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Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium as a manifest of Christian Populism

Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013

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Quotes

... 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.


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[Jun 23, 2019] It never stops to amaze me how the US neoliberals especially of Republican variety claims to be Christian

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan? ..."
"... Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite. ..."
"... And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there. ..."
"... A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

JohannesL , Mar 6, 2012

It never stops to amaze me how the American Republican Right claims to be Christian. Have you noticed that they NEVER quote the words of Jesus Christ? I don't blame them, Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan?

Dirty words all. Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite.

If Jesus came to the US today, he would not like Republicans and they would not like him. Santorum, Palin, Limbaugh etc. would strap him to the electric chair and pull the lever if they could, no doubt.

And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there.

acorn7817 -> PeaceGrenade , 6 Mar 2012 06:21

The most bizarre aspect of the rights infatuation with Ayn Rand is that she was an ardent Atheist who's beliefs are diametrically opposite to those of Jesus & the Bible.

A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded.

richmanchester -> anindefinitearticle , 6 Mar 2012 05:40

"the only way you're gonna be able to sleep at night (and go to heaven in the afterlife) is to believe that the system has some moral justification based on the laws of nature"

I think this is one of the drivers in the shift from Catholicism to Protestanism, especially in Northern Europe.

For Medieval Catholics everyone was where God had put them, so the rich were rich and the poor poor as part of Gods plan, and anyone trying to change it was going against God.

Which is handy if you are a Baron or Bishop living the high life surrounded my thousands of starving peasants (having armed retainers also helped).

Come the industrial revolution and the rise of the business and trade classes that's not so appealing, so now God rewards the virtuous and hard working, who naturally rise to the top.

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
"... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
"... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
"... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
"... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
"... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
"... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
"... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
"... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

Worrisome Numbers

Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

The Economics of Stress

This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

The Race Enigma

One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

Trump's Faux Populism

The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

obese cracker

You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

[Apr 27, 2019] What are the main differences between religion and ideology - Quora

Apr 27, 2019 | www.quora.com

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Christopher Story Lives in Hawai'i 25.3k answer views 788 this month Christopher Story Christopher Story Answered Sep 1 2015 · Author has 64 answers and 25.3k answer views One could say that an ideology is a religion if and only if it is theocratic, but I find Yuval Harari's understanding of religion less arbitrary and more compelling.

"Religion is any system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in superhuman laws. Religion tells us that we must obey certain laws that were not invented by humans, and that humans cannot change at will. Some religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, believe that these super-human laws were created by the gods. Other religions, such as Buddhism, Communism and Nazism, believe that these super-human laws are natural laws. Thus Buddhists believe in the natural laws of karma, Nazis argued that their ideology reflected the laws of natural selection, and Communists believe that they follow the natural laws of economics. No matter whether they believe in divine laws or in natural laws, all religions have exactly the same function: to give legitimacy to human norms and values, and to give stability to human institutions such as states and corporations. Without some kind of religion, it is simply impossible to maintain social order. During the modern era religions that believe in divine laws went into eclipse. But religions that believe in natural laws became ever more powerful. In the future, they are likely to become more powerful yet. Silicon Valley, for example, is today a hot-house of new techno-religions, that promise humankind paradise here on earth with the help of new technology."

[Apr 27, 2019] Angry Bear " Free Speech, Safety and the Triumph of Neoliberalism

Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

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  1. likbez , April 27, 2019 12:07 am

    My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

    Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And to the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

    It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly help) .

    Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development.

    Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime") .

    And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states 😉

    Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

    That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prices and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be first class theologian .

    Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

    Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

    This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

    Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

    That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Apr 27, 2019] Why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally

Highly recommended!
Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And into the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing and arming Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly helped) .

Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development. Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime" ;-) .

And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states ;-)

Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prizes and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be the first class theologian .

Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions.

that's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Apr 04, 2019] Neoliberals are no Christians

Apr 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Anja Böttcher , says: April 3, 2019 at 7:56 am GMT

@Anon You are no Christians. USAism and all radical Protestantism is abusing the surface of Christianity for satanic anti-Christianity.

There is no Christianity but what is rooted in the old and everlasting Church of which Christ is the Head in the Holy Spirit, as laid in apostle's hands and transferred by Church fathers.

Christianity is genuinely collectivist, it has nothing to do with the perverted individualism of Anglosaxon background and does not agree with the inherent nihilistic energy of capitalism.

... ... ...

[Feb 13, 2019] The return of Weimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..

This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.

Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.

... ... ...

There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.

We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.

We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.

People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.

We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.

And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.

As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game.

"Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.

Are you not entertained?

[Feb 11, 2019] Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, cutting morality, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior.

Notable quotes:
"... The "New World Order" is responsible for what is happening. In this new religion, you have the grand priests (the elite to be found in Davos) and the common. They don't want to see that the diversity of the common is the main source of the creativity of the human species. Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior. ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jean de Peyrelongue , says: Website February 3, 2019 at 10:42 am GMT

The "New World Order" is responsible for what is happening. In this new religion, you have the grand priests (the elite to be found in Davos) and the common. They don't want to see that the diversity of the common is the main source of the creativity of the human species. Furthermore, the previous religious systems, even if they were packed with big lies, never cut the link between people and the sky. Today, in cutting this link, they have reduced people to a level even below the animal state since with the intelligence, human behavior can be worse than most animals' behavior.

This human sickness is now pandemic and to save humanity will require some kind of a tsunami. Nobody today wants to loose anything, and in doing so everybody is just pushing the system down the drain.

Another point: families, clans, nations are structures allowing people to develop roots. They are not the causes of war but it is true that these structures can be manipulated to generate wars in the interest of some "elite" (the poor get killed and the elite, gets richer). Reconciliation between people does not require to erase structures but to eliminate the bad guys manipulating them (the Jihadists, the terrorists and their Bosses which are today mostly in Washington, Wall Street and Riyadh)

Justsaying , says: February 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@apollonian

and essence of Christianity and Christian civilization is reason and objective reality, necessary basis of TRUTH (= Christ)

My goodness! The essence of any religion -- - basically a mix of unsubstantiated superstition and blind faith depending on no verifiable evidence -- - to be equated with reason and objective reality, phenomena more aligned with the scientific method and culture is patently absurd. And to quote a book written when the earth was still thought a flat, anthropocentric mass and stars perched in the heavens as glittering divine ornaments? I rest my case.

[Feb 08, 2019] Snyder 'One World Religion' Looms As Pope Islam's Top Imam Sign Historic Covenant

Feb 08, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Snyder: 'One World Religion' Looms As Pope & Islam's Top Imam Sign Historic Covenant

by Tyler Durden Thu, 02/07/2019 - 20:45 391 SHARES Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

A historic interfaith covenant was signed in the Middle East on Monday, and the mainstream media in the United States has been almost entirely silent about it.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is considered to be the most important imam in Sunni Islam, and he arrived at the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi with Pope Francis "hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood" . But this wasn't just a ceremony for Catholics and Muslims. According to a British news source , the signing of this covenant was done "in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths"...

The pope and the grand imam of al-Azhar have signed a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races, in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam , Judaism and other faiths.

Pope Francis , the leader of the world's Catholics, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam's most prestigious seat of learning, arrived at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood.

In other words, there was a concerted effort to make sure that all of the religions of the world were represented at this gathering.

According to the official Vatican website , a tremendous amount of preparation went in to the drafting of this document, and it encourages believers from all religions "to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray" with one another

The document, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, was prepared "with much reflection and prayer", the Pope said. The one great danger at this moment, he continued, is "destruction, war, hatred between us." "If we believers are not able to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray, our faith will be defeated", he said. The Pope explained that the document "is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace; it condemns all destruction, all terrorism, from the first terrorism in history, that of Cain."

There is a lot of language about peace in this document, but it goes way beyond just advocating for peace.

Over and over again, the word "God" is used to simultaneously identify Allah and the God of Christianity. Here is just one example

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

On top of that, the document also boldly declares that "the diversity of religions" that we see in the world was "willed by God"

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;

In essence, this is saying that it is the will of God that there are hundreds of different religions in the world and that they are all acceptable in His sight.

We know that the elite want a one world religion , but to see the most important clerics from both Catholicism and Islam make such a dramatic public push for it is absolutely stunning.

You can find the full text of the covenant that they signed on the official Vatican website . I have also reproduced the entire document below...

* * *

INTRODUCTION

Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.

This transcendental value served as the starting point for several meetings characterized by a friendly and fraternal atmosphere where we shared the joys, sorrows and problems of our contemporary world. We did this by considering scientific and technical progress, therapeutic achievements, the digital era, the mass media and communications. We reflected also on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.

From our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.

DOCUMENT

In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;

In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;

In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and of means;

In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice; in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;

In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;

In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal;

In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;

In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free and distinguishing them by this gift;

In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith;

In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world;

In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.

This Declaration, setting out from a profound consideration of our contemporary reality, valuing its successes and in solidarity with its suffering, disasters and calamities, believes firmly that among the most important causes of the crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.

While recognizing the positive steps taken by our modern civilization in the fields of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed countries, we wish to emphasize that, associated with such historic advancements, great and valued as they are, there exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. All this contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation and desperation leading many to fall either into a vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or collective self-destruction.

History shows that religious extremism, national extremism and also intolerance have produced in the world, be it in the East or West, what might be referred to as signs of a "third world war being fought piecemeal". In several parts of the world and in many tragic circumstances these signs have begun to be painfully apparent, as in those situations where the precise number of victims, widows and orphans is unknown. We see, in addition, other regions preparing to become theatres of new conflicts, with outbreaks of tension and a build-up of arms and ammunition, and all this in a global context overshadowed by uncertainty, disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow-minded economic interests.

We likewise affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth – have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and deceased persons. This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.

It is clear in this context how the family as the fundamental nucleus of society and humanity is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them, educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic security. To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt or to doubt its important role, is one of the most threatening evils of our era.

We affirm also the importance of awakening religious awareness and the need to revive this awareness in the hearts of new generations through sound education and an adherence to moral values and upright religious teachings. In this way we can confront tendencies that are individualistic, selfish, conflicting, and also address radicalism and blind extremism in all its forms and expressions.

The first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it. He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and has granted us the gift of life to protect it. It is a gift that no one has the right to take away, threaten or manipulate to suit oneself. Indeed, everyone must safeguard this gift of life from its beginning up to its natural end. We therefore condemn all those practices that are a threat to life such as genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion and euthanasia. We likewise condemn the policies that promote these practices.

Moreover, we resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion. This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression. We ask this on the basis of our common belief in God who did not create men and women to be killed or to fight one another, nor to be tortured or humiliated in their lives and circumstances. God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.

This Document, in accordance with previous International Documents that have emphasized the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world peace, upholds the following:

– The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people so that future generations may be protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on the force of law;

– Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;

– Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right;

– Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity;

– Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for. It also means avoiding unproductive discussions;

– The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law;

– Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions;

– The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against;

– Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other's culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue. The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West, avoiding the politics of double standards;

– It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights;

– The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence and all violations of their youth;

– The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.

To this end, by mutual cooperation, the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar announce and pledge to convey this Document to authorities, influential leaders, persons of religion all over the world, appropriate regional and international organizations, organizations within civil society, religious institutions and leading thinkers. They further pledge to make known the principles contained in this Declaration at all regional and international levels, while requesting that these principles be translated into policies, decisions, legislative texts, courses of study and materials to be circulated.

Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed and of the least of our brothers and sisters.

In conclusion, our aspiration is that:

this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will;

this Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions;

this Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul;

this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another.

This is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.

Abu Dhabi, 4 february 2019

NiggaPleeze , 3 minutes ago link

It's not One World Religion, for crying out loud. It's actually a great statement. The Pope is trying to protect Christians living in Muslim or Jewish lands and the Iman Muslims living in Christian or Jewish lands. If there were a Rabbi signing it, he would have wanted to protect Jews living in Christian lands (and possibly Muslim lands but frankly I think Jews are happy to have all Mideast Jews driven to Israel so I don't think they currently care much about that).

One World Religion requires the same religion for everyone. Secular humanism is the One World Religion. It is sold as actually not being a religion, the better to fool the masses. But it is entirely a religion. And the Beast will rise from Secular Humanism, as will the Mark of the Beast.

Christianity will definitely not be part of the One World Religion.

[Feb 03, 2019] Neoliberalism and Christianity

Highly recommended!
Money quote: " neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large, and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism."
Notable quotes:
"... ... if you take the Bible literally, it's the fight in almost all of the early books of the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, all about the fight over indebtedness and debt cancellation. ..."
"... neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large,and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism. ..."
"... They call themselves free marketers, but they realize that you cannot have neoliberalism unless you're willing to murder and assassinate everyone who promotes an alternative ..."
"... Just so long as you remember that most of the strongest and most moving condemnations of greed and money in the ancient and (today) western world are also Jewish--i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, the Gospels, Letter of James, etc. ..."
"... The history of Jewish banking after the fall or Rome is inextricable from cultural anti-judaism of Christian west and east and de facto marginalization/ghettoization of Jews from most aspects of social life. The Jewish lending of money on interest to gentiles was both necessary for early mercantilist trade and yet usury was prohibited by the church. So Jewish money lenders were essential to and yet ostracized within European economies for centuries. ..."
"... Now Christianity has itself long given up on the tradition teaching against usury of course. ..."
"... In John, for instance most of the references to what in English is translated as "the Jews" are in Greek clearly references to "the Judaeans"--and especially to the ruling elite among the southern tribe in bed with the Romans. ..."
May 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 1, 2018 2:27:06 PM | 13

Just finished reading the fascinating Michael Hudson interview I linked to on previous thread; but since we're discussing Jews and their religion in a tangential manner, I think it appropriate to post here since the history Hudson explains is 100% key to the ongoing pain us humans feel and inflict. My apologies in advance, but it will take this long excerpt to explain what I mean:

"Tribes: When does the concept of a general debt cancellation disappear historically?

"Michael: I guess in about the second or third century AD it was downplayed in the Bible. After Jesus died, you had, first of all, St Paul taking over, and basically Christianity was created by one of the most evil men in history, the anti-Semite Cyril of Alexandria. He gained power by murdering his rivals, the Nestorians, by convening a congress of bishops and killing his enemies. Cyril was really the Stalin figure of Christianity, killing everybody who was an enemy, organizing pogroms against the Jews in Alexandria where he ruled.

"It was Cyril that really introduced into Christianity the idea of the Trinity. That's what the whole fight was about in the third and fourth centuries AD. Was Jesus a human, was he a god? And essentially you had the Isis-Osiris figure from Egypt, put into Christianity. The Christians were still trying to drive the Jews out of Christianity. And Cyril knew the one thing the Jewish population was not going to accept would be the Isis figure and the Mariolatry that the church became. And as soon as the Christian church became the establishment rulership church, the last thing it wanted in the West was debt cancellation.

"You had a continuation of the original Christianity in the Greek Orthodox Church, or the Orthodox Church, all the way through Byzantium. And in my book And Forgive Them Their Debts, the last two chapters are on the Byzantine echo of the original debt cancellations, where one ruler after another would cancel the debts. And they gave very explicit reason for it: if we don't cancel the debts, we're not going to be able to field an army, we're not going to be able to collect taxes, because the oligarchy is going to take over. They were very explicit, with references to the Bible, references to the jubilee year. So you had Christianity survive in the Byzantine Empire. But in the West it ended in Margaret Thatcher. And Father Coughlin.

"Tribes: He was the '30s figure here in the States.

"Michael: Yes: anti-Semite, right-wing, pro-war, anti-labor. So the irony is that you have the people who call themselves fundamentalist Christians being against everything that Jesus was fighting for, and everything that original Christianity was all about."

Hudson says debt forgiveness was one of the central tenets of Judaism: " ... if you take the Bible literally, it's the fight in almost all of the early books of the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, all about the fight over indebtedness and debt cancellation. "

Looks like I'll be purchasing Hudson's book as he's essentially unveiling a whole new, potentially revolutionary, historical interpretation.

psychohistorian , May 1, 2018 3:31:50 PM | 26
@ karlof1 with the Michale Hudson link....thanks!!

Here is the quote that I really like from that interview
"
Michael: No. You asked what is the fight about? The fight is whether the state will be taken over, essentially to be an extension of Wall Street if you do not have government planning. Every economy is planned. Ever since the Neolithic (era), you've had to have (a form of) planning. If you don't have a public authority doing the planning, then the financial authority becomes the planners. So globalism is in the financial interest –Wall Street and the City of London, doing the planning, not governments. They will do the planning in their own interest. So neoliberalism is the fight of finance to subdue society at large,and to make the bankers and creditors today in the position that the landlords were under feudalism.
"

karlof1, please email me as I would like to read the book as well and maybe we can share a copy.

And yes, it is relevant to Netanyahoo and his ongoing passel of lies because humanity has been told and been living these lives for centuries...it is time to stop this shit and grow up/evolve

james , May 1, 2018 10:30:01 PM | 96
@13 / 78 karlof1... thanks very much for the links to michael hudson, alastair crooke and the bruno maraces articles...

they were all good for different reasons, but although hudson is being criticized for glossing over some of his talking points, i think the main thrust of his article is very worthwhile for others to read! the quote to end his article is quite good "The question is, who do you want to run the economy? The 1% and the financial sector, or the 99% through politics? The fight has to be in the political sphere, because there's no other sphere that the financial interests cannot crush you on."

it seems to me that the usa has worked hard to bad mouth or get rid of government and the concept of government being involved in anything.. of course everything has to be run by a 'private corp' - ie corporations must run everything.. they call them oligarchs when talking about russia, lol - but they are corporations when they are in the usa.. slight rant..

another quote i especially liked from hudson.. " They call themselves free marketers, but they realize that you cannot have neoliberalism unless you're willing to murder and assassinate everyone who promotes an alternative ." that sounds about right...

@ 84 juliania.. aside from your comments on hudsons characterization of st paul "the anti-Semite Cyril of Alexandria" further down hudson basically does the same with father coughlin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin.. he gets the anti-semite tag as well.. i don't know much about either characters, so it's mostly greek to me, but i do find some of hudsons views especially appealing - debt forgiveness being central to the whole article as i read it...

it is interesting my own view on how money is so central to the world and how often times I am incapable of avoiding the observation of the disproportionate number of Jewish people in banking.. I guess that makes me anti-semite too, but i don't think of myself that way.. I think the obsession with money is killing the planet.. I don't care who is responsible for keeping it going, it is killing us...

WJ | May 1, 2018 10:48:58 PM | 100

James @96,

Just so long as you remember that most of the strongest and most moving condemnations of greed and money in the ancient and (today) western world are also Jewish--i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, the Gospels, Letter of James, etc.

The history of Jewish banking after the fall or Rome is inextricable from cultural anti-judaism of Christian west and east and de facto marginalization/ghettoization of Jews from most aspects of social life. The Jewish lending of money on interest to gentiles was both necessary for early mercantilist trade and yet usury was prohibited by the church. So Jewish money lenders were essential to and yet ostracized within European economies for centuries.

Now Christianity has itself long given up on the tradition teaching against usury of course.

WJ , May 1, 2018 8:23:40 PM | 88
Juliana @84,

I too greatly admire the work of Hudson but he consistently errs and oversimplifies whenever discussing the beliefs of and the development of beliefs among preNicene followers of the way (as Acts puts is) or Christians (as they came to be known in Antioch within roughly eight or nine decades after Jesus' death.) Palestinian Judaism in the time of Jesus was much more variegated than scholars even twenty years ago had recognized. The gradual reception and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in tandem with renewed research into Phili of Alexandria, the Essenes, the so-called Sons of Zadok, contemporary Galilean zealot movements styles after the earlier Maccabean resistance, the apocalyptism of post exilic texts like Daniel and (presumably) parts of Enoch--all paint a picture of a highly diverse group of alternatives to the state-Church once known as Second Temple Judaism that has been mistaken as undisputed Jewish "orthodoxy" since the advent of historical criticism.

The Gospel of John, for example, which dates from betweeen 80-120 and is the record of a much earlier oral tradition, is already explicitly binitarian, and possibly already trinitarian depending on how one understands the relationship between the Spirit or Advocate and the Son. (Most ante-Nicene Christians understood the Spirit to be *Christ's* own spirit in distributed form, and they did so by appeal to a well-developed but still largely under recognized strand in Jewish angelology.)

The "theological" development of Christianity occurred much sooner that it has been thought because it emerged from an already highly theologized strand or strands of Jewish teaching that, like Christianity itself, privileged the Abrahamic covenant over the Mosaic Law, the testament of grace over that of works, and the universal scope of revelation and salvation as opposed to any political or ethnic reading of the "Kingdom."

None of these groups were part of the ruling class of Judaean priests and levites and their hangers on the Pharisees.

In John, for instance most of the references to what in English is translated as "the Jews" are in Greek clearly references to "the Judaeans"--and especially to the ruling elite among the southern tribe in bed with the Romans.

So the anti-Judaism/Semiti of John's Gispel largely rests on a mistranslation. In any event, everything is much more complex than Hudson makes it out to be. Christian economic radicalism is alive and well in the thought of Gregory of Nysa and Basil the Great, who also happened to be Cappadocian fathers highly influential in the development of "orthodox" Trinitarianism in the fourth century.

I still think that Hudson's big picture critique of the direction later Christianity took is helpful and necessary, but this doesn't change the fact that he simplifies the origins, development, and arguably devolution of this movement whenever he tries to get specific. It is a worthwhile danger given the quality of his work in historical economics, but still one has to be aware of.

[Feb 03, 2019] Pope Francis denounces trickle-down economics by Aaron Blake

Highly recommended!
This "apostolic exhortation" is probably the most sharp critique of neoliberalism by a church leader.
Notable quotes:
"... "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," the pope wrote. "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." ..."
"... In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing. ..."
Nov 26, 2013 | www.washingtonpost.com

Pope Francis delivers a speech March 15, 2013, during a meeting of the world's cardinals. (Osservatore Romano/EPA)

Pope Francis has released a sharply worded take on capitalism and the world's treatment of its poor, criticizing "trickle-down" economic policies in no uncertain terms.

In the first lengthy writing of his papacy -- also known as an "apostolic exhortation" -- Francis says such economic theories naively rely on the goodness of those in charge and create a "tyranny" of the markets.

"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," the pope wrote. "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."

While popes have often warned against the negative impact of the markets, Francis's verbiage is note-worthy because of its use of the phrase "trickle-down" -- a term that came into popular usage as a description for former president Ronald Reagan's economic policies. While the term is often used pejoratively, it describes an economic theory that remains popular with conservatives in the United States today.

The theory holds that policies benefiting the wealthiest segment of society will also help the poor, by allowing money to "trickle down" from the top income levels into the lower ones. Critics, including President Obama, say the policies, usually focused on tax cuts and credits that primarily benefit upper-income Americans, concentrate wealth in the highest income levels and that the benefits rarely trickle down to the extent proponents suggest.

In his exhortation, the pope also attacked economic inequality, suggesting Christians have a duty to combat it to comply with the Ten Commandments -- specifically the prohibition on killing.

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

The pope also likened the worship of money to the biblical golden calf .

"We have created new idols," Francis wrote. "The worship of the ancient golden calf ... 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 pope also attacks "consumerism": "It is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric."

Here is the entire passage:

I. SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY'S WORLD

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

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

[Feb 03, 2019] Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World (24 November 2013)

Highly recommended!
Nov 23, 2013 | w2.vatican.va

... ... ...

CHAPTER TWO: AMID THE CRISIS OF COMMUNAL COMMITMENT

50. Before taking up some basic questions related to the work of evangelization, it may be helpful to mention briefly the context in which we all have to live and work. Today, we frequently hear of a "diagnostic overload" which is not always accompanied by improved and actually applicable methods of treatment. Nor would we be well served by a purely sociological analysis which would aim to embrace all of reality by employing an allegedly neutral and clinical method. What I would like to propose is something much more in the line of an evangelical discernment. It is the approach of a missionary disciple, an approach "nourished by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit". [53]

51. It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an "ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times". [54] This is in fact a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse. We need to distinguish clearly what might be a fruit of the kingdom from what runs counter to God's plan. This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil. I take for granted the different analyses which other documents of the universal magisterium have offered, as well as those proposed by the regional and national conferences of bishops. In this Exhortation I claim only to consider briefly, and from a pastoral perspective, certain factors which can restrain or weaken the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church, either because they threaten the life and dignity of God's people or because they affect those who are directly involved in the Church's institutions and in her work of evangelization.

I. Some challenges of today's world

52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people's welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an 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 "throw away" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

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. 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 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 to the 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 are 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. It 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.

Some cultural challenges

61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise. [56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.

62. In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated. This fact has been brought up by bishops from various continents in different Synods. The African bishops, for example, taking up the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis , pointed out years ago that there have been frequent attempts to make the African countries "parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel. This is often true also in the field of social communications which, being run by centres mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up". [57] By the same token, the bishops of Asia "underlined the external influences being brought to bear on Asian cultures. New patterns of behaviour are emerging as a result of over-exposure to the mass media As a result, the negative aspects of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family". [58]

63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.

64. The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, "there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom". [59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

65. Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.

66. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born "of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life". [60]

67. The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to "bear one another's burdens" ( Gal 6:2). Today too, various associations for the defence of rights and the pursuit of noble goals are being founded. This is a sign of the desire of many people to contribute to social and cultural progress.

[Feb 02, 2019] Pope Francis has some sensible things to say

Notable quotes:
"... Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. ..."
"... Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment. ..."
"... Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. ..."
"... The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when "the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations",[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning. ..."
Dec 16, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
December 16, 2016 at 07:48 AM
I'm an environmental scientist, not an economist, but it seems to me that Pope Francis has some sensible things to say, as in the following from Laudato si:

IV. POLITICS AND ECONOMY IN DIALOGUE FOR HUMAN FULFILMENT

189. Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery. The financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world. Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a value that does not necessarily correspond to their real worth. This frequently leads to an overproduction of some commodities, with unnecessary impact on the environment and with negative results on regional economies.[133] The financial bubble also tends to be a productive bubble. The problem of the real economy is not confronted with vigour, yet it is the real economy which makes diversification and improvement in production possible, helps companies to function well, and enables small and medium businesses to develop and create employment.

190. Here too, it should always be kept in mind that "environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces".[134] Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. 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? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.

191. Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term. If we look at the larger picture, we can see that more diversified and innovative forms of production which impact less on the environment can prove very profitable. It is a matter of openness to different possibilities which do not involve stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress, but rather directing that energy along new channels.

192. For example, a path of productive development, which is more creative and better directed, could correct the present disparity between excessive technological investment in consumption and insufficient investment in resolving urgent problems facing the human family. It could generate intelligent and profitable ways of reusing, revamping and recycling, and it could also improve the energy efficiency of cities. Productive diversification offers the fullest possibilities to human ingenuity to create and innovate, while at the same time protecting the environment and creating more sources of employment. Such creativity would be a worthy expression of our most noble human qualities, for we would be striving intelligently, boldly and responsibly to promote a sustainable and equitable development within the context of a broader concept of quality of life. On the other hand, to find ever new ways of despoiling nature, purely for the sake of new consumer items and quick profit, would be, in human terms, less worthy and creative, and more superficial.

193. In any event, if in some cases sustainable development were to involve new forms of growth, then in other cases, given the insatiable and irresponsible growth produced over many decades, we need also to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits and even retracing our steps before it is too late. We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity. That is why the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth. Benedict XVI has said that "technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency".[135]
194. For new models of progress to arise, there is a need to change "models of global development";[136] this will entail a responsible reflection on "the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications".[137] It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people's quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth. In this context, talk of sustainable growth usually becomes a way of distracting attention and offering excuses. It absorbs the language and values of ecology into the categories of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses often gets reduced to a series of marketing and image-enhancing measures.

195. The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when "the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations",[138] can those actions be considered ethical. An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning.

196. What happens with politics? Let us keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity, which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power. Today, it is the case that some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves. But economics without politics cannot be justified, since this would make it impossible to favour other ways of handling the various aspects of the present crisis. The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society. For "the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life".[139]

197. What is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. Often, politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies. If in a given region the state does not carry out its responsibilities, some business groups can come forward in the guise of benefactors, wield real power, and consider themselves exempt from certain rules, to the point of tolerating different forms of organized crime, human trafficking, the drug trade and violence, all of which become very difficult to eradicate. If politics shows itself incapable of breaking such a perverse logic, and remains caught up in inconsequential discussions, we will continue to avoid facing the major problems of humanity. A strategy for real change calls for rethinking processes in their entirety, for it is not enough to include a few superficial ecological considerations while failing to question the logic which underlies present-day culture. A healthy politics needs to be able to take up this challenge.

198. Politics and the economy tend to blame each other when it comes to poverty and environmental degradation. It is to be hoped that they can acknowledge their own mistakes and find forms of interaction directed to the common good. While some are concerned only with financial gain, and others with holding on to or increasing their power, what we are left with are conflicts or spurious agreements where the last thing either party is concerned about is caring for the environment and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Here too, we see how true it is that "unity is greater than conflict".[140]

[Feb 02, 2019] In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.
Notable quotes:
"... His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women." ..."
"... The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington. ..."
"... Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece . But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left. ..."
"... Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. ..."
"... Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor." ..."
"... Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff." ..."
"... In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night. ..."
"... It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush. ..."
"... The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy. ..."
"... "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment." ..."
"... "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government ..."
"... "What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. ..."
Jul 11, 2015 | msn.com

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay - His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women."

Having returned to his native Latin America, Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change. Francis escalated that line last week when he made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism - even as he called for a global movement against a "new colonialism" rooted in an inequitable economic order.

The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

The last pope who so boldly placed himself at the center of the global moment was John Paul II, who during the 1980s pushed the church to confront what many saw as the challenge of that era, communism. John Paul II's anti-Communist messaging dovetailed with the agenda of political conservatives eager for a tougher line against the Soviets and, in turn, aligned part of the church hierarchy with the political right.

Francis has defined the economic challenge of this era as the failure of global capitalism to create fairness, equity and dignified livelihoods for the poor - a social and religious agenda that coincides with a resurgence of the leftist thinking marginalized in the days of John Paul II. Francis' increasingly sharp critique comes as much of humanity has never been so wealthy or well fed - yet rising inequality and repeated financial crises have unsettled voters, policy makers and economists.

Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece. But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left.

Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

"I think the pope is singing to the music that's already in the air," said Robert A. Johnson, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which was financed with $50 million from Mr. Soros. "And that's a good thing. That's what artists do, and I think the pope is sensitive to the lack of legitimacy of the system."

Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor."

Mr. Schneck, of Catholic University, said it was as if Francis were saying, "We've been talking about these things for more than one hundred years, and nobody is listening."

Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff."

Francis made his speech on Wednesday night, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before nearly 2,000 social advocates, farmers, trash workers and neighborhood activists. Even as he meets regularly with heads of state, Francis has often said that change must come from the grass roots, whether from poor people or the community organizers who work with them. To Francis, the poor have earned knowledge that is useful and redeeming, even as a "throwaway culture" tosses them aside. He sees them as being at the front edge of economic and environmental crises around the world.

In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night.

It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush.

"I wish Francis would focus on positives, on how a free-market economy guided by an ethical framework, and the rule of law, can be a part of the solution for the poor - rather than just jumping from the reality of people's misery to the analysis that a market economy is the problem," said the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which advocates free-market economics.

Francis' sharpest critics have accused him of being a Marxist or a Latin American Communist, even as he opposed communism during his time in Argentina. His tour last week of Latin America began in Ecuador and Bolivia, two countries with far-left governments. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who wore a Che Guevara patch on his jacket during Francis' speech, claimed the pope as a kindred spirit - even as Francis seemed startled and caught off guard when Mr. Morales gave him a wooden crucifix shaped like a hammer and sickle as a gift.

Francis' primary agenda last week was to begin renewing Catholicism in Latin America and reposition it as the church of the poor. His apology for the church's complicity in the colonialist era received an immediate roar from the crowd. In various parts of Latin America, the association between the church and economic power elites remains intact. In Chile, a socially conservative country, some members of the country's corporate elite are also members of Opus Dei, the traditionalist Catholic organization founded in Spain in 1928.

Inevitably, Francis' critique can be read as a broadside against Pax Americana, the period of capitalism regulated by global institutions created largely by the United States. But even pillars of that system are shifting. The World Bank, which long promoted economic growth as an end in itself, is now increasingly focused on the distribution of gains, after the Arab Spring revolts in some countries that the bank had held up as models. The latest generation of international trade agreements includes efforts to increase protections for workers and the environment.

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.

Mr. Piketty roiled the debate among mainstream economists, yet Francis' critique is more unnerving to some because he is not reframing inequality and poverty around a new economic theory but instead defining it in moral terms. "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment."

Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist, said that he saw Francis as making a nuanced point about capitalism, embodied by his coinage of a "social mortgage" on accumulated wealth - a debt to the society that made its accumulation possible. Mr. Hanauer said that economic elites should embrace the need for reforms both for moral and pragmatic reasons. "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government policies like a higher minimum wage.

Yet what remains unclear is whether Francis has a clear vision for a systemic alternative to the status quo that he and others criticize. "All these critiques point toward the incoherence of the simple idea of free market economics, but they don't prescribe a remedy," said Mr. Johnson, of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Francis acknowledged as much, conceding on Wednesday that he had no new "recipe" to quickly change the world. Instead, he spoke about a "process of change" undertaken at the grass-roots level.

"What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. "You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands."

[Feb 02, 2019] Alliance of Vladimir Putin and The Russian Orthodox Church Against Neoliberalism

Religion is definitely a useful tool fight neoliberalism. Actually outside of far right and religious fundamentalists almost any tool that is useful for fighting neoliberalism should be viewed positively. Currently Catholicism opposes neoliberalism more actively and probably somewhat more successfully due to the statute of Pope Francis then Orthodox Church.
Notable quotes:
"... The conflict between Russia and the West, therefore, is portrayed by both the ROC and by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts as nothing less than a spiritual/civilizational conflict. ..."
May 21, 2015 | Forbes

Amidst the geopolitical confrontation between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin's international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role – and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized – than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia's current place in world affairs.

And while much attention has been paid to the growing authoritarianism of the Kremlin and on the support for Putin's regime on the part of the Russian oligarchs whom Putin has enriched through his crony capitalism, little has been paid to the equally critical role of the Russian Orthodox Church in helping to shape Russia's current system, and in supporting Putin's regime and publicly conflating the mission of the Russian state under Vladimir Putin's leadership with the mission of the Church. Putin's move in close coordination with the Russian Orthodox Church to sacralize the Russian national identity has been a key factor shaping the increasingly authoritarian bent of the Russian government under Putin, and strengthening his public support, and must be understood in order to understand Russia's international behavior.

The close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state based upon a shared, theologically-informed vision of Russian exceptionalism is not a new phenomenon. During the days of the Czar, the Russian ruler was seen as God's chosen ruler of a Russian nation tasked with representing a unique set of value embodied by Russian Orthodoxy, and was revered as "the Holy Orthodox Czar". Today, a not dissimilar vision of Russian exceptionalism is once again shared by the ROC and the Kremlin, and many Russians are beginning to see Vladimir Putin in a similar vein – a perception encouraged both by Putin and by the Church, each of which sees the other as a valuable political ally and sees their respective missions as being interrelated.

... ... ...

When Putin came to power he shrewdly noted the ROC's useful role in boosting nationalism and the fact that it shared his view of Russia's role in the world, and began to work toward strengthening the Church's role in Russian society. Early in his presidency the Russian Duma passed a law returning all church property seized during the Soviet era (which act alone made the ROC one of the largest landholders in Russia). Over the past decade and a half, Putin has ordered state-owned energy firms to contribute billions to the rebuilding of thousands of churches destroyed under the Soviets, and many of those rich oligarchs surrounding him are dedicated supporters of the ROC who have contributed to the growing influence of the church in myriad ways. Around 25,000 ROC churches have been built or rebuilt since the early 1990′s, the vast majority of which have been built during Putin's rule and largely due to his backing and that of those in his close circle of supporters. Additionally, the ROC has been given rights that have vastly increased its role in public life, including the right to teach religion in Russia's public schools and the right to review any legislation before the Russian Duma.

The glue that holds together the alliance between Vladimir Putin and the ROC, and the one that more than any other explains their mutually-supporting actions, is their shared, sacralized vision of Russian national identity and exceptionalism. Russia, according to this vision, is neither Western nor Asian, but rather a unique society representing a unique set of values which are believed to be divinely inspired. The Kremlin's chief ideologue in this regard is Alexander Dugin (see a good summary of the historical roots of Dugin's philosophy and of his impact on the Russian government here.) According to this vision of the relationship between church, state, and society, the state dominates, the ROC partnering with the state, and individuals and private organizations supporting both church and state. This has provided the ideological justification for Putin's crackdown on dissent, and the rationale behind the Church's cooperation with the Kremlin in the repression of civil society groups or other religious groups which have dissenting political views. And the ROC's hostility toward the activities in Russia of other religious groups have dovetailed with that of Putin, who views independent religious activity as a potential threat to his regime.

Internationally, Russia's mission is to expand its influence and authority until it dominates the Eurasian landmass, by means of a strong central Russian state controlling this vast territory and aligned with the ROC as the arm of the Russian nation exercising its cultural influence. This vision of Russian exceptionalism has met with broad resonance within Russia, which goes a long way to explaining Putin's sky high polling numbers. Putin has successfully been able both to transfer to himself the social trust placed by most Russians in the ROC and has also to wrap himself in the trappings of almost a patron saint of Russia. The conflict between Russia and the West, therefore, is portrayed by both the ROC and by Vladimir Putin and his cohorts as nothing less than a spiritual/civilizational conflict. If anyone thought Europe's wars over religion were finished in 1648, the current standoff with Russia illustrates that that is not the case.

[Feb 02, 2019] The globalization of the technocratic paradigm

Notable quotes:
"... The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. ..."
Jun 23, 2015 | EconoSpeak

From Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of the Holy Father Francis, On Care For Our Common Home:

The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed"

"The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.

They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behavior shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion. At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth."

[Feb 02, 2019] Pope Francis Calls for a 'Christian Populism' that Hears the People

Feb 02, 2019 | www.breitbart.com

Leaving aside his frequent criticisms of populism, Pope Francis called for a "Christian populism" during a visit to Sicily this weekend, insisting that true populism must listen to and serve the people.

"Be afraid of the deafness that fails to hear the people," Francis said during his homily at Mass in Palermo Saturday. "This is the only possible populism: listening to your people, the only Christian populism: listening to and serving the people, without shouting, accusing, or stirring up contentions."

Seeming to channel John F. Kennedy, the pope invited his hearers to take initiative rather than asking what the Church and society can do for them.

https://player.powr.com/iframe.html?account=100010177&player=743&domain=breitbart.com&terms=christian%20populism%20pope%20people%20francis%20calls%20for%20hears&uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2Fnational-security%2F2018%2F09%2F17%2Fpope-francis-calls-for-a-christian-populism-that-hears-and-serves-the-people%2F&c=1549146645895

"Wait not for the Church to do something for you, but begin yourself," Francis said. "Wait not for society to do it, do it yourself."

The pope's apparent openness to populism -- or at least a version of it -- marks a significant change from earlier discourses, in which Francis condemned populism, tying its rise to selfishness and egotism.

Last year, the pontiff warned of the perils of populism in western democracies, telling the German newspaper Die Zeit that "populism is evil and ends badly, as the past century showed."

In an anti-nationalist speech in March 2017, the pope told European heads of state that there is a need "to start thinking once again as Europeans so as to avert the opposite dangers of a dreary uniformity or the triumph of particularisms."

The European Union will only be lasting and successful if the common will of Europe "proves more powerful than the will of individual nations," Francis said, advocating for a stronger, consolidated Europe against the rising tide of populist movements.

Solidarity is "the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism," Pope Francis told the European Union leaders, Francis said, while denouncing nationalism as a modern form of selfishness.

The pontiff contrasted solidarity, which draw us "closer to our neighbors," with populism, which is "the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and 'looking beyond' their own narrow vision."

This past June, Pope Francis went further still, insisting that populism was not the solution to Europe's immigration crisis, just as Italy's new populist government was beginning to enact measures to curb illegal immigration.

In an interview with Reuters, the pope was asked what he thought the solution is to the immigration crisis that seems to be causing Europe to crumble.

"Populism is not the solution," Francis said emphatically, adding that Europe would disappear without migrants because no one is having children.

Summing up, the pope said that "populism does not solve the problem; what solves it is welcoming, studying, settling, and prudence, because prudence is a virtue of government and the government must reach an agreement. I can receive a certain number and settle them."

On Tuesday, the Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC) will begin a two-day joint conference in Rome on "Migration, Xenophobia and politically motivated Populism."

The WCC is partnering with the Vatican department for Promoting Integral Human Development in organizing the conference as part of ongoing work toward "peace-building and migration."

The secretary general of the WCC, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, said the meeting would be a "very useful and significant workshop to dig a bit deeper" into the problems of xenophobia as an expression of populism, as well as its links to racism, conflict, and violence in countries around the world.

[Feb 02, 2019] The Immorality and Brutal Violence of Extreme Greed

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly. ..."
"... #STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it. ..."
"... More; charitable foundations are not the same thing, in many cases, as true charity. Instead foundations often function as hoard preservers as well, and enrich their leadership too. ..."
"... After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more. ..."
"... Wealth on this scale has nothing to do with financial security or luxurious living. For the trivial, it is (as per D. Trump) a game and money is how you keep score. For the serious, it has to do with power, with the ability to affect other people's lives without their consent. That is why the Smaugs' wealth is absolutely our business. It should be understood that we're talking about taking very large amounts of money and power away from very rich people, people for whom money and power are pretty much the only things they value. It will not be pretty. ..."
"... If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves. ..."
"... A more modern similarity of the US is Rome. Vassals have been going full retard for several years now, traitors sell international competitors military secrets while the biggest merchants buy off the Senate. ..."
"... Isn't there an idiom about cutting off the head of the snake? Once you deal with the strongest opponents, it's easier to go after the others. Too big to fail is nothing short of feeding the beast. ..."
"... I disagree strongly with your premise that some sort of pure and natural meritocracy has ever existed, or could ever exist in human society. Corrupt and oppressive people will always define as "meritorious" those qualities that they themselves possess– whether wealth, "gentle birth," "technical skills," or whatever. We all possess the same merit of being human. ..."
"... Meritocracy is not the same as recognizing greater and lesser degrees of competence in various activities. It is absurd to deny that some are more skillful at some things than others. Assigning the relative "merit" to various competencies is what I find objectionable. ..."
"... Encouraging ethical behavior has nothing to do with ranking the "merit" levels of different occupations. While some occupations are inherently unethical, like that of an assassin, most can be performed in such a way as to do no harm to others, and some are nearly always beneficial to society at large. ..."
Jul 22, 2016 | Naked Capitalism

... ... ...

By #SlayTheSmaugs, an elected Bernie delegate in Philly.

#STS believes that the billionaire class are Smaugs (the greed incarnate dragon of The Hobbit), immorally hoarding wealth for no reason beyond ego gratification. To "Slay" the Smaugs, we need a confiscatory wealth tax, stronger democratic institutions to impose it, and a shared moral agreement that #GreedIsEvil to justify it.

Worshiping Wealth

When Gordon Gekko proclaimed that 'Greed is Good' in 1987, it was an obvious rejection of several millennia of teachings by traditional prophets and priests. Yet when Gekko preached greed, he was merely reinforcing the current cultural norm; greed had already been rebranded a virtue. (Still, the speech was to remind us Gekko was a bad guy). Consider that Madonna had proclaimed herself a Material Girl three years earlier, and "Living Large" was cool. Conspicuous consumption is walking the talk that greed is good.

Why had greed become good? I blame the creation of a credit-fueled culture of constant consumption that necessarily praises coveting stuff, plus the dismantling of the regulatory state that had kept Wall Street and wannabe oligarchs in check.

Our healthy cultural adoration of the self-made man, of respect for success, warped into worship of the rich. They are not the same. Wealth can be inherited, stolen through fraud and other illegal activities, or harvested from bubbles; none of these or myriad other paths to riches is due respect, much less worship. Paired with another 80's definition-government is the problem-worshiping wealth facilitates all the dysfunction in our government.

Remembering Greed is Evil

Thirty years later, the old social norm-the one that protected the many from the few, the one that demonized greed as a deadly sin-is resurgent. We have a Pope who preaches against greed, and who walks his talk . We had a Presidential candidate of a major party-Bernie Sanders-who railed against those living embodiments of greed, the Billionaire Class, and walked his talk by rejecting their money. At the convention, he has invited delegates to four workshops, one of which is "One Nation Now: Winning the Fight Against Racism and Greed". We have a late night comedian-John Oliver- ridiculing the prosperity gospel and taking on the debt industry . We have mass consciousness rising, reflected in Occupy, the label "the 99%", BLM and more.

But we need more voices insisting #GreedIsEvil. We need to teach that basic message at home, in school, and in houses of worship. We need to send the right signals in our social interactions. We need to stop coveting stuff, and start buying with a purpose: Shopping locally, buying American, buying green and clean, and buying less. We need to waste less, share more and build community. We need to re-norm-alize greed as evil, make it shameful again. Then we will have redefined ourselves as citizens, not consumers.

But make no mistake: America cannot become a just nation simply by the 99% becoming more virtuous. The cultural shift is necessary but not sufficient, for norms alone do not deliver social and economic justice. Shame will not slay the Smaugs; we need structural change in the political economy.

Extreme greed, the greed of Smaugs, is categorically different than the petit greed underlying the irrational, constant consumption and the worship of wealth. Extreme greed manifests as a hoard of wealth so great that "purchasing power" is an irrelevant concept; a hoard so great it lacks any utility other than to be sat upon as a throne, gratifying the Smaug's ego and symbolizing his power. That greed must be understood as an intolerable evil, something so base and malevolent that the full power of the state must be used against it.

This essay is my contribution to the cause of returning extreme greed to its rightful place in the pantheon of ultimate evils. Here is the thesis: extreme greed must be 'slain' by the state because extreme greed is brutally violent.

The Stealth Violence of False Scarcity and "Cutting Corners"

Greed's violence is quiet and deadly: The violence of false scarcity and of "corner cutting". Scarcity is not having enough because there just isn't enough to go round, like the nearly 50 million people who don't reliably have food during the year, including 15 million kids. False scarcity is when actually, there's plenty to go around, but people generally don't have enough because of hoarders.

It's a concentrated version of what happened to pennies in 1999. People keeping pennies in piggy banks created a shortage felt throughout New York City . If only people had broken open their piggy banks, and used their pennies, there would have been plenty of pennies in circulation, and shopkeepers wouldn't lose money by rounding purchases down. In this piece, I'm focusing on false scarcity of dollars, not pennies, and the maiming and premature death that results from false dollar scarcity. But the idea is essentially the same; there's just far fewer relevant piggy banks.

By the quiet violence of 'corner cutting', I'm referring to unsafe, even deadly, workplaces that could be safe if the employers invested in safety.

Sporadically, greed also drives overt, and sometimes profoundly bloody violence to protect the hoard. Think of employer violence against unions and union organizers, a la Henry Ford , or John D. Rockefeller . Nonetheless in this country now, the violence of greed tends to be more covert. It is that quiet violence, in both forms, I want you to hear now.

As Sanders often reminds us, in this, the richest nation in the world, nearly 50 million people are living in poverty; roughly one in seven Americans. And as Sanders explained, in a speech in West Virginia , 130,000 people die each and every year as a result of poverty. I have not read the study Sanders referred to, so I don't know how much it overlaps with the rise of suicide that accelerated after 2006 and which appears to be correlated with financial stress. Nor do I know how it overlaps with the documented increase in white mortality that also appears to correlate with financial stress. Regardless of overlap, however, each of these studies reflects the quiet violence of false scarcity. Naked Capitalism has featured many posts documenting the damage of greed; this is a recent one .

Chronic and acute financial stress from false scarcity maims, and kills. And Smaugs create false scarcity to feed money to their egos and maintain their oligarchic power.

As Lambert often says, they don't call it class warfare for nothing.

But wait, you might insist, how false is the scarcity, really? How much do a few billionaires matter? Ranting that greed is evil is all well and good, but really, can a relative handful of people be manufacturing scarcity where there is none, shortening and taking millions of lives in the process? Aren't you making your target too narrow in going after the Smaugs?

In order: Very false, a lot, yes and no.

The Falsity of Dollar Scarcity

In 2015 the Institute for Policy Studies determined that the richest 20 American billionaires had hoarded as much wealth as 152 million people had managed to scrape together combined. Think on that.

Twenty people had hoarded $732,000,000,000. America is a nation of about 300,000,000 people. That means 20 people could give a combined $2,370 to every American, and still hoard $1 billion each. I'm not suggesting that's how the redistribution should be done, but it's notable that in an era when some 200 million Americans haven't been able to save $1000 for an emergency, twenty people could give everyone over two grand while remaining fabulously wealthy.

Now, these 20 monstrous people, these full grown Smaugs, are not alone in their extreme greed. Adding in the assets of the next 380 richest Americans brings the total wealth hoarded to $2.34 trillion. That number is so large it's hard to process , so let's think this through.

First, imagine that we took all of that money with a confiscatory tax, except we again left each of the 400 people with $1 billion. They would still be obscenely rich, so don't pity them.* Our tax thus netted $1.94 trillion. Since that's still an unimaginable number, let's compare it to some recent government spending.

In December 2015, Congress funded five years' worth of infrastructure construction. Congress and President Obama were very self-congratulatory because our infrastructure is a mess, and building things involves good paying jobs. So, how much did five years of infrastructure building and job creation cost? $305 billion . That's less than the $400 billion we let the 400 Smaugs keep at the start of this thought experiment. With the $1.94 trillion we imagine confiscating, we could keep building at the 2015 pace for 32 years. Or we could spend it much faster, and create an economic boom the like of which this nation hasn't seen in generations.

Even Bernie Sanders, he of the supposedly overly ambitious, unable-to-be-paid for initiatives, only proposed spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years -a bit more than half what our tax would net. (Nor did this supposed radical call for a confiscatory wealth tax to fund his plan.) Sanders estimated his proposal would create 13 million good paying jobs. With nearly double the money, surely we get nearly double the jobs? Let's be conservative and say 22 million.

In sum, we could confiscate most of the wealth of 400 people-still leaving them obscenely rich with $1 billion each-and create 22 million good paying jobs over five years. But we don't; we let the Smaugs keep their hoards intact. Now consider this is only taxing 400 people; what if we taxed the richest 2,000 people more justly? What if we taxed corporations effectively? What if we stopped giving corporate welfare? A confiscatory wealth tax, however, simply isn't discussed in polite company, any more than a truly progressive income tax is, or even serious proposals to end corporate welfare. The best we can do is agree that really, someday soon, we should end the obscenity that is the carried interest loophole.

False scarcity isn't simply a failure of charity, a hoarding of wealth that should be alms for the poor. False scarcity is created through the billionaires' control of the state, of public policy. But the quiet violence of greed isn't visited on the 99% only through the failure to pay adequate taxes. Not even through the Smaugs' failure to have their corporations pay adequate wages, or benefits. Predatory lending, predatory servicing, fraudulent foreclosure, municipal bond rigging, and pension fund fleecing are just some of the many other ways immoral greed creates false scarcity.

While false scarcity has the broadest impact, it is not the only form of stealth violence used by the billionaires in their class war against the rest of us. The Ford and Rockefeller style violence of fists and guns may be rare in the U.S. these days, but a variant of it remains much too common: Unsafe workplaces, the quiet violence of "cutting corners". Whether it's the coal industry , the poultry industry , or the fracking and oil industries, or myriad other industries, unsafe workplaces kill, maim and sicken workers. Part of the political economy restructuring we must do includes transforming the workplace.

Feel the Greed

Let us remember why this stealth violence exists-why false scarcity and unsafe workplaces exist.

People who have more money than they hope to spend for the rest of their lives, no matter how many of their remaining days are "rainy"; people who have more money to pass on than their children need for a lifetime of financial security, college and retirement included; people who have more money to pass on than their grandchildren need for a similarly secure life–these people insist on extracting still more wealth from their workers, their clients, and taxpayers for no purpose beyond vaingloriously hoarding it.

Sure, some give away billions . But even so they retain billions. For what? More; charitable foundations are not the same thing, in many cases, as true charity. Instead foundations often function as hoard preservers as well, and enrich their leadership too.

In Conclusion

Greed is evil, but it comes in different intensities. Petit greed is a corrosive illness that decays societies, but can be effectively ameliorated through norms and social capital. Smaug greed is so toxic, so potent, that the state is the only entity powerful enough to put it in check. Greed, particularly Smaug greed, must be put in check because the false scarcity it manufactures, and the unsafe workplaces it creates, maim and kill people. The stealth violence of Smaug greed justifies a tax to confiscate the hoards.

#GreedIsEvil. It's time to #SlayTheSmaugs

*One of the arguments against redistribution is that is against the sacrosanct efficient market, which forbids making one person better off if the price is making someone else worse off. But money has diminishing returns as money after a certain point; the purchasing power between someone with one billion and ten billion dollars is negligible, though the difference between someone with ten thousand and a hundred thousand, or a hundred thousand and a million is huge. After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more. Thus taking it and using it as money isn't making someone 'worse off' in an economic sense. Also, when considering whether someone is 'worse off', it's worth considering where their money comes from; how many people did they leave 'worse off' as they extracted the money? Brett , July 22, 2016 at 10:07 am

After a certain level of accumulation money is simply ego gratifying points, it's not money any more.

It quite literally isn't "money" as we regular folks know it beyond a certain point – it's tied up in share value and other assets. Which of course raises the question – when you decide to do your mass confiscation of wealth, who is going to be foolish enough to buy those assets so you actually have liquid currency to spend on infrastructure as opposed to illiquid assets? Or are you simply going to print money and spend it on them?

Thomas Hinds , July 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

Wealth on this scale has nothing to do with financial security or luxurious living. For the trivial, it is (as per D. Trump) a game and money is how you keep score. For the serious, it has to do with power, with the ability to affect other people's lives without their consent. That is why the Smaugs' wealth is absolutely our business. It should be understood that we're talking about taking very large amounts of money and power away from very rich people, people for whom money and power are pretty much the only things they value. It will not be pretty.

Ranger Rick , July 22, 2016 at 10:37 am

People become rich and stay that way because of a market failure that allows them to accumulate capital in the same way a constricted artery accumulates blood. What I'm wondering, continuing this metaphor, is what happens when all that money is released back into the market at once via a redistribution - toxic shock syndrome.

You can see what happens to markets in places where "virtual money" (capital) brushes up against the real economy: the dysfunctional housing situation in Vancouver, London, New York, and San Francisco.

It may be wiser to argue for wealth disintegration instead of redistribution.

a different chris , July 22, 2016 at 11:52 am

Yes I was thinking about that money is just something the government prints to make the system work smoothly. But that, and pretty much any view of money, obscures the problem with the insanely "wealthy".

If these people, instead of having huge bank accounts actually had huge armies the government would move to disarm them. It wouldn't re-distribute the tanks and rifles. It would be obviously removing a threat to everybody.

Now there would be the temptation to wave your hands and say you were "melting it into plowshares" but that causes an accounting problem - that is, the problem being the use of accounting itself. Destroying extreme wealth and paying for say roads is just two different things and making them sound connected is where we keep getting bogged down. Not a full-on MMT'er yet but it really has illuminated that fact.

And no, as usual l have no solutions.

John Merryman , July 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

The western assumption is that money is a commodity, from salt to gold, to bitcoin, we assume it can be manufactured, but the underlaying reality is that it is a social contract and every asset is presumably backed by debt.
Here is an interesting link which does make the point about the contractual basis of money in a succinct fashion;
http://rs79.vrx.palo-alto.ca.us/opinions/ideas/economics/jubilee/

Since the modern commodity of money is backed by debt and largely public debt, there is enormous pressure to create as much debt as possible.
For instance, the government doesn't really budget, it just writes up these enormous bills, attaches enough goodies to get the votes and the president can only pass or veto it and with all the backing and no other method, a veto is a weak protection.

To budget is to prioritize and spend according to ability. What they could do would be to break these bills into all their various "line items," have every legislator assign a percentage value to each one, put them back together in order of preference and then the president would draw the line.
It would balance the power and reduce the tendency to overspend, but it would blow up our financial system, which if anyone notices, is based on the sanctity of government debt.

If instead of borrowing the excess money out of the system, to spend on whatever, if the government threatened to tax it out, people would quickly find other ways to store value than as money in the financial system.

Since most of us save for the same general reasons, from raising children to retirement, we could invest in these as public commons, not try to save for our exact needs. This would serve to strengthen communities and their environments, as everyone would be more dependent on those around them, not just having a private bank account as their personal umbilical cord.

We treat money as both medium of exchange and store of value. As Rick points out above, a medium is like blood in the body and it needs to be carefully regulated. Conversely, the store of value in the body is fat and while many of us do carry an excess, storing it in the circulation system is not wise. Clogged arteries, poor circulation and high blood pressure are analogous to a bloated financial system, poor circulation and QE.
Money is not a commodity, but a contract.

Julian , July 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

Do you realize that this supposed billionaire wealth does not consist of actual US dollars and that, if one were to liquidate such wealth (in order to redistribute it in "fair" equal-dollars) that number might drastically change?

The main thing these people (and indeed your pension funds) are actually hoarding are financial assets, and those, it turns out, are actually "scarce". Or, well, I don't know what else you would call trillions of bonds netting a negative interest rate and an elevated P/E stock market in a low-growth environment.

It's a bit of a pickle from a macro environment. You can't just force them to liquidate their assets, or else the whole system would collapse. It also kind of escapes the point that someone has to hold each asset. I would be excited to see what happens when you ask Bill Gates to liquidate his financial assets (in order to distribute the cash). An interesting thought, for sure. And one that would probably bring the market closer to reasonable valuations.

It is simply a wrong conclusion to say "Wealth is x, and if we distribute it, everyone would get x divided by amount of recipients in dollar terms". Now if you wanted to redistribute Bill Gates' stake in Microsoft in some "fair" way, you could certainly try but that's not really what you proposed.

Either way you can't approach wealth policy from a macro perspective like this, because as soon as you start designing macro-level policy to adjust (i.e. redistribute) this wealth, the value of it will fluctuate very wildly in dollar terms and may well leave everyone less well off in some weird feedback loop.

JTMcPhee , July 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

"The full power of the state must be used against" #extremegreed: Except, of course, "L'etat c'est moi "

Of course as a Bernie supporter, the writer knows that, knows that it is a long game to even start to move any of the hoard out of Smaug's cave, that there are dwarves with glittering eyes ready to take back and reduce to ownership and ornamentation the whole pile (maybe they might 'share" a little with the humans of Lake Town who suffered the Dragon's Fire but whose Hero drove a mystical iron arrow through the weak place in Smaug's armor, all while Sauron and Saruman are circling and plotting and growing hordes of genetically modified Orcs and Trolls and summoning the demons from below

The Elves seem to be OK with a "genteel sufficiency," their wealth being useful durable stuff like mithril armor and those lovely houses and palaces up in the trees. Humans? Grabbers and takers, in Tolkien's mythology. I would second that view - sure seems to me that almost any of us, given a 1000-Bagger like Zuckerman or Jobs or that Gates creature fell into, or Russian or Israeli or African or European oligarchs for that matter (pretty universal, and expected given Davos and Bilderberg and Koch summits) the old insatiable lambic system that drives for pleasure-to-the-max and helps our baser tribal drives and penchant for violence to manifest and "thrive" will have its due. Like 600 foot motor yachts and private-jet escape pods and pinnacles islands with Dr. No-style security provided by guns and accountants and lawyers and faux-legitimate political rulers for hire

Lots of analysis of "the problem." Not so much in the way of apparent remedies, other than maybe lots of bleeding, where the mopes will do most of it and if history is any guide, another Smaug will go on around taking all the gold and jewels and other concentrated wealth back to another pile, to sit on and not maybe even gloat over because the scales are just too large

Still hoping for the emergence of an organizing principle that is more attractive that "take whatever you can and cripple or kill anyone who objects "

Ulysses , July 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

"People who have more money than they hope to spend for the rest of their lives, no matter how many of their remaining days are "rainy"; people who have more money to pass on than their children need for a lifetime of financial security, college and retirement included; people who have more money to pass on than their grandchildren need for a similarly secure life–these people insist on extracting still more wealth from their workers, their clients, and taxpayers for no purpose beyond vaingloriously hoarding it."

These are people who are obscenely wealthy as opposed to merely wealthy. The fastest way to challenge their toxic power would be to help the latter group understand that their interests are not aligned with the former. Most millionaires (as opposed to billionaires) will eventually suffer when the last few drops of wealth remaining to the middle and working classes are extracted. Their future prosperity depends on the continued existence of a viable, mass consumer economy.

The billionaires imagine (in my view falsely) that they will thrive in a neo-feudal future– where they own everything and the vast majority of humanity exists only to serve their needs. This is the future they are attempting to build with the new TPP/TISA/TTIP regime. If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves. Most neoliberal professionals, who imagine that they will be in that second group, are delusional. Did the pharaohs have any need for people like Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd?

a different chris , July 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

Yeah unfortunately they did. It wasn't just the pharaoh and peasants, there was a whole priestly class just to keep the workers confused.

Now the individuals themselves weren't at all necessary, they have always been easily replaceable.

FluffytheObeseCat , July 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Pharaohs didn't need a middle/professional class as large as the ones in most western democracies today. But, we are going in the pharaonic direction.

The problem our polite, right wing professional classes face is that they are increasingly too numerous for society's needs. Hence the creeping gig-i-fication of professional employment. The wage stagnation in all but the most guild-ridden (medicine) professions.

It's so reminiscent of what happened to the industrial working class in the late 70s and 80s. I still remember the "well-reasoned", literate arguments in magazine op-eds proclaiming how line workers had become "excess" in the face of Asian competition and automation. How most just needed to retrain, move to where the jobs are, tighten their belts, etc. It's identical now for lawyers, radiologists, and many layers of the teaching professions. If I weren't part of that "professional" class I'd find the Schadenfreude almost too delicious.

HotFlash , July 22, 2016 at 1:54 pm
If we fail to prevent the imposition of this transnational regime there will only be three classes of humans left: kleptocrats, their favored minions, and slaves.

Sounds about right, but you are overlooking the fact that the largest class will be The Dead. They will not need nearly so many of Us, and we will be thinned, trimmed, pruned, marooned, or otherwise made to go away permanently (quietly, for preference, I assume, but any way will do).

Ergo, the violence of ineffectual health care, toxic environment, poisonous food, dangerous working conditions and violence (for instance, guns and toxic chemicals) in our homes, schools, streets, workplaces, cities and, well, everywhere are not only a feature, but a major part of the plan.

And I'm actually feeling rather optimistic today.

Tim , July 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm

It has been extensively documented that the merely wealthy are very upset at the obscenely wealthy.

If the author is truly focusing on a tax for obscene wealth I'd like to know a specific threshold. Is it 1 Billion and up? annual limit how many times the median income before it kicks in?

#SlayTheSmaugs Post author , July 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Well, I'm happy to have a discussion about at what threshold a confiscatory wealth tax should kick in; it's the kind of conversation we have with estate taxes.

I'm thinking a one off wealth tax, followed by a prevention of the resurrection of the problem with a sharply progressive income tax. Is $1 billion the right number for this initial reclamation? maybe. It is about the very top few, not the merely wealthy.

#SlayTheSmaugs

Vatch , July 22, 2016 at 5:32 pm

$1 billion is a reasonable amount of assets for determining whether to confiscate a portion of a person's wealth in taxes. Or perhaps we could base it on a percentage of GDP. The U.S. GDP in 2015 was approximately $17.9 trillion. Anyone with $1.79 billion or more in assets would have 1% of 1% of the U.S. GDP (0.01%). That's a lot of wealth, and surely justifies a heavy tax.

Quantum Future , July 22, 2016 at 4:15 pm

To your question Ulysses

'Professionals, who imagine that they will be in that second group, are delusional. Did the pharaohs have any need of Paul Krugman'

Sure they did. Those were called Priests who told the people what the gods were thinking. And since Pharoah's concluded themselves gods. The slaves revolt by working less. Anybody notice the dropping production levels the last couple of years? Whipping the slaves didn't turn out well for the Egyptians.

A more modern similarity of the US is Rome. Vassals have been going full retard for several years now, traitors sell international competitors military secrets while the biggest merchants buy off the Senate.

Ceasar becomes more a figurehead until one leads a coup which has not happened yet. Aquiring more slaves begins to cost more than what the return in general to the society brings but the Smaugs do not care about that until the barbarians begin to revolt (See Orlando for example, the shooter former employee of DHS. Probably pissed some of his comrades were deserted by US in some manner.

Ulysses , July 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm

My point was that the category of people in this priestly caste will likely be far, far smaller than the millions of credentialed neoliberal professionals currently living large in the top 10% of the developed world.

Interesting mental image– to see Paul Krugman chanting praises to the new Son of the Sun God the Donald!!

#SlayTheSmaugs , July 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Look, there's a simple way to #SlayTheSmaugs, and it's a confiscatory wealth tax coupled with a sharply progressive income tax, as part of an overall restructuring of the political economy.

Simple, is of course, not easy; indeed my proposal is currently impossible. But like Bernie I'm trying to change the terms of political debate, to normalize what would previously be dismissed as too radical to be countenanced.

I don't think the looting professional class needs to be slain, in the #SlayTheSmaugs sense. I think they can be brought to heel simply by enforcing laws and passing new ones that are already within acceptable political debate, such as one that defines corruption as using public office for private gain. I think norms matter to the looting professional class as well. Another re-norm-ilization that needs to happen is remembering what a "profession" used to be

Sylvia Demarest , July 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Friends and neighbors!! Most of this "wealth" is ephemeral, it is based on the "value of assets" like stocks, bonds, real estate, et al. If all of this "wealth" gets liquidated at the same time, values would collapse. These people are fabulously wealthy because of the incredible inflation we have seen in the "assets" they hold.

Remember, during the Great Depression the "wealth" wasn't confiscated and redistributed, it was destroyed because asset values collapsed and over 2000 banks failed wiping out customer accounts. This also collapsed the money supply causing debt defaults, businesses failures, and worker laid offs. No one had any money because there was none.

The US was on the gold standard limiting the creation of liquidity. President Roosevelt went off the gold standard so that he could work to increase the money supply. It took a long time. The result of the depression was decades of low debt, cheap housing, and hard working people who remembered the hard times. The social mood gradually changed as their children, born in more prosperous times, challenged the values of their parents.

Yves Smith , July 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Even though the bulk of what the super rich hold is in paper assets, they still hold tons of real economy assets. They've succeeded in buying enough prime and even merely good real estate (like multiple townhouses in Upper West Side blocks and then creating one monster home behind the facade) to create pricing pressure on ordinary renters and homeowners in the same cities, bidding art through the roof, owning mega-yachts and private airplanes, and most important of all, using the money directly to reshape society along their preferred lines, witness charter schools.

GlassHammer , July 22, 2016 at 12:21 pm

If you are going to fight against the "Greed is Good" mentality, you are going to have to address the habits of the average middle class household. Just take a look at the over accumulation of amenities and creature comforts. The desire to signal ones status/wealth through "stuff" is totally out of control and completely divorced from means/income.

#SlayTheSmaugs , July 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Fair, and I do propose that:

"But we need more voices insisting #GreedIsEvil. We need to teach that basic message at home, in school, and in houses of worship. We need to send the right signals in our social interactions. We need to stop coveting stuff, and start buying with a purpose: Shopping locally, buying American, buying green and clean, and buying less. We need to waste less, share more and build community. We need to re-norm-alize greed as evil, make it shameful again. Then we will have redefined ourselves as citizens, not consumers."

dots , July 22, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Isn't there an idiom about cutting off the head of the snake? Once you deal with the strongest opponents, it's easier to go after the others. Too big to fail is nothing short of feeding the beast.

Punxsutawney , July 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm

There was a time not that long ago that I would have opposed a "confiscatory wealth tax". After looking at what most of those in the .1% are doing with their wealth, and their contempt for the average person, those days are long gone. Plus it's good economics.

The only question is what is "obscene wealth". Well like pornography, I think we know it when we see it.

Alfred , July 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm

I am wondering about the distribution of all this concentrated wealth; how much of it is spread around in the equities and bond markets?

And if that amount was redistributed to the general public how much of it would return to the equities and bond market?

I'm thinking not very much which would have catastrophic effects on both markets, a complete reordering. This would undoubtedly crush the borrowing ability of our Federal government, upset the apple cart in other words. With less money invested in the equities market it would undoubtedly return to a lower more realistic valuation; fortunes would be lost with no redistribution.

Oh the unintended consequences.

#SlayTheSmaugs Post author , July 22, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Fair to ask: How do we achieve a confiscatory wealth tax without catastrophic unintended consequences? But that's a very different question than: should we confiscate the Smaug's wealth?

One mechanism might be to have a government entity created to receive the stocks, bonds and financial instruments, and then liquidate them over time. E.g. Buffett has been giving stock to foundations for them to sell for awhile now; same kind of thing could be done. But sure, let's have the "How" conversation

Quantum Future , July 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

If lobbying were outlawed at the Federal level the billionaires and multi millionaires would need to invest in something else. That signal has a multiplier effect.so your right eboit enforcement of mostly what is on the books already. A 'wall' doesnt have to be built for illegal immigrants either. Fine a couple dozen up the wazoo and the signal gets passed the game is over.

But until a few people's daughters are kidnapped or killed like in other 3rd world countries, it wont change. That is sad but reality is most people do not do anything until it effects them. I started slightly ahead of the crowd in summer of 2007 but that is because a regional banker told me as we liked discussing history to look at debt levels of 1928 and what happened next. On top of that, we are the like the British empire circa 1933 so we get the downside of that as well.

Pain tends to be the catalyst of evolution that fully awakens prey to the predators.

juliania , July 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm

"As Sanders often reminds us. . ."

I am sorry, Sir Smaug slayer. The underlying theme of your lengthy disquisition is that Sanders is the legitimate voice of the 99%, and his future complicity within the Democratic Party is thereby ameliorated by his current proposals within it. This is the true meat of your discourse ranging so far and wide – even with the suggestion early on that we the 99% need tutoring on the evils of greed.

Not so. That ship has sailed. Our Brexit is not yet upon us, but that it is coming, I have no doubt. The only question is when. To paraphrase a Hannah Sell quote on such matters. . . for decades working class people have had no representation in the halls of Congress. All of the politicians . . . without exception, have stood in the interests of the 1% and the super-rich.

Bernie Sanders included. Hannah's remarks were more upbeat – she made an exception for Jeremy Corbyn. Unfortunately, I can't do that. Bernie has folded. We need to acknowledge that.

amousie , July 22, 2016 at 2:16 pm

One of the arguments against redistribution is that is against the sacrosanct efficient market, which forbids making one person better off if the price is making someone else worse off.

I think you mean downward redistribution here since upward redistribution seems to be rather sacrosanct and definitely makes one person better off at the price of making many someones worse off to make it happen.

Tim , July 22, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Confiscatory wealth tax is too blunt an instrument to rectify the root causes discussed in this article, and you do not want a blunt impact to the effect of disincentivizing pursuit of financial success.

Further Centralization the populous' money will incite more corruption which is what allows the have's to continue lording it over the have nots.

What are alternatives?
Instead Focus on minimizing corruption,
Then it will be possible to implement fair legislation that limits the options of the greed to make decisions that results in unfair impacts on the lower class.

Increase incentives to share the wealth, (tax deductible charitable giving is an example).

We do need to encourage meritocracy whenever possible, corruption and oppression is the antithesis to that.

We need to stop incentivizing utilization of debt, that puts the haves in control of the have nots.

JTMcPhee , July 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

"Financial success. " As long as those words go together, and make an object of desire, the fundamental problem ain't going away.

Of course the underlying fundamental problem of human appetite for pleasure and power ain't going away either. Even if a lot of wealth was taken back (NOT "confiscated") from the current crop and hopeful horde of kleptocrats

JTMcPhee , July 22, 2016 at 6:27 pm

How long before the adage "A fool and his money are soon parted" kicked in?

Ulysses , July 22, 2016 at 2:51 pm

"We do need to encourage meritocracy whenever possible, corruption and oppression is the antithesis to that."

I disagree strongly with your premise that some sort of pure and natural meritocracy has ever existed, or could ever exist in human society. Corrupt and oppressive people will always define as "meritorious" those qualities that they themselves possess– whether wealth, "gentle birth," "technical skills," or whatever. We all possess the same merit of being human.

An Egyptologist, with an Oxbridge degree and extensive publications has no merit– in any meaningful sense– inside a frozen foods warehouse. Likewise, the world's best frozen foods warehouse worker has little to offer, when addressing a conference focused on religious practices during the reign of Ramses II. Meritocracy is a neoliberal myth, intended to obscure the existence of oligarchy.

NeqNeq , July 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm

An Egyptologist, with an Oxbridge degree and extensive publications has no merit– in any meaningful sense– inside a frozen foods warehouse. Likewise, the world's best frozen foods warehouse worker has little to offer, when addressing a conference focused on religious practices during the reign of Ramses II. Meritocracy is a neoliberal myth, intended to obscure the existence of oligarchy.

I am confused.

You claim meritocracy is "a neoliberal myth, intended to obscure the existence of oligarchy", but (seemingly) appeal to meritocratic principles to claim a warehouse worker doesnt offer much to an academic conference. Can you clear up my misunderstanding?

I agree, btw, that Idealized meritocracy has never existed (nor can). Follow up question: There has never been an ideal ethical human, does that mean we should stop encouraging ethical behavior?

Ulysses , July 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Meritocracy is not the same as recognizing greater and lesser degrees of competence in various activities. It is absurd to deny that some are more skillful at some things than others. Assigning the relative "merit" to various competencies is what I find objectionable.

Encouraging ethical behavior has nothing to do with ranking the "merit" levels of different occupations. While some occupations are inherently unethical, like that of an assassin, most can be performed in such a way as to do no harm to others, and some are nearly always beneficial to society at large.

Someone who did nothing but drink whiskey all day, and tell funny stories in a bar, is far more beneficial to society at large than a busy, diligent economist dreaming up ways to justify the looting of the kleptocrats.

Pierre Robespierre , July 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Wealth Redistribution occurs when the peasants build a scaffold and frog march the aristocracy up to a blade; when massive war wipes out a generation of aristocracy in gas filled trenches or in the upcoming event.

Roland , July 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm

"Fair to ask: How do we achieve a confiscatory wealth tax without catastrophic unintended consequences?"

Answer: Do it and find out. Some things can only be determined empirically. First, do what needs doing. We can take care of the Utility afterwards.≥

Barry , July 22, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I would like to see a financial settlements tax like Scott Smith presidential candidate recommends. http://www.scottsmith2016.com/

[Feb 02, 2019] Pope Francis Makes Thinly Veiled Attack On Accusations In Bid For Christian Populism by Joshua Gill

Notable quotes:
"... "Among us is the great accuser, the one who will always accuse us in front of God to destroy us: Satan. He is the great accuser. And when I enter into this logic of accusing, cursing and looking to do evil to others, I enter into the logic of the 'Great Accuser' who is a 'Destroyer,' who doesn't know the word 'mercy," he added. ..."
Sep 15, 2018 | www.dailycaller.com

... ... ...

"The only possible populism," Francis said, is a Christian kind that "listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels," according to The Associated Press .

... ... ...

"Only the merciful resemble God the father. 'Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.' This is the path, the path that goes against the spirit of the world," Francis said in a Thursday homily.

"Among us is the great accuser, the one who will always accuse us in front of God to destroy us: Satan. He is the great accuser. And when I enter into this logic of accusing, cursing and looking to do evil to others, I enter into the logic of the 'Great Accuser' who is a 'Destroyer,' who doesn't know the word 'mercy," he added.

[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] Another world is possible. A spirituality of resistance -- World Council of Churches

Notable quotes:
"... As for the international financial system - "a lottery whose winnings flow from the South to the North", according to Mshana's definition - the general consensus was that it needed to be reformed. Mechanisms need to be put in place to limit the arbitrary movement of speculative capital and make sure that the capital invested in poor countries actually stays there and is used for development. ..."
"... As far as the new methods of debt cancellation are concerned, "these are inadequate and do not solve the problem", Mshana explained. "What is needed is total cancellation and the introduction of a whole new system". One striking proposal was for an International Court under the aegis of the United Nations to judge the legitimacy of debts, taking into account the joint responsibility of debtors and creditors. ..."
Jan 08, 2019 | www.oikoumene.org

Criticism of neoliberal globalization cannot only be economic; it must also be theological. Theological analysis formed part of two workshops in which the WCC covered the theme of alternatives to economic globalization. "We have seen that the neoliberal paradigm is a new Tower of Babel, an arrogant project that aims to impose a uniformity that is contrary to God's will for a kingdom that respects diversity", stated Mshana. "The churches have a great opportunity here for prophetic condemnation and education."

Participants at the workshops agreed that in matters such as access to clean water, "when it comes to choosing between the technical or the ethical approach, between the market or human rights, priority must go to the latter", Mshana stated. The churches can therefore make a valuable contribution: "The churches must work very hard to bring pressure to bear on the international financial institutions not just to go along with the market solution".

The workshops also tackled the subjects of world trade, the international financial system and debt, all of which, in their present form, are harmful to the poor. With regard to trade, participants gave their backing to campaigns for fair trade like the Trade for people, not people for trade campaign sponsored by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

As for the international financial system - "a lottery whose winnings flow from the South to the North", according to Mshana's definition - the general consensus was that it needed to be reformed. Mechanisms need to be put in place to limit the arbitrary movement of speculative capital and make sure that the capital invested in poor countries actually stays there and is used for development.

As far as the new methods of debt cancellation are concerned, "these are inadequate and do not solve the problem", Mshana explained. "What is needed is total cancellation and the introduction of a whole new system". One striking proposal was for an International Court under the aegis of the United Nations to judge the legitimacy of debts, taking into account the joint responsibility of debtors and creditors.

[Jan 08, 2019] AGAPE Consultation -- There's a new world in the making -- World Council of Churches

Notable quotes:
"... While we have failed to live out our love, international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization have enforced finance and trade policies which have indebted nations and forced them to service social and economic debt rather than their people and Earth. ..."
"... When US and Canadian corporations extract minerals and resources from other countries in order to operate without environmental safeguards or labour codes, do not pay their fair share of taxes and royalties, and use paramilitary forces against protesters and to displace indigenous communities; ..."
"... There is a new world in the making. You are working on behalf of Your people and restoring the good Earth You created. This world matters as do people's concrete struggles within it. It is our reminder to care for each other and all of Creation. You are a God of redemption, not of destruction, and invite us to participate in redemptive acts. ..."
Jan 08, 2019 | www.oikoumene.org

Confession

We confess that the whole of Creation bears the marks of God. God is our Creator; we love God, all of Creation and one another. We see that God wants the world to be a circle where everyone has a place. However, in North America, we have failed to live out our love.

While we have failed to live out our love, corporations have pursued violent development grabbing air, land and water; drowning islands; desertifying lands; violating human rights; and creating conditions of war.

While we have failed to live out our love, international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization have enforced finance and trade policies which have indebted nations and forced them to service social and economic debt rather than their people and Earth.

In our limitless pursuit of individual and national wealth and power, we are complicit in a market system that exploits natural resources and people within and beyond our borders:

When temporary foreign workers care for our children and grandparents, work on our farms, receive low wages, work long hours, live and work in harsh conditions, are vulnerable to abuse, have their human rights violated, fill other jobs that the common excuse says: "no North American would do";

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

When companies designate landfills and chemical dumps in the neighbourhoods of poor and marginalized people;

When US and Canadian corporations extract minerals and resources from other countries in order to operate without environmental safeguards or labour codes, do not pay their fair share of taxes and royalties, and use paramilitary forces against protesters and to displace indigenous communities;

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

When those who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions are the first to suffer the effects of climate change, and we demand that they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions without taking care of our own;

When we have watched the increased reliance on the military to pursue national self-interest, defend corporate interests, and cause forced migration in the rest of the world;

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

For too long, we have said and done too little. We have prioritized profit at the expense of clean air and water, devastated species and ecosystems, devalued people and their cultures, enriched the wealthy few and impoverished the poorest in our society and the global family.

These examples demonstrate the ecological debt we owe to Earth and the ecological indebtedness of the rich to the poor. The cry of Earth and the poor are one.

Wisdom

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. ( Revelation 22:1-2)

We are compelled and inspired by this vision of hope with respect to poverty, wealth and ecology, a new vision of Earth and the people who are dependent upon its abundance.

The great tree, echoing Genesis description of an idyllic garden, spans the river of the water of life. This image evokes not a singular tree but a vast, verdant forest that provides twelve kinds of fruit. In this way, the tree will bring food for all of God's people every month of the year. The vision of a redeemed Creation is one of a healthy Earth that will bring healing to the nations.

We have heard the wisdom of the worker, the scientist, the ancestor, the great tree, the river of the water of life. We have heard the wisdom of Your whole Creation calling us toward healing.

There is a new world in the making. You are working on behalf of Your people and restoring the good Earth You created. This world matters as do people's concrete struggles within it. It is our reminder to care for each other and all of Creation. You are a God of redemption, not of destruction, and invite us to participate in redemptive acts.

Healing

Creator, You endowed all of Your Creation with dignity, including human beings, a shining strand in the glimmering web of life.

Yet today, Creation is not the way it is supposed to be. We've seen the toxic pools, the gouged Earth, the forecasts of increased global average temperatures that will permanently change life on Earth. Climate change is the enveloping reality we live in.

We are alarmed by the increased concentration of wealth owned by a few. We know that poverty strips dignity away.

We have put our faith in what we have created – idols of gold and silver, luxury and consumer goods, markets and technology - rather than in You, our Creator.

Creator, enliven our imaginations to restore Your Creation. Heal our broken lives and communities.

Redeemer, save us from our greed, and the structures, policies and laws we've established that sustain and protect unearned privilege. We have heard the indictment in the gospel of Luke: "we take what we did not deposit, we reap what we did not sow." Already, we are taking more than Earth can offer, and returning more waste than Earth can absorb.

Save us from a "prosperity" gospel that neglects Your radical gospel of justice and hope for all.

Redeemer, grant us the courage to restore Your Creation. Heal our broken lives and communities.

Holy Spirit, come quickly. We are poor, we are rich; we are oppressed, we are oppressors. Reconcile us to one another, reconcile us with Earth. May the churches we represent be agents of reconciliation, centres for caring communities and shared sacrifice, models of an ethic of solidarity with future generations and our neighbours. Light us with a passion for justice, peace and solidarity.

Holy Spirit, breathe into us the passion to work together, to restore Your Creation. Heal our broken lives and communities.

Thanksgiving

We give thanks for young people who are inventing new forms of resistance to greed and injustice through forums like the Occupy movement and the "people's microphone."

We give thanks for the prophets among us who challenge our idolatry of the unregulated Market and who confront us with our addiction to the carbon economy.

We give thanks for the elders among us, who help us remember a time when it wasn't always like this; who call on the community's invisible heart to counter the Market's invisible hand; who help us to remember what a moral economy looks like.

We give thanks for the witness of those of our ancestors who have taught us our rightful place in Creation and who have spoken truth to power; who understood that Christ is found among those who are hungry, homeless, imprisoned and downtrodden.

We give thanks for our ecumenical partners who continue to deepen our common witness based on ecojustice principles of solidarity, sufficiency, sustainability and equity in the economy and Earth.

We give thanks for the power of being together, and for all those friends and allies who help us to remember who we are as a justice loving people.

************

Vision & Action

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision (Habbakuk 2: 2-3)

We see a time of new beginnings, of Jubilee, when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere no longer threaten life, when the carbon economy has been transformed, and we no longer mortgage our children's future. We see a time when unsustainable development has been rejected in favour of just, participatory and sustainable communities. We see a time when Earth has begun its regeneration and like God with Noah, we have covenanted with God and Creation to never destroy it again.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? (James 2:14)

We commit ourselves to lives of integrity and justice where we share all God's resources equitably, reduce our carbon footprint, seek right relationship in our economic transactions and strengthen the campaign for climate justice.

We call on churches, interfaith partners and all people of goodwill to work together to achieve this timeless and compelling vision. In order to mobilize appropriate resources and as a first step we call on the World Council of Churches, its member churches, and its sister ecumenical bodies to undertake a decade of action on ecojustice encompassing both ecological and economic justice.

We call on our North American churches to take action to transition from carbon-based to renewable energy, to narrow the gap between those of us who are rich and those of us who are poor, to respond to the needs of climate refugees, to hold their pension fund and investment managers accountable for the ethical implications of their investments, and to advocate for policies that will restore ecological balance.

We call on businesses and industries to commit to principles of integrity by complying with human rights codes; by shifting investments from carbon-based to renewable energy; and by showing leadership in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor by paying fair wages and paying their fair share of taxes.

We call on our governments to govern with integrity by implementing a moratorium on further development of the tar sands; compelling corporations to operate with the highest available environmental and labour standards wherever they do business on the globe; prohibiting excessive interest rates; legislating an international financial transactions tax to begin to make restitution for ecological debt; reallocating budgets from the military and systems of death and destruction to systems that promote the abundance of life; working for a new financial architecture; and ensuring that commercial banking is clearly separated from investment banking (speculative investments and financial transactions).

[Jan 08, 2019] Serve God, not Mammon- -- World Council of Churches

Notable quotes:
"... 47 representatives of churches from Central and Eastern Europe, along with resource persons, met June 24-28 in Budapest, Hungary. They were from Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, including a presenter delegated by the Council of the European Bishops' Conferences. In addition, 30 guests and staff persons of regional and international ecumenical and civil organizations from around the world were present. All these came to Budapest at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the WARC European Area Committee. Also accompanying the process was the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The consultation is part of the joint process on globalization of these organizations that grew out of the call of the WARC General Council in 1997 in Debrecen, Hungary for "covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth (Processus Confessionis)" and the recommendations on globalization made by the General Assembly of the World Council Churches 1998 in Harare. It is the second in a series of regional meetings that began with a symposium in Bangkok and will continue with meetings of churches in the Pacific, Western Europe, Latin America, Africa and North America. The consultation was graciously supported and hosted by the Reformed Church in Hungary, and was held at the Reformed Theological College (Raday) of Budapest. ..."
"... The Foundations of the Social Concept of the ROC ..."
"... SERVE PEOPLE, NOT POWER ..."
"... CHOOSE LIFE, NOT DEATH ..."
grforafrica.blogspot.com
MESSAGE FROM THE JOINT CONSULTATION ON GLOBALIZATION IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: RESPONSES TO THE ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES, JUNE, 24-28, 2001, BUDAPEST

47 representatives of churches from Central and Eastern Europe, along with resource persons, met June 24-28 in Budapest, Hungary. They were from Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, including a presenter delegated by the Council of the European Bishops' Conferences. In addition, 30 guests and staff persons of regional and international ecumenical and civil organizations from around the world were present. All these came to Budapest at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the WARC European Area Committee. Also accompanying the process was the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The consultation is part of the joint process on globalization of these organizations that grew out of the call of the WARC General Council in 1997 in Debrecen, Hungary for "covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth (Processus Confessionis)" and the recommendations on globalization made by the General Assembly of the World Council Churches 1998 in Harare. It is the second in a series of regional meetings that began with a symposium in Bangkok and will continue with meetings of churches in the Pacific, Western Europe, Latin America, Africa and North America. The consultation was graciously supported and hosted by the Reformed Church in Hungary, and was held at the Reformed Theological College (Raday) of Budapest.

To be more vigilant

About a decade ago, we, the people and churches in Central and Eastern Europe rejoiced as we realized we were free. It was as if a deep shadow had passed by and that full daylight had returned.

As we review the past ten years, it becomes clear that the magnitude and content of the problems encountered have been grossly underestimated by both governments and churches. Also, as we listen to reports from those whose suffering is most severe, we conclude that not all their difficulties arise directly out of what happened more than ten years ago. This suggests the need to be more vigilant in our journey with the women and men of Central and Eastern Europe.

The countries in the region enjoy great cultural and religious diversity. We heard that some of them show economic growth, increasing employment and environmental improvements according to the data available. In the region as a whole, however, rising unemployment and the falling value of pensions and wages has plunged millions of women and men into poverty. UNDP statistics report (cf. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report for Central and Eastern Europe and CIS, New York 1999; http.//www.undp.org/rbec/publications) , that

Search for explanations

In relation to these facts, we felt a moral duty to search more diligently for additional explanations for the prevailing mood of disappointment and the sense of betrayal. Working in groups, the consultation examined the ecological, cultural, economic and social effects of globalization on the region. The groups produced reports including the analysis, evaluation and proposals for alternative action, which are reflected in this message. They identified two main reasons behind the present difficulties in the region.

First was the actual way in which the challenge of the transformation of society was handled by most authorities after 1989. Whereas Communism had depended on unrestricted state planning, politicians and leaders now embraced the unrestrained market-mechanism as the path to a better future. They did not discern that a market without social, cultural, and institutional frameworks would undermine the very fabric of society. Privatization, liberalization and deregulation of the market for the sake of economic growth was made a prerequisite for receiving external loans and financial assistance . This neo-liberal �shock therapy', requiring a shrinking role for the state, simply disabled existing social provisions for ordinary women and men.

Second was the dynamic released by the new global information and communication technologies and the phenomenal expansion of new �global' markets. These are often labeled � globalization '. It is a complex term. Where it refers to growing possibilities for genuine co-operation between nations and peoples with opportunities for communication and common action, it has a positive connotation. Our consultation, for instance, benefited greatly from the participation of Christians from many continents.

It has negative connotations where it refers to the dominance exercised by an ideology legitimizing and promoting the unrestrained activities of players in the global markets, and the unprecedented concentration of financial power in the hands of self-appointed �rulers'. The unregulated flow of capital becomes the arbiter of the economic goodness or badness of all human or political actions. In our consultation we made a clear distinction between this neo-liberal project, which some call � globalism ', and the historic process of �globalization' already referred to. It is driven by powerful economic self interest. It commercializes human and institutional relationships and the very sources of life; the earth, water, air and even the human body itself. The ideology, power structures and practices this project entails accounts for dramatic changes in the economies and societies of Central and Eastern Europe. Its immediate effects are to put pressure on governments at all levels to cut social, medical, educational and environmental expenditure in order to be �attractive' in the eyes of �global' capital. Women and other vulnerable groups bear the greatest burden of its consequences.

This ideological emphasis on privatisation at any price, has undermined existing infrastructures. Minimising the role of the state, it left the poor without adequate protection and support and opened the door to criminal and speculative activities. Irresponsible owners who had no interest in the fate of either companies or employees bought out many of the newly privatised enterprises and banks. Alternative paths to ownership were hardly considered, nor the idea that ownership brings social obligations.

Justice to the poor

This confusion about �globalization' is often used as an alibi, not only by important international agencies, such as the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank, but also a growing number of national governments. They demand harsh sacrifices of ordinary women and men as indicated already. They do this despite reliable evidence that economic growth fails to promote human development unless there is

Given this situation, our meeting arrived at the unequivocal conclusion:
No authority inside or outside the region should ever escape its responsibility to do to justice to the poor and the needy by claiming the unavoidability of the requirements of globalization.

Policies justified in this way are contrary to both scientific findings and the core of Christian faith. They have to stop unconditionally and immediately. For, as it is stated so well in the recent Basic Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church:

"...the danger of differences that may emerge between people's will and international organization's decisions should not be underestimated. These organizations may become instruments for the unfair dominion of strong over weak countries, rich over poor, the technologically and informationally developed over the rest. They may also practice double standards, by applying international law in the interest of more influential states. All this compels the Orthodox Church to call the powers that be, both on national and international levels, to utter responsibility." (cf. The Foundations of the Social Concept of the ROC )

12. It is vitally important for Christians to recognize that dependence upon this neo-liberal ideology has deeply spiritual implications. It compels every participant to invest his or her faith in Mammon. The question for us is a simple one, in whom do we put our trust and in whom do we believe. Faith in the God of life sets us free from domination by Mammon. This is not only a domain where churches can speak, but should speak. This faith, translated into appropriate actions, is the ground of hope against that despair which, until now, so characterizes the present situation and not just in this region.


SERVE PEOPLE, NOT POWER
CALL TO GOVERNMENTS AND TO THE WIDER PUBLIC IN THE REGION

1. Globalization dramatically transforms the nature of power. Democratically elected governments and their delegates in international organisations are increasingly losing power to the growing influence of international bureaucracies, transnational corporations, media-owners and actors in the field of financial �global' capital. We challenge these power structures, urging them to become more transparent, accountable and representative. The peoples of the world should seize control of global political and economic processes. Democracy should be reinstated in the new forms of decision-making, at local, national and international levels.

2. Many political and economic processes require some kind of regulation at the international level. They should not be employed by the state at the expense of the necessary protection of vulnerable people.

3. The guiding idea for all our recommendations is the Biblical motif of Jubilee (Lev 25, Dt 15,Neh 5,Jes 61, Luc 4). This implies that all people are entitled to the basic resources of life and the public provision that enables them to live in the household (oikonomia) of God's creation. The economy of our societies ought therefore to be always household-orientated.

This insight leads us to the following recommendations.

Recommendations

4. Global finance should not be allowed to monopolise the decisive role in national and regional economies by rendering them over-dependent on Foreign Direct Investment and speculative capital. We strongly recommend that governments persist in striving for the development of their home-economy, with special attention to the role of medium and small businesses, and warn them against prioritising export-orientation at their expense.

5. Local economic initiatives need to be supported. This implies the strengthening of local governments. Public authorities at all levels should insist on the maintenance of adequate social support for the poor and strong environmental standards and resist international financial pressure to eliminate them. 6. We ask governments to support the international actions of those governments and civil organisations which, in order to democratise the international monetary system, seek to regulate the flow of speculative international capital. We ask the same support, especially from the rich industrialised countries, for international efforts (like in Rio and Kyoto) in favour of the environment.

7. Nations seeking entry to the European Union should equip their electorate to make informed decisions through accurate and transparent evaluation of the impact on social security and other vital interests of their citizens.

8. Governments should safeguard cultural values, the dignity and rights of all women and men, and their unhindered development. Economic globalization in its present form threatens values such as justice, charity, peace and sobriety which are rooted in Christian traditions. It replaces them with the values of unrestrained consumerism and increasing commercialisation (or monetisation) of society. Education, health care, arts, sports, the media, the environment and even safety are increasingly dominated by financial considerations. The culture of economic rivalry is usurping the culture of social co-operation with adverse consequences for weak and vulnerable people.

9. Public resources, which from a Christian perspective are designed to serve the common good, should not be ransomed to privatisation policies by governments whether or not they are under pressure from external donors.

10. We ask governments to serve people, not power.

CHOOSE LIFE, NOT DEATH
A call to churches

1. Today we are confronted by the domination of the idols of competition, consumption and comfort. The Christian understanding of oikonomia , of the world as God's household, embraces relations between people and God, social harmony and peaceful coexistence of human beings with the whole of God's creation. This urges churches and Christians to show the world the example of living according to the principles of cooperation, interdependence and compassion deeply rooted in the Trinitarian basis of our faith. We ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment by which to read the signs of our time and to �distinguish the spirits'.

2. In challenging economic globalization the Church is confronted with Jesus' words, "You cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt. 6:24). Will the churches have the courage to engage with the �values' of a profit-orientated way of life as a matter of faith, or will they withdraw to a private life? This is the question our churches must answer... or lose their very soul!

3. The message of the Gospel and our traditions teach us neither to be acquiescent to the dominant powers of this world, nor to escape the responsibilities into private expressions of faith. Christian communities should radiate love, joy and peace, attract and call others to a new way of life. Our mission is to transform life around us and to respond to all human beings, especially those who are suffering, oppressed and marginalized. In doing so, we proclaim Christ. We urge the churches to raise their prophetic voice so that changes are made for the benefit every person in every part of the world.

4. Churches need to engage in a serious way with the following questions.

5. Global economy and global power can be called to account by a global civil society equipped for broad social advocacy. International Christian organizations can provide a basis for cooperation open to and responsive to others, including research bodies, trade unions, environmental movements, and communities of followers of world faiths.

Recommendations

6. The negative social consequences of globalization must be counterbalanced by effective attention to the needs of the poor, the vulnerable and the powerless.

We call upon churches:

7. We call the churches to remember that they are founded on families and therefore need them to be strong. Family crises have been caused by forced industrialization and now by globalization. The solution lies in a rediscovery moral values, the ties between the generations, respect for parenthood and the place of women in families and society.

8. We call our churches to make the care of the environment a major priority for Christian reflection and social action. It is the �sustainable society' and �sustainable communities' rather than economics, which matter. The European Christian Environmental Network is a useful contact.

9. We urge the churches in the region to increase public awareness about globalization and its consequences for their population. People need to be informed about the nature of decisions made by their governments in relation to international institutions, and must be able to influence those decisions. Churches can empower the voice of ordinary people by raising their concerns with the authorities.

10. Churches and ecumenical groups in the region are encouraged to use the expertise and linkages that the Centre for Networking, Training and Development being established by European Contact Group, the Work and Economy Network, and the Ecumenical Academy in Prague can provide.

11. We ask churches in our region to respond more actively to WCC's invitation to reflect on globalization and to search for alternatives to it; to CEC's process on the role of churches in European integration and also to WARC's Debrecen call for Processus Confessionis - a committed process of recognition, education and confession regarding economic injustice and ecological destruction.

12. We call the churches in the West to resist the destructive forces of economic globalization and to be advocates for global social justice.

We ask the churches and the people in the West to influence public opinion and to persuade decision-makers in politics, economy and other sectors of society to stop the exploitation and exclusion of the majority of the population of the world and the destruction of the earth by the 'golden billion' - the population of Western industrialised countries.

14.We ask the churches to educate their members so that they may rediscover the traditional Christian values of self-restraint and asceticism (simplicity of lifestyle), and to propagate them in society as a way of counteracting individualism and consumerism, and as an alternative foundation for economic and social development.

15. We strongly support the Message to the Churches in the North from the participants of the Symposium on the Consequences of Economic Globalization (Bangkok, Thailand, November 12-15, 1999) that was shared at our meeting.

16.We assure the churches in the global South of our solidarity. Our part of Europe bears a considerable measure of responsibility for many developments, with both good and bad consequences, in Southern countries.

17.Today our peoples share many similar problems and challenges, and we deeply need each other in order to find solutions. In the spirit of ecumenical partnership for mutual being we call the WCC and other ecumenical organizations to support cooperation and networking between churches in CEEurope and with churches in the global South through consultation on globalization. 18. Global networking between Christians and others on the issues of globalization is urgently needed, especially from parish to parish, from one group of researchers to another, e.g. from a Reformed radio in Hungary to a Catholic newspaper in Indonesia and a Moslem TV studio in Kazakhstan. Ecumenical and interfaith organizations will play the key role in this network building. We should not let the spirit of this world separate us. The difficult reality we are facing requires a response which we can only make together.

19. We acknowledge the work done by Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches, as well as international Christian organizations, which have studied the problems of globalization and have acted in this regard. The process started by the World Coucil of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches must be encouraged, continued and broadened.

20. We commit ourselves to establishing an effective follow-up process to this consultation in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

[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] Neoliberalism -- The Ideology That has no Future by Steve Turley

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism basically makes culture a personal choice. You are free to choose whatever culture you want. Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want to do and no one can stand in your way. But that doesn't work if you are a Christian. ..."
"... In neoliberal ideology, culture is something that humanity added to the world. Culture doesn't reflect any reality out there. There is no purpose. There is no God. It's just biology, chemistry, physics, what they call "natural laws". ..."
"... But what are neoliberals trying to do? They are trying to impose a multicultural culture. That's the problem. A multicultural culture is impossible, It's a contradiction. On one side, they talk about women`s rights and on the other side they support radical islamists who want legalization of Sharia law in the US. It's just insane! There is no way of making sense of it. And that's why I think they don't have any future ..."
Jan 07, 2019 | www.geopolitica.ru

Geopolitica.RU

The following is from an interview transcript

You are not alone in asking the question: How is it possible that we can be so antagonistic towards conservative traditional Christianity and yet so accepting of Islam?

I think we have to understand that there has been a revolution in the US and the West in general. An ideological revolution for neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is dedicated to scientific rationalism, the neoliberal conception of life: science, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, that's it. Everything else is the matter of your own personal opinion.

When that began to make its way into our culture and policy, in the 1960's in particular, it gave rights to something called "emancipatory politics". The emancipation has to be freedom or liberation.

Emancipatory politics basically says that traditions are bad and that customs discriminate people. Emancipation dictates that If a person want to be Islamic, he can be Islamic, if he wants to be homosexual, he can be homosexual, if he wants to change gender, he can change it. And any tradition that stands against that has to be pushed aside because it is considered to be discriminatory.

Over the last several decades we've seen a redefinition of the American Public Square. The American Public Square used to be very Christian. It was guided by primarily Anglo-Protestant traditional norms. Now it is being governed much more by these emancipatory-politics norms. Therefore, if you are considered to be a part of the group that was not allowed into the Public Square because of Christianity, now you are going to get special treatment. They are going to make laws for you and, as a part of those laws, they have to cast out the Christianity that was impeding you from coming into the Public Square.

Traditional morality and customs are now considered as evil and discriminatory. Neoliberalism is actually much more accommodating to Islam than to Christianity. Why? Because Islam was considered to be discriminated as well as feminists, LGBT, African-Americans, and other national minorities. Any group that was once pushed out from public participation will now be allowed in.

Neoliberalism basically makes culture a personal choice. You are free to choose whatever culture you want. Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want to do and no one can stand in your way. But that doesn't work if you are a Christian.

Remember, neoliberalism says science is the only way we can know. So, if science is the only way we can know, what is culture?

In neoliberal ideology, culture is something that humanity added to the world. Culture doesn't reflect any reality out there. There is no purpose. There is no God. It's just biology, chemistry, physics, what they call "natural laws".

So, in that way, culture is how we impose meanings and purposes on a meaningless and purposeless world. Who am I to tell you that your way of imposing meanings is bad and the way how I impose it is good? The problem is culture itself. One cannot think about biology, chemistry, physics without culture. Those things are culture. So culture is inescapable.

But what are neoliberals trying to do? They are trying to impose a multicultural culture. That's the problem. A multicultural culture is impossible, It's a contradiction. On one side, they talk about women`s rights and on the other side they support radical islamists who want legalization of Sharia law in the US. It's just insane! There is no way of making sense of it. And that's why I think they don't have any future.

Hide Related links Pope Francis and the Liberalization of the Catholic Church Trump's Wall and the Neoliberalist Agenda: A Brief Analysis Russian Orthodox Church against liberal globalization, usury, dollar hegemony, and neocolonialism Liberals betray Christians in the Middle East The Reawakening of Christian Civilization in Eastern Europe

[Jan 07, 2019] Christianity and Neo-Liberalism -- The Spritiual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond by Paul M. Elliott

Notable quotes:
"... He wrote in the first chapter of this 2005 book, "Like cancer in the human body, liberalism in the body of the church begins undetected and unrecognized. By the time Christians recognize the cancer of liberalism and are stirred to action, often it is too late to stop its deadly progress. The damage has been done, and a spiritual crisis is upon the church. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church [OPC] is now in such a spiritual crisis, and the crisis has spread well beyond it. ..."
"... He asserts, "neo-liberals pretend to be what they are not, and profess to believe what they do not Neo-liberals profess salvation by faith in Christ alone, but they teach salvation by Christ plus man's faithfulness. Neo-liberals profess to believe in the authority of Scripture, but they teach the primacy of human scholarship Neo-liberals profess to preach the all-sufficiency of His obedience for the salvation of souls. Neo-liberals profess to believe in full assurance of salvation, but they teach that the believer can never be assured." (Pg. 65-66) ..."
"... He asks, "how does a neo-liberal minority dominate the OPC today?... liberals rely on the cooperation, or at least inaction, of the doctrinally indifferent . Their watchword is tolerance. They see controversy as one of the greatest evils, and they see tolerance of varying views under one big confessional tent as the way to avoid controversy Doctrinal disputes are an airing of dirty laundry that must be avoided Intolerance of error becomes the only intolerable thing." (Pg. 313-314) ..."
Aug 22, 2014 | www.amazon.com

A CALL (FROM A FORMER RULING ELDER) FOR LOCAL CONGREGATIONS TO SEPARATE FROM THE OPC

Paul M. Elliott is president of TeachingTheWord Ministries, and is the principal speaker on The Scripture-Driven Church radio broadcast; he is a former Ruling Elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and has written other books such as A Denomination in Denial (An Evaluation of the Report of the Committee to Study the Doctrine of Justification of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) .

He wrote in the first chapter of this 2005 book, "Like cancer in the human body, liberalism in the body of the church begins undetected and unrecognized. By the time Christians recognize the cancer of liberalism and are stirred to action, often it is too late to stop its deadly progress. The damage has been done, and a spiritual crisis is upon the church. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church [OPC] is now in such a spiritual crisis, and the crisis has spread well beyond it. The crisis centers on the conflict between authentic Biblical Christianity and an Antichristian counterfeit. The church needs to understand the nature of this crisis, how it came about, its deadly effects, and what Scripture says must be done. That is the purpose of this book." (Pg. 11-12) He adds, "we shall see how present-day neo-liberalism strikingly parallels the old liberalism, but with contemporary points of emphasis and new subtleties we shall examine neo-liberalism's corrupting influence on the OPC and other denominations." (Pg. 15-16) Significantly, he adds, "this book is a call to recognize the dangers of remaining in the OPC, and to acknowledge that the time has come to separate from it." (Pg. 28)

He is strongly critical of Norman Shepherd [e.g., The Call of Grace ]: "Norman Shepherd and those who follow his errors substitute the waters of baptism for the blood of Christ. They teach, in effect, that God's covenant is a covenant in water, not blood." (Pg. 53) He adds, "In God's economy, faith and works are mutually exclusive in justification; mingling the two is impossible but Shepherd says that the impossible is not only possible, but necessary. He redefines faith to be 'faith-plus.' He erects a false doctrine of justification that un-Scripturally packs all sorts of works into the 'saving faith' which he equates with 'justifying faith.'" (Pg. 55)

He asserts, "neo-liberals pretend to be what they are not, and profess to believe what they do not Neo-liberals profess salvation by faith in Christ alone, but they teach salvation by Christ plus man's faithfulness. Neo-liberals profess to believe in the authority of Scripture, but they teach the primacy of human scholarship Neo-liberals profess to preach the all-sufficiency of His obedience for the salvation of souls. Neo-liberals profess to believe in full assurance of salvation, but they teach that the believer can never be assured." (Pg. 65-66)

He argues, "In the long run, it is not simply a matter of the OPC tolerating the preaching of two gospels. The true Gospel is being displaced. Satan is quite content to fight a war of attrition. If the false gospel continues to be propagated at the seminary level as the one that is 'truly Reformed,' it will take only a generation for the preaching of the true Gospel to become rare or even die out entirely in the denomination. That is exactly what has happened in other denominations." (Pg. 125) He charges, "The OPC has had thirty years to purge itself of these errors, and has repeatedly refused to do so. Instead of removing the cancer it has stimulated its growth. In 2004 it showed once again that it has no stomach for the hard choices it needs to make." (Pg. 237) He adds, "it is not surprising that Norman Shepherd's heresies, which were allowed to take root over thirty years ago, have spread like a cancer in the years since. It is not surprising that Shepherd and his followers continue to be welcome in many parts of the OPC. It is not surprising that Richard Gaffin's teachings have become the dominant position at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, and have flowed from there into the churches of the OPC and other denominations." (Pg. 284)

He asks, "how does a neo-liberal minority dominate the OPC today?... liberals rely on the cooperation, or at least inaction, of the doctrinally indifferent . Their watchword is tolerance. They see controversy as one of the greatest evils, and they see tolerance of varying views under one big confessional tent as the way to avoid controversy Doctrinal disputes are an airing of dirty laundry that must be avoided Intolerance of error becomes the only intolerable thing." (Pg. 313-314)

He recalls the separation of his own home congregation from the OPC: "before deciding to recommend separation from the OPC, the session authorized a Sunday evening study series on the doctrinal issues at stake The study shifted its focus to the errors commonly taught---Shepherdism, Federal Vision theology, and the New Perspective on Paul The congregation subsequently separated from the OPC by voting on a resolution of separation It also made it clear that the congregation was separating from the authority of a body that has abandoned the marks of a true church of Jesus Christ, rather than withdrawing under the authority of that body as if it still possessed the Biblical qualities to exercise spiritual authority." (Pg. 339-340) He concludes, "this book has been a call to recognize the new dangers of remaining in the OPC, and to acknowledge that the time has come to separate from it. We urge you to be obedient to that Biblical imperative, no matter what the cost." (Pg. 365)

This book will be of interest to those concerned with the Federal Vision and Norman Shepherd controversies, as well as debates within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and other conservative Reformed denominations.

[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.

[Jan 06, 2019] Neoliberalism and the Gospel

Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him ..."
"... 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. ..."
Oct 02, 2014 | khanya.wordpress.com

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 , 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.

[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.

[Aug 14, 2018] Pope Francis and the Caring Society

Book review
Notable quotes:
"... not all forms of economic liberalization are equally good: some reforms can be so inadequately designed as to harm the interests of the poor, especially in the short term. ..."
"... This raises the questions: Are the poor better off under a market economy? Is the invisible hand conducive to giving people a hand? Pope Francis's assessment is often negative. "[U]nbridled capitalism," he has claimed, "has taught the logic of profit at any cost, of giving in order to receive, of exploitation without looking at the person." ..."
"... Laudato si' ..."
Aug 14, 2018 | www.independent.org

Societies marked by oligarchy, that is, rigged to help the privileged elites at the expense of everyone else, require more than merely the removal of anti-competitive rules and regulations. The reason, according to Martinez, is that not all forms of economic liberalization are equally good: some reforms can be so inadequately designed as to harm the interests of the poor, especially in the short term.

This raises the questions: Are the poor better off under a market economy? Is the invisible hand conducive to giving people a hand? Pope Francis's assessment is often negative. "[U]nbridled capitalism," he has claimed, "has taught the logic of profit at any cost, of giving in order to receive, of exploitation without looking at the person."

...Although the pope is on target in his admonition against worshipping the false god of a "deified market," according to Waterman, his encyclical Laudato si' is flawed, due in no small measure to its failure to acknowledge the good that markets do by channeling self-interest to serve the common good.

[Jul 31, 2018] We must encourage and support measures that can prevent neoliberalism from driving humanity off the cliff

Notable quotes:
"... Unfortunately, if we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God's expectations. Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth's habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that "flowerbed" – to use an image from Dante Alighieri (Paradiso, XXII, 151) – which is the earth, our dwelling-place. ..."
Jul 31, 2018 | akacatholic.com

John Paul the Great Ecumenist who first issued that call back in 2001.

In context, the Polish pope said:

Unfortunately, if we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God's expectations. Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth's habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that "flowerbed" – to use an image from Dante Alighieri (Paradiso, XXII, 151) – which is the earth, our dwelling-place.

[Jul 31, 2018] Trump vs. the New World Order by Stephen Kokx

Notable quotes:
"... As Bishop Athanasius Schneider recently opined in an interview , "the powerful of our world, the Western states" support groups like ISIS "indirectly." As a result, civilians get killed, and a prolonged bloodbath between warring religious factions ensues, thus ruining thousands, if not millions, of lives. ..."
"... Persons who espouse this warped ideology are what political scientists refer to as neoconservatives. To put it in Catholic terms, neoconservatives seek to once and for all obliterate the Social Kingship of Christ by constructing a world order rooted in the Freemasonic Social Kingship of Man. For decades neocons have preyed on the patriotism of ordinary Americans to get them to fight unjust wars on behalf of Arab theocrats and Jewish Zionists, the real behind-the-scenes power brokers. ..."
Mar 07, 2016 | akacatholic.com

Super Tuesday and Super Saturday came and went. As expected, Donald Trump dominated the competition.

Sort of.

While Trump did exceptionally well in states like New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere in the South, The Donald has stumbled as of late, coming in second to Ted Cruz in a number of recent contests.

Trump will likely expand his delegate lead in the coming weeks. However, he won't arrive at the Republican convention with enough of them to secure the nomination outright.

If that happens, the oligarchs in the Republican Party will do everything they can at the convention to deny Trump that which would rightfully be his.

It's been rumored that Mitt Romney will be called upon by the establishment to save the Party of Lincoln from being "torn asunder." Some Republicans say they simply won't vote for Mr. Trump. Others suggest running a third party "conservative" candidate.

However it shakes out, if reaction to Romney's anti-Trump press conference held earlier this month indicates anything, it's that refusing the billionaire from New York the nomination if he has the majority of delegates would literally break the GOP in two.

Before discussing what a Trump victory would mean for the Republican Party, let's backtrack a bit and try to put this man's candidacy into context. If possible, a Catholic context.

American "exceptionalism"

Since the Second World War but most especially since the early 1990s, a cabal of intellectuals desirous of global empire have hubristically argued that it is America's duty to advance "freedom" and "democracy" to "the people" of the world, all in the name of bringing about a lasting "peace."

Of course, when these men speak of "freedom" what they really mean is massive economic inequality and social hedonism. And when these men speak of "democracy" what they truly mean is rigged elections with candidates that they and not "the people" get to pick. (See the U.S.-backed coup that took place in Ukraine in February 2014 for evidence of this.)

Despite the lofty language used to trick Americans into supporting this political pyramid scheme, the reality is that bringing about this so-called "peace" is a dirty business.

For one, the U.S. essentially bribes countries into joining NATO. Economically sanctioning those who refuse to do so.

Two, when leaders from sovereign Middle Eastern nations are no longer viewed as politically useful, they're assassinated. Of course, the more diplomatic way to put it is "so and so has to go! "

And three, sustaining American imperialism oversees requires the funneling of billions of taxpayer dollars to Islamic states like Saudi Arabia and providing firearms to "moderate rebels" in countries most people can't locate on a map.

As Bishop Athanasius Schneider recently opined in an interview , "the powerful of our world, the Western states" support groups like ISIS "indirectly." As a result, civilians get killed, and a prolonged bloodbath between warring religious factions ensues, thus ruining thousands, if not millions, of lives.

The end game, of course, is to pick off Eastern European countries one by one in order to expand NATO (something the U.S. promised decades ago they wouldn't do) so that "liberal democracy" can be established not only there but also in North Africa and, most importantly, in Russia.

Globalism

Persons who espouse this warped ideology are what political scientists refer to as neoconservatives. To put it in Catholic terms, neoconservatives seek to once and for all obliterate the Social Kingship of Christ by constructing a world order rooted in the Freemasonic Social Kingship of Man. For decades neocons have preyed on the patriotism of ordinary Americans to get them to fight unjust wars on behalf of Arab theocrats and Jewish Zionists, the real behind-the-scenes power brokers.

While paying lip service to social conservatism, limited government, constitutionalism and state's rights these war hawks hijacked the Republican Party and surgically transformed it into a weak-kneed, open borders, bloodthirsty Frankenstein in the service of international elites.

Though insurgent candidates like Pat Buchanan in the 1990s reminded folks about the direction this clandestine group of war criminals was leading the country, the monied class acted quickly and decisively. Buchanan's warnings about 1) the looming culture wars 2) the harm cheap labor abroad would have on the American middle class 3) the problems associated with not securing the border and 4) the debt and death required with being the policeman of the world were easily tamped down, thanks in no small part to the help of the corporate media.

Since that time Americans have had to choose between presidential candidates who, at the end of the day, were nothing more than cogs in the globalist's wheel.

Enter Trump

Donald J. Trump has the temperament of an eight year old child. He mocks. He condescends. He can't give specifics to half the things he talks about. And I don't trust him on social issues. Put another way, I have the same concerns about Mr. Trump as American Conservative contributor Rod Dreher does .

For good reason, these facts and many others, have a large number of folks, including many Catholics, deeply disturbed.

At the same time, much of his public image is an act, and he has turned out be a shrewder political operator than I expected. No one, and I mean no one, predicted he would have this much success.

People support Trump not necessarily because of his policies but because of what he represents. And what he represents is the frustration ordinary, mostly white, Americans have towards politics in general. More specifically, the antipathy they have towards the feckless politicians the Republican Party has nominated over the past thirty years who have largely failed to halt the social and economic decay of the United States.

Against the neocons

Despite his inconsistency, immaturity and, at times, imbecility, Trump has been clear on several important policies. Policies that can be appreciated from a Catholic viewpoint.

In an article for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Daniel Mcadams outlines where Trump differentiates himself from the war hawks in his party.

First, according to Mcadams Trump states "the obvious" when he says "the Iraq war was brought to us by the liars of the neoconservative movement" and that it was a "total disaster" for the rest of us who "are forced to pay for their fantasies of world domination."

Second, Trump wants to "actually speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin to see if US/Russia differences can be worked out without a potentially world-ending nuclear war."

Third, although Trump is "arguing that he is hugely pro-Israel" he is "nevertheless suggesting that if the US is to play a role in the Israel/Palestine issue the US side should take a neutral role in the process."

Fourth, Trump is also calling out the "idiotic neocon advice" that resulted in the overthrowing of Gaddafi in Libya that has led to "the red carpet" being "laid down for ISIS" in that failed state.

And lastly, Trump is "suggesting that it may be a good thing that Russia be bombing ISIS into oblivion and that we might want to just sit back and let that happen for once."

Push back

The ruling class disdains each and every one of these positions. And for good reason.

By talking about the Iraq War and claiming Bush lied about it, Trump reminds us about the back room dealings and costs, both human and monetary, spreading "freedom" and "democracy" necessarily entails. And by drawing attention to the disastrous situation in Libya, Trump shines light on the foolishness of nation building abroad and the need to nation build at home. Obviously, all of this causes voters to have a less favorable view of foreign intervention in the future.

By painting Putin as a potential ally instead of a "thug," Trump de-programs Americans from thinking of the Russian President as Josef Stalin re-incarnated. It also disabuses ordinary citizens from seeing everything through an us-versus-them prism. Having a villain to point at evokes patriotism at home and affirms Americans in the moral right-ness of the pursuit of spreading "liberty." Neocons have long understood this. And Trump could potentially reverse that paradigm.

Furthermore, by taking a "neutral" stance towards Israel, Trump is indicating that he may put American interests ahead of Zionist interests. In other words, Trump would likely approach the Middle East in a way that holds Israel to the same moral standards as others. Realizing that this may result in an American president who refuses to be silent about the terrorist attacks Israelis commit against Palestinians on an almost daily basis, the globalists and their cronies in the media have been quick to compare Trump with, you guessed it, Adolf Hitler.

Going forward

Neoconservatives, in short, are apoplectic over a possible Trump presidency. His success could mean their demise, if only for a short while.

To be sure, it is difficult to know who Trump would surround himself with if he were to win the presidency. Would he call up Henry Kissinger? Would he seek the advice of the Council on Foreign Relations? I don't know.

But what I do know is that as of right now Trump appears to have all the right enemies. Enemies that include the neo-Catholic neocon community. Read here .

Now, don't expect the elites to go silently into the night. The attacks in the coming days and weeks will only get more vicious. We've already seen how quickly they brought up "the 1930s." Additionally, more than 100 self-identified "members of the Republican national security community" have signed an open letter excoriating Trump for his foreign policy views, adding that they are "united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency."

Unsurprisingly, some of them have said they would support Hillary Clinton, a Democratic neocon, instead of Trump in the general election.

So much for party loyalty.

In brief, a Trump nomination means the internationalists would no longer dictate the terms of America's economic and foreign policy. Moreover, if Trump arrives at the Republican convention with the majority of delegates and is denied the nomination, it will be clear to all that we live in country that is anything but a democracy.

Indeed, far from being a "breaking" of the GOP in two, wouldn't a Trump victory be nothing more than a re-calibration of the party to what it stood for historically? A party that serves the will of the American people instead of global elites?

Stephen Kokx is the host of " Church & State with Stephen Kokx " on Magnificat Media.com , which airs Fridays at 11am, 2pm, 6pm and 9pm and Saturdays at 10am EST. Follow him on twitter @StephenKokx and like him on Facebook

aroamingcatholicny March 7, 2016

I utterly despise Neocons, whether in Politics & Government or as Catholic Church Commentators.

This is why I come to akacatholic.com, The Remnant Newspaper & Catholic Family News.

In Politics, Conservatives would use The Bomb, while Neocons would engage in "Protective Reaction", whatever that means.

In The Case of Louie, Mike Matt, Chris Ferrara, John Vennari, Dr John Rao & Ann Barnhardt, one is told the truth as it occurred. There are no "Sweeps Week Specials" by People who are financed by Fat Cats & sound like Shills for said Fat Cats, while broadcasting from a Miniaturized Version of The CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street, from a Suburb of The Motor City, who tells everyone that what The Pope Said was a Mistranslation, while making Hay of Cardinal Dolan, passing wind on the Uptown Platform of the IND 6th Avenue Subway, all while the Polemicist is telling the World that The SSPX is in Schism. No, THAT Guy, despite the Bells & Whistles, is a Neo Catholic, who in many cases, cannot get his facts straight.

The NeoCatholics are the ones telling people that Girl Altar Servers are OK because the Pope says so. Ditto, Sancte Communion A Mano & Altar Tables facing the Congregation.You know WHO They Are.

But something I have noticed is that when it comes to Intelligent Conversation on the message boards, the Neo Catholics will not tolerate dissent vis a vis their position. The one with his broadcast centre is a classic example, with commenters practically forced to pay homage to The Fearless Leader's Position, even when not well researched.

Those who hold the Traditional Catholic Position, allow True Discussion on matters Catholic.

Traditional Catholic is true Freedom, without being patronizing. I cannot say that for a certain site, which charges $10 per month for Premium Membership.

AlphonsusJr March 7, 2016

You've reminded me of how the totally neocon and cuckservative National Review now rigorously–with all the fanaticism of the Stasi–polices its comments section. It's unreal.

[Jan 03, 2018] Pope Francis Only Those Who 'Acknowledge Their Faults' Receive Forgiveness

Forgiveness is neoliberal sin...
Notable quotes:
"... The reception of God's mercy in dependent upon a person's acknowledgement of his sins, Pope Francis said Wednesday, because "the proud person is unable to receive forgiveness." ..."
"... "What can the Lord give to those whose hearts are full of themselves and their own success?" the Pope asked the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican for his General Audience . "Nothing, because the presumptuous person is unable to receive forgiveness, since he is full of his supposed justice." ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | www.breitbart.com

The reception of God's mercy in dependent upon a person's acknowledgement of his sins, Pope Francis said Wednesday, because "the proud person is unable to receive forgiveness."

"What can the Lord give to those whose hearts are full of themselves and their own success?" the Pope asked the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican for his General Audience . "Nothing, because the presumptuous person is unable to receive forgiveness, since he is full of his supposed justice."

The Pope called to mind Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the publican, where only the publican, or tax collector, receives forgiveness for his sins and returns home justified.

"Those who are aware of their own miseries and lower their eyes with humility, feel the merciful gaze of God resting on them," Francis said. "We know from experience that only those who can acknowledge their faults and ask forgiveness receive the understanding and pardon of others."

... ... ...

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[Dec 24, 2017] Laudato si by Pope Francis

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed "eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment". [10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since "the book of nature is one and indivisible", and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that "the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence" ..."
"... Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation". [14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: "For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins". [15] For "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God". [16] ..."
"... He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which "entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion". ..."
"... It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. "The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should"; in effect, "power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom" since its "only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security". [85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint. ..."
"... Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed". ..."
"... We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build. ..."
"... Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology "know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race", that "in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all". [87] As a result, "man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature". [88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one's alternative creativity are diminished. ..."
"... At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", [90] while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth. ..."
"... The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. ..."
"... It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness. ..."
"... All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur. ..."
"... Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since "the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference" ..."
"... Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble ..."
"... This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity ..."
"... Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. ..."
"... The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. ..."
"... We are convinced that "man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life". [100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood. [101] We need to remember that men and women have "the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments". [102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others ..."
"... it is essential that "we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone", [103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. ..."
"... We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. ..."
"... The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy "through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence". [104] In other words, "human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs". [105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society. ..."
"... In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world's peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. ..."
"... To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good. ..."
May 24, 2015 | 5w2.vatican.va

... ... ...

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed "eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment".[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since "the book of nature is one and indivisible", and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that "the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence".[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that "man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature".[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed "where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves".[13]

United by the same concern

7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church's thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation".[14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: "For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins".[15] For "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God".[16]

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which "entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God's world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion".[17] As Christians, we are also called "to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet".[18]

... ... ...

I. TECHNOLOGY: CREATIVITY AND POWER

... ... ...

105. There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means "an increase of 'progress' itself", an advance in "security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture",[83] as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is that "contemporary man has not been trained to use power well",[84] because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience. Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. "The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should"; in effect, "power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom" since its "only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security".[85] But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.

II. THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE TECHNOCRATIC PARADIGM

106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed".[86]

107. It can be said that many problems of today's world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups. Decisions which may seem purely instrumental are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build.

108. The idea of promoting a different cultural paradigm and employing technology as a mere instrument is nowadays inconceivable. The technological paradigm has become so dominant that it would be difficult to do without its resources and even more difficult to utilize them without being dominated by their internal logic. It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same. Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology "know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race", that "in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all".[87] As a result, "man seizes hold of the naked elements of both nature and human nature".[88] Our capacity to make decisions, a more genuine freedom and the space for each one's alternative creativity are diminished.

109. The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behaviour shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.[89] At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation",[90] while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.

110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today's world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that "realities are more important than ideas".[91]

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. 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.

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people's concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

III. THE CRISIS AND EFFECTS OF MODERN ANTHROPOCENTRISM

115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since "the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere 'given', as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere 'space' into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference".[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: "Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed".[93]

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our "dominion" over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[94]

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for "instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature".[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then "our overall sense of responsibility wanes".[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to "biocentrism", for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a "thou" capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the "Thou" of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

120. 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? "If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away".[97]

121. We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries. Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals its eternal newness.[98]

Practical relativism

122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is "even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism".[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one's own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same "use and throw away" logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

The need to protect employment

124. Any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour, as Saint John Paul II wisely noted in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens. According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it ("keep") but also to make it fruitful ("till"). Labourers and craftsmen thus "maintain the fabric of the world" (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: "The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them" (Sir 38:4).

125. If we reflect on the proper relationship between human beings and the world around us, we see the need for a correct understanding of work; if we talk about the relationship between human beings and things, the question arises as to the meaning and purpose of all human activity. This has to do not only with manual or agricultural labour but with any activity involving a modification of existing reality, from producing a social report to the design of a technological development. Underlying every form of work is a concept of the relationship which we can and must have with what is other than ourselves. Together with the awe-filled contemplation of creation which we find in Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christian spiritual tradition has also developed a rich and balanced understanding of the meaning of work, as, for example, in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and his followers.

126. We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism. Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God. Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labour (ora et labora). Seeing manual labour as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety.

127. We are convinced that "man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life".[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101] We need to remember that men and women have "the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments".[102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today's global society, it is essential that "we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone",[103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.

128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy "through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence".[104] In other words, "human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs".[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.

129. In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world's peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production. To ensure economic freedom from which all can effectively benefit, restraints occasionally have to be imposed on those possessing greater resources and financial power. To claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute. Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.

New biological technologies

130. In the philosophical and theological vision of the human being and of creation which I have presented, it is clear that the human person, endowed with reason and knowledge, is not an external factor to be excluded. While human intervention on plants and animals is permissible when it pertains to the necessities of human life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that experimentation on animals is morally acceptable only "if it remains within reasonable limits [and] contributes to caring for or saving human lives".[106] The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly".[107] All such use and experimentation "requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation".[108]

... ... ...

[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?

[Sep 26, 2015] Full text of Pope Francis speech before Congress

Notable quotes:
"... A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. ..."
"... All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. ..."
"... We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today's many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. ..."
"... If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. ..."
"... At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family ..."
Sep 26, 2015 | UPI.com

... ... ...

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

... ... ...

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

...We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today's many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

...If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

... ... ...

The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. "Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good" (Laudato Si', 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to "enter into dialogue with all people about our common home" (ibid., 3). "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all" (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si', I call for a courageous and responsible effort to "redirect our steps" (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a "culture of care" (ibid., 231) and "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature" (ibid., 139). "We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology" (ibid., 112); "to devise intelligent ways of . . . developing and limiting our power" (ibid., 78); and to put technology "at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral" (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America's outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

... ... ...

...At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

... ... ...

[Jul 14, 2015] Francis in America: a radical pope journeys to the heart of the [neoliberal] machine

Notable quotes:
"... Note the adjective " unfettered ". Anything that is not sanctioned by the rule of law is not good for anyone. The challenge today is extractive capitalism. Some of this can be addressed by tax policy. Bankruptcy law needs to be changed to hold liable those executives who take out excessive amounts of funds from an enterprize. Personal property needs need better protection. Existing environmental laws need to be enforced. ..."
"... My understanding is that Pope Francis (I am not Catholic) has spoken about the inherent unfairness of "unrestricted" capitalism. He has not denounced capitalism. His words are painstaking, accurately stated & precise. ..."
"... I like his moves, promoting climate change, making a point in visiting the poorest countries on Earth, and naming Capitalists as members of a greedy system, not capable of taking on the role of providing goods and services to the Needy, and of course, the Pontiff heaps religious obscenities upon the War Mongers, mainly in the West. I am going to give my Bible another chance, here's hoping . ..."
"... He seems to be pointing out a few realities. Which, as others have pointed out is causing much wriggling by those who have complete faith by the dollar in the sky. ..."
"... "The US government gives the Vatican nothing...". Not quite. The US Government gives the Church tax-exemption. ..."
"... Of course all the corporate politicians both Republican and Democrat are going to oppose the Pope. Forget the politicians and let's see how the American people react. I expect the Pope will be warmly received as a man of empathy and humanity who shows concern for the poor. I hope that when he addresses congress he does not pull any of his punches. ..."
Jul 14, 2015 | The Guardian

LivinVirginia -> Ken Barnes 13 Jul 2015 20:27

I do not mean to misquote him. Pope Francis is a good man, but before he lectures the US on capitalism, he needs to remember that the Vatican bank has been embroiled in their own banking scandals. I was raised Catholic. I do not have a good impression of the men who run the church. They spend a lot of time asking for money, and I always wonder if they are spending it hiring lawyers for pedophile priests. I like the Pope though. He seems better that the rest of the lot. I think the tax exemptions for religions should be stopped. Religions spend too much time discriminating against certain segments of society. I think they are wolves in sheep's clothing.

RoachAmerican 13 Jul 2015 20:19

Note the adjective " unfettered ". Anything that is not sanctioned by the rule of law is not good for anyone. The challenge today is extractive capitalism. Some of this can be addressed by tax policy. Bankruptcy law needs to be changed to hold liable those executives who take out excessive amounts of funds from an enterprize. Personal property needs need better protection. Existing environmental laws need to be enforced.

William Brown 13 Jul 2015 20:05

I imagine The Pope will say something about an 'eye of a needle'

brianboru1014 13 Jul 2015 19:52

Wall Street via the New York Times and the WS Journal is well on the way to denigrating this man. Even though most Americans support him, these publications will do everything to belittle him.

CaptainWillard -> CaptainWillard 13 Jul 2015 19:36

The US government gives "only" tax exempt status. On the other-hand, citizens of the US very likely raise more money for the Catholic Church than the citizens of any other country.

Ken Barnes -> LivinVirginia 13 Jul 2015 19:30

My understanding is that Pope Francis (I am not Catholic) has spoken about the inherent unfairness of "unrestricted" capitalism. He has not denounced capitalism. His words are painstaking, accurately stated & precise. It helps no one in a discussion to change what another has said & then attempt to debate the misquote.

Greenshoots -> goatrider 13 Jul 2015 19:29

And a shedload of other "purposes" as well:

The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

Richard Martin 13 Jul 2015 19:20

Francis really follows in the footsteps of the First Fisherman, radicalised in God's format .

I like his moves, promoting climate change, making a point in visiting the poorest countries on Earth, and naming Capitalists as members of a greedy system, not capable of taking on the role of providing goods and services to the Needy, and of course, the Pontiff heaps religious obscenities upon the War Mongers, mainly in the West. I am going to give my Bible another chance, here's hoping .

John Fahy 13 Jul 2015 19:16

He seems to be pointing out a few realities. Which, as others have pointed out is causing much wriggling by those who have complete faith by the dollar in the sky.

goatrider -> LivinVirginia 13 Jul 2015 19:01

As it does every other religion----

TerryMcGee -> Magali Luna 13 Jul 2015 19:00

Up until this pope, I would have agreed with you. But this pope is different. In one step, he has taken the papacy from being a major part of the problem to a major force for good. We can't expect him to fix all the problems in the church and its doctrines - that's not the work of one generation. But if he can play a major part in fixing the two massive world problems he has focussed on - climate change and rampant capitalism - he will have done enough for one lifetime.

And I get the impression that he's only warming up....

LivinVirginia -> goatrider 13 Jul 2015 18:34

"The US government gives the Vatican nothing...". Not quite. The US Government gives the Church tax-exemption.

David Dougherty 13 Jul 2015 18:13

Of course all the corporate politicians both Republican and Democrat are going to oppose the Pope. Forget the politicians and let's see how the American people react. I expect the Pope will be warmly received as a man of empathy and humanity who shows concern for the poor. I hope that when he addresses congress he does not pull any of his punches.

Cooper2345 13 Jul 2015 17:59

I like the gift that Morales gave to the Pope, the crucifix over the hammer and sickle. It shows the victory of Christianity over Soviet communism that one of Francis' predecessors helped to shepherd. It's a great reminder of a wonderful triumph and reason to be thankful for the genius of St. John Paul II.

[Jul 10, 2015] Unbridled capitalism is the 'dung of the devil', says Pope Francis

"...He said he supported their efforts to obtain "so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three "Ls": land, lodging and labour"."
"...he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil", and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries. "
"..."Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change," the pope said, decrying a system that "has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature"."
"...The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain 'free trade' treaties, and the imposition of measures of 'austerity' which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor"
"...A lot of us are awaiting the 3rd WW, between Russia and the US, between China and the US, between the West and the East, while the war is on. ... Is it work of Capitalism? I think that capitalism in it's modern form lies near this war, and both are made by the same people."
"...Still, the subject of my comment was not the predominance of Christians, but how much poverty exists in this predominantly Christian nation. They ignore the most fundamental teachings they profess to believe--the admonitions of Jesus to feed, clothe, and generally help the poor."
"...There is a reason the US has over 900 bases across the world, and that is to insure its business interests."
"...An economic system is not a matter of either-or. Those who profit from "Laissez Faire" capitalism like to push the idea that the only alternative is communism. Pope Francis is obviously a proponent of a "mixed economy" as most people in the US on the left are. He is attacking "unbridled capitalism" not an adequately regulated free-market economy."
"...Animal farm is not about the failure of either Communism or Fascism....it is a commentary on the corruption of power; not a uniquely Communist problem. The machinations of politics also feature quite heavily...divide and rule, propaganda, double standards and the use of language to achieve ones aims...these are abuses of power that both the left and the right have been guilty of. Hitler's Germany was Fascist (right wing extremism), Stalin's Russia was Communist (left wing extremism)..."
Jul 10, 2015 | The Guardian

Pope Francis has urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a "new colonialism" by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the "sacred rights" of labor, lodging and land.

In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the "so-called conquest of America".

The pontiff also demanded an immediate end to what he called the "genocide" of Christians taking place in the Middle East and beyond, describing it as a third world war.

"Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus," Pope Francis said.

"In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end."

Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil", and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries.

Repeating some of the themes of his landmark encyclical Laudato Si on the environment last month, Francis said time was running out to save the planet from perhaps irreversible harm to the ecosystem.

Pope Francis shakes hands with a mining worker's leader watched by Bolivia's president Evo Morales, right, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Francis made the address in the city of Santa Cruz to participants of the second world meeting of popular movements, an international body that brings together organisations of people on the margins of society, including the poor, the unemployed and peasants who have lost their land. The Vatican hosted the first meeting last year.

He said he supported their efforts to obtain "so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three "Ls": land, lodging and labour".

His speech was preceded by lengthy remarks from the left-wing Bolivian president Evo Morales, who wore a jacket adorned with the face of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He was executed in Bolivia in 1967 by CIA-backed Bolivian troops.

"Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change," the pope said, decrying a system that "has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature".

"This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, labourers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable," he said in an hour-long speech that was interrupted by applause and cheering dozens of times.

Since his election in 2013, the first pope from Latin America has often spoken out in defence of the poor and against unbridled capitalism but the speech in Santa Cruz was the most comprehensive to date on the issues he has championed.

Francis' previous attacks on capitalism have prompted stiff criticism from politicians and commentators in the United States, where he is due to visit in September.

The pontiff appeared to take a swipe at international monetary organisations such as the IMF and the development aid policies by some developed countries.

"No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice," he said.

"The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain 'free trade' treaties, and the imposition of measures of 'austerity' which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor," he said.

Last week, Francis called on European authorities to keep human dignity at the centre of debate for a solution to the economic crisis in Greece.

He defended labor unions and praised poor people who had formed cooperatives to create jobs where previously "there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy".

In one of the sections on colonialism, he said:

"I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God."

He added: "I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offences of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

"There was sin and an abundant amount of it."

The audience gave Francis a standing ovation when he put on a yellow miner's hat that was given to him at the end of his speech.

The pope made his speech at the end of his first full day in Bolivia, where he arrived on Wednesday. On Thursday morning he said a mass for hundreds of thousands of people and said that everyone had a moral duty to help the poor, and that those with means could not wish they would just "go away".

Francis praised Bolivia's social reforms to spread wealth under Morales. On Friday, he will visit Bolivia's notoriously violent Palmasola prison.

The pope looked bemused on Wednesday night when Morales handed him one of the more unusual gifts he has received: a sculpted wooden hammer and sickle – the symbol of communism – with a figure of a crucified Christ resting on the hammer.
Francis leaves on Friday for Paraguay, the last stop on his "homecoming" trip.


Westonboy 10 Jul 2015 09:01

The Pope didn't actually say "unbridled capitalism is the dung of the devil" did he?
So why is that the headline of this piece?


valeronfreza 10 Jul 2015 08:46

Actually, I find one of his thoughts really interesting. A lot of us are awaiting the 3rd WW, between Russia and the US, between China and the US, between the West and the East, while the war is on. The whole civilized world takes part in this mess, the thing is that this war looks different from what we're used to see. I mean, we get information, made by those, who wants us to see it different, like something, that happening far away, though it's dangerous as hell.
Is it work of Capitalism? I think that capitalism in it's modern form lies near this war, and both are made by the same people.


cblyth79 10 Jul 2015 08:41

he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil"

He has hit the nail on the head. This is everything that is wrong with society. Every decision is taken with regards to making as much money as possible. However, the great irony is that even if people do make money, their constant desire for more means they are never happy or fulfilled. Meanwhile, socially and environmentally we suffer greatly due to this ultimately fruitless pursuit of as much money as possible.


PM782_ -> Greenshoots 10 Jul 2015 08:40

Generally speaking, you are right of course.

I have very little time for virgin men in silly hats & dresses, carrying crucifixes and expecting everyone to take them seriously when history shows us they cannot be trusted to act in an ethical way, and will (as always) be more concerned about amassing money and influence than doing any good in the world.

The whole thing is ludicrous and you should be ashamed that you believe in it. It is really astonishing.

Greenshoots -> Drew Layton 10 Jul 2015 08:39

Atheist trope. One could as easily say "Religion compels unreasonable people to do reasonable things".


Westonboy -> pol098 10 Jul 2015 08:37

I'm happy to salute the personal contributions you make but, of course, the computer that you will have used to write or test your software is a product of capitalism.
Also, most of the the goods you recycle or give away are no doubt the products of capitalism.
Anti-capitalists don't seem to have any alternative method of wealth creation.


EnglishChapin 10 Jul 2015 08:26

In the article:

Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil"

In the headline:

"Unbridled capitalism is the 'dung of the devil', says Pope Francis"


kycol1 -> natsirtguy 10 Jul 2015 08:24

As a Unitarian/Universalist I am equally, if not more, wary of that practice. Francis, however, is a public figure who has the right to express his opinion. While he was definitely speaking to a Catholic audience, he was not giving his words the weight of a Papal Encyclical. Also, it is the accepted and expected belief of Catholics that the Pope directs their thinking as far as faith goes. I do not see his words being a act of forcing his will on me, personally. All public figures have the right to express their opinion on that subject. I also believe that regulation should go further than dealing with "negative externalities" unless you view the financial crisis of 2008 as a negative externality . While the causes of the crisis were complex and varied, lax regulatory oversight during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations played a role in creating the conditions for it.

lesmandalasdeniki -> hollyjadoon 10 Jul 2015 08:13

Why do you want poor people to rise up? On what sense? Revolution to topple world governments, what's next? What kind of governmental system will we apply to ensure law and order? Will it be one world government by the Vatican?


GallopingGournmet -> citizen_1111 10 Jul 2015 08:09

I'm glad you set everyone straight on this. We were all thinking capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. But clearly capitalism involves greed for money, exploitation and environmental destruction. The very fact you've attempted to pick at this shows you're missing the overarching point. The Pope is criticizing how our unregulated "socioeconomic system" - which was capitalism the last time I looked - for being responsible for ruining society, enslaving men and women and destroying human fraternity. All of which is pretty spot on. Excuse me for having to clarify this for you.


citizen_1111 10 Jul 2015 07:48

Wouldn't it be great if newspapers like the Guardian printed the truth, rather than spin. The pope did not say that "unbridled capitalism is the dung of devil". Here's the actual paragraph. It's nothing like the Guardian's deceptive headline.

Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished.

And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called "the dung of the devil". An unfettered pursuit of money rules.

The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.

So he's actually referring to greed for money - a moral sin .... not capitalism, which is basically meritocratic mechanism of funding businesses.


HobbesianWorld -> Drew Layton 10 Jul 2015 07:41

Wrong, it's a predominantly Christian nation. Christians don't own it. Under the Constitution, all beliefs in matters of religion are equal.

Still, the subject of my comment was not the predominance of Christians, but how much poverty exists in this predominantly Christian nation. They ignore the most fundamental teachings they profess to believe--the admonitions of Jesus to feed, clothe, and generally help the poor.

Capitalism isn't a sacred arm of Christianity, yet many (most?) Christians tend to favor Wall Street's gluttony and greed while millions of children live in poverty. Is that what we should see in a "Christian" nation? It's the epitome of hypocrisy.


PM782_ 10 Jul 2015 07:33

The guy in charge of 1 billion plus devout catholics, with all the riches of the Vatican, preaches to us about how excessive capitalism is a bad thing.

This pope seems more reasonable than his predecessors however until he actually DOES something that makes the world a better place and in some way makes up for the history of atrocious behavior that the Catholic church has engaged in, I'm simply not interested.

It is strange though, seeing how many people are hoodwinked by a few choice words, when the organization he represents has been an utter blight on humanity since it began.


heretoeternity -> natsirtguy 10 Jul 2015 07:32

There is a reason the US has over 900 bases across the world, and that is to insure its business interests.

Laurence W 10 Jul 2015 07:18

Devout capitalists/corporatists may not see the symmetry between John Paul II's defiance of the bankruptcy of unbridled Communism and Francis's defiance of the bankruptcy of unfettered Capitalism. They cling to their irrational faith (and that is what it is) in Adam Smith's "invisible hand." The collapse of Communism does not somehow validate Capitalism. It seems Capitalism's true believers must be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st. Century.


ideation2020 -> PeterAB12 10 Jul 2015 07:11

In the West there is a marked reduction in family size since about 1965. There are also far more women at work, the workforce has adapted to almost full attendance of female workers. We generally have accommodated an increase of 70% by reducing family size and equally as important is the accommodation and full attendance of single a and" won't marry" adults.

SmileyFace2 -> natsirtguy 10 Jul 2015 07:10

But Capitalism has resulted in a Plutocracy which leads to rule by the top 1%. So it is not quite a simple as you seem to think hence the need for a mixed economy.


HobbesianWorld 10 Jul 2015 07:08

While I wouldn't put it that way, the Pope is correct that unfettered capitalism is the major source of injustice, especially the injustice of poverty.

It's a source of dark humor for me to hear Christians call the U.S. a "Christian nation" even as they fight to maintain and enhance the cause of poverty--unbridled corporatism; profit over humanity, wealth over justice and selfishness over honor.


Brian Milne -> Kevin Lim 10 Jul 2015 06:59

How much time have you spent in South America? I spent 18 years going back and forth as part of my job, must admit I have not spoken to a Liberation Theology priest (he was actually a Jesuit originally) since October. So perhaps I am just a little bit out of synch.

Life paths include being allowed to express one's sexuality openly and not risk excommunication and denunciation by the church, to be allowed to have abortions and use contraception without being told that you will go to Hell, to be allowed to 'formally' leave the church (some countries still require religion on official document) and to follow political streams that the church condemns as unchristian to name but just a few. By using the pressure of condemnation in the afterlife people are to this day controlled by fear.

Sure nobody is obliged to put money in the dish but too many still fear the stigma of not doing so. If this man can end that then it would be a job well done, but he will not, will he?


cblyth79 -> Manjush 10 Jul 2015 06:51

I agree that overpopulation is a problem, but to me the real problem is the capitalist consumerism of first-world countries and the damage this is causing to the planet. Even if the populations of third-world countries doubled they would not get anywhere near the CO2 that we produce. And that's not even to mention the fact that we have caused climate change and they haven't. To blame overpopulation is to out the blame on third-world countries, when it should be squarely on us.


VivF -> dysro1 10 Jul 2015 06:50

Animal farm is not about the failure of either Communism or Fascism....it is a commentary on the corruption of power; not a uniquely Communist problem. The machinations of politics also feature quite heavily...divide and rule, propaganda, double standards and the use of language to achieve ones aims...these are abuses of power that both the left and the right have been guilty of. Hitler's Germany was Fascist (right wing extremism), Stalin's Russia was Communist (left wing extremism)...

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
- Lord Acton


Drew -> Layton 10 Jul 2015 06:48

Yay! Religion has done something that isn't rape, muder, burning at the stake, ripping people's breasts off, implement, beheading, shooting people on beaches, blowing things up, being homophobic, sexist, racist or generally being a complete twat! Let's all jump up and down and burn a pilot! YAY!


Kathy -> Foulds 10 Jul 2015 06:42

We are in very new times....Pope Francis is not afraid to challenge the status quo...Alleluia.


Tony Menezes 10 Jul 2015 06:24

The national interest of the unbridled capitalists has sidelined morality and justice. The third world war has started albeit piecemeal.
This is a strong wake up call from someone that must be listened to.


Greenshoots -> rgrabman 10 Jul 2015 06:23

I can only speak for the UK where I have yet to find a Catholic friend who is not immensely supportive of what the Pope has to say, whatever prominent Tory Catholics may have to say. Catholics on the whole tend to vote Labour.

If you want to see a precursor to what the Pope is now saying, read the Catholic bishops document "The common good" from 1996:
"As at the end of the 19th century, Catholic Social Teaching is concerned to protect the poor and vulnerable from the chill winds of economic forces. The defeat of Communism should not mean the triumph of unbridled capitalism."

"The Catholic doctrine of the common good is incompatible with unlimited freemarket, or laissez-faire, capitalism ...".


Unconstituted -> natsirtguy 10 Jul 2015 06:22

Massively disagree with that bit about him being a non-scientist etc.

If skeptics are still unsure after all the science that has been thrown at them, then perhaps they aren't influenced that way. They follow figures that they personally respect.

And the Pope has a huge following. I am certain that he will have given a lot of people pause for thought recently.

Like many here, as an atheist, I'm no fan of the guy. But causes like social justice, climate change etc need more than just reams of studies. It needs PR.


Greenshoots -> clogexpat 10 Jul 2015 06:17

Which is incorrect because the left is not, and never has been, an identifiable tribe in British politics.
I agree that many people are not tribal about being left wing. They are willing to partner with people whom they disagree with on some issues but where there is a common cause.
However, you just have to read many of the posts in this thread to see that, for many other people, it is a form of tribal allegiance because they, in response to the Pope saying something they probably do agree with, they cannot refrain from attacking him on unrelated issues. They are not interested in supporting the common cause.


Longasyourarm -> MaximTS 10 Jul 2015 06:15

Well spotted but many here are in it for the opportunity to exercise their demons of hatred, bigotry and racism. Most don't even read the article and jump right to the comments in their haste to slag off Catholics, the Pope, Religion in general. I suppose it is still better than invasion of other countries and stealing their stuff, isn't it Tony?


domrice 10 Jul 2015 06:13

Finally, a pontiff brave enough to enunciate the core values of Jesus Christ. Oh that the world had political leaders who weren't shameless slaves to the moneylenders.


discreto -> SmileyFace2 10 Jul 2015 06:11

That is because the Free Trade is not Fair Trade, this is what Pope Francis is talking about. Capitalism is Free Trade it is not Fair Trade with the People who work to ensure the Goods are there to trade are not getting what is a Fair and Just Living wage, they are being used by the Corporations who make Millions out of their hard work. I support Pope Francis and his Courage in speaking up for the People in developing Countries who are made to depend on Capitalism against their will. At last he is the Pope who is acknowledging the sins of the Church both past and present, with a strong voice of Apology. It would be good if he could sit down with The First Nations of America to take part in their native Ritual of Smudging from Smoke of burnt Herbs and grasses for forgiveness and Peace. I pray for Pope Francis's Protection.


kycol1 -> natsirtguy 10 Jul 2015 06:02

An economic system is not a matter of either-or. Those who profit from "Laissez Faire" capitalism like to push the idea that the only alternative is communism. Pope Francis is obviously a proponent of a "mixed economy" as most people in the US on the left are. He is attacking "unbridled capitalism" not an adequately regulated free-market economy.


ID1780902 10 Jul 2015 05:55

Why so many negative comments? Here we have an extremely high profile figure publicly rallying people all over the world to help with climate change, and to oppose some of the excesses of capitalism.

Regardless of what you think of the Catholic church, many people will listen to what he says, and take it very seriously. If he only changes the mind of a single climate-change denier that would be enough, but I think he will do a lot more than that, particularly in the US.

[Jun 23, 2015] Bill Black: A Harvard Don is Enraged that Pope Francis is Opposed to the World Economic Order

Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with http://neweconomicperspectives.org " rel="nofollow">New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... laissez faire. ..."
"... The Gospel According to St. Lloyd Blankfein ..."
Jun 23, 2015 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on June 23, 2015 by Yves Smith

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with http://neweconomicperspectives.org" rel="nofollow">New Economic Perspectives

A New York Times article entitled "Championing Environment, Francis Takes Aim at Global Capitalism" quotes a conventional Harvard economist, Robert N. Stavins. Stavins is enraged by Pope Francis' position on the environment because the Pope is "opposed to the world economic order." The rage, unintentionally, reveals why conventional economics is the most dangerous ideology pretending to be a "science."

Stavins' attacks on the Pope quickly became personal and dismissive. This is odd, for Pope Francis' positions on the environment are the same as Stavins' most important positions. Stavins' natural response to the Pope's views on the environment – had Stavin not been an economist – would have been along the lines of "Pope Francis is right, and we urgently need to make his vision a reality."

Stavins' fundamental position is that there is an urgent need for a "radical restructuring" of the markets to prevent them from causing a global catastrophe. That is Pope Francis' fundamental position. But Stavins ends up mocking and trying to discredit the Pope.

I was struck by the similarity of Stavins response to Pope Francis to the rich man's response to Jesus. The episode is reported in Matthew, Mark, and Luke in similar terms. I'll use Matthew's version (KJAV), which begins at 19:16 with the verse:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Jesus responds:

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

The young rich man wants to know which commandments he needs to follow to gain eternal life.

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

The young, wealthy man is enthused. The Rabbi that he believes has the secret of eternal life has agreed to personally answer his question as to how to obtain it. He passes the requirements the Rabbi lists, indeed, he has met those requirements since he was a child.

But then Jesus lowers the boom in response to the young man's question on what he "lacks."

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

We need to "review the bidding" at this juncture. The young man is wealthy. He believes that Jesus knows the secret to obtaining eternal life. His quest was to discover – and comply – with the requirement to achieve eternal life. The Rabbi has told him the secret – and then gone well beyond the young man's greatest hopes by offering to make him a disciple. The door to eternal life is within the young man's power to open. All he needs to do is give all that he owns to the poor. The Rabbi goes further and offers to make the young man his disciple. In exchange, the young man will secure "treasure in heaven" – eternal life and a place of particular honor for his sacrifice and his faith in Jesus.

Jesus' answer – the answer the young man thought he wished to receive more than anything in the world – the secret of eternal life, causes the young man great distress.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

The young man rejects eternal life because he cannot bear the thought of giving his "great possessions" to "the poor." Notice that the young man is not evil. He keeps the commandments. He is eager to do a "good thing" to gain eternal life. He has "great possessions" and is eager to trade a generous portion of his wealth as a good deed to achieve eternal life. In essence, he is seeking to purchase an indulgence from Jesus.

But Jesus' response causes the young, wealthy man to realize that he must make a choice. He must decide which he loves more – eternal life or his great possessions. He is "sorrowful" for Jesus' response causes him to realize that he loves having his great possessions for his remaining span of life on earth more than eternal life itself.

Jesus offers him not only the means to open the door to eternal life but the honor of joining him as a disciple. The young man is forced by Jesus' offer to realize that his wealth has so fundamentally changed him that he will voluntarily give up his entry into eternal life. He is not simply "sorrowful" that he will not enter heaven – he is "sorrowful" to realize that heaven is open to him – but he will refuse to enter it because of his greed. His wealth has become a golden trap of his own creation that will damn him. The golden bars of his cell are invisible and he can remove them at any time and enter heaven, but the young man realizes that his greed for his "great possessions" has become so powerful that his self-created jail cell has become inescapable. It is only when Jesus opens the door to heaven that the young man realizes for the first time in his life how completely his great possessions have corrupted and doomed him. He knows he is committing the suicide of his soul – and that he is powerless to change because he has been taught to value his own worth as a person by the extent of his great possessions.

Jesus then makes his famous saying that captures the corrupting effects of great wealth.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The remainder of the passage is of great importance to Luther's doctrine of "justification by faith alone" and leads to Jesus' famous discussion of why "the last shall be first," (in which his anti-market views are made even more explicit) but the portions I have quoted are adequate to my purpose.

Pope Francis' positions on the environment and climate are the greatest boon that Stavin has received in decades. The Pope, like Stavins, tells us that climate change is a disaster that requires urgent governmental action to fix. Stavins could receive no more joyous news. Instead of being joyous, however, Stavins is sorrowful. Indeed, unlike the wealthy man who simply leaves after hearing the Rabbi's views, Stavins rages at and heaps scorn on the prelate, Pope Francis. Stavins' email to the New York Times about the Pope's position on climate change contains this double ideological smear.

The approach by the pope, an Argentine who is the first pontiff from the developing world, is similar to that of a "small set of socialist Latin American countries that are opposed to the world economic order, fearful of free markets, and have been utterly dismissive and uncooperative in the international climate negotiations," Dr. Stavins said.

Stavins' work explicitly states that the "free markets" he worships are causing "mass extinction" and a range of other disasters. Stavins' work explicitly states that the same "free markets" are incapable of change – they cause incentives so perverse that they are literally suicidal – and the markets are incapable of reform even when they are committing suicide by laissez faire. That French term is what Stavins uses to describe our current markets. Pope Francis agrees with each of these points.

Pope Francis says, as did Jesus, that this means that we must not worship "free markets," that we must think first of the poor, and that justice and fairness should be our guides to proper conduct. Stavins, like the wealthy young man, is forced to make a choice. He chooses "great possessions." Unlike the wealthy young man, however, Stavins is enraged rather than "sorrowful" and Stavins lashes out at the religious leader. He is appalled that an Argentine was made Pope, for Pope Francis holds views "that are opposed to the world economic order [and] fearful of free markets." Well, yes. A very large portion of the world's people oppose "the Washington Consensus" and want a very different "world economic order." Most of the world's top religious leaders are strong critics of the "world economic order."

As to being "fearful of free markets," Stavins' own work shows that his use of the word "free" in that phrase is not simply meaningless, but false. Stavins explains that the people, animals, and plants that are the imminent victims of "mass extinction" have no ability in the "markets" to protect themselves from mass murder. They are "free" only to become extinct, which makes a mockery of the word "free."

Similarly, Stavins' work shows that any sentient species would be "fearful" of markets that Stavins proclaims are literally suicidal and incapable of self-reform. Stavins writes that only urgent government intervention that forces a "radical restructuring" of the markets can save our planet from "mass extinction." When I read that I believed that he was "fearful of free markets."

We have all had the experience of seeing the "free markets" blow up the global economy as recently as 2008. We saw there, as well, that only massive government intervention could save the markets from a global meltdown. Broad aspects of the financial markets became dominated by our three epidemics of "accounting control fraud."

Stavins is appalled that a religious leader could oppose a system based on the pursuit and glorification of "great possessions." He is appalled that a religious leader is living out the Church's mission to provide a "preferential option for the poor." Stavins hates the Church's mission because it is "socialist" – and therefore so obviously awful that it does not require refutation by Stavins. This cavalier dismissal of religious beliefs held by most humans is revealing coming from a field that proudly boasts the twin lies that it is a "positive" "science." Theoclassical economists embrace an ideology that is antithetical to nearly every major religion.

Stavins, therefore, refuses to enter the door that Pope Francis has opened. Stavins worships a system based on the desire to accumulate "great possessions" – even though he knows that the markets pose an existential threat to most species on this planet and even though he knows that his dogmas increasingly aid the worst, most fraudulent members of our society to become wealthy through forms of "looting" (Akerlof and Romer 1993) that make other people poorer. The result is that Stavins denounces Pope Francis rather than embracing him as his most valuable ally.

Conclusion: Greed and Markets Kill: Suicide by Laissez Faire

The old truths remain. The worship of "great possessions" wreaks such damage on our humanity that we come to love them more than life itself and act in a suicidal fashion toward our species and as mass destroyers of other species. Jesus' insight was that this self-corruption is so common, so subtle, and so powerful that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Today, he would probably use "economist" rather than "camel."

Theoclassical economists are the high priests of this celebration of greed that Stavins admits poses the greatest threat to life on our planet. When Pope Francis posed a choice to Stavins, he chose to maintain his dogmatic belief in a system that he admits is suicidal and incapable of self-reform. The reason that the mythical and mystical "free markets" that Stavins worships are suicidal and incapable of self-reform even when they are producing "mass extinction" is that the markets are a system based on greed and the desire to obtain "great possessions" even if the result is to damn us and life on our planet.

Adam Smith propounded the paradox that greed could lead the butcher and baker (in a village where everyone could judge reputation and quality) to reliably produce goods of high quality at the lowest price. The butcher and baker, therefore, would act (regardless of their actual motivations) as if they cared about their customers. Smith observed that the customer of small village merchant's products would find the merchant's self-interest a more reliable assurance of high quality than the merchant's altruism.

But Stavins makes clear in his writing that this is not how markets function in the context of "external" costs to the environment. In the modern context, the energy markets routinely function in a manner that Stavins rightly depicts as leading to mass murder. Stavins so loves the worship of the quest for "great possessions" that he is eager to try to discredit Pope Francis as a leader in the effort to prevent "mass extinction" (Stavins' term) – suicide by laissez faire.

(No, I am not now and never was or will be a Catholic.)

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Clive June 23, 2015 at 6:04 am

The Pope's recent comments stirred an old memory from when I was a child, for some reason. Growing up in England in the 1980's, it didn't escape even my childish notice that the series "Dr. Who" was often a vehicle for what would now been deemed outrageously left wing thinking and ideas.

One such episode was The Pirate Planet. The plot's premise was that a race had created a mechanism for consuming entire planets at a time, extracting mineral wealth from the doomed planet being destroyed in the process and using energy and resources for the benefit of a tiny ruling elite with the remnants being offered as trinkets for the masses.

A small subset of the evil race was subliminally aware of what was happening. One of the lines spoken by a character really stuck in my mind, when he said after the reality of their existence was explained to him "so people die to make us rich?"

At the time, it was intended I think more as an allegory on the exploitation of South African gold miners under apartheid than as a general critique of capitalism by the prevailing socialist thinking in Britain in that era (it seems impossible now for me to believe how left wing Britain was in the late 1970s and even into the very early 1980s, but that is indeed the case; it feels like it was a completely different country. Perhaps it was ). No wonder the Thatcher government aggressively targeted the BBC (who produced the show), seeing it, probably rightly, as a hotbed of Trotskyite ideology.

But the point the show was trying to make is as valid now as it was then and is the same point the Pope Francis is making. A great deal of our material wealth and affluence is built on others' suffering. It is wrong. And the system which both perpetrates the suffering and the people who benefit from it needs to change. Us turkeys are going to have to vote for Christmas.

Disturbed Voter June 23, 2015 at 6:43 am

Nice post, Clive. But I thought Brits ate goose at Christmas, and Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving ;-)

Yes, where have all the leftists gone? Is Cornel West the only one "left" in America? Forty years ago I was moving to the Right, in reaction to the Left. The Cold War was still on, patriotism et al.

The current paradigm is insane so nature will not allow it to continue much longer. G-d not so much. The US today is qualitatively different than it was in the 70s.

Trotsky was one of the first people to understand Hitler. Stalin not so much. Our current crop of elder pundits of Neoliberalism originally were Jewish trotskyites back in the 60s. Neoliberalism was perhaps pragmatic back then, but has outlived its usefulness.

vidimi June 23, 2015 at 7:59 am

old queen vic introduced the turkey to britain and it has supplanted the goose as a christmas special. i prefer goose, though.

James Levy June 23, 2015 at 10:36 am

My friend Tracey and her family still had "joint of beef" for Christmas.

James Levy June 23, 2015 at 6:47 am

The overweening arrogance of the Thatcherites and the neoclassical ideologues that are in evidence at Harvard is their insistence that what they peddle is not a set of values, but a "science", and that their set of values is the only set of values even worth considering (TINA). The Pope's job is to remind us all of another possible set of values and organizing principles. No one said you have to believe in them. But they have a right to be on the table when we collectively chose what kind of world we want to live in.

John Smith June 23, 2015 at 6:13 am

"All he needs to do is give all that he owns to the poor." Bill Black

No. He is to sell all he owns but Jesus does not say that he is to then give away ALL the money. The rich guy's problem is his possessions, not money. Note that Matthew, another rich guy, did not give away all his money yet he was a disciple of Jesus.

As for "free markets", what is free market about government-subsidized/privileged banks?

Patricia June 23, 2015 at 6:35 am

Don't know if this has been linked at NC; it is another righteous rant on the subject:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/19/in-the-usa-i-cannot-write/

Disturbed Voter June 23, 2015 at 7:18 am

Nice. Takeaway? "no true feelings" insightful description of the people around me. The West in a state of nervous breakdown.

vidimi June 23, 2015 at 11:11 am

something didn't read right about this piece to me. hard to put my finger on it, but it came across as a bit hypocritical and a lot bitter. apart from that, the style is eclectic and the thoughts are scrambled all over the place. more a rant than a coherent argument.

It all began when I arrived. After travelling some 48 hours from South Africa to Southern California, carrying films and books for the conference, I was not even met at the airport. So I took a taxi. But nobody met me at the place where I was supposed to stay. I stood on the street for more than one hour.

in this passage he sounds like he suffers from affluenza. in those poor but righteous third world countries, he is treated like a rockstar. in the rotten US, he is dismayed at the lack of attention. although no doubt he has a point, it smacks a bit of entitlement.

not vltchek's best work, but then again, he did admit to writing most of it on the plane.

Synoia June 23, 2015 at 6:42 am

it seems impossible now for me to believe how left wing Britain was in the late 1970s and even into the very early 1980s, but that is indeed the case; it feels like it was a completely different country.

True. And greed, as described by Bill Black. has no limits.

Moneta June 23, 2015 at 6:56 am

Free markets and world economic order in the same sentence?

Disturbed Voter June 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

Irony perhaps? But then actual free markets are only in the imagination of Adam Smith.

William C June 23, 2015 at 7:28 am

I seem to remember plenty in WoN about businessmen conspiring against the public.

Eric Patton June 23, 2015 at 8:22 am

Very awesome essay.

Ulysses June 23, 2015 at 8:52 am

"Theoclassical economists are the high priests of this celebration of greed that Stavins admits poses the greatest threat to life on our planet. When Pope Francis posed a choice to Stavins, he chose to maintain his dogmatic belief in a system that he admits is suicidal and incapable of self-reform. The reason that the mythical and mystical "free markets" that Stavins worships are suicidal and incapable of self-reform even when they are producing "mass extinction" is that the markets are a system based on greed and the desire to obtain "great possessions" even if the result is to damn us and life on our planet."

This is an extremely important point. We cannot combat neoliberal ideology as if it were simply a set of rational assumptions, albeit flowing from flawed premises. No, it is a religious dogma of greed, set up to combat all of the more communitarian and gentle schools of religious thought– including the Christianity of Pope Francis, or the environmentalism of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecologists.

diptherio June 23, 2015 at 9:39 am

Good to see that someone else pulls out the "rich young man" bit occasionally. Not many Christians I've talked to seem to be aware of it, much less of the implications. Good on ya'.

vidimi June 23, 2015 at 10:46 am

fundamentalists like to take things in the bible literally, but they know that jesus didn't mean it when he said that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"

Garrett Pace June 23, 2015 at 10:05 am

Maybe he didn't realize that his possessions owned him, but the rich young man knew that *something* was wrong. For all his virtue and good works, he could feel things weren't right inside himself.

Vatch June 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

Pope Francis probably hasn't read The Gospel According to St. Lloyd Blankfein. If he had read it, he would know that investment bankers are doing God's work.

[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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[Jun 18, 2015] Pope Blames Markets for Environments Ills

Notable quotes:
"... "Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it," he adds. ..."
June 18, 2015 WSJ

Pope Blames Markets for Environment's Ills. Pontiff condemns global warming as outgrowth of global consumerism. Pope Francis said human activity is the cause of climate change, which threatens the poor and future generations.

ROME- Pope Francis in his much-awaited encyclical on the environment offered a broad and uncompromising indictment of the global market economy, accusing it of plundering the Earth at the expense of the poor and of future generations.

In passionate language, the pontiff attributed global warming to human activity, blamed special interests for holding back policy responses and said the global North owes the South "an ecological debt."

The 183-page document, which Pope Francis addresses to "every person living on this planet," includes pointed critiques of globalization and consumerism, which he says lead to environmental degradation.

"The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," he writes.

The encyclical's severe language stirred immediate controversy, signaling the weight the pontiff's stance could have on the pitched debate over how to respond to climate change.

"Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain," he writes. "As a result, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of the deified market, which become the only rule."

The Vatican published the document, titled "Laudato Si" ("Be praised"), on Thursday. The official release came three days after the online publication of a leaked version by an Italian magazine.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, had described the leaked Italian text as a draft, but the final document, published in eight languages, differed only in minor ways, while the pope's main points were identical. An encyclical is considered one of the most authoritative forms of papal writing.

In the encyclical, Pope Francis wades into the debate over the cause of global warming, lending high-profile support to those who attribute it to human activity.

A "very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climactic system," contributing to a "constant rise in the sea level" and an "increase of extreme weather events," he writes.

"Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it," he adds.

While acknowledging natural causes for climate change, including volcanic activity and the solar cycle, Pope Francis writes that a "number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity."

The pontiff goes on to argue that there is "an urgent need" for policies to drastically cut the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases and promote the switch to renewable sources of energy.

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[Jun 17, 2015] Why we fight for the living world: it's about love, and it's time we said so George Monbiot

Pope Francis reminds us that our relationship to the natural world is about love, not just goods and services

Who wants to see the living world destroyed? Who wants an end to birdsong, bees and coral reefs, the falcon's stoop, the salmon's leap? Who wants to see the soil stripped from the land, the sea rimed with rubbish?

No one. And yet it happens. Seven billion of us allow fossil fuel companies to push shut the narrow atmospheric door through which humanity stepped. We permit industrial farming to tear away the soil, banish trees from the hills, engineer another silent spring. We let the owners of grouse moors, 1% of the 1%, shoot and poison hen harriers, peregrines and eagles. We watch mutely as a small fleet of monster fishing ships trashes the oceans.

Why are the defenders of the living world so ineffective? It is partly, of course, that everyone is complicit; we have all been swept off our feet by the tide of hyperconsumption, our natural greed excited, corporate propaganda chiming with a will to believe that there is no cost. But perhaps environmentalism is also afflicted by a deeper failure: arising possibly from embarrassment or fear, a failure of emotional honesty.

'We have all been swept off our feet by the tide of hyperconsumption, our natural greed excited, corporate propaganda chiming with a will to believe that there is no cost'.

I have asked meetings of green-minded people to raise their hands if they became defenders of nature because they were worried about the state of their bank accounts. Never has one hand appeared. Yet I see the same people base their appeal to others on the argument that they will lose money if we don't protect the natural world.

Such claims are factual, but they are also dishonest: we pretend that this is what animates us, when in most cases it does not. The reality is that we care because we love. Nature appealed to our hearts, when we were children, long before it appealed to our heads, let alone our pockets. Yet we seem to believe we can persuade people to change their lives through the cold, mechanical power of reason, supported by statistics.

I see the encyclical by Pope Francis, which will be published on Thursday, as a potential turning point. He will argue that not only the physical survival of the poor, but also our spiritual welfare depends on the protection of the natural world; and in both respects he is right.

I don't mean that a belief in God is the answer to our environmental crisis. Among Pope Francis's opponents is the evangelical US-based Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has written to him arguing that we have a holy duty to keep burning fossil fuel, as "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork". It also insists that exercising the dominion granted to humankind in Genesis means tilling "the whole Earth", transforming it "from wilderness to garden and ultimately to garden city".

There are similar tendencies within the Vatican. Cardinal George Pell, its head of finance, currently immersed in a scandal involving paedophile priests in Australia, is a prominent climate change denier. His lecture to the Global Warming Policy Foundation was the usual catalogue of zombie myths (discredited claims that keep resurfacing), nonsequiturs and outright garbage championing, for example, the groundless claim that undersea volcanoes could be responsible for global warming. There are plenty of senior Catholics seeking to undermine the pope's defence of the living world, which could explain why a draft of his encyclical was leaked. What I mean is that Pope Francis, a man with whom I disagree profoundly on matters such as equal marriage and contraception, reminds us that the living world provides not only material goods and tangible services, but is also essential to other aspects of our wellbeing. And you don't have to believe in God to endorse that view.

In his beautiful book The Moth Snowstorm, Michael McCarthy suggests that a capacity to love the natural world, rather than merely to exist within it, might be a uniquely human trait. When we are close to nature, we sometimes find ourselves, as Christians put it, surprised by joy: "A happiness with an overtone of something more, which we might term an elevated or, indeed, a spiritual quality."

He believes we are wired to develop a rich emotional relationship with nature. A large body of research suggests that contact with the living world is essential to our psychological and physiological wellbeing. (A paper published this week, for example, claims that green spaces around city schools improve children's mental performance.)

This does not mean that all people love nature; what it means, McCarthy proposes, is that there is a universal propensity to love it, which may be drowned out by the noise that assails our minds. As I've found while volunteering with the outdoor education charity Wide Horizons, this love can be provoked almost immediately, even among children who have never visited the countryside before. Nature, McCarthy argues, remains our home, "the true haven for our psyches", and retains an astonishing capacity to bring peace to troubled minds.

Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.

Is this a version of the religious conviction from which Pope Francis speaks? Or could his religion be a version of a much deeper and older love? Could a belief in God be a way of explaining and channelling the joy, the burst of love that nature sometimes inspires in us? Conversely, could the hyperconsumption that both religious and secular environmentalists lament be a response to ecological boredom: the void that a loss of contact with the natural world leaves in our psyches?

Of course, this doesn't answer the whole problem. If the acknowledgement of love becomes the means by which we inspire environmentalism in others, how do we translate it into political change? But I believe it's a better grounding for action than pretending that what really matters to us is the state of the economy. By being honest about our motivation we can inspire in others the passions that inspire us.

Articles Pope Francis, Thomas Jefferson, and Capitalism By Frank Ryan

December 15, 2013 | americanthinker.com

For those who have decided to only read partial excerpts from the Pope's exhortation, I would also encourage you to understand that the Pope's perspective on poverty is somewhat different than our perspective on poverty.

In my travels to Haiti, the Caribbean, the Far East, and the Middle East, the true extent of poverty becomes clear. Our perception of poverty, while real for those feeling pain and deprivation, is significantly different than the poverty that the Pope is discussing.

This does not however alter his message. He is saying that as Catholics we have a responsibility to place our faith above our material goods. Pope Francis is concerned about our salvation, not our bank account. I would have it no other way from my spiritual leader.

When one places great value in material things, the focus is lost on how you can selflessly help another. This is precisely the image of being a good parent in which the parent is more concerned about their child than they are about themselves. Pope Francis is merely concerned about his flock.

In a similar vein, Thomas Jefferson, our third president, recognized the great threat in which a government would attempt to be too strongly influenced by a religion. Thomas Jefferson understood that they must be separate, as does Pope Francis.

The Pope's similarity with Thomas Jefferson is more significant than you may think. In our founding principles, we already were a Judeo-Christian nation guided by our faith individually because of our individual character. The government was influenced by the character of those with faith and not by their religion directly. It is not a government of faith but a government in which its leaders are influenced and guided by their faith.

... ... ..

Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at FRYAN1951@aol.com and twitter at @fryan1951.

Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up by Patrick J. Deneen

Dec 5, 2013 | The American Conservative
Since the release of Evangelii Gaudium there have been countless articles and commentary about the economic portions of Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation. Some of the commentary has been downright bizarre, such as Rush Limbaugh denouncing the Pope as a Marxist, or Stuart Varney accusing Francis of being a neo-socialist. American conservatives grumbled but dutifully denounced a distorting media when Pope Francis seemed to go wobbly on homosexuality, but his criticisms of capitalism have crossed the line, and we now see the Pope being criticized and even denounced from nearly every rightward-leaning media pulpit in the land.

Not far below the surface of many of these critiques one hears the following refrain: why can't the Pope just go back to talking about abortion? Why can't we return the good old days of Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI and talk 24/7/365 about sex? Why doesn't Francis have the decency to limit himself to talking about Jesus and gays, while avoiding the rudeness of discussing economics in mixed company, an issue about which he has no expertise or competence?

There are subtle and brash versions of this plea. At "The Catholic Thing," Hadley Arkes has penned a characteristically elegant essay in which he notes that Francis is generally correct on teachings about marriage and abortion, but touches on these subjects too briefly, cursorily and with unwelcome caveats of sorts. At the same time, Francis goes on at length about the inequalities and harm caused by free market economies, which moves Hadley to counsel the Pope to consult next time with Michael Novak. The upshot-be as brief as the Gettysburg Address in matters pertaining to economics, and loquacious as Edward Everett when it comes to erotics.

On the brash side there is Larry Kudlow, who nearly hyperventilates when it comes to his disagreement with Pope Francis, accusing him of harboring sympathies with Communist Russia and not sufficiently appreciating Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. (R. R. Reno, who is briefly allowed to get a word in edgewise, wisely counseled Kudlow not to fight the last war-or, the one fought three wars ago, for that matter.) Revealingly, Kudlow counsels the Pope to concentrate on "moral and religious reform," and that he should "harp" instead on "morality, spiritualism and religiosity," while ceasing to speak about matters economic. Similarly, Judge Napolitano, responding to a challenge from Stuart Varney on why the Pope is talking about economics, responded: "I wish he would stick to faith and morals, on which he is very sound and traditional."

These commentators all but come and out say: we embrace Catholic teaching when it concerns itself with "faith and morals"-when it denounces abortion, opposes gay marriage, and urges personal charity. This is the Catholicism that has been acceptable in polite conversation. This is a stripped-down Catholicism that doesn't challenge fundamental articles of economic faith.

And it turns out that this version of Catholicism is a useful tool. It is precisely this portion of Catholicism that is acceptable to those who control the right narrative because it doesn't truly endanger what's most important to those who steer the Republic: maintaining an economic system premised upon limitless extraction, fostering of endless desires, and creating a widening gap between winners and losers that is papered over by mantras about favoring equality of opportunity. A massive funding apparatus supports conservative Catholic causes supporting a host of causes-so long as they focus exclusively on issues touching on human sexuality, whether abortion, gay marriage, or religious liberty (which, to be frank, is intimately bound up in its current form with concerns about abortion). It turns out that these funds are a good investment: "faith and morals" allow us to assume the moral high ground and preoccupy the social conservatives while we laugh all the way to the bank bailout.

The right's contretemps with Pope Francis has brought out into the open what is rarely mentioned in polite company: most visible and famous Catholics who fight on behalf of Catholic causes in America focus almost exclusively on sexual issues (as Pope Francis himself seemed to be pointing out, and chastising, in his America interview), but have been generally silent regarding a century-old tradition of Catholic social and economic teaching. The meritocracy and economic elite have been a main beneficiary of this silence: those most serious about Catholicism-and thus who could have brought to bear a powerful tradition of thinking about economics that avoids both the radical individualistic presuppositions of capitalism as well as the collectivism of socialism-have spent their energies fighting the sexual/culture wars, even while Republican-Democratic ruling machine has merely changed driver seat in a limousine that delivers them to ever-more exclusive zip codes.

In the past several months, when discussing Pope Francis, the left press has at every opportunity advanced a "narrative of rupture," claiming that Francis essentially is repudiating nearly everything that Popes JPII and Benedict XVI stood for. The left press and commentariat has celebrated Francis as the anti-Benedict following his impromptu airplane interview ("who am I to judge?") and lengthy interview with the Jesuit magazine America. However, in these more recent reactions to Francis by the right press and commentariat, we witness extensive agreement by many Catholics regarding the "narrative of rupture," wishing for the good old days of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

But there has been no rupture-neither the one wished for by the left nor feared by the right. Pope Francis has been entirely consistent with those previous two Popes who are today alternatively hated or loved, for Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI spoke with equal force and power against the depredations of capitalism. (JPII in the encyclical Centesimus Annus and Benedict XVI in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate.) But these encyclicals-more authoritative than an Apostolic Exhortation-did not provoke the same reaction as Francis's critiques of capitalism. This is because the dominant narrative about John Paul II and Benedict XVI had them pegged them as, well, Republicans. For the left, they were old conservatives who obsessed with sexual matters; for the right, solid traditionalists who cared about Catholicism's core moral teachings. Both largely ignored their social and economic teachings, so focused were they on their emphasis on "faith and morals." All overlooked that, for Catholics, economics is a branch of moral philosophy.

I think it is because of the left's "narrative of disruption" that the right is panicked over Francis's critiques of capitalism. These Vatican criticisms-suddenly salient in ways they weren't when uttered by JPII and Benedict-need to be nipped in the bud before they do any damage. Of course, all along Catholic teaching has seen a strong tie between the radical individualism and selfishness at the heart of capitalism and liberationist sexual practices, understanding them to be premised on the same anthropological assumptions. (If you don't believe Catholics about this, just read Ayn Rand.) While Hadley Arkes laments that Pope Francis did not speak at more length on sexual matters, if one reads his criticisms of the depredations of capitalism with care, one notices that he uses the same phrases with which he criticized abortion-namely, that abortion is but one manifestation of "a throw-away culture," a phrase as well as in Evangelii Gaudium in his critique of capitalism (Section 53). If one attends carefully to Francis's criticisms of the economy's effects on the weak and helpless, one can't help but perceive there also that he is speaking of the unborn as much as those who are "losers" in an economy that favors the strong. Like John Paul and Benedict before him, Francis discerns the continuity between a "throw-away" economy and a "throw-away" view of human life. He sees the deep underlying connection between an economy that highlights autonomy, infinite choice, loose connections, constant titillation, utilitarianism and hedonism, and a sexual culture that condones random hook-ups, abortion, divorce and the redefinition of marriage based on sentiment, and in which the weak-children, in this case, and those in the lower socio-economic scale who are suffering a complete devastation of the family-are an afterthought.

The division of the fullness of Catholic thought in America has rendered it largely tractable in a nation that was always suspicious of Catholics. Lockean America tamed Catholicism not by oppression (as Locke thought would be necessary), but by dividing and conquering-permitting and even encouraging promotion of its sexual teachings, albeit shorn of its broader social teachings. This co-opted the full power of those teachings, directing the energy of social conservatives exclusively into the sexual-culture wars while leaving largely untouched a rapacious economy that daily creates few winners and more losers while supporting a culture of sexual license and "throw-away" children. Without minimizing the seriousness with which we need to take issues like abortion, gay marriage, and religious liberty, these are discrete aspects of an overarching "globalization of indifference" described by Francis. However, we have been trained to treat them as a set of autonomous political issues that can be solved by one or two appointments on the Supreme Court. Francis-like JPII and BXVI before him-has upset the "arrangement." Rush and the gang are not about to go down without a fight. If only they could get that damn Marxist to talk about sex.

[Nov 30, 2013] The Case for Techno-optimism

November 27, 2013 | NYT

Eugene Patrick Devany
Massapequa Park, NY

It seems that, "a persistent shortfall on the demand side" is a euphemism for the fact that half the population will remain near bankruptcy for quite sometime.

Pope Francis said two days ago

"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 ..."

One may consider the Pope less qualified to "pontificate" about technology than Prof. Krugman who "tracks technology" and sees that "smart machines are getting much better at interacting with the natural environment in all its complexity ... [and concluding] that a real transformative leap is somewhere over the horizon" Pope Francis said,

"This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power."

"This epochal change" seems to be a reference to "fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries" and to people forced to live "with precious little dignity".

The "anonymous kinds of power" could be a reference to "American Exceptionalism" - that connotes business success to Americans and unbridled power to many developing countries.

[Nov 28, 2013] Pope Francis understands economics better than most politicians

27 November 2013 | The Guardian

Pope Francis is a pontiff who has constructively broken all the rules of popery – so far to widespread acclaim. He's faulted the Catholic church for its negative obsession with gays and birth control, and now he has expanded his mandate to economics with a groundbreaking screed denouncing "the new idolatry of money".

As the Pope wrote in his "apostolic exhortation":

The worship of the ancient golden calf 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.

His thoughts on income inequality are searing:

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.

The pope's screed on "the economy of exclusion and inequality" will disappoint those who considers themselves free-market capitalists, but they would do well to listen to the message. Francis gives form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded. There has been a growing chorus of financial insiders – from the late Merrill Lynch executive Herb Allison to organizations like Better Markets – it's time for a change in how we approach capitalism. It's not about discarding capitalism, or hating money or profit; it's about pursuing profits ethically, and rejecting the premise that exploitation is at the center of profit. When 53% of financial executives say they can't get ahead without some cheating, even though they want to work for ethical organizations, there's a real problem.

Unlike Occupy, which turned its rage outward, Pope Francis bolstered his anger with two inward-facing emotions familiar to any Catholic-school graduate: shame and guilt, to make the economy a matter of personal responsibility.

This is important. Income inequality is not someone else's problem. Nearly all of us are likely to experience it. Inequality has been growing in the US since the 1970s. Economist Emmanuel Saez found that the incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% in the three years after the financial crisis, while the majority of people struggled with a disappointing economy. The other 99% of the population grew their incomes 0.4% during the same period.

As a result, federal and state spending on social welfare programs has been forced to grow to $1tn just to handle the volume of US households in trouble. Yet income inequality has been locked out of of the mainstream economic conversation, where it is seen largely as a sideshow for progressive bleeding hearts.

In the discussions of why the US is not recovering, economists often mention metrics like economic growth and housing. They rarely mention the metrics that directly tell us we are failing our economic goals, like poverty and starvation. Those metrics of income inequality tell an accurate story of the depth of our economic malaise that new-home sales can't. One-fifth of Americans, or 47 million people, are on food stamps; 50% of children born to single mothers live in poverty; and over 13 million people are out of work. Children are now not likely to do as well as their parents did as downward mobility takes hold for the first time in generations.

The bottom line, which Pope Francis correctly identifies, is that inequality is the biggest economic issue of our time – for everyone, not just the poor. Nearly any major economic metric – unemployment, growth, consumer confidence – comes down to the fact that the vast majority of Americans are struggling in some way. You don't have to begrudge the rich their fortunes or ask for redistribution. It's just hard to justify ignoring the financial problems of 47 million people who don't have enough to eat. Until they have enough money to fill their pantries, we won't have a widespread economic recovery. You can't have a recovery if one-sixth of the world's economically leading country is eating on $1.50 a day.

It's only surprising that it took so long for anyone – in this case, Pope Francis – to become the first globally prominent figure to figure this out and bring attention to income inequality.

Income inequality is the issue that will govern whether we ever emerge from the struggling economy recovery and it determine elections in 2014. The support for Elizabeth Warren to rise above her seat in the US Senate, for instance, largely centers on her crusade against inequality. The White House's chirpy protestations that the economy is improving are not fooling anyone.

Into this morass of economic confusion steps Francis with clarifying force:

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.

It's a historic and bold statement, mainly because it's rarely heard from clergy. Money has always been at odds with religion, going back to the times when God had a fighting chance against Mammon. Moses grew enraged by the golden calf, Jesus by moneychangers in the temple, Muhammad by lending money at interest, or usury. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, the Bible tells us.

There have been criticisms from prominent men of religion before, but they didn't stick. in 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed Marx against the forces of "unbridled capitalism", and the Archbishop of York disdained traders as "bank robbers and asset strippers", but those cries went unheeded in the subsequent flood of corporate profits.

At the time, those criticisms seemed extreme, throwing pitchforks into frozen ground. Francis is speaking at a when the ground has been thawed. Outrage against the financial sector is lurking so close to the surface that the US government can extract a $13bn fine from the nation's largest bank, throwing it into its first financial loss in nine years, and find significant approval.

Still, popes have been largely content to leave these particular issues of economic inequality behind in favor of focusing on social issues. There was, after all, a problem of throwing stones. The church's rich trappings and vast wealth, as well as its scandal-plagued Vatican bank, made an ill fit to preach too loudly about austerity.

Pope Francis, in his simple black shoes and unassuming car and house, is the first pontiff in a long time to reject flashy shows of power and live by the principle of simplicity. That makes him uniquely qualified to make the Vatican an outpost of Occupy Wall Street. His message about spiritual salvation applies mainly to Catholics but it would be sensible for economists and lawmakers to recognize his core message about the importance of income inequality applies to those even those who have no belief in religion.

Capitalism has always seen itself as an amoral pursuit, where the guiding stars were not "good" or "bad", but only "profit" and "loss". It's going to be harder to sustain that belief over the next few years.

succulentpork

Capitalism has always seen itself as an amoral pursuit, where the guiding stars were not "good" or "bad", but only "profit" and "loss".

This is simply not true. The advocates of capitalism have frequently in the past made the case that it is a morally good system, or at least the best one that can be achieved. The argument is that where it is applied to free markets capitalists can only make profit by giving to consumers those things which they value most highly, and achieving this through cooperation under a system of division of labour. The morality of this is that it does not use coercion to give people benefits, it requires this cooperative process from people free to pursue their own interests. Clearly the Pope never read Adam Smith who explained all this long ago. Many would see this approach to individualism as deeply moral, especially compared to the alternative of religious collectivism.

Andrew Fitzgerald -> succulentpork

Coercion was a major focus of Friedman's in Capitalism and Freedom, which I agree was a work of moral philosophy (that I happen to disagree with).

As for the Pope, I don't think his disagreement with capitalist theorists is clear evidence that he didn't read them.

Frehley Ernekid

I have warmed to him, but we must remember the vast wealth the Catholic Church is sitting on. However, it is also exactly what the 'Vicar of Christ' should be saying, especially to the wealthy. Pope Francis should be bellowing Leviticus 25:35, as the poor have extended a helping hand to the financial sector, the wealthy should now be doing the same for the poor.

frontalcortexes -> Ernekid

I like this Pope, he's starting the baby steps of reform the Catholic Church desperately needs, I know any change will be tiny and marginal but its in the right direction

Look the Catholic Church won't make any significant impression on the world's economic and monetary problems because it won't get down to determining exactly what mechanisms and balances are needed. Instead it repeatedly turns to the Bible which not only was written a very long time ago and therefore not dealing with our modern world but can basically be construed in large part as simply cheer leading for human cooperation. Well and good but it's the detail (including the logic) of how we can persuaded, nudged and even coerced to cooperate that human societies desperately need.

AnActuary

Wow - a global figure makes a comment on global inequality and then this:

" Economist Emmanuel Saez found that the incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% in the three years after the financial crisis, while the majority of people struggled with a disappointing economy. The other 99% of the population grew their incomes 0.4% during the same period. "

Why did the journalist have to boil it down to inequality within the top few percent of the worlds population (i.e. just by being a citizen of a major developed economy like the US or the UK puts you in this top percentage).

I somehow think the Pope was focusing on inequality at a gloabal level (although here in the UK most seem more concerend about inequality within the top 1% and not about the rest of the world).

Sometimes i wish people would accept how lucky we have it compared to 98-99% of the planet

GreatGrandDad -> SheepEuro

Write article on lessons learned by x to help those of us who would otherwise not been informed.

It is what newspapers (and their websites) are for.

Perhaps the Pope has read John McMurty's The Cancer Stage of Capitalism and is spreading the message without mentioning the taboo 'c' word.

Either way-----this article spreads good news.

billforsyth

Because the Catholic church is vehemently anti Communist it is assumed to be pro Capitalist and many capitalist Catholics believe they have the blessing of the church .The church in fact believes that materialism and consumerism are as wrong as Communism .The possession of wealth or power is not of itself evil or wrong as many who do not possess either wish and strive with a desire to own both and far from rejecting them are envious of those who do own them.

If you believe that man merely has dominion or stewardship of the worlds riches then it follows that to deny the bounty of the earth to others for whatever reason, political or economical is not only wrong but sinful.

panpipes billforsyth

Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with Pope Francis' namesake and his teachings on wealth. St. Francis (who is known as the most Christ-like of all the Saints) not only renounced his wealth but taught that money was evil. The Legend of St Francis includes the story of a member of his order who accepted a donation in order to buy food for the poor. Francis, seeing that the Brother had broken his rule on not touching money, ordered the monk to throw the coins into a pile of dog manure and then pick it up with his tongue in order to fully teach him the vile nature of money.

Or...you could just go to the New Testament and the words attributed to Jesus:

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Frehley -> StevHep

I think this message should resonate with all, regardless of confession. The outcome of religious conservationism resulted in people of 'faith' not seeing any problem with mass pecuniary inequality. It reminds me of Glenda Jackson's speech claiming Margaret Thatchers was the fount of 'greed, selfishness, sharp elbows, sharp knees' and that London had now become a city William Hogarth would easily recognise. Francis and Welby should be decrying such wanton cruelty shown by 'the powers that be' upon the poor and infirm. The conservative reaction to this recession has been nothing but wicked and cruel.

EllisWyatt

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

Which only someone with a fundamental misunderstanding of trickle down would assert. No economist defends trickle down benefits on the basis of greater equality or, less tangibly, greater justice. Its about delivering better overall standards of living for everyone at the risk of greater inequality between the top and bottom.

By its very definition trickle down won't close the gap between rich and poor, what it permits is the liberalisation of markets, which means that some agents will get very rich indeed but the overall pie has got larger, enabling even those at the bottom to do materially better than they would had we tightly controlled and allocated growth on the basis of fairness.

Now I think there is some truth in that proposition, but its far from conclusive. However the Pope has effectively created a strawman and predictably the Guardian has leapt all over him as the latest "saviour speaking out against capitalism" following on the illustrious heels of Occupy, UK Uncut and Russell Brand…

Phil429 EllisWyatt

No economist defends trickle down benefits on the basis of greater equality or, less tangibly, greater justice. Its about delivering better overall standards of living for everyone

...except that it's a total failure by that standard as well.

richardwelbirg -> EllisWyatt

I think you give your opponents some ammunition here Ellis. "Trickle-down" economics was a narrow political theory dreamt up to justify US Republicans giving significant tax breaks to the rich. It was nonsense.

What you're describing is actually just the increasing liberalisation of markets and, contrary to what Phil suggested above, it has been a success in delivering improved living standards in most of the world.

guest88888 -> richardwelbirg

What you're describing is actually just the increasing liberalisation of markets and, contrary to what Phil suggested above, it has been a success in delivering improved living standards in most of the world.

You care to back that statement up with facts? Consider the fact that we're in Great Depression Round 2 right now in most of the world, directly caused by "liberalization."

Greg451

An interesting quote from Thomas Jefferson about Americans who:

"having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry."

I fail to understand how anyone can argue how unregulated capitalism isn't the source of economic inequality.

LordJimbo

It didn't take so long, Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict expressed their thoughts on capitalism/neoliberalism and poverty in the world and they weren't the first to do so.

Pope Benedict covered the thoughts of some of his predecessors on this subject in Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), published on June 29, 2009 where he stated the most important capital is and always will be human beings.

Point 40 of that document states:

"John Paul II taught that investment always has moral, as well as economic significance[96]. All this - it should be stressed - is still valid today, despite the fact that the capital market has been significantly liberalized, and modern technological thinking can suggest that investment is merely a technical act, not a human and ethical one. There is no reason to deny that a certain amount of capital can do good, if invested abroad rather than at home. Yet the requirements of justice must be safeguarded, with due consideration for the way in which the capital was generated and the harm to individuals that will result if it is not used where it was produced[97]. What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development. It is true that the export of investments and skills can benefit the populations of the receiving country. Labour and technical knowledge are a universal good. Yet it is not right to export these things merely for the sake of obtaining advantageous conditions, or worse, for purposes of exploitation, without making a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development."

ErnestHemingway

This column is dead on. If we take out the retired and minors, the average income in the U.S. should be about 70,000.00 dollars per year. The problem is not lack of funds but distribution of funds. The idea that some earn immense incomes which they are not worth and have not earned is the root of the problem. This will resolve itself during the next 2-3 decades... the easy way or the hard way.

From a global perspective, the problem is much more difficult. The issue is that some societies are simply more competent than others. I think intra national income redistribution is possible. International is going to be much more difficult.

[Nov 26, 2013] What Pope Francis Gets Wrong About Capitalism By Rick Newman

Yahoo

We get it: Pope Francis cares about the little guy. He speaks passionately about the rights of the dispossessed, and more than that, shows solidarity with them through his own humble lifestyle and rather unpapal rejection of pomp.

The pope has gone a bit overboard, however, in his recent attack on free-market capitalism. In a lengthy "apostolic exhortation," Pope Francis rails against "an economy of exclusion" and a " financial system which rules rather than serves." The pope points out that, in a time of miraculous technological progress, alarming numbers of people still live in misery and desperation.

"The culture of prosperity deadens us," the pope writes. "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."

The pope clearly follows the news, because income inequality and the growing wealth gap, which he refers to several times, are hot topics nearly everywhere. But the pope has failed to notice a few other important trends. First, he's hardly the only one who's concerned about the plight of the have-nots. Income inequality has become a powerful political force in the United States and many other countries, for the very reasons the pope cites. As those economic trends worsen, pressure from below may very well cause political upheaval that at least somewhat reverses the rise of the rich.

Generous fat cats

The pope's generalizations bring to mind the cartoonish image of a fat cat in a pin-striped suit smoking a cigar as he steps over a beggar in a gutter. But a lot of fat cats are quite sympathetic toward the disenfranchised, and some are putting their money where their hearts are. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are the most obvious examples, with well over 100 barons of capitalism publicly committed to their "giving pledge," agreeing to donate the majority of their considerable wealth to charitable causes.

Charity only goes so far, of course. But there are also many efforts to rework the rules of capitalism in the United States and other wealthy countries so the middle and lower classes have better economic opportunities and a fighting chance to improve their living standards. This is very hard to do, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's not easy to pinpoint the causes of growing income inequality, which means fixing the problem is almost never as simple as just taking one person's money and giving it to something else. It's also important to safeguard what's good about capitalism - such as the rewards for innovating and the ability to create wealth rather than just moving it around - while fixing what doesn't work. And of course those benefiting most from the current system have a vested interest in keeping it that way - along with high-priced lobbyists on the payroll who are skilled at doing so.

Still, machinery is grinding forward in an effort to roll back the latest incarnation of capitalism's excesses. In the United States, the 2009 Dodd-Frank reforms were an effort to rein in the financial sector, much as the pope advocates. Progress is slow and some problems, such as powerful banks deemed "too big to fail," may escape solutions. But if you ask Wall Streeters, they feel as if they're under siege, even if their paychecks remain inflated. It's a start, and it seems likely the U.S. financial sector is going to face tougher scrutiny and tighter limits on greed for the foreseeable future.

Switzerland, meanwhile, recently voted on a referendum that would have severely limited CEO pay and linked it to the wage levels of others in the same company. The measure failed at the ballot box, but the mere fact that Switzerland -- a bankers' haven -- would even consider such a scheme shows that the least among us are gaining at least a little bit of leverage.

Marxism is over

Finally, for all of capitalism's flaws, there's basically no other system that offers the world's poor a better shot. The argument in favor of Marxist economies is basically over (despite the hysterical cries of "socialism!" by some frightened American conservatives regarding the Obama administration). A global century-long experiment with Marxism that ended around 1989 proved that it generates stagnation and corruption and oppresses the human spirit in the bargain. Even China, which has a communist government in both name and practice, has embraced capitalism as the economic system by which it hopes to become a dominant world power.

The pope doesn't have much to say about what would be better than capitalism. He decries the "new idolatry of money" (new? really?) while encouraging those with wealth and power to share both with those who have less. Liberal idealists have been calling for that for centuries.

What has been a lot more effective at raising the living standards of billions, however, is cold, hard-edged capitalism and the riches dangled before those able to exploit it. Even now, in the raw aftermath of a global financial crisis, capitalism is improving lives throughout China, India, Brazil, many African nations and other long-suffering corners of the globe.

Capitalism need not be unregulated, and in fact it rarely ever is. A true free-market is freer, and crueler, than anybody really needs. With the right guidelines, capitalism is the best system ever devised for improving lives and speeding human progress. It's the guidelines we need to reevaluate, not the free market itself.

Rick Newman's latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.

[Nov 26, 2013] Pope attacks 'tyranny' of markets, urges renewal in key document by Naomi O'Leary

See full text at Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013
Yahoo News

Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

"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 2 points?"

The pope said renewal of the Church could not be put off and said the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy "also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion".

"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote.

In July, Francis finished an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict but he made clear that it was largely the work of his predecessor, who resigned in February.

Called "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the exhortation is presented in Francis' simple and warm preaching style, distinct from the more academic writings of former popes, and stresses the Church's central mission of preaching "the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ".

In it, he reiterated earlier statements that the Church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, "is not a question open to discussion" but women must have more influence in Church leadership.

POVERTY

A meditation on how to revitalize a Church suffering from encroaching secularization in Western countries, the exhortation echoed the missionary zeal more often heard from the evangelical Protestants who have won over many disaffected Catholics in the pope's native Latin America.

In it, economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about, and the 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence.

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," he wrote.

Denying this was simple populism, he called for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" and added: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor."

Since his election, Francis has set an example for austerity in the Church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence.

He chose to be called "Francis" after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty.

Stressing cooperation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches and noted lessons Rome could learn from the Orthodox such as "synodality" or decentralized leadership.

He praised cooperation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the West.

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Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013