Laudato Si on the Fact that Corporations are Now the Biggest Threats to Human Liberty

Laudato Si on the Fact that Corporations are Now the Biggest Threats to Human Liberty June 22, 2015

The establishment of a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems has become indispensable; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice.

54. It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.

We’ve  figure out reasonable systems for keeping states from trampling and crushing us.  We currently have very little in place to keep the super-rich from trampling and crushing us.  Rather, states have become tools for the rich to trample and crush us and even the progress we made against that is being undone.

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  • There is no polite way to characterize your mislabeling of Pope Francis’ text. Stop it.

  • Re_Actor
  • Dan F.

    We’ve figure out reasonable systems for keeping states from trampling and crushing us. We currently have very little in place to keep the super-rich from trampling and crushing us. Rather, states have become tools for the rich to trample and crush us and even the progress we made against that is being undone.

    ^^this seems to contradict itself. There is no fundamental difference between “states” as tools of the rich or “states” minus the adjective phrase.

    Also, all legally defined organizations are corporations (for-profit, public, private, non-profit, unions, the Sierra Club, etc.) so your headline is not particularly meaningful and I’m not sure that the quote from Laudato Si even has much to do with major for-profit resource/industrial type corporations (assuming that’s what you meant by “corporations”).

    • Bear Fact

      I gotta tell you, Dan F, the text you quote has a much more plausible feel than your ratiocination of it.

      • Dan F.

        I had to look it (ratiocination) up but thanks? I think? Feeling plausible vs exact thinking would seem to be the modern problem as it relates to a whole host of issues.

        • Bear Fact

          I apologize for sounding obscure. I truly got a little carried away with the comprehensive scope and apostolic spirit of love that’s coming through on this encyclical. Chuck the ratiocination, it’s a ten-cent word.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    We’ve figured out reasonable systems for keeping states from trampling and crushing us.

    Q: Who’s “we,” Kemosabe?
    A: Not China or Russia.

  • Doyle

    What is the “techno-economic paradigm” in real terms? What are the alternative paradigms?

    What more than technology has improved the lives of the poor?

    • Bear Fact

      Take a walk down Madison Avenue, Doyle. But maybe forget it. The “techno-economic paradigm” is invisible to a ground floor view.

      BTW, your assumption about technology went out of currency with Henrik Ibsen in the late 19th century. At that time, the salon’s of Europe were witnessing the industrial revolution erupt into the bloody havoc of WWI. Since then, technology and industrialization have been dumped into the institutional lap of a class of technocratic untouchables.

      Bill Gates, rich though he may be, is lumpenproletariat. Ted Turner is just a clown.

      There’s a scripture that tells of the poverty that ensues when slaves become kings. Incipui verbum.

      • Techno-economic paradigm is a phrase that I am currently putting right alongside “despoliation of the poor” as something that has real meaning and is a useful ornament to the thinking of the Church but can be badly misconstrued if it’s just waved around for effect during a two minute hate. I didn’t know what despoliation of the poor meant and encountered a bunch of “wavers” before I finally cornered a priest into seriously giving real world examples and it turns out that the phrase’s biggest fans are profoundly misusing it.

        I happen to also be unsure of what “techno-economic paradigm” means as Pope Francis means it but the way so many are deploying it reminds me a great deal of the misuse of “despoliation of the poor”.

        • JM1001

          Well, I finished reading Laudato Si a couple of days ago, which was around the same time I was finishing up The First Grace by Russell Hittinger. It turned out to be an interesting coincidence because, in chapter ten, Hittinger discusses how the “technological order” has led to the “demise of liberalism” as it was conceived at the beginning of the modern age. I immediately thought about some of the things Francis was saying about the “technocratic paradigm.” Hittinger touches on a lot of things that I believe Francis was getting at, and I’m really grateful that I just happened to be reading the two things at the same time. (Hittinger’s piece can be read here; and, again, it also appears in chapter ten of his book.)

  • iamlucky13

    “The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.”

    Not exactly. All they make clear is that global summits are, in general, ineffective attempts at reconciling the wildly different political interests among the numerous regions and historical affiliations that are the root reason we have separate sovereign nations in the first place.

    Nor are they necessarily critical to the end stated. The United States others have made massive changes for the sake of environmental concerns completely without recourse to global summits.

    People focusing on today’s issues often tend to forget just how much progress we’ve made in the past. The Cuyahoga River, for example, hasn’t caught fire since 1969, before the passage of the Clean Water Act, which has been one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation passed anywhere in the world. In fact, while there is still work to be done on the Cuyahoga, the entire length of the river is now habitable again.

    I find the Sudbury nickel smelter cleanup in Canada to be even more significant. If you want an example of a region that was actually destroyed by pollution, that was it. It’s also still in the process of remediation, but what 40 years ago was a veritable moonscape is today expanses of young forests.

    One of the challenges I find in making use of this encyclical is that so
    much of it is ambiguous, or like the above quote, speculative.

    I’m still reading it, but what stands out to me most clearly about it is how little of what people think it says is actually in it (find me anywhere that it condemns the use of air conditioning), and how much of what actually is in it is getting almost completely ignored (Ms. Pelosi, can you take a break from your praise of this encyclical to read for us what it says about abortion?).

  • Peggy

    I have no problem with considering technology and finance when determining what to do, if anything about the alleged, global warming.

    Are we all to turn off A/C as per Francis? Shall we abandon the Internet? Shall we live in mud huts and do wash in the creeks? How many jobs lost can be tolerated to improve the alleged climate problem?

    Does the developing world get any chance to live above abject misery? How about decent medical care? Some bit of cleanliness? All that will take energy and technology…and needs financial support to make happen. Technology has saved lives. A good many wealthy people have funded many good causes in the world. (Not all of the wealthy fund all the most moral or effective causes. Not a blanket endorsement.) Many wealthy do use their gifts for genuine good in the world.

    These are fully appropriate questions for nations, business interests, human service agencies, and individual persons to consider as we address claims of man-caused climate change.

    I have no idea what that says, however, about corporations being a threat to human liberty.

    • capaxdei

      “Shall we live in mud huts and do wash in the creeks?”

      You really need to leave talk-radio style false dilemmas behind if you’re going to read papal encyclicals that challenge your thinking.

      • I’m not so sure that Peggy’s question is a false dilemma. In my neck of the woods, I see women doing their wash in creeks every day. The huts may be bahay kubo and not mud huts, but it’s the way life is for more people than you can imagine.

        • capaxdei

          I think the “we” in her question is “we in the developed world,” the implication being that Pope Francis would have the developed world revert to mud huts and washing in creeks. And yes, it is a false dilemma to choose between not listening to the Pope and moving into mud huts.

          The false dilemma she poses with respect to the developing world is between listening to the Pope and those in the developing world having any chance to live above abject misery and some bit of cleanliness.

          • Peggy

            There are real questions about how much technology as well as economic prosperity/stability we can give up to “save the planet” as it were. Our current technology and comfort require finance and energy ( CO2 output). Francis explicitly called out A/C, which has saved many lives of the elderly and sick in hot summer months. And if we don’t want more CO2 in the atmosphere, we are dooming the third world to remain in squalor and misery. The AGW crowd doesn’t want them to enjoy internal plumbing or electricity from things I’ve read over the years. Not very pro-life. Bjorn Lomborg among others has better answers than the AGW agenda.

            • capaxdei

              Are you capable of distinguishing between Laudato Si’ and “the AGW crowd” you despise?

              • Peggy

                Francis has cited many of their claims. He seems to agree with much of what AGW people believe. Not all, I admit, but much. He’s bought into a lot of the arguable things claimed. Lomborg, eg, offered explicitly, publicly to the HF alternatives to his ideas to help world poverty. Lomborg is not liked by the AGW crowd for these ideas.

  • antigon

    This, arguably – & despite competition – is the weakest & most naïve part of the encyclical. Our politics are very much subject to technology & finance to be sure – greed & the desire to dominate if you prefer – but it is no wonder the plutocracy is going to chuckle & praise the current pontiff if he truly thinks any establishment of a ‘legal framework’ will be dominated by anyone other than those whose appetites he descries.