The Russian Market: Satan Reigns There
The cult of money is today’s golden calf.
Yesterday, Pope Francisco gave his first major analysis on the causes of the global financial crisis.
Our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements that contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education, and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live, and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over our society and ourselves. Consequently, the financial crisis that we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. It stems from the denial of the primacy of human beings! We’ve created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Exodus 32.15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.
The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely-deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, nowadays, human beings themselves are considered as consumer goods that can be used and thrown away. We have started a throw-away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it’s being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. Whilst the income of a minority increases exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies that uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and, thus, deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible, and at times virtual, tyranny is established; one that unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion that have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.
Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It’s regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativises money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people… because ethics leads to God, who’s situated outside the categories of the market. God is thought to be unmanageable by these financiers, economists, and politicians; God is unmanageable, even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realisation and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics … naturally, not the ethics of ideology… makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of St John Chrysostom, “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It isn’t our goods that we possess, but theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).
There’s a need for financial reform along ethical lines that’d produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. Nevertheless, this’d require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.
For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good shouldn’t be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. Why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from His designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that’d help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.
17 May 2013
I discarded the boilerplate greetings at the head and foot of this piece. Let’s keep it simple. The reason that real Orthodox have to oppose the konvertsy and their attempt to ally the Church with rightwing forces is simple… they wish us all to bow down before Almighty Mammon. They want to ally us with warmongers, greedsters, and politicians so bloody in their use of the death penalty that they’d make Judge Jeffreys blush.
Don’t hate these people… but do oppose them. Hatred only dulls our vision and lowers us to the level of those such as Rod Dreher and James Paffhausen. God calls us to oppose them… not hate them… not do violence to them. As long as they’re alive, there’s hope that they’ll repent… it’s slim, but it’s there.
Keep your mind right and God’ll bless you.