PopeWatch: Peronist Pope



An interesting article in the New York Times that sheds more light on the Peronist roots of the Pope:


Less known is that Perón took his cue from the politicized Catholic leaders of ’30s Argentina. Church leaders back then sought the integration of Argentina’s new working class by promoting radical labor reforms. Bishops addressed some of the country’s first large rallies of workers, and Perón cut his teeth speaking at meetings of the Círculos Católicos de Obreros (Catholic Worker Circles).

Perón’s alliance with the bishops was sealed when the 1943-46 military regime, in which he was vice president, made Catholic education obligatory in Argentina’s previously secular public schools. The process culminated in 1944 when Perón decorated a statue of the Virgin Mary with a military sash and appointed her a “general,” accompanied by a 21-gun salute.

“Neither Marxists nor Capitalists. Peronists!” was the chant of Perón’s supporters. And it was borrowing from the church’s political thinking that enabled Perón to found his “Third Way.”

Today, the church in South America is threatened not by Marxism but by the gradual drift of its faithful toward evangelical Protestantism, which offers a more direct relationship with God. With the largest slice of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics, about 28 percent, living in South America, this is a slide the Vatican can ill afford to ignore.

It comes naturally, then, to Francis, who became a priest in Argentina’s politically engaged church hierarchy, to adopt a populist political tone to combat that drift. He speaks directly to the region’s poor with a fire found in the “liberation theology” that inspired South America’s leftist revolutionaries of the 1970s.
Pope Francis, who firmly disapproved of armed resistance, was not at first a supporter of liberation theology. But his thinking evolved. “If you were to read one of the sermons of the first fathers of the church, from the second or third centuries, about how you should treat the poor, you’d say it was Maoist or Trotskyist,” he said in 2010, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires (and still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio).


Go here to read the rest.  That last quote is a real doozy if the Pope really believes something that inane.  Left out of this article is why Juan Peron fell from power (from Modern Times by Paul Johnson):


As President, Perón gave a classic demonstration, in the name of socialism and nationalism, of how to wreck an economy. He nationalised the Central Bank, railways, communications, gas, electricity, fishing, air-transport, steel and insurance. He set up a state marketing agency for exports. He created Big Government and a welfare state in one bound: spending on public services, as a percentage of GNP, rose from 19.5 to 29.5 per cent in five years. He had no system of priorities. He told the people they would get everything at once. In theory they did. The workers were given thirteen months’ pay for a year’s work; holidays with pay; social benefits at a Scandinavian level. He would track down a highly successful firm which spent lavishly on its workers and force all firms to copy its practices, regardless of their resources. At the same time he carried out a frontal assault on the agricultural sector, Argentina’s main source of internal capital. By 1951 he had exhausted the reserves and decapitalized the country, wrecked the balance of payments and built wage-inflation into the system. Next year drought struck the land and brought the crisis into the open. Seeing his support vanish, Perón turned from economic demagoguery to political tyranny. He destroyed the Supreme Court. He took over the radio station and La Prensa, the greatest newspaper in Latin America. He debauched the universities and fiddled with the constitution. Above all, he created public “enemies”: Britain, America, all foreigners, the Jockey Club, which his gangs burned down in 1953, destroying its library and art collection. Next year he turned on Catholicism, and in 1955 his labour mobs destroyed Argentina’s two finest churches, San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and many others.
That was the last straw. The army turned him out. He fled on a Paraguayan gunboat. But his successors could never get back to the minimum government which had allowed Argentina to become wealthy. Too many vested interests had been created: a huge, parasitical state, over-powerful unions, a vast army of public employees. It is one of the dismal lessons of the twentieth century that, once a state is allowed to expand, it is almost impossible to contract it.
Sad to say, but PopeWatch is increasingly convinced that Juan Peron is the main influence on the Pope when it comes to his loopy economic ideas, forgetting how Peron and his thugs turned against the Church as his economic policies cratered.  PopeWatch thanks God that Pope Francis is a pope and not a secular ruler, at least of a nation where PopeWatch had the misfortune of being a citizen.

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  1. The more I read about this Pope, the more I want him and the social justice warriors that surround him gone!

  2. I think the Peronist aspect lies in the Pope’s tendency to view economic life as composed of antagonisms and crimes rather than co-operative endeavour. I have somewhere in my possession an antique article on the political culture of Argentina during the Frondizi years which makes the point that the mentality of politicians and public was governed by the notion that economic life was zero-sum: you were either taking from wage earners or taking from proprietors. The Pope also displays on occasion the tendency to invest in urban legends and factoids that you see in opinion journalism in this country. Given that he’s a clergyman who has spent his life in an odd country on the other side of the globe, he is astonishingly familiar.

  3. Art Deco wrote, “an antique article on the political culture of Argentina during the Frondizi years which makes the point that the mentality of politicians and public was governed by the notion that economic life was zero-sum: you were either taking from wage earners or taking from proprietors.”
    Production under capitalism is the production of surplus value; something made possible by the reduction of labour power to a commodity, to “units of abstract labour.” Whatever commodity the worker produces, what he produces essentially is surplus value. In other words, he increases the same capital that oppresses him. It is precisely this appropriation of surplus value that constitutes his exploitation.
    That is why Jeremy Corbin, one of the contenders for the leadership of the British Labour Party wants to reinstate Clause Four of its original constitution: “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.” The “full fruits” includes precisely this surplus value.

  4. Someone explain to Pope-Who that crippling cynicism over the free market is a reason a country, like Argentina – rich in natural resources and with an educated population is an economic basket case. It’s not only cynicism: demagoguery and political corruption big contributors. It’s dishonest to blame economic freedom and the free market.

    While our son was studying for his masters in ME at University of Puerto Rico he became fast friends with several Argentine students also studying there. We opened our home to them. I posed the question of Argentine natural riches and its economic penury. They said the cause is the corrupt government.

  5. Argentina’s not what you’d call a ‘basket case’ except in assessing relatively short term phenomena like business cycles (and they did suffer a wretched depression from 1999 to 2004). What you see is something sadder: a persistent long-term loss of relative economic position. Argentina in 1928 was a second-tier affluent country, with a status similar to Spain or Israel today vis a vis vanguard economies like Britain’s. As we speak, it qualifies as an ‘above average’ country in the world today, but not much better. Three of the four Southern Cone republics have suffered this way. If I’m not mistaken, though, the stock of Chile and Uruguay has gradually risen in recent decades and they’ve slowly moved up in the rankings as Argentina’s growth has been slow and their position stagnant.

  6. See (conservative?) Washington Post article, January 30, 2014.

    Quoted in part,
    “In reality, Argentina’s problems are considerably more serious than those of emerging countries such as Turkey, Brazil and South Africa and have little to do with international markets, from which Buenos Aires has been isolated since its last financial crash in 2002. Rather, they are the product of the same mistakes that have produced previous busts: uncontrolled government spending, heavy taxes on exports coupled with strict controls on imports and disincentives to foreign investors. Never learning from its mistakes, Ms. Kirchner’s Peronist party has pursued this course repeatedly, even as neighbors, including Chile, have soared past it in per-capita income by adopting free-market policies.”

    P.S. After Pinoche threw out the commies, they brought in Milton Friedman’s “Chicago Boys” to set Chile on its way to free market prosperity.

  7. To some extent, the foolishness goes all the way down. I just saw a public opinion poll which indicated that a majority of Argentines would like to see an array of price controls on foodstuffs and ‘basic services’. Once that’s done, they’ll bleat about shortages.

  8. Pope/Peron lesson not learned: The best way to destroy people is to give them everything they want.

    Pope offers forgiveness without repentance, freedom without boundaries, rewards without responsibility.

    Great weeping and gnashing of teeth are sure to follow.

  9. T Shaw wrote, “… heavy taxes on exports coupled with strict controls on imports. and disincentives to foreign investors.”

    That is a very sensible policy. As the Vicomte de Saint-Chamans – a Throne and Altar Conservative, if ever there was one and a minister of Louis XVIII – observed, “One of the strongest arguments against free trade and the excessive use of machinery is that many workingmen are deprived of employment, either by foreign competition, which depresses manufacturing, or by the machines that take the place of men in the workshops.”

    He deplored loans by foreign bankers, which made the country their tributaries, with money that should have circulated at home being sent abroad.

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