Posted by Jon Ray @ Greenie Watch
If we compare him with Fascists of the past, his ideas are clearly Fascist.
Fortunately, however, he has none of their power. "But how can such a nice
guy be a Fascist?" one might ask. In answer to that remember that
"Pope" is a version of the Italian word for "father" and
that both Mussolini and Hitler were seen as fatherly figures in their times.
Hitler had most Germans convinced that he loved them. And even in the mouth of
a holy man bad ideas can be destructive when other people take them seriously.
And the church has always accommodated Fascism. In 1929 Mussolini and Pope Pius
12th signed the Lateran treaty -- which is the legal basis for the existence of
the Vatican State to this day -- and Pius in fact at one stage called Mussolini
"the man sent by Providence". The treaty recognized Roman Catholicism
as the Italian State religion as well as recognizing the Vatican as a sovereign
state. What Mussolini got in exchange was acceptance by the church -- something
that was enormously important in the Italy of that time.
It should also be noted that Mussolini's economic system (his "corporate
State") was a version of syndicalism http://www.thefreedictionary.com/syndicalist
-- having workers, bosses and the party allegedly united in several big happy
families -- and syndicalism is precisely what had been recommended in the then
recent (1891) "radical" encyclical De rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII.
So that helped enormously to reconcile Mussolini to the church. Economically,
Fascism was more Papal than capitalist (though in the Papal version of
syndicalism the church naturally had a bigger role).
Syndicalism was of course a far-Leftist idea (with Sorel as a major prophet)
long before it was a Papal one but the Holy Father presented a much more
humanized and practical version of it and thus seems in the end to have been
more influential than his Leftist rivals. Mussolini was of course acutely aware
of both streams of syndicalist thinking and it was a great convenience to him
to be able to present himself as both a modern Leftist and as a supporter of
So that is the Catholic intellectual inheritance, making Frank's ideas not at
all outlandish in a Catholic context. Catholic economic ideas in fact formed
the basis of Italian Fascism. And Frank has built on that foundation using more
In his recent encyclical, Frank has made it clear that he idealizes a simple
and definitely non-capitalist rural past. Hitler did the same. So exactly from
where did Frank get those ideas? As well as from Catholic economic thinking, he
got them from liberation theology. Liberation theology is widespread among
South American priests and Frank is a South American priest. So where did South
American Priests get their ideas? From the prevailing South American cuture.
And South American thinking is typically Fascist. Latin America has had heaps
of Fascist-type dictatorships in the recent history of its governance so that
is hardly controversial. Fascism explains Latin-American poverty. Fascism is a
form of Leftism and Leftism is always economically destructive.
So where did South American Fascism come from? Initially from Simon Bolivar,
the great liberator of South America. Bolivar wanted to replace the king of
Spain by a South American elite, not by mass democracy. And to this day the
Venezuelan regime describes itself as Bolivarian. Bolivar and his ideas are far
from forgotten. Bolivar emphasized the importance of a strong ruler and the
constitution he wrote aimed to establish a lifelong presidency and an hereditary
senate. He explicitly rejected the liberal ideas of the U.S. founders. Fascist
enough? Memories of a certain Tausend Jahr Reich come to mind. So the Latin
American dictators have simply been good Bolivarians.
So that is the mental world that formed Pope Frank as he was growing up in
Argentina. And who is to this day the most influential political figure in
Argentina? Juan Peron, another Fascist and a friend of Mussolini in his day.
And it was of course Peron who gave refuge to many displaced Nazis after WWII.
And what was Peron's appeal? He claimed to be standing up for the
descamisados", the "shirtless ones". In typical Leftist style he
claimed to be an advocate for the poor.
Is Frank's thinking coming into focus yet? He is actually a pretty good
Peronist. He has brought Argentinian Fascism to the Holy See. He is certainly
no original thinker. Paul Driessen sets out below how his prescriptions would
perpetuate poverty, disease, and premature death in the Third World -- just as
they have done in Argentina.