By for Capitalism Magazine, May 23, 2015 •
There was the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths in 410 A.D. There was the sack of Rome by Charles I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1527. That pillage only ended when, after eight months, the food ran out, there was no one important left to hold hostage for ransom, and then a plague appeared caused by all the rotting corpses in Rome’s streets. When the destruction, rape, and looting stopped, only 10,000 residents were left in Rome.
Attila the Hun never sacked Rome, but did loot and destroy a great portion of northern Italy. It wasn’t for lack of trying to invest Rome. But his hordes contracted “camp disease” and fell too ill to pillage and loot. He had to withdraw his “freedom fighters” to try another day, but died about a year later before making another attempt, in 453 A.D.
It’s a scenario being acted out in the Middle East by ISIS. Until he was reportedly killed by U.S. Special Forces, ISIS commander Abu Sayyaf was aiming for the Pol Pot Mass Murder award that was to have been conferred on him by the Swedish Academy of Peace and Harmony. He was also going to be presented with a check for $10 million, an interest-bearing, untaxable bank account with Nordea Bank, and a certificate of indulgence and indemnity to rape every blonde, blue-eyed Swedish woman he set eyes on in Stockholm, and take one back to the Islamic State as a prize to add to his collection of sex slaves.
It would take a village – or, at least, the “global” one – to subjugate and sack America. That is what is being proposed by Jeffrey Sachs. And who is Jeffrey Sachs?
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders. He was called by the New York Times, “probably the most important economist in the world,” and by Time Magazine “the world’s best known economist.” A recent survey by The Economist Magazine ranked Professor Sachs as among the world’s three most influential living economists of the past decade.
Professor Sachs serves as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His most recent books are To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2013) and The Age of Sustainable Development (2015).
That, in a nutshell, is who Jeffrey Sachs is. A career elitist and people director, whose middle name seems to be “sustainable.” A starry-eyed busybody who’d love to manage your body and habits so that the earth survives your carbon footprint. Time Magazine said (twice) he was one of the world’s most influential leaders. The New York Times said he was “probably the most important economist in the world.” I wonder what Times columnist and “economist” Thomas Friedman thinks about that accolade. Sachs has the usual chestful of politically correct medals and ribbons that identify him as a “world leader,” probably many more than were pinned to Al Gore’s tuxedo.
But, until Cliff Kincaid wrote about Jeffrey Sachs in a May 18th column in Accuracy in Media (AIM), “Liberal Academic Says America’s Founding Document Outmoded,” I’d never heard of this “world leader” and “eminent person.”
Top Vatican adviser Jeffrey Sachs says that when Pope Francis visits the United States in September, he will directly challenge the “American idea” of God-given rights embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
Sachs, a special advisor to the United Nations and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is a media superstar who can always be counted on to pontificate endlessly on such topics as income inequality and global health. This time, writing in a Catholic publication, he may have gone off his rocker, revealing the real global game plan.
Which Catholic publication? It was a Jesuit one, “America.”
The United States, Sachs writes in the Jesuit publication, America, is “a society in thrall” to the idea of unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the “urgent core of Francis’ message” will be to challenge this “American idea” by “proclaiming that the path to happiness lies not solely or mainly through the defense of rights but through the exercise of virtues, most notably justice and charity.”
In these extraordinary comments, which constitute a frontal assault on the American idea of freedom and national sovereignty, Sachs has made it clear that he hopes to enlist the Vatican in a global campaign to increase the power of global or foreign-dominated organizations and movements.
This is not really news. Pope Francis has pontificated often enough on how capitalism and the pursuit of material wealth are major failings of mankind and obstacles to man’s spiritual redemption. The liberty to own property can result in an individual’s happiness, and Francis has strenuously objected to that. But, it does come as a minor surprise that Sachs would enlist the Vatican to shill for his dreams of “justice” (read “social justice,” a Progressive end) and “charity” (read compulsory charity).
On second thought, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The full title of Sachs’ America article is “A Call to Virtue: Living the Gospel in the land of liberty.”
Sachs and Francis are of the same species of vulture. With, of course, the United Nations. Jeffrey Sachs, being such an influential gadabout and gauleiter for the environmentalist cause, will always find employment in the realm of global collectivism. Here is what the U.N. had to say in August, 2014:
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network will work with stakeholders including business, civil society, UN agencies, and other international organizations to identify and share the best pathways to achieve sustainable development…
Naturally, eager government wonks will determine what is and isn’t “sustainable.”
…The Solutions Network will be directed by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs,…and will operate in close coordination with the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda announced by the UN last week.
If you, doubtlessly not an “eminent person,” can stomach it, you can read the whole U.N. plan here.
Kincaid’s article links to Sachs’ article in America. One Sustainable Development “solution” would be to tax fuel and other energy producing modes to pay for achieving a “sustainable” planet in another generation. Of course, the U.S. would pay the lion’s share of such a “global” impost.
Most important, they [the American revolutionaries] believed that they would find happiness as individuals, each endowed by the creator with individual rights. There is, no doubt, grandeur in this idea. As children of God, individuals have rights to be free of persecution, to be treated as ends and not means, as Immanuel Kant put it. The dignity of man requires the rights of man, as Thomas Paine declared.
Yet from the point of view of the Gospels, such rights are only part of the story, only one facet of our humanity. The Beatitudes, regarded by Pope Francis as key to the Gospel truth, are actually not at all about individual rights but about virtues, meaning the right path to the right kind of life. The Sermon on the Mount is not a defense of the individual but a call to humility, love and justice.
In modern terms, we would say that rights must be balanced by responsibilities. Kant said that the rights of individuals must be combined with duties, as guided by the categorical imperative. According to Kant, we have the duty to behave according to those maxims, and only those maxims, which can be made into universal laws.
Wouldn’t you know it? The original Prussian goose-stepper, Immanuel Kant, pops up into view from behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz. Sachs goes on in his article:
Pope Francis is telling the world, and the world is listening, that the path from indifference to the suffering of others can be found through the reinvigoration of the Gospel virtues. This, I believe, is a compelling message, though one that is very strange indeed to the modern, and especially American, psyche. Americans might rather expect a call to legal responsibilities—“You must pay your taxes”—than a call to virtues. Yes, they will tend to dismiss such claims of social responsibility (“It’s my right to keep my money, since I earned it”), but at least they are familiar with the language of rights and responsibilities.
Yet the call to virtues is deeper and ultimately more compelling. Pope Francis is not coming as a scold but as a guide to help us find a solution to the paradox of the poverty of the spirit in the rising sea of affluence. He is not speaking the language of duties and responsibilities but of human meaning. He is not rejecting the libertarian defense of human dignity but saying that dignity is found not only through individual rights and free markets but from within, by each person pursuing the virtues of charity, justice and compassion in solidarity with the common good. This, after all, is the message of hope that brought the multitudes to hear Jesus preach.
In short, Americans will be expected to declare their Declaration of Independence “outmoded” and flawed, just as Barack Obama said it was in a 2001 radio interview:
“…[T]he Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.
“And that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”
We must – or our warders must, we lack their intellectual and moral wherewithal, don’t we? – amend the Constitution to comply with UN rules and regulations, and to turn themselves into Kantian automatons fulfilling their categorical imperative-dictated duties to save the world and to feel everyone’s pain but their own UN-devised destitution. Thus spoke Jeffrey Sachs and Pope Francis and Glen Greenwald and every other America hater, who never miss an opportunity to scold the U.S. for being so selfish and loot-worthy and recklessly leaving its carbon footprints all over the globe. What were those lyrics from the Entrance and March of the Peers in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe?
Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
Bow, bow, ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses!
Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses….!
Sachs wrote in “America”:
As a macroeconomist, I have tried to put the challenge of compassion into the hard financial terms of the national income accounts. For 20 years I have tried to work up the balance sheet of social justice, so to speak, in order to measure the scale of investments that society needs to make in order to overcome extreme poverty; control epidemic diseases likes [sic] AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and Ebola; and convert our energy systems from climate-changing fossil fuels to safe, low-carbon energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power. The paradox that I have found time and again is that for a tiny investment of material goods—perhaps 2 percent to 3 percent per year of our global income—we could mobilize our technological excellence to end the scourges of extreme poverty, disease and environmental degradation that cause great global suffering and that in fact threaten our very survival. Solutions to our global material problems, whether climate change or epidemic control, are within our grasp, but only if we try.
So, Professor Sachs, which is it going to be? Do we surrender to the ineffable forces of Marx’s dialectical materialism, or to the Triumph of the Will? Or your Will?
Curious about the nature of Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical, Evangeli Gaudium: On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, on which Sachs places so much hope, I dipped into this mile-long screed and found some interesting observations. From Chapter II, point 64:
The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change.
As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined…to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom.” We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values. [All Italics mine]
“Mature” meaning altruistic values and an “educated” sense of selflessness, something American public schools are busy developing. We move on to point 93 of Chapter II:
Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being. It is what the Lord reprimanded the Pharisees for: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:44). It is a subtle way of seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, “it would be infinitely more disastrous than any other worldliness which is simply moral.”
Kincaid ends his article with:
Rather than emphasize the absolute need for safeguarding individual rights in the face of government overreach and power, Sachs writes that the Gospel teachings of humility, love and justice, “like the teachings of Aristotle, Buddha and Confucius,” can take us on a “path to happiness through compassion” and “become our guideposts back to safety.”
Writing elsewhere in the new issue of America, Christiana Z. Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University, writes about the “planetary pope,” saying, “What is really at stake in the collective response to the pope’s encyclical is not, ultimately, whether our treasured notions of theology, science, reality or development can accommodate moral imperatives. The real question is whether we are brave enough and willing to try.”
The plan is quite simple: world government through global taxes, with a religious face to bring it about.
Or global jizya, with a religious face to bring about “peace”? In its essentials, Sachs’ plan for the future sacking of America differs little from Islam’s. They are copasetic. As Ellsworth Toohey put it so well at the end of The Fountainhead on the secret of acquiring power over men: “Fight the doctrine that slaughters the individual with a doctrine that slaughters the individual.” (p. 694)
Talk about clashing brasses!
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943. 754 pp.
Edward Cline is a novelist who has written on the revolutionary war period. He is author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels set in England and Virginia in the Revolutionary period, the detective novel First Prize, the suspense novel Whisper the Guns, and of numerous published articles, book reviews and essays.