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Pope Francis, Neither a Marxist Nor an Economist

January 18, 2015 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

Last week Pope Francis defended himself against the charges of Marxism, explaining that caring for the poor is at the heart of Christian teaching. The pope is right. Caring about the poor does not make one a Marxist. By the same logic, defense of the free market does not make one oblivious to the plight of the less fortunate.

Citing excerpts from a book by two Italian journalists entitled “This Economy Kills,” the pope notes “that globalization has helped many people to lift themselves out of poverty, but it has condemned many other people to starve. It is true that in absolute terms the world’s wealth has grown, but inequality and poverty have arisen. We cannot wait any longer to resolve the structural causes of poverty in order to cure our society of an illness that can only lead to new crises.”

While it’s true that incomes were more equal for most of human history, they were terribly low. Two thousand years ago, the gross domestic product per person in the most advanced parts of the world hovered around $3.50 per day. About 1,800 years later, that was still the global average. The Industrial Revolution uprooted old feudal social structures and agrarian subsistence economy in Western Europe, thus setting the stage for the spread of representative government and material abundance. Poverty is not new. Prosperity is.

Blaming the free market for poverty isn’t factual.”

Writing in the mid-1800s, Karl Marx astutely observed the monumental changes around him. As he wrote in “The Communist Manifesto,” “The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.”

Marxthought of communism as an improvement of capitalism that would benefit yet more people. It was not and it did not. The practical application of Marxist doctrines — nationalization of industry, collectivization of farms, abandonment of competition and the profit motive, resulted in economic disaster. In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, an average American lived seven years longer and earned 151 percent more (adjusted for purchasing power parity) than an average citizen of the USSR.

Unlike his Soviet counterpart, the average American could freely state his opinions, worship the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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