“If . . . taxation is compulsory, and is therefore indistinguishable from theft it follows that the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any ‘private’ Mafia in history.”
–Murray Rothbard, “The Nature of the State”
“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
–H. L. Mencken
Pope Francis recently excommunicated (i.e., kicked out of the Catholic Church) all members of the Italian Mafia, denouncing their “evil ways” as an affront to God. If he was consistent, however, he would similarly condemn and excommunicate all Catholic politicians and their networks of big-government worshipping Catholic political activists, among the most prominent of which are his fellow Jesuits. Politics is many orders of magnitude more evil and immoral than the Mafia or any other “private” criminal gang.
Pope Francis would realize this truth by a careful consideration of the part of Catholic doctrine known as the Seven Deadly Sins. According to the Church’s teachings, all sin has its root causes in these seven deadliest sins, all of which, I will argue, are defining characteristics of the politics and politicians whose causes are championed by Jesuits like Pope Francis with their “social justice” agenda. (As F.A. Hayek pointed out in The Mirage of Social Justice, the phrase itself is nonsensical – only individuals can act in a just or unjust manner—and is essentially a euphemism for socialism).
Politicians are natural criminals, as H.L. Mencken observed in the above quotation. (Ron Paul is the only exception that I can think of during my lifetime). In order to finance their campaigns for election they must promise to steal money from those who have earned it and give it to others who have no moral right to it. They are inveterate liars, as everyone knows, since they all make campaign promises that they know they could never keep. The most successful among them are those who are the least hindered by strong moral principles opposed to lying and stealing and confiscating their fellow citizens’ property. That is why F.A Hayek titled a chapter of The Road to Serfdom “Why the Worst Get on Top.”
There are one or two exceptions every couple of generations, but in general politicians personify the Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic doctrine. Self pride trumps humility as the most successful politicians tend to be extremely egotistical with inflated self images (sometimes etched in stone on mountain sides and in bronze statues littering cities all around the world).
Envy poisons the heart of every crusader for “social justice,” the lame euphemism for income redistribution via welfare statism, which long ago replaced “government ownership of the means of production” as the definition of socialism.
Wrath is what one experiences if one even criticizes the ruling political class. In some societies this means lost employment, character assassination, and censorship, whereas in others, such as the twentieth-century socialist states, it meant the mass murder of dissenters by the millions (see Death by Government by Rudolph Rummel).
Sloth has long been associated with government bureaucrats and bureaucracies because of absence of market feedback mechanisms. A slothful business owner will pay a price for his laziness in terms of lower profits or bankruptcy; no such penalties exist in governments, where budgets only increase year after year after year. In fact, it is quite routine to reward government bureaucracies with larger budgets for their failures. The worse the public schools become, the more money they get; the more the war on drugs fails, the more money the Drug Enforcement Administration gets; etc.
Greed for power to dominate others is why politicians become politicians in the first place, not to mention the riches attached to being a “public servant” who can use his political connections to enrich himself and his family through inside information among other means.
Gluttony is on display daily with internet, newspaper, and televised images of “state dinners,” the palatial buildings that politicians build for themselves to “work” in, their lavish spending of taxpayer dollars on international travel, nightly feasts, cocktail parties, staff entourages, and more.
The antics of politicians like Bill Clinton periodically remind us of the Sodom-and-Gomorrah lifestyle of so many politicians who are not unfamiliar with the deadly sin of lust, although the bigger sin is their lust to dominate other people and societies and their use of coercion and force to achieve these ends.
Murray Rothbard pointed out in his essay on “Just War” that the American Revolution and the South during the Civil War” were the ony two just (defensive) wars in American history that are consistent with the kind of Catholic just war theory initiated by St. Thomas Aquinas. All other wars and military interventions in foreign countries have been aggressive wars pursued for economic gain on behalf of “the elite” who control government. All politicians and others who have supported these wars are therefore accomplices in mass murder in one way or another.
Theft, intimidation, threats, censorship, imprisonment, and murder are all defining characteristics of the state and statists. It is fine that Pope Francis has excommunicated the Mafia, but he actually supports and promotes far more sin and evil in the world with his Jesuit-inspired views of welfare statism and his incoherent and uneducated denunciations of peaceful exchange among consenting adults through the benefit of the international division of labor (i.e., capitalism).