Editorial: The Pope’s deconstruction of capitalism


Pope Francis concluded his eight-day tour of South America on Sunday, where the spiritual leader took the time to meet with those from every social station to address larger issues in the faith and the world at large. Among many points made about the current global state, Francis placed extraordinary emphasis on the issue he described as “unbridled capitalism” and its adverse effects on humanity.

Given the pope’s influence and authority, such a criticism of capitalism as a global institution is one that needs to be heeded. Francis tied the rampant capitalism that is all too common in today’s society to the worship of false idols. Even from a secular standpoint, it is hard to argue that in the present, money is not worshipped above most things.

We have confused the purpose of currency. We have taken money as a way to simplify the exchange of goods and services and created a system of currency exchange that dominates every facet of human existence. The purpose of money should be to streamline transactions and replace the barter system. The exchange of currency should make life easier, but instead, it has become an institution that requires a sacrifice of “human lives on the altar of money and profit.”

Perhaps it will take a spiritual leader, such as the pope, to help us as society move away from living in such a manner that necessitates signatures of blood on the checks written by governments and bureaucratic institutions. The belief that the entirety of human existence should be reduced to an exchange of currency, which carries no value other than the value we as a society place upon it, is ludicrous.

Money is important, but only when used for what is important to us, such as “putting bread on the table, putting a roof over the head of one’s children, or giving them health and an education,” as Francis points out.

In general, it would appear as though we as a society have forgotten which is more important: money or what we spend it on. Disparities in wealth and corresponding disparities in quality of life can be seen on global scales, and yet so little is done about it. The root of these disparities is not solely greed or some form of intrinsic evil in humanity as a whole.

What we are seeing is “an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” that has engulfed the global economy, essentially replacing the most fundamental purposes of currency.

All the money in the world won’t be enough to buy back our humanity, but a sum that large isn’t necessary. Perhaps what should be taken away from Francis’ speeches is the idea that we as a society must decide what is truly necessary and what is a manifestation of greed bought at the expense of our fellow man.

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