Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis and "conservative populism"

First Things editor R.R. Reno sees the election of an Argentine pope as the harbinger of a new phenomenon that will confound (and most likely frustrate) the secular world.
News flash: The revolutionary left does not like the new Pope. An interview with Brazilian sociologist and Marxist philosopher Michael Lowy offers a particularly pure example of the reasoning behind the Latin American Left’s efforts to discredit the new pope.

His reasoning is as follows: Anyone not a thoroughgoing Marxist revolutionary is de facto complicit with the status quo. Bergoglio is clearly not a thoroughgoing Marxist. Therefore, he was complicit with the junta during their dirty war in Argentina during the 1970s. Details to follow as needed.

The Peronists in Argentina are rather less theoretical. Then Cardinal Bergoglio crossed swords with Cristina Kirchner. She’s not a fan. Meanwhile, other Peronists are lauding the new Pope as one of their own. Columnist Ricardo Roa titled his piece: “Argentine miracle: A Peronist on Saint Peter’s throne.”

It says something about American politics that our Democratic party is less likely than Argentina’s Peronists to have a divided opinion of Pope Francis. Is that because today’s Democratic party isn’t all that concerned about the poor, other than to manage and palliate? Say what you want about Peronists in Argentina (and there’s a great deal negative to say), they’re actual populists.

The Peronist reactions have helped me see that Pope Francis is very likely to represent something the secular world may find hard to fathom: conservative populism.

I like the sound of that.
So do I, especially if it means we'll be hearing more pronouncements like this from the new pontiff.