Remember… in European political parlance, “liberal” means “conservative” in Anglospeak. Therefore, the Church is condemning both “conservatism” and liberalism” in the Anglosphere sense. That is… the Church condemns the ideology of the Republican Party and of neoliberal Democrats as against the God-given Order, if not actually demonic. It condemns the Free Market. I’m indebted to a Russian friend who make some Russian texts available to me, which allowed me to issue a clean version (the Katheon version was overly literal and jangly).
To reiterate… if you call yourself a “conservative” in the Anglosphere, you spit on Christ and His Church. I can’t put it any more plainly…
The Moscow Patriarchate published a draft document Economy in the Context of Globalisation: An Orthodox Ethical View. This document demonstrates the key positions of the Church on a number of issues relating to the economy and international relations. The MP emphasised that it supports only the trends in modern international processes that aim to build a multi-polar world and a dialogue of civilisations and cultures based on traditional non-liberal values:
Consolidation of mankind based on the moral commandments of God is fully consistent with the Christian mission. A reasonable and pious incarnation of globalisation provides an opportunity for fraternal mutual assistance, free exchange of creative achievements and knowledge, respectful coexistence of different languages and cultures, and the joint conservation of nature. If the essence of globalisation is only to overcome the division between people, its economic processes have to overcome inequalities, prudently use our natural endowment, and ease equitable international coöperation.
At the same time, a large part of the document critically examines the process of globalisation. The Church says that globalisation “removes barriers to the spread of sin and vice”. The Church condemns Westernisation and dissemination of the Western cult of consumption, noting that “the Western way of development” is a road to nowhere, to hell, and the abyss. The “catch-up model of modernisation”, having before people’s eyes an uncritically perceived external sample, not only destroys the social structure and spiritual life of the “catch-up” societies, but often doesn’t allow it to approach the idol in the material sphere, imposing unacceptable and ruinous economic decisions.
In contrast to the immutability and universality of moral commandments, economics can’t have a universal solution for all peoples and all times. God created a variety of people in the world. That reminds us that every nation has a task given by the Creator, each is valuable in the sight of the Lord, and everyone is able to contribute to the creation of our world.
The Church denounced neocolonialism and the exploitation of the Third World by Western multinationals. The Church considers such a policy to be deeply unjust and sinful. It especially noted that control over the financial sector was the main weapon of the new colonialism:
Although the world colonial system outwardly collapsed, the richest states of the world pursued ever-receding horizons of consumption. They continued to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. It’s impossible to recognise as just an international division of labour in which some countries are suppliers of absolute values, especially human labour or raw materials, whilst others are suppliers of conditional values in the form of financial resources.
The Church insists that a Christian approach to the economy is primarily ontological. The only alternative to the fictive global liberal economy can only be a real Christian economy. One can only counter the hegemony of global plutocracy, based on financial capital and the dollar as the universal currency, by a global policy of sovereignty:
Often, money paid for non-renewable natural resources “comes out of thin air”. It’s nothing but printing press money, but since it comes from the monopoly issuers of world currency, one must accept it. As a result, the abyss in socioeconomic status between nations and entire continents is becoming increasingly profound. This one-sided globalisation, giving undue advantages to some of its participants at the expense of the others, entails a partial and, in some cases, a virtually complete loss of sovereignty.
As one of the ways to solve this problem (dollar hegemony), the Church proposes to establish international control over global currencies:
If mankind needed freely traded currencies throughout the world to serve as a universal yardstick for economic calculations, the production of such units should be under fair international control, where all states of the world would proportionally take part. A possible benefit of such controls is that we could channel funds to the development of the poverty-stricken regions of the planet.
However, the Church believes that the strengthening of international institutions shouldn’t lead to the strengthening of the transnational élite. The unconditional support of state sovereignty against the transnational élite is a distinctive feature of the position of the Orthodox Church. This differentiates Orthodox from Catholics, who are members of the globalist transnational centralised structure, in contrast to the Orthodox Churches, which have union in faith, but aren’t administratively united.
National governments are increasingly losing their independence and becoming less dependent on the will of their own people, and more and more on the will of the transnational élite. These élites aren’t a legal entity; therefore, they’re not accountable to the people or to national governments, rather they’ve become a shadow regulator of social and economic processes. Greed shadows the rulers of the global economy; this leads to the fact that a small fraction of the “élite” is getting richer and at the same time more and more relieved of the responsibility for the welfare of those whose labour created the wealth.
The church believes that the gap between rich and poor, the predatory morality of Hayek-style “laissez-faire capitalism”, and neoliberal thought is incompatible with Christian teaching:
A moral society shouldn’t increase the gap between rich and poor. The strong don’t have the moral right to use their benefits at the expense of the weak, but on the contrary, they’re obliged to take care of the dispossessed. All employees should receive decent pay.
The Church openly declares that usury is a sinful phenomenon, and notes the destructiveness of the global debt economy:
Whole countries and nations plunge into debt, and generations not yet born are doomed to pay the bills of their ancestors. In business, paper profits from lending become more lucrative than the production of tangible goods. In this regard, we must remember the moral ambiguity of the situation where money “makes” new money without the application of human labour. Declaring the credit sphere to be the main engine of the economy, its predominance over the real economic sector comes into conflict with God-revealed moral principles condemning usury.
The document takes heed of the important topic of mass migration. Unlike the Catholic approach, that unduly favours migration, particularly in Europe, the Orthodox notice negative aspects to the process, as well as the fact that it leads to confrontation of different identities and value systems. In addition, the Church proposes to look at the roots of this phenomenon. The reasons for mass migration are the liberal hedonistic ideology bleeding the peoples of Europe and the interests of the capitalist elite, who need a cheap and disenfranchised workforce:
Attempts by the native populations in the rich countries to stop the migration flow are futile, because they conflict with greed of their own élite, who are interested in a low-wage workforce. However, an inexorable factor driving migration is the spread of a hedonistic quasi-religion capturing not only the élite, but also the broad masses in countries with high living standards. A renunciation of procreation for a thoughtless, arrogant, and selfish existence is a sign of the times. The popularisation of a child-free ideology leads to a cult of childless family life, which leads to a reduction in the population in the most seemingly prosperous societies. We mustn’t forget that the commandment to all the descendants of Adam and Eve said, “Fill the earth, and subdue it”. Anyone who doesn’t want to continue the race will inevitably have to give way to those who prefer having children to material well-being.
The Church noted that the current level of consumption and the ideology of infinite progress are incompatible with the limited resources of the planet:
Globalisation accelerated consumerism, but this is isn’t proportionate to the natural resources granted to mankind. Volumes of consumption in those countries recognised worldwide as models have reached the equivalence of billions of people; their needs have long gone beyond their resource capabilities. There’s no doubt that if all of humanity consumed our natural wealth at the rate of the countries that lead in terms of consumption, it’d lead to a planet-wide environmental disaster.
This document is very important because it shows that the MP not only takes a critical position in relation to liberal globalisation, it also offers a Christian alternative to globalisation processes. Whilst Catholics and most Protestant denominations have keen humane ideals, and in the best case, criticise globalisation from the left or left-liberal positions, the Church advocates sovereignty and national identity. The most important aspect of the Orthodox critique of globalisation is the idea of multipolarity and its recognition of the destructiveness of modern Western civilisation’s path.
26 May 2016