Tuesday, 8 November 2011

'Wealth and power' - the world does not change

  The global economy is in a mess.  The press and media regale us with doom and gloom; world stock markets are down;  Governments  bail out commercial banks;  bankruptcies, unemployment,  homelessness, civil unrest; health and social services cut back; astronomical hike in fees for university students;  fuel, gas and electricity prices rising, with spin-off effect on food, heating, and travel costs. But hold on, I can hear you say, what's new about this, we've heard it all before ........! 

Allow me to quote from an interesting and revelatory  book – ‘Pope Pius XI and World Peace’, by Lord Clonmore,  published in 1938 by ‘The Catholic Book Club’. Although dealing with the relationship of the Catholic Church and State some seventy-five   years ago, I have a feeling that the words of Pope Pius XI  have as much relevance to our own times as they did then.

                        Pope Pius XI (1857-1939)   (Pope 1922-39).

“It is patent that in our days not only wealth  is concentrated, but immense power and despotic economic domination are concentrated in the hands of a few, who for the most part are not the owners,  but only the trustees and directors of invested funds which they administer at their own good pleasure.     This domination is most powerfully exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, also govern credit and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to speak, the life-blood to the entire economic body, and grasping in their hands, as it were, the very soul of production, so that no-one can breathe against their will.    The accumulation of power, the characteristic note of the modern economic order, is a natural result of limitless free competition,  which permits the survival of those only who are strongest,  and this often means those who fight most relentlessly, who pay least heed to the dictates of conscience” (Pope Pius XI)  

‘This power, against whose will ‘no-one can breathe’, is what may briefly be called the ‘Money Power’. In the Middle Ages usury was unable on the whole to flourish; plenty of attempts were made, but the discipline of the Church, which hates usury as one of the gravest sins, was almost always too strong for the would-be money lenders. With the break-up of Catholic Europe following the Reformation, the usurers were able to start on their work of enriching the already wealthy at the expense of the poor. In England it was the ‘Money Power’ which brought Charles 1 to the block, and what was known as ‘Dutch Finance’ came over once and for all with William of Orange.  One of the conditions necessary for this destructive and parasitic system to flourish is that there should be free competition, which means in fact, cut-throat competition. The present system of cut-throat competition places the borrower at the mercy of the lender.  There is no doubt that the State has almost everywhere played into the hands of the money-lenders,  to whom it has made over what was once the King’s prerogative, the right to issue money’  (Lord Clonmore -  Pope Pius XI and World Peace)

“The State, which should be the supreme arbiter, ruling in kingly fashion far above all Party contention, intent only upon justice and the common good, has become instead a slave, bound over to the service of human passion and greed. As regards the relations of people among themselves, a double stream has issued forth from this one fountain-head; on the one hand economic nationalism or even economic imperialism; on the other a no less noxious and detestable internationalism in financial affairs, which holds that where a man’s fortune is, there is his country” (Pope Pius XI)

Cardinal Achille Ratti, Archbishop of Milan, prior to election as Pope Pius XI

‘An example of this capitulation by the State to the ‘Money Powers’, were events in England in 1914 when war was declared. Due to unprecedented money demand, with the Banks running out of money, the Bank Act was suspended and a moratorium was declared. This would have been a very good moment for the King to reclaim his office of issuing money; to bring this about,  it would merely have been necessary to issue treasury notes for the national expenses which had to be met in English currency, and to open State credits with producers on agreed terms. Unfortunately the ‘Money Power’ recovered all too soon from its first panic, and was able to prevail on Parliament, by then in a state of alarm, to issue the treasury notes through the banks, and to borrow in order to pay for the war’.  (Lord Clonmore -  Pope Pius XI and World Peace)

“The King was prevented from exercising his office of issuing money to his people, and was forced to pay the banks and their clients, high rates of interest upon book entries.  The King was forced, that is to say, to pledge the products and labour of his people for generations, in exchange for that which  belonged properly to himself, and at the moment when the bankers’ inability to pay in gold had just been revealed” (Dr McNair Wilson)

“Christianity alone can supply an efficacious remedy for the excessive solicitude for transitory things, which is the origin of all vices. When men are fascinated by and completely absorbed in the things of this world, Christianity  alone can draw away their attention and raise it heavenwards. And who will deny that this remedy is now urgently needed by society?” (Pope Pius XI)

      Satan tempting  Christ

Today, in virtually all walks of life, more and more power is concentrated in the hands of the few. Financial institutions have been taken over by more powerful competitors, which themselves soon suffer the same fate.  We know from experience the power and influence they wield, to the extent that  in the event of severe fiscal problems, governments  are prepared to bail them out with tax-payer’s money,  rather than let them fail. They seem to be a law unto themselves, with profitability the acid measure of success.   Money equates with power, and in our world in which so many do not know God and do not want to know Him, it is not really surprising that the acquisition of wealth and the power this engenders, will  be used to satisfy worldly ambitions usually far removed from the spirit and indeed the letter of God’s laws. Power is an influence for good or evil, and without God’s help our fallen human nature is  incapable of resisting the attractions of  the world, the flesh, and the devil.  There is a saying that ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’,  and we only have to look at world history of the 20th century to realise how true this is.

                                   St Michael crushing Satan

In the 'media' world, the international interests of the Murdoch organisation, reflect enormous political and social power, not to mention wealth;  yet it seems that this is never enough. Commerce is exactly the same with companies amalgamating or being taken over, eventually all  becoming absorbed into one giant conglomerate.  Tesco’s,  now a  multi-national company, is in virtually every major town in the UK, posing a permanent  threat to  local family shops many of whom  cannot compete and are forced to close down. ‘Might is right’,  is unfortunately the name of the game.

Central government and the Civil Service offer real opportunities for attaining positions of power. Elected Members of Parliament, once established in ministerial positions,  assume  power and authority commensurate with their job.  Problems arise when they exceed their remit. An example of this in my opinion, is the recent decision  by the Prime Minister  and the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew  Mitchell, to refuse aid to a certain African nation  due to their uncompromising opposition to homosexual practices. This suggests that the life-threatening needs of the starving, sick, homeless, and unemployed, are of no consequence when measured against the 'promotion' of homosexuality, a lifestyle which is totally opposed to the religious beliefs and social traditions of many third-world countries 

Unfortunately today’s materialistic and secular culture has confused the true meaning of 'charity'. Charity is defined as 'the love of God above all things, and the love of our neighbour for God's sake'. The provision of contraception and abortion facilities, contrary to God's law - which includes the Natural law, is not 'charity', and to force unwilling poor countries to accept this particular condition, under threat of depriving them of essential financial aid, is tantamount to moral blackmail and an abuse of political power.

The Tribute Money (George Hayter 1792-1871)  -  'Render to God the things that are God's, and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's'

One wonders if there is a hidden agenda shaping the UK  ‘Aid’ programme.  With ‘population control’ a major platform, is it that the financiers, politicians, commercial and industrial interests,  who hold the reins of power in the west,  fear expansion in the third-world, as a threat to their monopoly of power. Both the Prime Minister and Andrew  Mitchell  seem very keen to assure members of the House that ‘the whole of our development  budget  is spent in Britain’s national interest,  and a large chunk  of it goes to support our own security  and prosperity here at home.’

The tragic and terrible irony in this matter,  is that much of UK aid will be used to deliberately kill  babies still in the womb; tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent lives terminated before they see the light of day. Additionally the promotion of contraception, will effectively restrict that population increase so necessary for future development.  Truly an example of  misuse of power resulting in an enforced culture of death and  evil...

Alternatively, when aid is used to enhance life, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing  health and medical services, financing  education and  creating  job opportunities, and other positive ventures, it is truly a power for good, offering real hope for present and future generations...

On this subject, a few quotes from Hansard,  26th October 2011;   

Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson (DUP): 'The Prime Minister has warned African countries that unless they improve gay rights, he will cut their aid, yet in many African countries where we pour in millions of pounds of aid, Christians face great persecution and destruction of churches, lives and property. Here in the UK, anyone who displays a Bible verse on the wall of a café faces prosecution. Was Ann Widdecombe right when she said that in the 21st century hedgehogs have more rights than Christians?'

The Prime Minister: 'Ann Widdecombe is often right - not always right, but often right. The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. The way we judge our aid decisions is to look at human rights across the piece. That means how people are treating Christians and also the appalling behaviour of some African countries towards people who are gay'.

Mr Mitchell - ‘Over the last year there has been an increase in many countries support for development, which is quite right and in accordance with the commitments that they have given. Britain has been in the lead in that regard. All our spending is in our national interest, and large amounts of it support our security, and indeed our future prosperity’          

Mr Mitchell: 'The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The whole of our development budget is spent in Britain’s national interest, and a large chunk of it goes to support our own security and prosperity here at home'.
Just two questions:-
1.  How has the government reacted to those African nations that are murdering and persecuting Christians?
2. In what way is the whole of our development budget spent in Britain’s national interest, and how is it that a large chunk of it goes to support our own security and prosperity here at home?
Know the answers, please share them in the 'comment' box.                              
Finally,a reminder of Christ's words to the Apostles regarding wealth and possessions:-
"Amen I say to you, with difficulty shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”  (Matthew.Ch 19 vs 23/24)