The Washington Post’s online blog declares: Pope Francis—Time Magazine’s just-declared Person of the Year—is doing something no politician this side of the Atlantic can manage: He’s uniting political adversaries.
The Post is referring to the Pope’s recent condemnation of capitalism, free markets and private property, which he claims are unkind and unfair to the poor and the needy.Actually, there’s no supernatural magic at work here. It’s entirely logical and consistent on the part of the Pope to stand arm-in-arm with both advocates of democratic socialism as well as their supposed conservative antagonists.
I can prove it. Pick out just about any Republican/conservative and ask him or her to say “true or false” to the following statements.
“Man’s most important and moral purpose in life is to serve others.” True or false?
“Selflessness is the definition of virtue; selfishness and self-interest are the very definition of vice.” True or false?
“Profit is good only when it helps the common good; profit is bad when done only to advance one’s own economic, or other, interests.” True or false?
Ask any supporter of Barack Obama’s policies these questions and you’ll certainly hear the reply, “True.”
But ask any supporter of conservatism the same questions, and you’ll almost certainly hear the same reply to each one: “True.’
My point? Pope Francis hasn’t united liberals and conservatives. They’re already united on the basic issue of morality. Political positions are simply moral positions made tangible.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds nearly seven in 10 Americans have a favorable impression of Pope Francis (69 percent), a sharp increase from attitudes toward his predecessor Pope Benedict’s 54 percent mark in February. A major part of this shift came from political liberals, who were least approving of Benedict but are now among Francis’ strongest supporters.
Of course they are.
The logical attitude for leftists to have towards the stridently anti-capitalist Pope is, “Welcome home, brother.” Or Father, if you prefer.
Leftists, unlike most conservatives, grasp that without a moral justification, capitalism cannot—and should not—survive. The Pope understands this too.
The moral foundation social democrats offer for anti-capitalism is the idea, “You are your brother’s keeper.” Do most conservatives or leftists really believe this, in an absolutely consistent way? Almost certainly not. Do most conservatives or leftists practice this in daily life? Certainly not.
Conservatives don’t challenge Obamaists on their most basic views about morality. In fact, they share those basic views. That’s why they look so inconsistent, weak and foolish when up against leftists in elections or in setting policy. That’s why they fixate on issues like homosexuality and abortion, issues not nearly as fundamental as “brother’s keeperism.” They cannot find anything else with which to disagree.
In order to defend capitalism—unhampered capitalism, not the tattered and fading remnants we know today—you’ve got to defend the right of the individual not to be his brother’s keeper.
Paraphrasing Ayn Rand, it’s not whether you give a bum a dime; it’s whether you’re entitled to live your life free of guilt even if you don’t give any bum a dime. (Or, adjusting for the Federal Reserve’s systematic devaluation of the currency: giving a bum a ten dollar bill.)
Obama thrives only on the errors and evasions of his conservative opponents, mere posers for “opposition.” If you claim to support free markets and capitalism, then you’ve got to defend the idea that an individual’s life is an end in itself. Just as your body is not the property of others, the intellectual and material results of your productive activity do not belong to anybody else, either.
Either you own the products of your efforts, or you don’t. Your body, your mind…it’s all yours. Not the state’s, and not the Church’s, either.
It’s rare to find anyone upholding this view. The Pope—not just this one, but any one of his predecessors—is the last person you’ll find upholding this view. He belongs with the social democrats who control the political and economic agenda in American society. Quite honestly, they deserve each other.
Michael J Hurd
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