Fr. Joseph Caramazza MCCJ

It is not by chance that Pope Francis speaks of the best politics. His analysis could not forget the current division between populism and liberalism. Both are rejected by the pontiff. One because it flattens the definition of the people until it disappears, and in doing so it opens the way to dictatorship. Evidence of this is provided by some national governments that were elected on a populist platform and are now proving increasingly reactionary in their choices. The other is because behind the veneer of democracy lies its true nature: unbridled capitalism that shows an alluring face but runs a bad game. It is not true that the free market is the panacea for all human problems. All the more so because the choices made by capitalism take little account of the freedom of others. It is no coincidence that emerging countries are increasingly denouncing the methods of liberalism, which oppresses and exploits the resources of others, to the detriment of free market participation.

If the judgement towards politics becomes so radical and negative, what would be the alternative? Francis reiterates that true politics must not submit to economics. Profit cannot be the guide for national and international choices. On the contrary, it is political choices that must regulate and direct the economy.

What Francis is hoping for is a new model of politics. Not a choice of ideology then, but a methodology that prepares and supports the valuable work of political leaders. This realisation demonstrates the importance of establishing and supporting schools of politics that offer a holistic preparation to aspiring politicians. It goes without saying that political training is based on a prejudiced foundation. Yet, when one accepts certain fundamental values – for example, common good, equitable access to resources, solidarity and development – one can easily find a common ground on which to engage in constructive dialogue. The current leadership crisis in the world is also due to the lack of real human and political formation of leaders.

The regeneration of political life should also include the reform of the United Nations Organisation. At the moment, the UN is divided between countries that have the right to speak in the General Assembly, but whose opinion carries little weight in fundamental decisions, and powers that can impose a veto on the most important choices. In fact, the UN reflects the political and economic alliances of the superpowers. This is not democracy.

It is understandable that the world community is puzzled by the participation of some non-democratic, dictatorial countries. It is understandable that they do not want to give equal weight to such dissimilar nations, representing different populations and economies. But this should be a yardstick used for all. Do Russia, the United States and China really operate according to the dictates of fairness, respect for local aspirations and democracy? The UN reflects an outdated world order, and cannot be the common home of peoples with the current political architecture. What is needed is a new style, a new set of rules that can combine attention to all peoples and respect for the various identities, with the common good of the human family.

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