Latest posts by H. Sterling Burnett (see all)
- China’s Emissions Blowing Up Paris Committments - June 15, 2018
- Feds, States on the Right Side of a Climate Lawsuit for Once - June 10, 2018
- Here’s Why Congress and Think Tanks Think a Carbon Tax Would be Disastrous - June 6, 2018
Judging by the company he has been keeping, it seems the Pope either dislikes capitalism more than he loves the poor, or he simply doesn’t understand all the good that has flowed from capitalism and the horrors that have resulted throughout history under every other economic system.
Two months ago, Pope Francis was getting advice and guidance from Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a German scientist who believes the world’s carrying capacity is 1 billion people give or take a few million – a man wedded to extreme “population control” measures to get the earth back in balance. So much for being fruitful and multiplying.
Now, Pope Francis has invited anti-capitalist useful idiot Naomi Klein for a chat. What could they have in common other than hatred for the market? She’s known for little else, and based on her own comments I’m sure she and the Pope have little else to tie them together. I doubt they shared a laugh over Pope Francis’ social teachings. Nor, I’m sure, did Klein go to the Vatican because she suddenly found herself in agreement the Catholic Church’s views on birth control, marriage and women in the priesthood.
I’ve speculated liberation theology, developed in South America during the formative years of Pope Francis’ development as a priest, tainted his understanding of economics. His recent remarks and the company he has kept, have only served to confirm my suspicions. The Catholic Church long fought to keep the liberation theology wolf at bay, punishing and chastening its most vocal proponents, only now, with Francis, to invite the socialist wolf within the walls of the Vatican.
For all the pope’s expressed concern about the perils climate change poses to the poorest amongst us, it seems he’s really less concerned about the climate and the plight of the poor, than remaking the world’s economy to his liking, even if everyone has to live with less. In this, he is once again following the lead of climate advisors at the U.N. who in a rare moment of candor earlier this year divulged that remaking the economy was what the treaty’s being formulated to fight climate change were really about.
President Obama falsely offered us hope with the change he promised. Now Pope Francis offers change in the form of death through disease and starvation – which is all that would come if capitalism were truly overthrown. He skips the hope, except, perhaps, in the afterlife.
Feudalism and various petty types of tyranny kept the world in a, well, feudal state, for most of human history. People were enslaved to tyrants who wanted to expand their empires on the backs of both those they conquered and their slave class back home. Or, they sacrificed thousands to slake the blood lust of their gods (and in the case of the Aztec’s to provide a steady diet of protein), for the sun to continue shining, the rains to come, the witchcraft to stop, plagues to end … etc.
It was only with the advent of modern, widespread property rights, and the right to exchange one’s labor for capital and, yes, the right to gain one’s own piece of the pie that the vast majority of the people on earth were raised out of the extreme penury the humanity had lived in for the vast majority of human history.
Utopian idealists may believe mankind yearns to be free of wage labor and wishes for the life of idyll back on some commune, but most people never choose such a lifestyle, and those that do, rarely make a go of it for long and rejoin the market economy in fairly short order. Its true many native peoples were never given the opportunity to consciously, as societies, choose to join the modern age, but when modern tools seeped into their communities, they adopted them as soon as possible and asked for more. I know of no native culture, offered modern amenities that have refused them and consciously gone back to their hunter-gatherer existence.
Ron Bailey has a great discussion of the Pope’s failure to grasp the virtues of capitalism, and I encourage him to ponder it.
Even Karl Marx, father of Communism, recognized the virtues of capitalism. Marx thought it both a necessary and desirable state of development – after all, how are you going to dole out all those necessities to those in need, taken from those who produce, unless the latter had property, capitalism and industrialization to produce the plenty.
Marx badly misunderstood human nature, human motivations and the fact that capitalism could bring wealth or at least great comfort to the many, not just the few, but he did understand that capitalism was critical to producing plentiful goods and services out of uncaring nature. Marx was no environmentalist. There were two things in the world for Marx, people and resources and resources were meant for human use and our highest development. One can disagree with Marx’s view of what either any individual’s or societies highest development would or should look like without rejecting his dichotomy between man and the rest of nature.
Nature is indispensible to human well-being, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world absent wildlife and wild places (I spend as much time communing with and in nature as I can) but I believe those things are possible even as we bring the remaining billion or so people still living without access to regular electricity, safe readily accessible drinking water and other modern marvels out of the conditions our ancestors fought so long and hard to bring us out of. But only through capitalism! Every other economic system is just a fantasy, or tyranny cloaked as a fantasy, with the only result being a backward slide into poverty and persistent want.
Next time I’ll tell you how I really feel!