Pope, Policy and Polylogism

The recent visit to America by Pope Francis has marked a very interesting phenomenon.  On one side many are trying to align themselves with the Pope, even if they’re not Roman Catholic. On the other side, many are distancing themselves from the Pope and portraying him as the renegade Pope. Most interesting to me is the Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who’s claimed the He and the Pope share similar views as if they’re like-minded. Of course, we could all find things we agree with the Pope on and things we could agree with Bernie Sanders on. However, this is a far cry from having a similar worldview, which will ultimately shape one’s policies on whatever issue or topic is. I assure you Sanders and the Pope do not have similar worldviews (as evidenced from their differences on abortion and marriage) though they may share similarities in the issue of climate change and income inequality. Conservatives on the other hand have been quick to see the Pope as liberal because he thinks earth’s preservation should be an issue for politicians to address.

The point of this blog isn’t to either side with the Pope or to disagree with him. Rather it’s to point out the “Polylogisms” in society that the Pope seemed to bring to light. A Polylogism simply means “multiple logics”, and in the context of politics we see that there are very few logically consistent politicians. But before you bash the politicians, I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t a whole lot of logically consistent non-politicians either. Economist Gary North describes the problem of polylogism this way:

Do you want the man with the gun and the badge interfering with your town and the next one up the road? Do you think everyone would be richer if there were border patrol officials with badges and guns manning the highway and collecting a percentage on everything offered for sale? No? Good. You believe in economic liberty, free trade, and the division of labor.

What about border patrol officers between counties? No? Good. You’re a free trader. What about more officers, guns, badges, and sales taxes separating state lines? No? Good; you’re a free trader. We have reached the border between our nation and the one across the invisible line. Do you want guards, badges, guns, and sales taxes? At this point, most conservatives would say, “yes.” Why? “Because that’s good for America!”It’s not good for towns, counties, and states. But it’s good for America. Why? They have no answer. They do not see the connection.

So, at the end of the day, most people don’t see the fallacy in their own thinking and in their positions. They simply see it as logical since most everyone else in their party feels the same way. Now in fairness to conservatives, many liberals will be equally polylogistic and call for open borders in the US, all while promoting tariffs and heavy taxation at home and abroad. Both parties are in a sense full of polylogisms and both are great at accusing the other of their inconsistencies. What happened with Pope Francis though was even odder. When the Pope took a pro-immigration stance, pro-life stance, and pro-traditional marriage stance (add in the environmental issues) people went crazy, going one of two ways, either highlighting where the Pope agrees with them or distancing themselves, as if the Pope was the Polylogist not them. This is not to say that the Pope isn’t polylogistic in any way. A big part of the Reformation was to curtail the superstition that had crept into the church and return it to the word of God and the divine logic within its pages. But this is a topic for another time. Suffice it to say though that neither the White House or the GOP candidates could fully back the Pope. He didn’t tow the party lines, which is very much expected in this country. Sad but true. 

Also, it’s important to note not only can multiple logics be used in similarities that people apply inconsistently. But also, uniform logic can be applied to situations that are dissimilar, with equally bad results. Liberals commit the fallacy of false equivalence in trying to point the conservatives illogical position of being pro-life and yet pro-death penalty. They assume it’s immoral and inconsistent to claim to be pro-life and yet believe in capital punishment. However, this oversimplifies the issue and assumes an equality between an innocent child and a guilty perpetrator.

The conservatives may be right in this distinction between the two groups of people, but then often has a blatant blind support for the law and prisons, turning a blind eye to the atrocities of innocent men being put to death by faulty evidence and/or a crooked DA. When those cases come up which are undeniable they simply retort “That’s just the exception to the rule.” But what if the person who testified falsely or the DA who knowingly put an innocent man in jail was forced to undergo the sentence they doled out if later proven innocent? How many overzealous DA’s and attention-grabbing witnesses would you get? A lot less I’m quite sure. But neither side wants to meet at a point where they realize the strengths of the other’s position and the weaknesses of their own. If we did that we’d have a lot better system.

Take the minimum wage laws as a final example. Most conservatives are against minimum wage laws as they believe it hurts business. Most liberals are for it as they believe they make the people on the lower economic scale more prosperous. But what if I told you that minimum wage laws were created by racists to actually help the unions and businesses keep out the lower-wage workers who were non-union and often immigrants or blacks? This is indeed the case, it wasn’t that businesses were hurt by the minimum wage, it was actually the immigrant and the poor who were hurt by the very thing liberals now claim will help them. And since we went there what about immigration? The immigration laws first started in the 1920’s which were equally as racist, designed to keep out southern and eastern Europeans. The immigration policies of today are so backward it leads to what we see before us now, which is a massive immigration problem. Those on the left simply want amnesty, those on the right simply want enforcement of outdated laws. So, liberals correctly see the faulty logic on the immigration laws and express how free trade is hindered by Republicans. Yet they go and support unions and minimum wage, which guess what? Hinders free trade.  

Maybe the Pope, helped point out that our positions aren’t as well thought out as we think. Maybe our policies need to be addressed logically and systematically in this country? Maybe, it is time for us to wake up to the polylogism that is all around us. No doubt in an election year you will hear polylogistic thinking daily. Look for it, be aware of it, now that you’ve been told what it is, you won’t be able to go a day without seeing it. There are certain candidates I like better than others, but I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. As you can see I don’t think either the right or left has all the answers. Both parties are secular and humanistic in their thinking, though both give lip service to God. Nonetheless, there will be men and women who come on TV and get cheers of applause for their polylogisms. I say “find a new candidate” if that’s the case. Hopefully, you can find one…