climate chief, says the Pope's intervention should act as a "clarion call" for a strong deal at Paris:

Pope Francis' encyclical underscores the moral imperative for urgent action on climate change to lift the planet's most vulnerable populations, protect development, and spur responsible growth. This clarion call should guide the world towards a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year. Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now.
Christiana Figueres. Photograph: Martin Godwin/Martin Godwin

But the Pope isn't very impressed by more than 20 years of UN climate talks. He says the annual summits have produced "regrettably few" advances on efforts to cut carbon emissions and rein in global warming. The encyclical says:

It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.
I've just uploaded the English version of the encyclical on Scribd. I'll be posting some of the highlights here on the live blog shortly.

11.02am BST06:02

John Schellnhuber, Angela Merkel's climate adviser and a leading climate change scientist, is punning his way through a presentation at the encyclical's launch, "praying" his Powerpoint will work.

Of the encyclical, he said:

it is very unique in the sense that it brings together two strong powers in the world, namely faith and moral and on the other reason and ingenuity. It's an environmental crisis but also a social crisis. These two things together pose an enormouse challenge. Only if these two things work together, faith and reason, can we overcome it

10.58am BST05:58

A spokesman for the Vatican told a packed press conference in the Vatican audience hall this morning that in his 25 years there he has worked there, he has never seen as much prolonged, global and intense anticipation for a single document, AP reports.

The press conference is being live-streamed on YouTube:

10.54am BST05:54

At 11am the Vatican will publish the Pope's long-awaited encyclical on the environment, following its leak earlier this week by an Italian magazine.

The more-than-100 page text is wide-ranging, majoring on climate change, but also touching on pollution, biodiversity loss, the oceans, man's modern relationship with nature, the dangers of relying on the markets and technology, and overconsumption.

In case you're wondering what an encyclical is, our southern Europe editor John Hooper, has a great Q&A here on their history and the importance the documents carry.

The more than 190 countries involved in the international climate change will be keenly watching the text too – it could have a big impact on the talks ahead of a major summit in Paris later this year.

Updated at 1.32pm BST

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