• Human solidarity, respect for lowly, culture of love ensure peace not global prosperity and trade deals


    TWO Washington Post columnists I like have come out in The Manila Times discussing how recent events have knocked down theories espousing that global economic growth would automatically bring about world peace.

    The first of these columnist is Anne Applebaum, whose “Russia’s blow to globalization” column that came out in The Times on August 10 told readers of the fallacy of the “McDonald’s theory of international relations.”

    She wrote: “The idea was that no country with a McDonald’s restaurant would ever go to war with another country with a McDonald’s restaurant, because in order to have a McDonald’s restaurant you had to be thoroughly integrated into the global economy, and if you were integrated into the global economy you would never attack another one of its other members. This theory of “McPeace” was exploded, literally, by the American bombardment of Belgrade, the city which in 1988 had opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in the whole of what was about to become the ex-communist bloc.”

    Despite that early 1988 debunking of the “McPeace Theory” the hope that “it might be true somehow lingered on.”

    Alas, Applebaum continues, in early August, “as Russia, a country with 433 McDonald’s, ramps up its attack on Ukraine, a country with 77 McDonald’s, I think we can finally now declare the McPeace theory officially null and void. Indeed, the future of McDonald’s in Russia, which once seemed so bright—remember the long lines in Moscow for Big Macs?—has itself grown dim. In July, the Russian consumer protection agency sued McDonald’s for supposedly violating health regulations. This same consumer protection agency also banned Georgian wine and mineral water ‘for sanitary reasons’ before the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, and it periodically lashes out at Lithuanian cheese, Polish meat and other politically unacceptable products as well.”

    The idea that globalization and more-or-less happy trade relations between countries will ensure world peace and that once McPeace has been installed it becomes irreversible comes with the much desired “win-win” solution to any conflict. Everyone has been made to think that there’s a “win-win” formula waiting to be discovered in any conflict situation. Anne Applebaum wrote that the theory has made people believe during these past two decades that “Surely the binding ties of trade would last forever because they were mutually advantageous. No country which had seriously begun to play this ‘win-win’ game would ever be able to abandon it, because the political costs of doing so would be too high. Trade wars were meant to be a thing of the past.”

    In today’s OpEd section the Samuelson column on page 5 also recalls what Anne Applebaum wrote last week. He writes in “The post-euphoric world” that “we are witnessing in the spreading turmoil around the world—in Iraq, in Ukraine, in Gaza—is the silent rejection of a central tenet of U.S. post-World War II foreign policy: that global prosperity would foster peace and stability. Countries would rather trade than fight. Promoting economic growth would suppress the divisive forces of nationalism, ideology, religion and culture. So we thought.”

    ‘End of history’ theory debunked
    Samuelson reminds us that in 1989 “Francis Fukuyama had written a famous (and naive) essay arguing that we had reached ‘the end of history.’ Most countries would march toward democratic political systems and relatively free-market economies, he said.”

    After only two decades Fukuyama’s thesis is now proved to be a Pollyanna view of mankind. Unfortunately, I still hear some Filipino intellectuals who must have stopped reading at the end of the Ronald Reagan presidency, talking about “the end of history” as if it were still a valid theory.

    So, do all these mean that Mao is right? Except that his disobedient heirs now ruling the People’s Republic of China are correctly upsetting the Western Powers by carrying out the Marxist-Leninist doctrine in the capitalist world, playing the game the way the Europeans, the Japanese and the Americans do—except that their cards are state-owned corporations allowed to behave like private-sector ones?

    Then, how do poor countries, like the Philippines, deal with this problem of a world not enjoying McPeace but instead suffering from the revival of trade wars between nations and aggressive moves by the rich and mighty, like Communist-Party-ruled China, taking over our islands, shoals and reefs?

    That’s a very hard question to answer.

    But I have a way for us Filipinos to have peace—in our hearts. And probably contribute to making a world that is less stressed by conflicts and wars.

    Principles of solidarity and subsidiarity
    We have to listen to what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of every human being. This immediately removes the lack of peace between individuals. It immediately begins to solve our—and other countries’ problems—of having leaders whose capacity to govern is deficient. Their deficiencies— morally, managerially and technically—arise from their lack of an ethical vision.

    If they were guided by what they probably consider the corny vision that John Paul II and Benedict XVI were offering—the vision of a “Civilization of Love”—we would not have the horrors of corruption and hypocrisy we see hiding behind tarps proclaiming “Tuwid na Daan.”

    This vision requires a belief that we are God’s creatures, specially endowed with rationality and souls that “feel” sick when they do not love their Creator and their fellow men.

    This vision requires a belief and commitment to promote solidarity—unity—with every other human being because the common origin of our existence is God and our common destiny is God, like Jesus Christ Himself.

    Therefore, we citizens and our leaders would be concerned with the welfare of others in everything we do.

    Then, arising from the commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, our leaders must also be guided by the principle of respecting the lower members of society in assigning work and responsibility to create a prosperous and happy society. This is the principle of subsidiarity.

    This means the mighty must respect the dignity of the lowly.

    The higher and more capable segments of society must not take away the power, functions and responsibility to do good work, attain goals and achievements, from the lesser segments below them.

    This removes dictatorships from the minds of leaders.


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    1. Cres Malifier on

      It’s truly unfortunate that President Aquino does not have the leadership vision Mr. Bas has cited from the writings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The truth, however, is that none of the Philippine presidents from Emilio Aguinaldo to Benigno Aquino III has had that correct Christian vision. True, Quezon and the others–especially Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal and Fidel Ramos — had a solid materiaistic vision of making the Philippines a better country. The complete Christian vision that emphasized solidarity and subsidiarity was an advocacy of leader-intellectuals whom Cory Aquino did not listen to (like Bernardo Villegas, Joe Cuisia, Jesus Estanislao, Jaime Ongpin and Jose Romero). Now Benigno Aquino III is in fact anti-Catholic and a follower of the Kissinger memo to make population control a major pillar of government, which opposes the key element of the leadership vision–the dignity of every human being stressed in this article by Mr. Bas.

    2. Truly prosperity doesn’t bring peace. Lord at growing prosperous China that’s creating fear, intimidation, bullying other Asian countries. China is provoking war and conflicts so it can show to the world it’s power and what it has become as a rich nation. How wonderful if China would have at least a Christian attitude of caring for her neighbours, encouraging & leading the neighbour countries in maintaining an atmosphere of peace, sharing similarities of culture, helping them to grow…. So, “What shall it profit China if she gains the whole ocean & seas of the world but to loss her soul, integrity, respect in the world…?” This applies to radical Muslims and other fundamentalist or jihadists groups and terrorists….

    3. I agree with you Edgar. I’m one of the chosen few missionaries, and I can’t do so much. Laypeople are also called by God, with their expertise, talents, skills and resources, to help spread the God News of God’s Kingdom on earth – a Kingdom of peace, understanding, love, compassion, forgiveness, and salvation of all… Social media people should also promote all these Gospel values even if they don’t particularly quote the Bible, instead of being anti-Christians or anti-Catholic. God is love and we are made in that “image and likeness” of love and, therefore, we should all spread the culture of love (not the culture death, intolerance, discrimination, prejudice, indifference…). Have a blessed Sunday…

    4. Edgar G. Festin on

      Thank you, Mr. Rene Bas for resuming to write again. I miss your Enthusiasms and Sunday Read articles. You always write from a perspective of a Christian, which some of those among your colleagues in The Manila Times do not have. One or two are even distinctly anti-Christian and anti-prayer. Viewpoints with a Christian mentality should not only come from Bishops and priests. Ordinary readers, including Catholic agnostics, could be swayed to “journey home” as Scott Hahn says by laymen and laywomen writers.

    5. Eddie de Leon on

      I like your sigueing to what will truly bring peace to the world–the Culture or Civilization of Love proposed by JOhn Paul II The Great and Benedict XVI and now personified by Pope Francis in his concern for the poor and the downtrodden.

      Please write some more, Mr. Bas.

    6. Sir, thank you for reminding us through your column, that “human solidarity, respect for the lowly, culture of love ensure peace not global prosperity and trade deals”. Right now, the Catholic Church, through the Pope – Pope Francis – with God’s help, is trying to counteract said consumerist theory. Matthew 4:4 also stresses the fact that “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”. I am hoping – earnestly praying – that we all take this truth at heart and put it into practice all the days of our lives. Peace be to you, Sir.