Thursday, September 24, 2015

The mistake conservatives make about the Pope

I'll try to blog in detail on the Pope's visit and speech shortly. Short version: I love his address to Congress. One of the most beautiful speeches I've heard. He is right about everything in the speech. I ask my conservative friends to wait before they blow a gasket.

Just a brief note on a comment by my friend Ilion:
I'm sorry, Michael, but this pope is a fool, top to bottom, and he is a socialist (and he seems to be a Marxist, at least a "soft" one) ... just as almost all "intellectual" Catholics are. And while I do understand your very human impulse to put his deeds and words in the best light, you risk making yourself a fool if you go too far in doing this.
The sad fact is that there is in Catholicism a profound hatred, or at least fear, of general human freedom. This is why, for example, Catholics are always at the forefront of laying false charges against capitalism; for capitalism is just the natural result of human freedom with respect to one's labor and the fruit of one's labor.
I respectfully disagree. Pope Francis is certainly a fool--a fool for Christ, in the Pauline sense. The battle the Holy Father is engaging is a spiritual battle, not a political battle. Working for the common good, love and respect for the vulnerable, the weak, the poor, and sinners is basic Christian life. Living one's life in accordance with Matthew 25 is not socialism. Care for the poor is not Marxism, soft or otherwise.

Conservatives make a horrible mistake to create an idol of political ideology. That's what liberals do, and it is ultimately satanic, literally. Satan, as Rene Girard has pointed out, is an imitator. He imitates Christian charity to wage spiritual war on mankind--that is a particularly succinct definition of liberalism and its socialist and Marxist congeners.

Socialism is the (satanically inspired) imitation of Christian charity.

This is the conservative mistake: by denigrating Christian charity as so beautifully expressed by the Pope, we abandon all the best motives and works of man to the Left. I can't imagine a more unwise thing a conservative can say than: "all the stuff the Pope is saying about love and respect and human decency is socialist".


Is human dignity socialist? Is care for the foreigner socialist? Is love for the poor socialist? Is respect for our neighbor socialist? Is mercy for sinners socialist? Is forgiveness socialist? Is sacrifice to help the less fortunate socialist?

Why not just hand the socialists the victory trophy right now and get it over with?

Goodness gracious, Satan pops a champagne bottle every time a conservative says such things. Hell's agenda is this: to portray evil as good, and good as evil. To equate the Pope's entirely Christian exhortations--exhortations that come right out of the Lord's words in the New Testament and right out of 2000 years of Catholic magisterium-- with evil is to do the devil's work for him.

Sometimes, I suspect, the devil loves conservatives.

Conservatives are the natural defenders of Christian culture. Conservatives should enthusiastically embrace the Pope's beautiful exposition of Christian morality. I believe that the Pope is (very shrewdly) proving to be the Left's worst enemy, because he's taking back Christian charity from Marxists and socialists and liberals who have expropriated it for ends that are plainly evil.

The task before conservatives is to show that socialism is fake Christian morality. Socialism is an impostor. Socialism is a lie--a clever stratagem from the father of lies. Conservatives lend powerful credibility to Satan's lie when they insist that Christian charity is socialism.

Conservative values--freedom (the freedom to work towards God's purposes for our lives), hard work, respect for the natural world, rule of law, centrality of the family, traditional marriage, chastity--are the means to achieve the ends of Christian charity, an end so eloquently evoked by the Holy Father in his breathtakingly beautiful speech. 


  1. I think you should get your definitions straight before you write anything. 'Marxism' is the state ownership of the means of production and the banks (obviously the Pope is a soft Marxist because he advocated the nationalisation of the banks. Or did he?). Its opposite is capitalism.

    Socialism is the state control of individuals. National Socialism was socialism, because the state took over social clubs, even cycling clubs. Its opposite is individualism, which 'rules', even in states you dislike, such as Sweden. Individuals are largely free to do whatever they want to do in their free time.

    Conservatives don't like change - or they want reversion to the conditions of a previous idealised time. Such as the '50s, when women didn't work and there wasn't the contraceptive pill. Liberals welcome change. Sometimes it turns out to be change for the worse. They don't like outside control. The right wing opposite to liberalism is libertarianism. The left wing opposite to a conservative is a progressive (both accept control of individuals).

  2. But anyway. Obviously capitalism is the best economic system. Command economies such as with Communism have never succeeded. Whether the Chinese experiment with its version of capitalism will succeed is still uncertain. Their system seems to me to be more of a robber baron system.

    But obviously, there has to be some regulation of capitalism. Completely unregulated ('free') capitalism results in the owners of private capital (the means of production) retaining most of the profits, and their workers suffering subsistence poverty, as in 19th century England. Or the gilded age in America.

    Countries tend to be happier if there's a less unequal distribution of the benefits of capitalism, so that the rich don't become obscenely rich. America is becoming more unequal.

    And that's what I think the point the Pope is making in his criticism of capitalism.

    1. Bachfiend, I agree with almost everything that you have said. But I am not sure if your statement that "liberals welcome change" is actually true. I think the difference between the liberals that I know, and conservatives like Michael, is that liberals acknowledge that change is inevitable and approach it proactively. If things are going to change, why not provide input into that change. Conservatives, on the other hand, make every effort to resist change, unless it is a reversion to mythical previous times.

      The fifties were no better than today. In the fifties, families and communities covered up spousal abuse and pedophilia. Pregnant teens were sent off to "go to school" in their aunt's town. Up until quite recently, pregnant teens were not allowed to attend school in their high school. That is just twisted morality.

      "But obviously, there has to be some regulation of capitalism."

      I don't know if Michael would agree with you on this. But recent history provides good examples. In the US, the lack of regulations on their private banking system resulted in a global collapse in the economy. In Canada, where the private banking system is heavily regulated, the banking collapse in the US translated into one quarter with lower than normal profits for the Canadian banks. During the depression there were over 9000 bank failures in the US. In Canada, zero. The last bank failure in Canada was in 1923.

      During and after the 2008 downturn, 506 US banks failed. Canada, zero.

      Don't you just hate governments that are left of centre?

    2. Hi William,

      Perhaps I phrased my words badly. Liberals may not 'welcome' change, but they don't necessarily fear it.

      Australia managed to come through the GFC virtually unscathed. The then (liberal orientated) Labor Party government stimulated the economy by stimulating the economy and increasing short term spending. We were also helped by a mining boom due to China's rapid growth. No Australian bank went into financial difficulties. They all actually increased profits.

      The current (conservative) Liberal Party government has fallen into a bit of a hole. The very conservative and unpopular Tony Abbott has just been replaced in a party room coup by the moderate Malcolm Turrnbull. The economy has tanked. The mining boom has stopped. There was a proposal to develop a very large coal mine in Queensland, with billions of dollars of taxpayer money going to build a necessary railway to transport the coal to the port to be shipped to India, which already has plenty of coal of its own.

      Current prices for coal means that the mine won't be making a profit.

      The new treasurer insists that Australia has a spending and not a revenue problem. The budget deficit continues to increase despite the Liberal Party promising that they'd attain a surplus by now. His 'solution' is to increase revenue by increasing economic growth. Where the growth is supposed to be coming from is unknown. The previous Liberal treasurer told the domestic car manufacturers to get lost, which they will, next year. We'll be importing all our cars. With the current weak Australian dollar, domestically manufactured cars would have been very competitive on the export market, and might have partially replaced lost growth in mining.

      Once we've lost an industry, it won't return.

    3. Bachfiend, I notice that Michael does not want to respond to either of us. It could be because we are so far beneath his intellectual level that it would be a waste of time. But I don't think so.

      Liberals are nothing special. They make the same good and bad decisions as the rest of us. But at least they are willing to make decisions.

      Conservatives like Michael are also willing to make decisions. But only when they involve returning America (Canada, Australia, etc) to the policies that he thinks made them great.

      Ban abortion. Ban the teaching of evolution. Ban same sex marriage. Ban homosexuality. Ban gay pride parades. Ban the ban on descrimination.

      The big difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals are willing to try something to make things better; conservatives are afraid to try something out of fear of making things worse. Frankly, I prefer the liberal approach. The conservative approach just sounds like dying in slow motion.

    4. [because we are so far beneath his intellectual level that it would be a waste of time.]

      That did cross my mind.

      [The big difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals are willing to try something to make things better;]

      You must have very flexible joints to pat yourself on the back like that.

      Liberals don't always support liberty-- in fact, endorsement of government power by force is a hallmark of modern liberalism, and its anything but "liberal" in any meaningful sense.

      Conservatives don't always want to conserve--I'd like to throw much of our modern culture and political establishment in the trash, and conserve very little of it.

      I think the most accurate distinction between faction in the modern world dates to the French Revolution and the Estates-General with the left wing and the right wing. The left wing was anti-Catholic tending to atheism, ostensibly democratic but markedly prone to dictatorship and totalitarianism, prone to violence, and scornful of tradition. The right wing was Catholic, monarchal with a more nuanced division of powers, stable, and traditional in the specific sense of the political and cultural structure of the Western world as had developed from Rome through the Enlightenment.

      One can debate the accuracy of this scheme, but I think it is the most accurate description of the fundamental divisions in modern politics.

      Those on the Left need to do more than chest-thump about "liberty" and "democracy": the Left needs to account for Communism and Nazism, both of which are paradigmatic leftist movements and lineal descendants of the Jacobins.

    5. Michael,

      No. You need to get your definitions right.

      On the left/right continuum there's liberal to libertarian. Both are characterised by little to no outside control of individuals.

      On the left/right continuum there's progressive to conservative. Both are characterised by more or less control of individuals by the state or society.

      You shouldn't confuse liberal with progressive. They're different.

      On the OCEAN matrix of personality traits, liberals tend to score higher on openness (to new ideas) and lower on conscientiousness. Conservatives tend to score lower on openness to new ideas and higher on conscientiousness.

      One isn't superior or inferior to the other.

      You've confirmed my opinion of conservatives when you state that you'd like to discard much of modern society. I'd noted that conservatives also want to return to a past ideal time, often the '50s, in your case, I suspect the 1750s.

      In the French Assembly before the French Revolution, representatives of ruling power sat on the right, and representatives of everyone else sat on the left.

      You're just being silly when you blame National Socialism on the left. It was broadly right wing conservative. Hitler came to power in coalition with the Conservative Party, and got his Enabling Act passed with support from the two Catholic parties. His enemies were in the Social Democrats and the Communists, both on the left.

    6. [I'd noted that conservatives also want to return to a past ideal time, often the '50s, in your case, I suspect the 1750s]

      The 1450's. The 18th century was a catastrophe.


    7. ME,

      What do you have against the 18th century? It was the century of the American Revolution after all. And it wasn't too bad until 1783, with the eruption of Loki in Iceland (killing a quarter of Iceland's population - admittedly not many) and setting off several years of very poor harvests in Europe due to climate change - and possibly leading to the French Revolution.

      Socialism doesn't equate to Marxism. Nor is it necessarily left wing. It just means that there's control of individuals by the state (it's the opposite of individualism). The National Socialists were socialists because they sought to control individuals. All social clubs (even non-political ones such as cycling clubs) were taken over by the Nazis or banned.

      They weren't Marxists. They never tried to nationalise industry or banks and sought funding and support from rich conservative industrialists. If anything united them it was their rabid and irrational hatred of Jews.

    8. [What do you have against the 18th century?]

      I detest the Philosophes. They were sophists and narcissists who dynamited the intellectual and cultural traditions of the West, and fled the scene just when the fruits of their work appeared--in the guillotine, the Napoleonic Wars, and the rise of Marxism.

      The 18th century, at least in philosophical endeavors, was a low dishonest century. We still live with its degrading and lethal consequences.

    9. ".….eruption of Loki in Iceland (killing a quarter of Iceland's population - admittedly not many)"

      Funny in a morbid way....

    10. Michael,

      What makes you think that philosophies change society instead of just reflecting changes already occurring? Provide examples.

      The Terror after the French Revolution was a short term affair with a moderate government coming into place soon after. Napoleon came into prominence defending the new republic from its external enemies - which were monarchies worried about non-monarchical governments in their midst.

      Napoleon usurped power in 1804 and crowned himself Emperor.

      Do you think that the American Revolution was a bad thing? The Americans did the same as the French in getting rid of rule by kings.

      Marxism was a 19th century movement caused by the inequalities of the Industrial Revolution. Rural workers flocked to the cities seeking employment and were housed in crowded squalid slums earning a pittance while the factory owners became very rich.

      Marx was expecting his Revolution to occur in a developed industrial country such as Germany or Britin, but of course capitalism eventually reformed itself to give its workers a fairer share. As Henry Ford noted, the workers in factories need to be paid enough to be able to afford the products they're making.

  3. "I respectfully disagree. Pope Francis is certainly a fool--a fool for Christ, in the Pauline sense. The battle the Holy Father is engaging is a spiritual battle, not a political battle. Working for the common good, love and respect for the vulnerable, the weak, the poor, and sinners is basic Christian life. Living one's life in accordance with Matthew 25 is not socialism. Care for the poor is not Marxism, soft or otherwise."

    One does not "care for the poor" by banding together to cheer on Caesar as he despoils that guy over there so as to give his wealth (minus expenses, of course) to you so that you can give it to "the poor" (minus expenses, of course).

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. That is the argument conservatives should make. Emphatically.

      Criticism of the Pope's message does not make that argument. It merely leaves a huge territory open to the Left to claim as their own.

      It's noteworthy that the Pope's actual words do not (that I can see) mandate socialism. They mandate Christian charity. It is for us conservatives to make the case that socialism is the opposite of Christian charity, and that free enterprise within a context of genuinely Christian culture and voluntary generous aid to the deserving poor is the best means to achieve the good ends that the Pope so eloquently endorses.

  4. "One of the most beautiful speeches I've heard."

    Perhaps something is lost in translation? I've slogged my way through only the first four or five paragraphs, and already my eyes are glazing over, "fluent Bureaucratese ... so sleepy"

  5. Michael, please *read* the speech, trying to read it as though you do not know who said it.

  6. I think the phrase you're looking for is demonic counterfeit.

    1. Anebo,

      Thank you. Demonic counterfeit expresses it very well.