The collectivist left has a shared delusion that Pope Francis is an anti-capitalist while freedom advocates are afraid it’s true. The good news is that a full reading of the undistorted message of Pope Francis’s recent Apostolic Exhortation reveals that the Pope does have a socio-economic system he adamantly rejects: collectivism. Pope Francis, along with two thousand years of Catholic doctrine, firmly rejects collectivism and its subspecies of socialism and fascism (corporatism)[i]. Pope Francis clearly rejected central economic planning[ii] in this first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the jubilant progressives and the shivering capitalists
As expected, you will not see fair reporting or deep analysis by the mainstream press, politicians, or pundits on this issue, only distortion of his words and Catholic doctrine. In fact, the Pope’s entire central message, evangelizing the Joy of the Gospel and the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, was ignored! If truth were the goal, then we would hear President Obama citing this in confused wonder before large crowds from his teleprompter.
“We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone.” §239, Evangelii Gaudium
That is a mouthful. The Pope, having indicated that all of his statements are offered in the context of Catholic Doctrine, then goes on to cite a key concept from the Catholic Catechism: Subsidiarity. He instructs that the State must act “Based on the principles of subsidiarity“, and with “social humility” (§240). Subsidiarity is a concept foreign to collectivists like President Obama and the “hope” crowd who push for ever expanding central control from large federal bureaucracies. These days collectivists are in cahoots with preferred corporations, ostensibly to support the common good. The collectivists continue to believe that a hand picked group of the “smartest” elite can program a better society. They think they can build a better society than God Himself through the actions of the natural market forces God placed within it. But Subsidiarity is the gold standard to which Pope Francis holds the State. Here is the concept:
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.
1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.
1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”
2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.
Neither the State. Nor any larger society. Should substitute itself. For the initiative and responsibility. Of individuals and intermediary bodies. Period. Now that should perk up the ears of the big government types and all their corporate cronies seeking to gain unnatural profits and advantage through government force! That should also give hope and immediate sustenance to all the frightened liberty-loving people who recognize that the only economic force for good proven to lift the most people out of poverty, is the free market system. Even the U2’s Bono agrees with that who must have been listening to the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman!
The only consistent error that Pope Francis makes is in inaccurately labeling the current crony-capitalist system predominant in the world today as a “free market” system. As described in this previous post, the Holy Father admits that he would offer opinion on social matters and Catholic Doctrine is clear that his infallibility does not extend beyond matters of faith and morality. Pope Francis comes from a Latin American culture and a current philosophical global culture that erroneously equates all activities of privately owned business with those of entities in a “free” market. However, a TRUE free market does not allow one business to be picked as a winner over another by their influence in the government. A true free market does not allow a bailout of GM with $10 billion transferred from poorer tax payers to richer union leaders and bond holders. That is an unjust wealth re-distribution. That is a violation of TRUE Social Justice. A true free market does not allow the health insurance companies to get unearned profits through Obamacare’s subsidy structure with likely bailouts to prop them up when the centrally planned health economy is tanking. A TRUE, FREE Market does not allow a central bank and a global banking structure to debauch the currency of the poor and middle class by monetizing the debt of a nation and through fractional reserve banking. A true free market is devoid of Solyndra, power companies that have monopolies and then abandon large power plants on the taxpayer dime, small businesses and citizens forced to buy over-priced health insurance, a college tuition bubble created by government financial aid intervention and more.
Thus we return to the phenomenon of collectivists (Progressives) celebrating their perceived “condemnation” by the Pope of capitalism. This is just more from the playbook of a political class that trades on utopian ideas that never deliver on their promises. But Pope Francis has some insight on that too. The pope offers the following:
“Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism and nominalism, capable at most of classifying and defining, but certainly not calling to action. What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason. Formal nominalism has to give way to harmonious objectivity. Otherwise, the truth is manipulated, cosmetics take the place of real care for our bodies” §232, Evangalii Gaudium
Yes, reality matters. The Pope’s rejection of Nominalism (which rejects reality) in favor of objectivism is an actual embrace of an ultimate capitalist advocate Ayn Rand! Ideas are nice, but when a century of failed socialist systems (Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Castro’s Cuba, Mao’s China, North Korea, Modern Greece, Detroit) provide the “reality”-based evidence, we must use our reason to conclude they are the wrong path. The collectivists’ distortion of Pope’s message is an example how “the truth is manipulated” and how the cosmetics of “hope“ and “change” and central planning are offered as supposed ways to solve “inequality”, rather than allowing the natural actions of something that really works: the true free market.
So for those of you who are fans of free markets, capitalism, competition, honest profit and all the benefits it brings to society, fear not. The Pope continues to support true free markets and makes it far more clear in this latest exhortation that he and the church reject socialism, big government and corporatism. What might provide the free-marketeers more hope, and the socialists, fascists and collectivists more dread? Perhaps this conclusion that Pope Francis points to as the context of his statements:
2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism”. She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.” Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.
While most capitalists would agree that reasonable regulatory enforcement of contractual relationships in the marketplace is appropriate, few collectivists would agree that the ideologies of communism and socialism should be rejected. Most capitalists recognize that substantial charity is needed as a supplement to the benefits of the marketplace, but nearly every collectivist arrogantly believes their central planning will eliminate poverty and the need for charity! An informed reading of Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium makes it clear that the Pope rejects central economic planning, Socialism and collectivism while embracing the true free market.
[i] Fascism is an economic system characterized by private ownership of the means of production, but under the control of the State. There is an unholy alliance between the corporate cronies and the State to drive out those who are not the “winners”. Like all forms of collectivism, fascism usually results in violent dictatorships, often with horrific outcomes. “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini
[ii] Central economic planning is the process where a small elite group decide how and economic will run, the prices of goods and services, those able to offer them and able to buy them and the terms under which they may be provided.