Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Canterbury Tale, III: Separation of Church and State, Pagan Style


As we saw in yesterday’s posting, the whole issue of separation of Church and State is key to understanding why — whether he meant to or not — Henry II had Thomas à Becket killed.  The first thing for someone of the twenty-first century to understand, however, is that “separation of Church and State” may not mean what the secular politicians and history books tell you it means.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Canterbury Tale, II: Allowed Expedience


Yes, that’s “expedience,” not “expedients.”  We didn’t misspell.  The issue we’re looking at today is the question of when expedience is allowed, so that you may employ allowed expedients.  Yesterday we contrasted the clear evil of killing an innocent person for the presumably greater good, with the more ambiguous situation in which someone’s only recourse to death is to steal to stay alive.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Canterbury Tale, I: State v. Church


A few years back, say, a century or so, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson wrote a short biography of St. Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose shrine was one of the four great pilgrimages of the Middle Ages, as anyone who has ever read Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales can (or should be able to) tell you.  This being the anniversary of Thomas’s murder at the instigation of Henry II Plantagenet, it seemed appropriate to interrupt our regularly scheduled posting for some alternative entertainment.

Friday, December 26, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 51


This is the last News from the Network for 2014, but due to the press of time we will not have the planned retrospective.  If we have time next week, we will put something together.  Despite that, there are a few things to note:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Solidarism, III: Pesch’s Correction


Credit for founding solidarism is sometimes given to Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J. (1854-1926).  In light of the work of Émile Durkheim, however, it is evident that Pesch should, instead, be regarded as its redeemer.  His thought was directly opposed to that embodied in Das Katholisch-Soziale Manifest, which (according to Alfred Diamant, 1917-2012) was intended primarily to reconcile socialism with Catholic social teaching. (Ibid.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Solidarism, II: Durkheim’s Prescription


Durkheim’s solution to what he called anomie was to claim that it is a moral obligation for people to organize to restructure society into monopolistic vocational groups, (Ibid., 226, 228) achieving “functional representation” (Ibid., 226.) to alter the division of labor by shifting from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity. (Ibid.) The act of organizing would subsume not merely individual rights, but individual personalities, into the group, thereby achieving, in Durkheim’s opinion, a natural society.  As Schumpeter commented,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Solidarism, I: Origin


A lot (okay, one or two) people talk a lot about solidarity these days, but how many of them really know what it means, or where it came from?  It sounds good, though, and the fact that so few people have a grasp on its implications makes it a useful tool for fast-talking commentators who need to cover up the fact that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 50


In the film version of The Student Prince (1954) — featuring the voice of Mario Lanza because he walked (as they say in film land) after recording the songs but before shooting the scenes — the Doctor (the prince’s tutor) is summoned with his pupil to the king’s chamber in the middle of the night.  They are both, obviously, concerned.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy (Late) Birthday, Francis!


Yes, we know.  Pope Francis’s birthday was yesterday.  He was born December 17, 1936, making him seventy-eight years young (see? we can be diplomatic at times).  So, what do you want?  CESJ is not a Catholic organization, nor is the Just Third Way a Catholic movement.  We didn’t get him a cake, either, or tug 78 times on his earlobe (yes, that’s the Argentinian tradition, we looked it up).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Some Notes on Discounting Acceptances


Believe it or not, the title of this posting is not gibberish — unless, of course, you are irrevocably stuck in the Currency Principle that underpins today’s three mainstream schools of economics, the Keynesian, the Monetarist/Chicago, and the Austrian.  In that case, none of this will make any sense at all to you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The (B)oil (We)evil


We were going to head this posting, “The Boil Weevil” instead of “The (B)oil (We)evil” to suggest the “evil” of oil, but some people might think we had just made a stupid spelling error and move on without reading the posting.  That would be a pity, because it’s a great play on words and highlights a serious problem.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santorum’s “Better Place” II: The Vision


Last Thursday we took a look at the biggest problem any contender for the White House in 2016 faces: no vision and no specific proposal except some form of jobs and welfare, or an arrangement where some benefit at the expense of others.  Frankly, we think Santorum can do better than that.  Heck, we think Obama can do better than that.  All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to listen to something genuinely new instead of rehashing the Same Old Thing.

Friday, December 12, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 49


As of this writing (10 am), the stock market is plunging.  The world is coming to an end.  Again.  According to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, this is due to the rapid decline in the price of oil.  The fall in oil stocks is having a ripple effect throughout the market, with the perceived increase in consumer spending due to the illusion of increased disposable income not enough to offset the perceived decrease in future revenue from oil.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Santorum’s “Better Place” I: Why Not Ownership?


No, even though we took the phrase straight from yesterday’s Washington Post, they weren’t referring to Rick Santorum’s departure from this life, but his reentry into political life.  It seems that Santorum has been contemplating running for the presidency (of the United States) in 2016.  He’s been keeping it low key, describing his position for 2016 as being “in a better place” than in 2012.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Usury and Other Dishonest Debate


The online edition of Crisis magazine recently (December 8, 2014) had an article on the perennial problem of usury, “Did the [Catholic] Church Change Its Doctrine on Usury?  Although it might seem like re-plowing old ground, we thought we’d weigh in again with a few brief thoughts.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Release: The Political Animal


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CESJ Publishes THE POLITICAL ANIMAL: ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Economic Justice Media, ISBN: 978-0944997062, 144 pp. $10.00
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA (December 1, 2014) — Is it possible to be a good person and at the same time a good citizen within a defective or unjust society or institution?  In The Political Animal: Economic Justice and the Sovereignty of the Human Person, author Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research of the Center for Economic and Social Justice in Arlington, Virginia, USA, answers this age-old dilemma with a resounding “Yes!”

Of Cosby, Crime, and Calumny


There is one glaring fact about the allegations against Bill Cosby that few, if any of the increasingly voluble commentators either defending the comedian (a small but diminishing number) or nodding sagely that they knew all along there was something fishy about the guy, a crowd seemingly as large as the vast majority who never voted for Richard Nixon.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cardinal Burke’s Opportunity


Cardinal Burke has assumed his new office as Patron of the Order of MaltaWhat business does the Just Third Way movement have commenting on Cardinal Burke’s new position at the Vatican?  None whatsoever.  That makes us instant experts.  With that in mind, we offer the following advice, free of charge, and possibly worth every cent:

Friday, December 5, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 48


Tomorrow is the “feast” of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the original Santa Claus.  If you say “Saint Nicholas” in Dutch very fast, it comes out “S’int-nihc-loss,” making “Old Saint Nick” a bit more understandable as a, er, nickname.  Sorry.  In any event, St. Nicholas of Myra is famous for bringing presents to good little children, and for punching heretics in the mouth.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bernie “Backwards” Sanders


Bernie Sanders has announced that he has a twelve-point economic plan to break the power of the Koch brothers and other financial oligarchs, and restore prosperity to America.  Nice try, Hon. B. Sanders, but from a Just Third Way perspective and the logic of Say’s Law of Markets, you’re going about it the wrong way, even backwards.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two Key Questions for the Georgists


Some people in the Just Third Way movement have been taking a significant number of questions (read “unsupported assertions”) from the “georgists,” as followers of the thought of Henry George are known.  Henry George was the noted author of one of the two most influential socialist works of the 19th century, apart from those of Karl Marx: Progress and Poverty (1879).  Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888), “One of the most remarkable books ever published in America” (Erich Fromm) was the other.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

That Krazy Keynesian Multiplier Again


We recently got some more questions about the Keynesian money multiplier, developed by Baron Kahn in the 1930s, and embedded in the monetary and fiscal policy pretty much throughout the world ever since.  That is in spite of the fact that there are some glaring inconsistencies and contradictions in Keynesian multiplier theory — as well as most of the fundamental assumptions in Keynesian theory in general, for that matter.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Incompatible Capitalism


One of the more bizarre accusations people make against the Just Third Way and Capital Homesteading is that it’s socialist.  How a proposal that calls for expanded capital ownership can be socialist is beyond us, frankly.  Socialism is defined as the abolition of private property in capital.  The Just Third Way means extending private property to everyone.

Friday, November 28, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 47


This week has seen a sudden upswing in book sales, mostly of the Just Third Way Edition of Fulton J. Sheen’s Freedom Under God.  There also seems to be a spurt in the works of Robert Hugh Benson, the unique novels of John Henry Newman, and even those touching on the subject of widely distributed ownership of capital listed on the Distributist Books and Media website.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Economic Justice, V: Being Thankful


At this time of year, today especially, it is customary to rack (not “wrack,” evidently) one’s brains to try and figure out something for which to be thankful.  This is especially the case if you’ve been invited somewhere for dinner and the tradition of making a short speech covering what you have to be thankful for is suddenly sprung on you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Economic Justice, IV: What is “Social Justice”?


Today’s subject, social justice, involves us in a double difficulty.  First, there is a problem with defining it.  To many people, “social justice” means State action to take up the slack when individual justice and charity just don’t seem adequate, and people are in need.  When that happens, so the theory goes, the State steps in and mandates or imposes desired results.  Not surprisingly, this error is virtually identical to the error many people make with distributive justice.  Even less of a surprise, many people confuse distributive justice with social justice by defining both in the same way, and thus both incorrectly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Economic Justice, III: What is “Distributive Justice”?


If you thought yesterday’s posting on participative justice was a bit difficult to grasp, you ain’t heard nothing yet.  Participative justice is relatively easy to get across.  It’s a new term, so there’s no baggage to jettison before we started to talk about it.  Unfortunately, everybody “knows” what “distributive justice” is: just what Karl Marx said in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Economic Justice, II: What is “Participative Justice”?


As we noted yesterday, economic justice is divided into three principles, which are themselves forms of justice.  These are participative justice, distributive justice, and social justice.  We will look at participative justice today.

Friday, November 21, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 46


The increasingly surreal world situation makes it ever more clear that, of all the various proposals that have been made, and (especially) those that have been implemented, only Capital Homesteading has the potential to deliver economic justice for all.  Everything else focuses exclusively on direct action to ameliorate the effects of problems, rather than dealing with the underlying causes of the problems — an individualistic or collectivist approach, rather than a truly political or systemic approach.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Economic Justice, I: What is “Economic Justice”?


A few days ago we completed a short series on the importance of each and every individual, and of each and every institution in society being in conformity with the natural law.  Some people may have been confused, of course.  Because the breakthrough in moral philosophy that reconciled individual and social ethics — the life of the individual as an individual, and the life of the citizen in the State — was the accomplishment of a religious figure (Pope Pius XI), and he framed his thought in religious terms, some people might have been turned off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Distort Anything


Everybody is jumping up and down about the stream of videos on which Jonathan Gruber, the “Obamacare Architect,” is caught saying that Americans are stupid, and other words to that effect.  What they seem to be missing is that this attitude is nothing unique.  Do an internet search using the words “Americans are stupid,” and you’ll be amazed at how many matches pop up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Religios Politikos, IV: The Act of Social Justice


Thirty years or so after Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, Pius XI was elected to the papacy.  From the very beginning of his pontificate he made it clear that he was going to reconcile individual ethics and social ethics, and thereby present a practical means to implement the vision of Leo XIII.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Religios Politikos, III: “Are You a King?”


In this short series we’ve covered how essential it is to conform our individual and social behavior to the absolute moral standards of the natural law in order for that behavior to be truly human.  In Christian/Western terms, this is often characterized as “the Reign of Christ the King.”  Nor is this substantially different for any other faith or philosophy.  Substituting any other personified moral standard gives you the same thing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 45


We sometimes get too close to things to see if there is any progress being made.  Nowhere is this more evident than when you are charged with reporting the news from the movement each week.  Things seem to go much more slowly when you keep a constant watch on them — “a watched pot never boils,” as they say.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Religios Politikos, II: Humanity is Social


See yesterday's posting as to why we changed the title of this series.

Yesterday we noted that, given the Christian belief that Christ is the perfect embodiment of true God and true man, people become more fully human and acknowledge Christ as “king” by adhering to the precepts of the natural law.  Nor is this only a “Christian” belief.  Every philosophy and organized religion says essentially the same thing: become more fully human by adhering to the precepts of the natural law as taught by your religious or philosophical teacher.  This is an idea that came to us from the pagan philosopher Aristotle — and that Aristotle probably got from others.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Religios Politikos, I: What is “Politics”?


Yes, we changed the title.  It looked as if we were picking on Catholics or other Christians. No, we offend everybody.

Earlier this week we were copied on an e-mail that was in response to last week’s election.  It seems there was a lot of discussion in religious circles whether a committed Christian (or a member of any other religion) could even vote when the choices on all sides were so bad.  The obvious response, of course, is “If you know how the job should be done, why aren’t you running?”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Your Face


A while back in ancient times (i.e., September 16, 2014) there was an article about how “the rich” who were tired of associating with us peasants were starting their own social network called “Netropolitan.”  Netropolitan bills itself as a sort of Facebook for the elite, as “the online country club for people with more money than time.”  We’re reminded of Robert (formerly “Bob”) Hope’s opening to Fancy Pants: “No popcorn during my performance, peasants.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Death to Reason! Long Live Love!


The idea seems to have gotten about in the last couple of centuries or so that “love” has triumphed over and abolished reason.  Love conquers all.  All you need is love.  All that jazz about truth and justice . . . feh.  It just gets in the way.

Friday, November 7, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 44


Even the Devil backed down from this guy
Even given the “massacre” of the Democratic Party on Tuesday (of which less below), we don’t expect that anything will change with respect to fundamentals when the Republicans are in power.  There still aren’t any political leaders with any kind of realistic vision or even idea of returning power to the people through capital ownership.  Maybe that’s understandable.  Daniel Webster, who pointed out in 1820 that “Power naturally and necessarily follows property,” was a Whig, not a Democrat or a Republican.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

“The Classical Forms of Justice”


Is it Thursday already?  A few weeks of Mondays ago, we were asked to prepare a briefing sheet on areas of potential differences with a potential new member of CESJ’s advisory board, the Board of Counselors, with whom we met shortly after.  (Happy ending: the potential new member became a member, so any differences were straightened out.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Academic Fantasy


Every now and then students, especially college students, complain that their education and the academic environment isn’t anything like the “real world” it’s presumably training them to enter.  That’s true.  In one sense, academia isn’t supposed to be a reflection of the real world, but of real life, a place in which one prepares to assume the great task of becoming more fully human.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day Special: God or Cæsar?


Two questions a lot of people are asking themselves today as they stand in line at the voting booth (aside from, “Is this really better than working?” and “How much longer is this going to take?”) is whether they can morally vote for the lesser of two (or more) evils, or respect their religious convictions and be good citizens at the same time.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Poverty and Freedom


Almost exactly one month ago the Wall Street Journal ran a piece by William Easterly.  The point of the article was that there is a link between poverty, and economic and political freedom or (to be precise) the lack of wealth and income leads to a lack of economic and political freedom.  (“Singing About Fighting Poverty, Slightly Off-Key,” Wall Street Journal, 10/02/14, A13.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 43


At least as of this writing, the stock market is soaring to new heights.  Why?  According to an article we read yesterday, credit card companies are reporting record earnings as consumers assume a greater burden of debt to buy now and pay later.  In today’s hothouse investment environment, this translates into “greater consumer confidence” on the theory that consumers wouldn’t be going into debt unless they thought they could pay it off.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Horror Special: The Faith that Ate Reason


We used to have an annual series of “Halloween Horror Specials” on this blog for the entire month of October.  Then we shortened it to a week.  Last year we didn’t post anything.  Why?  The entertainment value of horror (especially if there is an attempt, however weak, at humor, e.g., Army of Darkness) depends on the ultimate conviction that none of it is real.  It might make you think (e.g., Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein . . . who was the creator of the monster, not the monster, by the way), or just entertain (H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos . . .  not that we’re entertained particularly by horror, especially of that subgenre) but you know, ultimately, that it’s not happening and you can go to sleep safely.  After you’ve checked under the bed one more time.  Or maybe two. . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Property, Schmoperty


Every so often the combatants in the War on Property have another battle.  For example, since republishing Fulton Sheen’s Freedom Under God in a Just Third Way edition with a new foreword, we’ve been seeing the idea resurfacing that the “universal destination of goods” (a.k.a., “the generic right of dominion”) means that individual human beings do not have the natural right to own capital, only the collective does, which doles out that right as it sees fit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Synod on the Family, II: Focus on the Family


As we mentioned yesterday, the discussions reported as taking place in the recent Catholic Synod on the Family seemed remarkably shy about addressing the needs of plain, ordinary, normal families, whatever religion or political system within which the family subsists.  There seemed to be an over-emphasis on “hard cases” and what to do about them, and very little attention paid to the increasingly desperate situation of the Just Plain Old Family, everywhere more and more being subsumed into, not merely subsisting within, the State.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Synod on the Family, I: A Few Quibbles


What right does a non-religious organization have to comment on a religious event?  Every right, evidently, if you are the media.  The problem, of course, is that, even with all the best will and good intentions in the world, if you don’t understand the underlying principles of reason that support a religious organization’s faith, you’ll probably get a lot of things wrong, and misinterpret or misunderstand what you get factually correct.

Friday, October 24, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 42


The important Just Third Way news this week is the Synod on the Family in Rome . . . at least, the distorted views of it we got from the media.  Few people seem to be aware that such gatherings are merely for discussion.  They are not planning sessions for a Crusade or to plot the overthrow of Religion As We Know It.  We’ll weigh in with a few thoughts, below, but (aside from the fact that an interfaith group has almost as little authority to be commenting as the media on internal affairs of the Catholic Church) we have to keep in mind that, however high or low the level, it’s just talk, folks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Importance of the Frontier, II: Politics Follows Power


As we noted in yesterday’s posting, quoting Daniel Webster, “Power naturally and necessarily follows property.”  Not surprisingly, then, politics naturally and necessarily follows power, which follows property, so that people who have property are going to dictate politics.  The obvious thing to counter political corruption, then, is to ensure that as many people as possible have property.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Importance of the Frontier, I: Power Follows Property


Recently we received an e-mail from one of our readers who was concerned about the moral decay of society.  Specifically, he was concerned about how the United States Supreme Court keeps making decisions that are in clear conflict with humanity’s natural rights, especially life, liberty, and property.  In our opinion, the basic issue is power.  Once people have power, the Supreme Court will no longer be able to force its morality on others.