By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Thank God, Pope Francis really is an anticapitalist, socialist and revolutionary. Read his lips. He smiles. He drives a Ford Focus. The Vatican police report that he sneaks out at night wearing black, meets strangers, society’s rejects, the “homeless, addicted, refugees, indigenous, the elderly, migrants,” the unemployed.
Pope Francis waves as he conducts his weekly general audience at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican last month.
Yes, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Paul Ryan are right: Conservatives should be very worried about the pope’s radical message. Read his “Apostolic Exhortation,” his mandate to change the world. Read the original. We did — all 66 pages. Read and discover for yourself 10 things about this pope you don’t know. Even before the pope’s manifesto was posted, a New York Times headline read “Conservative U.S. Catholics feel left out of pope’s embrace.” Now they must want him impeached.
But read his words. See for yourself what the 76-year-old pontiff is actually thinking, his core principles, convictions, mission, mandate. His words are clear and unequivocal. See why Francis is the most radical pope in centuries. He knows a revolution is coming. And know he’s the leader — in fact on Wednesday he was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”
Read his words. I read them with the cold eyes of my earlier days practicing law, reviewing SEC documents at Morgan Stanley, as a hard-nosed Marine sergeant serving Mass for Catholic chaplains. Yes, conservative commentators are right.
Conservatives everywhere — from the GOP, Wall Street bankers, Big Ag and every climate denier, to union-busing politicians, Big Oil billionaires and traditional growth economists — every conservative should be concerned about this gentle pontiff’s deceptively disarming charm, his happy smile. He says he has no “political ideology.” He’s that good a diplomat. Yet his own words clearly brand him an anticapitalist, a socialist and a leader with a revolutionary mission. Thank God, because the world needs him.
The pope has a divine mandate to radically alter American politics
The pope’s words clearly reveal a man who’s been on top of financial, economic and political trends for a long time, worldwide and in America. This pope promises to radically transform an American political landscape that for many years has been dominated by the conservative capitalist ideology of Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand. Yes, Pope Francis is challenging generations of right-wing conservative ideology.
So conservatives like Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Ryan should fear this pope, not just because of his radical message, but because he can deliver on it. He demands action and is commander-in-chief of the world’s largest, most dedicated army: 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, including 78 million Americans in 17,645 parishes, inspired by a mission to change the world’s political economy and backed by an “officer corps” of 200 cardinals, over 5,000 bishops, 450,000 priests and deacons all dedicated to carry out his mission.
But far more dangerous for American conservatives, this new pope’s message will be regularly delivered by those clerics to America’s power elite: Six of the nine members on the Supreme Court are Catholics, including the chief justice. Three Catholics are in the direct constitutional line of succession if the president dies. Twenty-four of our 100 Senators are Catholic. So are 163 of the 435 members of the House. Add in their Catholic spouses, children, parents and friends, and this new pope is himself a global superpower. His radical, revolutionary “exhortations” will be influencing billions of all faiths worldwide, demanding not pious rhetoric but action to solve world problems.
Here are his 10 most radical beliefs, unedited, quoted, in Pope Francis’s own words from his “Apostolic Exhortation” manifesto. Decide for yourself: Is he the radical anticapitalist, socialist, revolutionary leader that conservatives will fear for many years?
1. Economic inequality is the root cause of all the world’s problems
The pope: “Inequality is the root of social ills … 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. … 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. … The current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favor an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life.”
2. ‘New tyranny’ of capitalism concentrates wealth, increases inequality
The pope: “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.”
3. Capitalism’s ‘worship of money’ is the new ‘golden calf’ idolatry
The pope: “Money must serve, not rule. … 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 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. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.”
4. ‘Invisible hand’ of capitalism can’t be trusted, increases inequality
The pope: “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programs, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. … The economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the workforce and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded. … 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.”
5. Capitalism’s ‘trickle-down’ economics is a failed ideology
The pope: “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 naive 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. … 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.”
6. Capitalism promotes excessive consumption, undermining society
The pope: “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. 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 clamoring for heightened security, 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.”
7. Capitalist economics excludes the masses, killing public solutions
The pope: “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. … 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.”
8. Capitalism sees humans as ‘consumer goods’ to be exploited
The pope: “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.”
9. Capitalism’s individualists reject ethics, increasing inequality
The pope: “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.”
10. Conservative individualism is undermining the common good.
The pope: “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. … I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.”