Poorism: the exaltation of poverty

The poorism could be defined as the exaltation of the poor, putting the emphasis on their defense against the rest of society. It is a class approach, although different from that of Marxism. It is not synthesized in workers versus capital, but in the poor versus the rich and economic power. While Marxism speaks of exploitation, the poorism speaks of exclusion and discarding.

Poorism does not consider social mobility. The poor are and will be. Affective bonds, solidarity and help are developed with them. But the poorism does not elaborate policies nor procedures so that each one of the poor evolves towards the wealth. Rather, it develops a protest speech aimed at those who believe they are selfish, who despise the poor or, at best, ignore them. The poor man usually adopts austere and emblematic profiles in his personal life. It is a form of expressing his vocation or preference for the poor.

Poorism is characteristic of good people. It is not born in resentment nor does it postulate class struggle. Tend to welfare, to redistribute the wealth that already exists. It does not know the productive investment and the generation of work. This is a consequence of the fact that the pooerers disbelieve in capital and dislike big companies. They prefer to give the fish rather than to teach fishing. At best, they are patronizing with small businesses, which would be a replica of the poor in front of large corporations. They suspect that they earn too much and that they are reluctant to distribute the benefits among their workers.

When exalting poverty, it would seem that the poor do not want those who are poor today to be poor. It does not inquire about the causes of poverty or about the economic and social development produced by the different economic systems. In that ignorance it makes immediate views prevail. That is why it rejects capitalism or the market economy, ignoring that it was the only system that effectively contributed to reducing poverty in the world. Today also rejects globalization.

It is common that the poorism has a religious base. For men of Faith, the Gospel mandate is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Pope Francis is a pooerer and has called that vision to many other bishops and priests. The message of “Laudato si” in his social chapter clearly exposes that position, which has been reiterated in all the messages and documents.

We must differentiate the poorism of true effective aid to the poor, which is what is trying to get out of this situation, to stop being poor. Effective help is, for example, that of the priest Pedro Opeka who has been working in a community in Madagascar for 50 years. Its task, besides spiritual, has been of help so that people of extreme poverty, leave it. He has made them build homes, teaching them with their own participation. He created schools for them, adding secondary schools and a university. His concern was to enable them to evolve intellectually and materially. I heard Father Opeka thank the prize awarded by the University of CEMA, an educational center oriented to economic freedom. In his speech, he explained how to give his assistants the skills to develop themselves. It is a philosophy that coincides with that held in the world by the Acton Institute. She tells us that the mere compassionate attitude must be overcome, which becomes a protest and then paradoxically challenges the economic systems that have done the most to get out of poverty.

By Manuel A. Solanet. Director of the Libertad y Progreso Foundation