Fr. Sirico about dissenters and the upcoming “social” encyclical

You might inoculate yourself against some of the foolishness of the lefties on the upcoming "social"encyclical of Pope Benedict with this piece by Fr. Robert Sirico from the site National Review Online.

My emphases and comments.

The Divine Economy: On the New Papal Encylical    [Rev. Robert A. Sirico]

On Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI will release his first social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. The pre-release buzz from the Catholic Left on each of his two previous encyclicals has so far proven wrong each time, [Sr. Chittister and Fr. Reese are cases in point.] so the rule should be to wait and see what the pope will actually say.

Each time, with previous encyclicals, we have been told that the pope is preparing to lambaste capitalism and call for state measures to heavily regulate it with an eye to redistributing wealth, cleaning up the environment, controlling consumption, etc. Each time, the final text has demonstrated that the pope’s conversion to progressivist causes has been greatly exaggerated. Invariably, his arguments have been highly sophisticated and have defied easy political categorization.

In advance of Caritas in Veritate, Catholic “progressives” are working themselves into a frenzy of predictions, recommendations, and anathemas — and not one of them, to my knowledge, has seen even an early draft of the encyclical which has been two years in the making. [And revision too, I believe.]

Will the document draw attention to the weaknesses of Western-style capitalist systems? One hopes so. [Because, clearly, there is room for improvement.] We might expect the pope to call on market forces to be regulated by moral concerns, within a strong juridical framework, and an exogenous apparatus of standards to curb excesses.

[Q] But here is the operative question: In what sense would such a call be a blow against the idea of free economic institutions? [A] The short answer is that it will not be.

There are few advocates of market economics who advocate a complete lack of regulation rightly understood. Every transaction in the marketplace is in fact regulated by contract law, reputation, industry standards, competition, certification and monitoring, and profit and loss systems that reward prudence and punish excess over the long term. [There must be rule of law and some regulation so that people can trust that the agreements they enter into will be honored.  If not, trade is very difficult indeed.]

Do these need strengthening? Certainly, and it should be noted that a main force for weakening them is not the market as such, but partisan interventions in the market.

Consider the drive for ever-lower interest rates as one of many examples. [Which just drives up borrowing.] This is a subsidy for excess because it encourages borrowing [yep] at the expense of saving. If Benedict writes of the need for greater prudence and caution in economic affairs, permitting interest rates to rise to a market level would go a long way toward achieving that[NB: Fr. Sirico is not saying that this is what Pope Benedict is going to say.]

Will the pope overtly call for a global, centralized, state-based management of economic systems about which would-be central planners have long dreamed? I would be very surprised. This is a man who has stood firm against every form of statist control of society. As his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, illustrated, he has a deep attachment to subsidiarity as an essential principle for a free and good society, and I would be amazed to see him give up his love for liberty because the concern of the moment is economics.

But details aside, it is good to step back a moment and reflect on what Catholic social teaching is and what it is not, so that in studying the new encyclical, we gain a deeper appreciation of its intent and scope.

[Pay attention...] Since 1870, the papacy has explicitly claimed to exercise the charisma of infallibility in the very area that "progressives" — “dissenters” is a more accurate word — have labored to dilute and “episcopalianize” for 40 years: faith and morals. In fact, Catholic progressives will find themselves on the horns of an intolerable ecclesiological dilemma no matter what the contents of the document. [I am reminded of the mordent comment of the late Fr. Neuhaus that the purpose of episcopalianism was to make irony redundant.]

On the one hand (doctrine, liturgy, and sexual morality), progressives tend to take dissenting positions from defined and binding Church teaching. On the other hand (economic and social policy), they want to boast of the Church’s "best kept secret," especially to the extent that they think it coheres with any number of secular-left platforms, while ignoring those aspects of Catholic social teaching that clearly don’t fit the leftist nostrums.  [They want it both ways.  Ignore these teachings, but pay attention to these (ours).]

It is quite a spectacle to see Catholic progressives — who in other circumstances contort themselves into exegetical pretzels when they want to undermine clear, emphatic, authoritative, and repeated magisterial prohibitions on same-sex relations, female “priests,” and contraceptive acts — morph into virtual Ultramontanists on prudential matters such as the precise level of a minimum wage[Bravo.  Well said.]

Let us be clear: The Church explicitly makes no such claims of infallibility on those policy matters that it considers a matter for prudential judgment (i.e., most policy issues) but allows for Catholics to hold a variety of viewpoints on such questions such as the exact size of the state’s share of the economy. [This is exactly what I am talking about all the time in my critique of the Kmiec/Jenkins/Chittister Catholics.  People are free to disagree about solutions to many social ills, about contingent moral judgements.  There are, on the other hand, teachings about which Catholics are not free to disagree.]  Clearly no Catholic can be an anarchist or a communist — but there is a lot of room for prudential disagreement within these parameters. Benedict XVI has followed the model of John Paul II in saying that the Church has no infallible model of political economy to impose on the world. The Church’s social teaching is not, as John Paul stated, a “third way.”

Further, as pointed out by my friend Michael Novak, the word capitalism is being thrown around in reckless ways these days. Citing Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., whom Novak charmingly calls “one of our most reliable leftist bellwethers,” in an article in the Washington Post, [here.] Novak shows how such thinkers don’t even know what modern capitalism is. 

Fr. Reese asks, "If they think that Obama is a socialist, what will they think of Benedict after the encyclical?" and prophesies, "Conservatives will be shocked and disappointed by the encyclical, which will reflect Benedict’s skepticism toward unbridled capitalism based on greed."

I am not sure who such conservative defenders of "unbridled capitalism based on greed" are supposed to be. Perhaps Fr. Reese has the disciples of the atheist Ayn Rand in mind, but they are hardly representative of those modern defenders of the market economy such as Rocco Buttiglione, Wilhelm Röpke, and William F. Buckley. I think it is a fair prediction to say that any pope would come out against any system "based on greed." Erecting fictions about capitalism and its defenders — and then criticizing them [i.e., straw man arguments] — might take you a long way in the bubble of the Georgetown Faculty Lounge, but that hardly constitutes a serious argument.

— Father Robert A. Sirico is president and co-founder of the Acton Institute.

Okay!

Get ready for another battle of the Acton-Bots and the Distribu-Cons!

___________

UPDATE 4 July 2305 GMT:

The author of the article, Fr. Sirico, chimes in, below, in the comments.

 

Technorati Tags: ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Fr. Sirico about dissenters and the upcoming “social” encyclical

  1. Peregrinus says:

    There are many of us in the Distributist arena looking forward to this encyclical. We are hoping for something that will build on Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno.

  2. Agnes says:

    As a convert from that bunch, I snickered at the term “episcopalianize”. Accurate.

    I don’t think the Holy Father, or the Church for that matter, fits snugly into labels of “liberal” or “conservative”. It’s simply about fidelity to the Gospel. And maybe it’s just my post-Episcopalian mentality to read all this stuff and grumble, “So if you don’t like it, may I show you the door? We’d really like to preserve what’s left, thanks.” Maybe not exactly charity, but the confusion perpetuated by certain Catholics is absolutely harmful to those in search of Christ and his Church and would care to enter.

  3. kgurries says:

    I like the point about prudential judgements. The Magisterium can even err in the prudential order in its non-infallible (fallible) teaching. The key, I think, is to distinguish speculative truth (general principles) from practical prudential judgements (practical application). This is discussed in the following article on “Rupture Theology”:

    http://opuscula.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-rupture-theology.html

  4. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Exactly, Peregrinus.

    These capitalist Catholics in the mode of Fr Sirico, Thomas Woods, Jr, and the Acton Institute, etc. spin everything that comes out of the Vatican in the realm of economics to support their own ideas, even if they are intended to be a criticism of those very ideas.

    Fr Sirico himself is setting up a straw man argument here, implicitly claiming that all Catholics who criticize his form of free market economics are some kind of progressive Liberal [Is that what Fr. Sirico did? I wonder.] (they often even throw about that terrible term “socialist”). This is not the case. Look at distributism. Its founders and proponents were not Leftists, but thoroughly traditional and orthodox Roman Catholics, opponents of both free market capitalism and socialism. When one of these distributists, Hilaire Belloc, went to receive an honor from the Pope (which Pope exactly it was escapes me, see Pearce’s biography “Old Thunder”), His Holiness said: “This man has truly understood our encyclicals.”

    We must approach these teachings in the light in which they are meant. We must not, as Fr Sirico, et al routinely do, apply our own bias to their interpretation. If one reads, for instance Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1985 speech on ‘Market Economy and Ethics’ in an honest and objective frame of mind, it would be impossible to use such teachings to support free market capitalism. [Sounds like an interesting point of discussion.]

  5. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Retraction:

    I didn’t mean to say Fr Sirico was bandying about the term “socialist” here, but that he and his ilk will use that term as a label for any who oppose their own economics.

  6. Fabrizio says:

    Will the document draw attention to the weaknesses of Western-style capitalist systems? One hopes so. [Because, clearly, there is room for improvement.] We might expect the pope to call on market forces to be regulated by moral concerns, within a strong juridical framework, and an exogenous apparatus of standards to curb excesses.
    [Q] But here is the operative question: In what sense would such a call be a blow against the idea of free economic institutions? [A] The short answer is that it will not be.
    There are few advocates of market economics who advocate a complete lack of regulation rightly understood. Every transaction in the marketplace is in fact regulated by contract law, reputation, industry standards, competition, certification and monitoring, and profit and loss systems that reward prudence and punish excess over the long term. [There must be rule of law and some regulation so that people can trust that the agreements they enter into will be honored. If not, trade is very difficult indeed.]

    The excerpts that were leaked to the few reliable Italian papers this morning insisted precisely on the above: the market as the place were people encounter each other and trust the system to follow the principles of commutative justice.

  7. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Fr. Sirico probably knows about as much about the contents of the Pope’s upcoming encyclical as Sr. Chittister. So, . . . blah, blah, and blah.

    Oh, . . . and, wasn’t it the conservative National Review which, after the publication of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magistra, ran the headline: “Mater—Si! Magistra—Non!” ?

    I’m just askin’.

    Here are just a few nuggets from the Popes’ social teaching regarding Capitalism, the “free market,” and whatnot. E-mail them to Sean Hannity and see what he says.

    JOHN PAUL II, CENTESIMUS ANNUS

    No. 15:

    Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum, was opposed to State control of the “means of production” (i.e., capital); but, it was “no less forceful” in criticizing the concept that the State should be completely excluded from the economic sector.

    “There is certainly a legitimate sphere of autonomy in economic life which the State should not enter. The State, however, has the task of determining the juridical framework within which economic affairs are to be conducted , and thus of safeguarding the prerequisites of a free economy, which presumes a certain equality between the parties, such that one party would not be so powerful as practically to reduce the other to subservience.”

    As such, the State and Society should both assume responsibility, e.g. protecting workers “from the nightmare of unemployment” and making sure “wage levels [are] adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family.”

    No. 19:

    Notice the Pope’s approving statement about (what I would call) a Democratic Socialist model as opposed to both the Marxist-Communist model, totalitarian Fascism, and the materialistic “Free market society.”

    No. 34:

    “It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.

    “But this is true only for those needs which are ‘solvent’, insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are ‘marketable’, insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish. . . . Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required ‘something’ is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity.”

    No. 35:

    The Pope calls Socialism a form of “State capitalism” to which he contrasts “a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation.” This society is not opposed to the Market, but requires that the Market be “appropriately controlled” by Society in order to guarantee and satisfy its basic needs.

    The legitimacy of creating profit is acknowledged—but, it isn’t the only purpose for a company or business.

    Just because Communism has collapsed, it doesn’t follow that this leaves Capitalism “as the only model of economic organization.”

    No. 40:

    The State has a role in defending and preserving common goods which cannot be safeguarded simply by the Market.

    “Here we find a new limit on the market: there are collective and qualitative needs which cannot be satisfied by market mechanisms. There are important human needs which escape its logic. There are goods which by their very nature cannot and must not be bought or sold. Certainly the mechanisms of the market offer secure advantages: they help to utilize resources better; they promote the exchange of products; above all they give central place to the person’s desires and preferences, which, in a contract, meet the desires and preferences of another person. Nevertheless, these mechanisms carry the risk of an ‘idolatry’ of the market, an idolatry which ignores the existence of goods which by their nature are not and cannot be mere commodities.”

    Health care, anyone?

    No. 42:

    [C]an it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?”

    The answer is obviously complex. If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector [read: entrepreneuriship], then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a ‘business economy’, ‘market economy’ or simply ‘free economy’.

    But if by ‘capitalism’ is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

    No. 43:

    “The Church has no models to present.” (Repeat 40 times.)

    The Church recognizes the positive value of the Market and enterprise, while pointing out that these need to be oriented towards the common good. Also, the legitimacy of workers obtaining the full respect for their dignity and gaining broader areas of participation in the life of industrial enterprises.

    JOHN PAUL II, LABOREM EXERCENS

    No. 14:

    Christian tradition has never upheld the right to private ownership “as absolute and untouchable.”

    On the contrary, the Church understands it within the context of the common right of all to use the goods of creation: Private property is subordinated to common use, “to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.”

    “[T]he position of ‘rigid’ capitalism continues to remain unacceptable, namely the position that defends the exclusive right to private ownership of the means of production as an untouchable ‘dogma’ of economic life. The principle of respect for work demands that this right should undergo a constructive revision, both in theory and in practice.”

    Yet, the Church does not accept simply taking people’s stuff away from them and giving it to the State.

    No. 19:

    Health care should be readily available to workers and, as far as possible, either cheap or free.

    JOHN PAUL II, SOLLICITUDO REI SOCIALIS

    No. 21:

    The Church adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism.

    PAUL VI, POPULORUM PROGRESSIO

    No. 58:

    It is evident that the principle of free trade, by itself, is no longer adequate for regulating international agreements. It certainly can work when both parties are about equal economically; . . . But the case is quite different when the nations involved are far from equal. Market prices that are freely agreed upon can turn out to be most unfair. It must be avowed openly that, in this case, the fundamental tenet of liberalism (as it is called), as the norm for market dealings, is open to serious question.”

    JOHN XXIII, MATER ET MAGISTRA
    No. 18:

    A worker’s wage cannot be made to depend on “the state of the market.” It must be determined by the laws of justice. Any other way would be unjust . . . even if both sides entered into the contract freely!

    No. 19:

    Private ownership is a natural right. However, “[I]t naturally entails a social obligation as well. It is a right which must be exercised not only for one’s own personal benefit but also for the benefit of others.”

    *** This is NOT an exhaustive list–nor, is it meant to be. ***

    But, it should give some people pause before they try to pull Pope Benedict or the Church in general on their side: either the NCR liberal Catholics or the “FOX News Catholics.”

  8. Mark says:

    “Get ready for another battle of the Acton-Bots and the Distribu-Cons!”

    Thank you, Fr. Z.

    As a “Distribu-Con”…I’m glad to see that you at least realize that not all Catholics who disagree with Austrian School libertarian economics or criticize “capitalism” are “Commies” as some people in other threads have implied. [Ohhh.... that is what I meant? o{];¬) ]

  9. mpm says:

    You are bad, Fr. Z! RED MEAT, you know it’s bad for our health!

  10. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Mark,

    If you were implying that that was my implication, you’re wrong. I know Fr. Z is usually more fair and level-headed than the Thomas E. Woods Jrs. of the world, and would know better than to lump us “Distribu-cons” together with the Crunchy-Commies and socialists, although many in groups like the Acton Institute or the Von Mises Institute do not.

  11. Paul says:

    Maybe the Holy Father will stress the prohibition against unjust weights and measures (Proverbs 20:10, Deuteronomy 25:15, etc.)?

    If we had just weights and measures (and what could be a more fundamental measure that money) we could abolish central banking and fractional reserve banking, along with inflation, usurious interest rates, and the constant boom/bust cycle.

    We would then, of necessity, live within our means, and by saving, provide for our old age. With commodity money, savings increase in value relative to the increases in technology and productivity. With fiat money, savings are wiped out by inflation and massive wealth transfers. Fiat money also prevents rational calculation with regard to future need, and promotes instead, a live-for-the-moment ethic (eat, drink, and be merry – and use your plastic to do it!), as well as the welfare/warfare governmental system.

    Every people who have tolerated the use of unjust weights and measures (fiat money) has faced the chastisement of God (the natural law collapse of the economy and attendant ills), without exception. We will soon learn this here too, to our regret.

    With regard to distributionism, I think it’ll work – under the social kingship of Christ. Under Obama? I’ll take an unradicalized Austrian economics.

    Paul

  12. Quote from Article: “On the one hand (doctrine, liturgy, and sexual morality), progressives tend to take dissenting positions from defined and binding Church teaching. On the other hand (economic and social policy), they want to boast of the Church’s “best kept secret,” especially to the extent that they think it coheres with any number of secular-left platforms, while ignoring those aspects of Catholic social teaching that clearly don’t fit the leftist nostrums. [They want it both ways. Ignore these teachings, but pay attention to these (ours).]”

    The above comment is all too often true but I have found that the criticism swings both ways.

    Thank God, most of us don’t have to deal directly with abortion and euthansia. But as a result it is easy to say that these two phenomena are intrinsic evils while we all too easily dismiss those other teachings which may hit too close to home but which are not infallible or do not deal with intrinsic evils. I think it safe to say that an unjustifide homicide is a greater evil than is contraception and yet only contraception is considered to be intrinsically evil while homicide is not.

    The encyclical will not be infallible nor is it likely to deal with intrinsic evils but it will be the prudential teaching of the pope who, aside from his personal brilliance, is the supreme teacher in the Catholic Church. For Catholics of any stripe to dismiss it because it seems inconvenient would be dangerous and frankly, after two years labour, rather ungrateful.

    Some good instruction on what an informed conscience entails would be useful.

  13. Bruce says:

    Once the encyclical is released we should all remember this quote from Chesterton:

    “because they have themselves invented a reason to explain a result, they almost deny the result in order to justify the reason”

  14. Bruce says:

    “I think it safe to say that an unjustifide homicide is a greater evil than is contraception and yet only contraception is considered to be intrinsically evil while homicide is not.”

    David did you forget to put “unjustifide” before the second homicide?

  15. GordonBOPS says:

    I sort of read this article by Fr. Sirico as a preemptive strike to say, “Hey, if there’s something in here you don’t like – its just a “prudential judgment.” I’m personally in favor of the free-market with proper regulation and controls – but I also think that what are called to as Christians is to share more “pre-tax” so to speak. I can’t recall specifically where in scripture it speaks of this, but that in the early Church they were more committed to each other on a local level and sharing in ways that we only have a hint of in the current day. ITs sort of a willed socialism — that is, not where the gov’t distributes the wealth, but one acting solely under the influence of Grace – gives in a generous way to his/her community so that those with less have as much as those we receive more.

  16. Tom Woods says:

    “These capitalist Catholics in the mode of Fr Sirico, Thomas Woods, Jr, and the Acton Institute, etc. spin everything that comes out of the Vatican in the realm of economics to support their own ideas, even if they are intended to be a criticism of those very ideas.”

    Absolutely, 100% false. The whole point of my book The Church and the Market is to analyze the anti-market statements in certain encyclicals, not pretend they aren’t there. It is exasperating to have to deal with people who refuse to take ten seconds to bother to understand what you’re saying, or who turn around and bleat “dissenter” without taking their noses out of their navels.

    Here is my actual view, for anyone who cares to be fair minded:
    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?Itemid=48&id=3525&option=com_content&task=view

  17. Tom Woods says:

    As for Pope Paul VI, I am shocked that someone could quote Populorum Progressio as if its empirical claims had not been refuted before our eyes over the past four decades. Papal infallibility is not a form of superstition. We do not believe that a Pope’s empirical claims about the workings of medicine, physics, economics, sociology, etc., are necessarily wise or correct. If they were, then we wouldn’t need anyone to practice these disciplines. We could simply ask the Pope for all the answers.

    And Populorum Progressio is nothing if not a list of empirical claims about the economy and how it works. It claims there has been a secular decline in the so-called terms of trade involving the commodities developing countries deal in. That is clearly false, as Gottfried Haberler (and everyone else) has shown. Yet from faulty premises like these, Paul VI drew conclusions that were just as faulty, and that do not involve his charism of infallibility. Indeed it is qualitatively impossible for these claims to be covered by the charism of infallibility.

    These are issues that Catholics ought to be free to discuss. Instead, some so-called conservative or traditional Catholics think it’s their job to live down to the worst Protestant caricatures of Catholicism, and put forth the superstitious nonsense that even statements of secular matters of fact are infallibly true when they appear in a Church document.

  18. Mark says:

    “Every people who have tolerated the use of unjust weights and measures (fiat money) has faced the chastisement of God (the natural law collapse of the economy and attendant ills), without exception. We will soon learn this here too, to our regret.”

    Pegging money to the supply of a commodity is better than pegging to Debt via usury, but still is a rather arbitrary measure against which to base the money supply. Social Credit pegs the money supply to the total value of ALL real wealth, facilitates all real exchanges possible. It’s not quite so “concrete” as being able to cash in dollars for gold, but every dollar made would represent real wealth, in goods and services, in the economy.

    “Indeed it is qualitatively impossible for these claims to be covered by the charism of infallibility.”

    No one is saying they are. We just dont believe that the proofs of your economists against them are necessarily true. Certainly, we give the benefit of the doubt to the Pope even while admitting he could be wrong on these issues. Some people here may accuse you of “not listening to the Popes,” and I agree that they go a little far in terms of implying what is binding on Catholics. But I still agree with the Pope instead of you, even if I recognize your right to disagree.

    It just annoys me (and others, I assume) when Acton types try to portray their position as The True Catholic Economics when, if there is an “official” Catholic economics, it is the one expressed by the Popes, albeit non-infallibly. The alliance between Catholicism and American “conservatism” is troubling and just gives ammo to the liberal critics who accuse conservative Catholics of being just a mouthpiece for conservative politics, and with positions like yours, I can see why.

  19. Peregrinus says:

    As far as I am concerned, I see an incestuous relationship between Socialism and Global Capitalism theses days. They have merged so much that we have what can be called with Socialistic Capitalism or Capitalistic Socialism.

    I would like to add that Distributism in the Catholic sense is neither conservative or liberal. It is Catholic and thus, just like Catholicism, defies labeling.

  20. Mark says:

    The thing about distributism is that, while I certainly support it, it is an ideal end more than a specific means.

    It would be great for most workers to own most of their own capital. The question is HOW to achieve that in the first place.

    There are good ways and bad. Sure, you could suggest confiscating and redistributing all the unjustly concentrated capital, and then having to have all sorts of laws to prevent it from finding its way back into the hands of the financiers.

    But really, I think Social Credit is the best way of achieving such a redistribution gradually and without any coercion necessary.

  21. mpm says:

    Tom Woods,

    I read the piece you linked. Thanks. I had one thought about it.

    I think the “hole” (p. 2) you mentioned is actually filled by professional people (i.e., people who earn their living doing something specific, from gardeners to nuclear scientists), who have the personal moral obligation to acquire competence in their field, and work conscientiusly in their field. This is a moral obligation prior to the “social teachings of the Church” because it is a component of our personal moral being and vocation, and that whereby each individual participates in society.

    That is also the source of the diversity of prudential judgements consequent upon the “social teachings of the Church”. Different professionals, and kinds of professionals, will have better and more tangible insights into practical matters that they deal with daily, than dilettante theoreticians who “think” they know what it all means. It’s analogous to knowing the genus versus knowing the genus and all the various species also.

    Someone here told the anecdote about the Pope saying good things about Hilaire Belloc and his assimilation of the social teachings of the Church. Well think about it, was the Pope praising Belloc for “distributism”, or praising him for taking the teachings seriously, using his talent as a thinker and a writer, and doing something with it?

  22. I am not Spartacus says:

    but they are hardly representative of those modern defenders of the market economy such as Rocco Buttiglione, Wilhelm Röpke, and William F. Buckley.

    Mr. Buckley, as Murray Rothbard pointed out in the early 1950s, was a big government totalitarian socialist.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard6.html

    Get ready for another battle of the Acton-Bots and the Distribu-Cons!

    LOL THAT is funny, Fr.Kudos

  23. mpm says:

    “if there is an “official” Catholic economics, it is the one expressed by the Popes, albeit non-infallibly.

    Therefore, there is none.

    There is no Catholic economics, or astronomy, or physics, or medicine. None.

    Popes do not teach such things, they haven’t the “chair” for it.

  24. Peregrinus says:

    Mark. Some of us are looking at the Mondragón Cooperative and other like them to see how they started. One does not have to start big to grow and succeed. As for credit, the same Mondragón model may give us clues However, I also think something on the line of a Credit Union model may work too.

  25. Hidden One says:

    “Get ready for another battle of the Acton-Bots and the Distribu-Cons!” – Fr. Z.

    “The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Bot War has!” – Yoda. Sort of.

  26. I am not Spartacus says:

    ECONOMIC SCIENCE AND CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING

    by Thomas Storck

    Even among otherwise orthodox Catholics in the United States there is generally little knowledge of or interest in Catholic social doctrine, that body of Catholic teachings which concerns man in society, especially with reference to the political and economic orders. Since Leo XIII began vigorously to develop and apply this teaching to the changing conditions of the modern world, especially with his encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), Catholic social doctrine has seemed to many to constitute an alternative both to free-market capitalism and all forms of socialism and communism. But lately an objection to Catholic social teaching has arisen from an unexpected source, in fact, from some of those who claim to be especially devoted to Catholic life and tradition as it existed before the Second Vatican Council. This is ironic, for during that era Catholic social teaching was championed much more than it is today by the hierarchy, including the papacy, and was, I think, much more in the consciousness of the ecclesiastically literate Catholic. But the objection that has arisen from some who call themselves traditionalists is novel in one respect, yet in another respect not. It is novel in that it bases its explicit rejection of such doctrine on the supposed teachings of the science of economics. But it is not novel in that the hallmark of dissenters and heretics throughout the ages has been precisely to take some human science, theology or philosophy often, elevate it above the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church and pose the false quandary: If I accept such and such a teaching of the Church I must go against my God-given reason. But since reason is from God, I cannot contradict it. Therefore I must reject this teaching of the Church.

    The latest among those who take this approach is one Thomas Woods, Jr., who argues that Catholic social teaching and economic science are fundamentally at odds, and that it is the former that must yield to the latter. Woods is not shy about stating his position.
    The primary difficulty with much of what has fallen under the heading of Catholic social teaching since Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) is that it assumes without argument that the force of human will suffices to resolve economic questions, and that reason and the conclusions of economic law can be safely neglected, even scorned…. This attitude runs directly counter to the entire Catholic intellectual tradition, according to which man is to conform his actions to reality, rather than embarking on the hopeless and foolish task of forcing the world to conform to him and to his desires ["Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension," paper delivered at the Austrian Scholars Conference at the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, March 2002, p. 4. The entire paper is available here].

    And he dismisses as “perfectly nonsensical” the claim that his position “involves himself in `dissent’ from Church teaching” (“The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching,” lecture delivered at the Austrian Scholars Conference, Mises Institute, Auburn Alabama, March 2004, p. 2.). Why? Because In the absence of any attempt to address these issues [i.e., the issues that Woods considers important], it is difficult to see how the economic claims of the social encyclicals can actually constitute authoritative Catholic doctrine binding upon the consciences of all the faithful” ["Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: an Unresolved Tension," pp. 33-34].
    And he goes on to say:
    One hesitates to describe Catholic social teaching as an abuse of papal and ecclesiastical power, but surely the attempt to impose, as moral doctrine binding the entire Catholic world, principles that derive from the popes’ intrinsically fallible reasoning within a secular discipline like economics, seems dubious. At the very least, it appears to constitute an indefensible extension of the prerogatives of the Church’s legitimate teaching office into areas in which it possesses no inherent competence or divine protection from error [Ibid., p. 35].

    This is the question in a nutshell: Thomas Woods believes that certain teachings of Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II, teachings which these pontiffs certainly conceived of as part of their legitimate teaching authority, are wrong because he thinks they contradict the tenets of economics.
    Now in the first place, I must agree with Woods, that both cannot be right. If these economic beliefs are correct then the papal teaching is wrong, for truth cannot contradict itself. Otherwise we would be headed toward the notion of a double-truth which was implicit in some of the theories of the medieval Latin Averroists, that is, that the same thing could be true in philosophy and false in theology. But as every loyal Catholic knows, there is not nor can there be any conflict between authentic Catholic teaching and the genuine findings of any human science. Such as thing is not possible.

    What can one say in reply to Woods, then? First, that since a whole series of popes has taught certain moral truths connected with economics which they believed was entirely within their competence, it is monstrous for anyone claiming to be a Catholic to argue against this teaching, and second, that what Woods represents as the teaching of economics is in fact simply one economic view among many, and that thus it is not the science of economics that is at odds with Catholic doctrine, but simply one school of thought representing ultimately the fallible reasoning of human beings.

    In the first place, then, any instructed and orthodox Catholic will have no difficulty in dismissing Woods’ claims at once, even without investigating his arguments. When confronted, for example, with claims by psychologists or sociologists that the findings of their particular disciplines invalidate this or that teaching of the Church, we can know that their claims are not to be taken seriously. Of course, usually it is necessary to refute them in order to show those outside the Church, or those weak in faith, that the teachings of the Church have not been disproven. But in principle, Woods’ claims are no different from those made by many another partisan of one pet theory or idea after another. The popes have been quite explicit about their competence to teach in these areas of economic morality. Let us look at just two of their statements.

    We approach the subject with confidence, and in the exercise of the rights which belong to Us. For no practical solution of this question will ever be found without the assistance of Religion and the Church. It is We who are the chief guardian of religion, and the chief dispenser of what belongs to the Church, and We must not by silence neglect the duty which lies upon Us [Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, no.13)

    We lay down the principle long since clearly established by Leo XIII that it is Our right and Our duty to deal authoritatively with social and economic problems. It is not of course for the Church to lead men to transient and perishable happiness only, but to that which is eternal. Indeed "the Church believes that it would be wrong for her to inferfere without just cause in such earthly concerns"; but she never can relinquish her God-given task of interposing her authority, not indeed in technical matters, for which she has neither the equipment nor the mission, but in all those that have a bearing on moral conduct. For the deposit of truth entrusted to Us by God, and Our weighty office of propagating, interpreting and urging in season and out of season the entire moral law, demand that both social and economic questions be brought within Our supreme jurisdiction, in so far as they refer to moral issues [Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, no. 41].

    Mr. Woods may think that they have overstepped the bounds of moral theology into technical economic questions, but that is not what they thought. When not just one, but even more so many supreme pontiffs teach the same truths and consider that they have a perfect right to do so without this constituting an “abuse of papal and ecclesiastical power,” then surely any orthodox and loyal Catholic must accept the popes’ own notions of the limits of their teaching authority. As I said above, every dissenter and heretic in the history of the Church elevates some idea of his own, which he feels he has good reason to accept, into a principle higher than Catholic teaching. What makes Woods different from them? If a psychologist or sociologist claimed that his knowledge made it impossible for him to accept Catholic teaching on sexuality, we would dismiss his arguments as worthless, and rightly so. But who is Thomas Woods to set up his own boundaries as to what is and what is not acceptable for the Church to teach? What are his credentials to constitute a parallel magisterium? The Catholic Church has been teaching in the area of economic morality for centuries. Mr. Woods’ quarrel is not with a few recent popes but with the entire tradition of Catholic teaching on economic morality.

    Lest anyone argue that the Church has never defined infallibly the social doctrines stated in papal encyclicals, we should remember that infallibility extends beyond merely the teachings of the solemn magisterium to the teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium. (The First Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution, De Fide, chap. 3, taught: “Further, all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal teaching [magisterium], proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.”) At least some of the contents of the papal social encyclicals, for example, the doctrine of the just wage, would seem to have been repeated enough times so that they qualify as part of the ordinary and universal magisterium. And even those matters which may not rise to the level of the universal magisterium, are by no means optional matters for Catholics. Pius XII authoritatively stated in his encyclical Humani Generis of 1950 the following:

    Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority [Magisterium]. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority [Magisterio enim ordinario haec docentur], of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”… [No. 20].

    And the Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium of 1964, taught:

    [A] loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated” [No. 25].

    Moreover, when one looks closely at this matter, one will discover that what Woods solemnly proclaims to be the teachings of economics are in fact only the opinions of one particular sect of economists. In fact, the Austrian school, to which Woods adheres, is a minority school of economists. It is true that many neoclassical economists would agree with many of Woods’ criticisms, but there are other schools of economic thought whose findings harmonize well with Catholic social thought. Woods himself mentions, and excoriates, the German historical school. There is also the American institutionalist school, and there are others. Woods has no more right to consider his own economic ideas as equivalent to the entire field of economics than a Kantian philosopher has to regard the teachings of Kant as equivalent to the entire field of philosophy. If such a philosopher were to say, “There is a conflict between the teachings of the First Vatican Council and the science of philosophy on the ability of human reason to demonstrate the existence of God,” we could easily point out to him that there are other schools of philosophy, such as Thomism, that have no such conflict, and that he is wrong to claim for his own school the mantle of philosophy as a whole. But this is exactly what Woods has done for economics. His own school says this, therefore economics as a whole says this. The faulty reasoning here should be evident. Woods quotes with approval the following statement of Professor William Luckey:

    The fact that Catholic economic teaching, put forth as unchanging and required of belief, did not square with what Austrian economists know to be true, has created an agonizing crisis of conscience for such economists ["The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching," p. 6, my emphasis].

    Woods and Luckey have raised the fallible reasoning of a group of economists, a group which does not even command majority opinion within its own discipline, into an infallible voice of truth which they consider to be able to trump the teachings of the supreme pontiffs! Contrary to what Woods continually asserts, to question Austrian economics is not to question the validity of human reason; it is simply to question the validity of certain dubious conclusions reached by one group of men who enjoy no charism of infallibility.
    Woods also makes much of the economic teaching of a group of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spanish theologians who have sometimes been claimed as precursors of Woods’s views, or of something like them anyway. There is some reason to question whether this similarity between their views and his own has not been greatly overstated. (I will instance only one example. In his first paper Woods (p. 8) quotes a passage from Juan de Mariana on the folly and evil of a ruler attemping to set a price of a good “in such a way that the legal price should differ from the natural…. Men are guided in this matter by common estimation founded on considerations of the quality of things, and their abundance or scarcity.” Now “common estimation” was a traditional scholastic way of discovering a just price. Common estimation was the common opinion of men in general as to what was a reasonable price, and though it might in many cases be based in part on factors that included certain market forces, such as the “abundance or scarcity” of the item in question, the important point to recognize is that common estimation and the market price of Austrian or neoclassical economics do not mean the same thing. That is, even if in some cases they might coincide, they do so for different reasons. Moreover, this subject opens up the entire question of what is a market price, since all markets are subject to legal and customary rules, and whether in fact it makes any sense to speak of a market price. Rather, the question is: what market price exists under such and such a legal and social regime.) In addition, I will point out two things. First, if it were the case that these theologians agreed completely with Woods, what would that mean? Absolutely nothing. They have no special status above other theologians, and against the teaching of the popes their views carry no weight whatsoever, any more than the myriad of theologians of today whose views are widely quoted against authentic papal teaching. And secondly, if, as Woods avers, the vicars of Christ have overstepped the bounds of moral theology by their teachings on economic morality, what gives these Spanish scholastics, who were theologians not economists, any particular authority in this field? Is Woods making an argument from authority? If he is it fails, for by his own claims theology has nothing to say on these particular questions. If, on the other hand, he is simply claiming them as intellectual precursors, and appealing to the weight of their arguments, then I do not see any reason why I should specially attend to them, particularly as they (according to Woods) teach contrary to the popes and are no more infallible than any other economic writers.

    Woods is especially agitated because he thinks that without his own conception of economics it must cease to be a science. Although I know of nothing in scripture or tradition that guarantees that economics is a science, nevertheless what he says does not necessarily follow. Heinrich Pesch, the great Jesuit economist, whose thought provided the background for the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, and whom Woods criticizes, strongly defended the status of economics to be a science, but a human and a social science, one that depends at least in part on the free acts of human beings. We are not required to give up the claim that economics is a science if we accept Catholic social teaching.

    Although it is not my primary intention to engage in an economic debate with Woods, I must say just a word to show how the economic arguments he makes are far from compelling. The model of an economy which both neoclassical and Austrian economics present, and the economic policies which Austrian economists usually champion, are not the obvious conclusions of economic reasoning as they would have us believe. For economic activity always takes place within a legal, social and technological framework, and the structure of that framework to a great degree conditions and determines the shape which economic activity takes in any particular society. There was no economic reason, for example, why the guilds of the Middle Ages, which controlled the urban economies of Europe and severely limited competition among craftsmen, need have come to an end, and the economy which resulted from the demise of the guilds was largely the creation of a changed intellectual climate, not the result of so-called economic laws. Nor are limited liability corporations, which currently dominate our economy and which were created only in the nineteenth century due to emerging state general incorporation laws, the inevitable products of economic forces, but rather were brought into being by the free acts of legislatures. Market forces always work within a certain framework, and economic outcomes depend more on how these frameworks are structured than on the market forces alone. Thus within broad limits human beings have the ability to structure the way in which they conduct economic activity, and the notion that there is only one way which is sanctioned by so-called economic laws is false. Human beings create their legal and social institutions and can alter them. There is no reason why these institutions cannot be designed or reformed in such a way so as to facilitate the application of Catholic social teaching. (A concrete instance of how market forces always work within an institutional framework is the story of the Nova Scotia fishermen from the 1930s. “Their catch of fish and lobsters was handled by local dealers who in many cases kept the fishermen in a state of peonage. While Maine fishermen were getting about fifteen cents a pound for lobsters, the Nova Scotian fishermen were receiving as little as two cents a pound. All other prices were scaled down in the same ratio. For everything they bought, however, from their scanty food purchases to nets and lines, they paid top prices, with the result that they were invariably bowed down with a load of debts. Appalling poverty, illiteracy, poor health and the worst possible housing conditions existed throughout this section.” In order to better their condition, priests from St. Francis College helped the fishermen organize cooperatives. By means of marketing cooperatives they were able to bypass the local middlemen and deal directly with wholesalers in large cities. In their first shipment of lobsters to Boston they received fifteen cents per pound net. The distribution of income before the establishment of the cooperatives was not the result of the operation of economic laws, but rather of the legal and social institutions within which these economic forces operated. These institutions were changed and a new set of institutions was created within which market forces could operate. This is an illustration of the freedom men have to change the framework and thus change the way economic forces operate to bring about a more just distribution of income. See Bertram B. Fowler, The Co-operative Challenge (Boston : Little, Brown, 1947) pp. 128-29.)

    Lest any reader be tempted to think that I am too exercised over this topic, and my disagreement with Woods is simply a small matter over different interpretations of Catholic social doctrine, let me quote from Pope Pius XI. In his first encyclical, Ubi Arcano of December 1922, Pius introduced the notion of “social Modernism.” He spoke of those Catholics who give lip service to doctrine concerning the social order, including “Catholic teaching concerning…the rights and duties of laborers…in industry” but who “by their spoken and written word, and the whole tenor of their lives” disregard and belittle this teaching. Pope Pius says of this, “In all this we recognize a kind of moral, judicial, and social Modernism, and We condemn it as strongly as We do dogmatic Modernism.” I am sure that Thomas Woods would not like to be placed among the dogmatic modernists, but Pius XI definitely places him among the social modernists. And thus that saintly and traditional pontiff condemns Thomas Woods’ views, condemns them “as strongly as We do dogmatic Modernism

    [Wow.... please summarize. Don't post these overly long cut and paste texts please. Summarize.]

  27. Mark says:

    “That is also the source of the diversity of prudential judgements consequent upon the “social teachings of the Church”. Different professionals, and kinds of professionals, will have better and more tangible insights into practical matters that they deal with daily, than dilettante theoreticians who “think” they know what it all means. It’s analogous to knowing the genus versus knowing the genus and all the various species also.”

    I am not a professional chemist. But I know more about chemistry than all the Earth-Water-Air-Fire types ever did. Because they may have known the specifics of a genus better, but it was a wrong genus.

    I’m not denying that free-markets know more about free-market economics than I. But it’s a false system to begin with, so knowing how it works internally makes one no more prepared to judge it “from the outside” compared to other systems than anyone else.

    A Hindu may know more about Hinduism than a bishop…does that make the bishop any less able to know better or speak authoritatively on religion in general and which is right?

    Your mistake is that you equate your school of economics with economics in general, the alleged “objective science,” and then, since you know more about your school, claim that you know more about “economics in general”.

    I dont need expert knowledge of Hinduism to argue against it, nor of any false ideology, because the best argument against them are the arguments FOR the truth.

  28. Fr. Robert says:

    [ALL: Be sure to read this comment, from the author of the piece at the top, Fr. Sirico.]

    The really amazing thing I find about certain Distributists, with whom I have a great many concerns in common, is the downright nastiest so often manifest in the kinds of postings one sees above and elsewhere, which disinclines me to respond directly to them. I must also agree with Professor Woods that some of them often caricature rather than actually read and respond to an opponent’s argument. My main point in the article presently under discussion (or derision, as they case may be) was to make the distinction between dogmatic and prudential positions of the Magisterium. Period. If the Distributivists and I agree on the kinds of authoritative doctrinal and moral matters I mention above, is it not possible to disagree on prudential matters without calling people heretical – unless of course, one thinks one’s economic position IS infallible. And I think this may, in fact be, the problem with many Distributivists. Some appear to think that the Church position is Distributivist. I try to be careful in saying that free markets, when grounded in the rule of law upon a moral foundation, are compatible with the Church’s teaching – not that this or that proposal IS the Church’s dogma. The Church has no economic dogma!

    In reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1985 speech on economics (which is posted at the Acton Institute web site – so fearful are we that it condemns our version of ‘capitalism’): in reading it carefully, it is clear that the Cardinal is addressing a very specific form of capitalism, namely a capitalism devoid of any exogenous moral reference point to guide economic actors in their free choices. Such an economic system, like Marxism (like Randianism), descends into materialism and atheism. Anyone who thinks that I or the Acton Institute support such a notion of the free economy is simply mistaken. There are various philosophical underpinnings to capitalism – not all of them valid.

    On a similar matter, I would be interested in seeing how Catholic Distributivists make the distinction between their economic approach from those of the National Socialists or fascism (aside from the obvious racist and atheistic presuppositions of the latter). I ask this as an honest inquiry and not as an act of name calling, and would appreciate replies in like manner.

    One more point, who was Pope John Paul addressing when he indicated that the Church’s approach ought not be thought of as a ‘third way’. Is that what Distributivism is?

  29. Mark says:

    “Therefore, there is none.”

    It is not necessarily an infallibly binding one, but it is currently the official party-line of the Vatican.

    “the fallible reasoning of a group of economists, a group which does not even command majority opinion within its own discipline”

    Exactly.

    I’ve looked into it, and there are plenty of economists today, for example, who DO indeed believe that the terms of trade are declining for developing countries, regardless of what Gottfried Haberler or “everyone else” thinks.

    So I have several conflicting groups of “experts” (at least three; austrians, mainstreams, and socialists) who have different theories about all this. They are free to believe what they want when it isnt a question of faith or morals, but for someone who isnt an expert, and for whom they all seem to have some good points and some bad, and none syllogistically convincing or anything like that…I’m going to go with the Pope. I’m not saying you have to, but dont act like it is self-evident that the Popes are wrong and that we should all listen to you, whose school isnt even mainstream among so-called empirical “economists”.

  30. Mark says:

    “And I think this may, in fact be, the problem with many Distributivists. Some appear to think that the Church position is Distributivist. I try to be careful in saying that free markets, when grounded in the rule of law upon a moral foundation, are compatible with the Church’s teaching – not that this or that proposal IS the Church’s dogma. The Church has no economic dogma!”

    I agree. I think the people who are raising it to the level of dogma or implying that Woods and Co. arent free to hold their opinions…are wrong.

    However, while it may not have “economic dogma” it does have social teaching which condemns certain things as structurally unjust in various economic systems (the negation of private property in socialism, for example, and usury in finance). And, admittedly only on the prudential level, there is a “party-line” on economics when it comes to what measures the Church supports inasmuch as it has political and diplomatic influence. These are subject to change and certainly arent infallible.

    However, it upsets me, as I said in the post above to see a sort of double-standard being held. I dont know if you’ve followed the other discussions here on this recently, but the accusations of heresy or disloyalty to the Pope I’ve seen from one or two distributists has come rather late, and only after extensive accusations of Communism and Marxism, belittling tones with elitist insinuations of total ignorance on the subject (basically, “You’re not austrian-school trained economists, so you’ve no right to an opinion on the matter!”), and accusations of laziness, unemployment, desire to live off welfare, or (insinuating it was an insult) having a “great books liberal arts education” (which I dont).

    “On a similar matter, I would be interested in seeing how Catholic Distributivists make the distinction between their economic approach from those of the National Socialists or fascism (aside from the obvious racist and atheistic presuppositions of the latter). I ask this as an honest inquiry and not as an act of name calling, and would appreciate replies in like manner.”

    Well, in many ways it’s the means. Certainly I would not support authoritarian, militaristic, nationalist, or isolationist means. But much of fascist economics, inasmuch as it is separable from fascist politics, did try to implement various Catholic economic principles. Corporatism for example. However, I also dont think they had anything like a Social Credit vision of monetary policy.

    “One more point, who was Pope John Paul addressing when he indicated that the Church’s approach ought not be thought of as a ‘third way’. Is that what Distributivism is?”

    I think he meant that the Catholic approach should not just be one more materialistic system, as if a system can solve anything without a moral conversion too.

    There are structural injustices in both communism and capitalism. Distributism and Social Credit dont have these…but if people are still greedy, murderous, thieving, etc…it wont solve anything.

    It is not a third-way utiopianism (another accusation hurled at us in other threads) or a mere compromise. European style “socialism” would perhaps be a good example of the kind of Third Way he was talking about, compared to capitalism and communism.

    But the Catholic way must ultimately not be merely one more ideology, but transcend labels and spectrums like that.

  31. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    “Get ready for another battle of the Acton-Bots and the Distribu-Cons!”

    Father this made me laugh very hard. Very well done. [Thanks. And I am pleased that Actonius Prime has now chimed in as well.]

  32. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Fr. Robert, and Mr. Woods,

    No distributists claim infallibility, however, we point out, and some times become so frustrated in doing so over and over that it shows, that the Popes claim to be binding people. Pius XI after summarizing Leo XIII, and before giving his own teaching states:

    “41. Yet before proceeding to explain these matters, that principle which Leo XIII so clearly established must be laid down at the outset here, namely, that there resides in Us the right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social and economic matters.[27] …

    “42. Even though economics and moral science employs each its own principles in its own sphere, it is, nevertheless, an error to say that the economic and moral orders are so distinct from and alien to each other that the former depends in no way on the latter. Certainly the laws of economics, as they are termed, being based on the very nature of material things and on the capacities of the human body and mind, determine the limits of what productive human effort cannot, and of what it can attain in the economic field and by what means. Yet it is reason itself that clearly shows, on the basis of the individual and social nature of things and of men, the purpose which God ordained for all economic life.

    “43. But it is only the moral law which, just as it commands us to seek our supreme and last end in the whole scheme of our activity, so likewise commands us to seek directly in each kind of activity those purposes which we know that nature, or rather God the Author of nature, established for that kind of action, and in orderly relationship to subordinate such immediate purposes to our supreme and last end. If we faithfully observe this law, then it will follow that the particular purposes, both individual and social, that are sought in the economic field will fall in their proper place in the universal order of purposes, and We, in ascending through them, as it were by steps, shall attain the final end of all things, that is God, to Himself and to us, the supreme and inexhaustible Good.’ (QUADRAGESIMO ANNO, Pius XI, 1931)

    Certainly something can be binding without being infallible (by the way contraception has never been defined as being sinful, of course it is binding). I personally, am not willing to accept that you and Mr. Woods (or mpm for that matter) are to decide the limits of the Popes authority, when he clearly says you and Mr. Woods are wrong. He even deals with Mr. Woods argument concerning the fact that economics is a science. So when Pius XI then goes on to say:

    “88. Attention must be given also to another matter that is closely connected with the foregoing. Just as the unity of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes, so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness or ignorance the social and moral character of economic life, it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority, because in the market, i.e., in the free struggle of competitors, it would have a principle of self direction which governs it much more perfectly than would the intervention of any created intellect. But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life – a truth which the outcome of the application in practice of the tenets of this evil individualistic spirit has more than sufficiently demonstrated. Therefore, it is most necessary that economic life be again subjected to and governed by a true and effective directing principle. This function is one that the economic dictatorship which has recently displaced free competition can still less perform, since it is a headstrong power and a violent energy that, to benefit people, needs to be strongly curbed and wisely ruled. But it cannot curb and rule itself. Loftier and nobler principles – social justice and social charity – must, therefore, be sought whereby this dictatorship may be governed firmly and fully. Hence, the institutions themselves of peoples and, particularly those of all social life, ought to be penetrated with this justice, and it is most necessary that it be truly effective, that is, establish a juridical and social order which will, as it were, give form and shape to all economic life. Social charity, moreover, ought to be as the soul of this order, an order which public authority ought to be ever ready effectively to protect and defend.”

    I will not even look at the “poison spring” that you and Mr. Woods would like me to drink from. The Popes claim the same authority to teach on economics as they do on contraception. I will not withstand their judgment in this area.

  33. Mark says:

    “Certainly the laws of economics, as they are termed, being based on the very nature of material things and on the capacities of the human body and mind, determine the limits of what productive human effort cannot, and of what it can attain in the economic field and by what means.”

    Exactly. But as someone said on another thread, it is quite a jump to go from knowing the laws of how free markets work and what various interventions do to them…to saying that is how the economy OUGHT to work.

    Capitalism may be the efficient system. That does not mean it is the best.

  34. mpm says:

    Comment by Mark — 4 July 2009 @ 5:15 pm
    Mark,

    In my post I was not talking about free markets, but about free people.

    You may quibble about my definition of “professional”, if you like, but it is important that such a person earn his/her living thereby, which is what usually differentiates a professional from an amateur. Lots of people play tennis; few earn their living thereby. But I’m not talking about “top drawer” professionals, either. Working people of all sorts will do just fine, thank you.

    Your argument “contra Hinduism” is not apposite. You and I would oppose the materialism, pantheism, etc., of Hinduism, because we have faith given to us by God. (BTW, I know some Hindus who are excellent people, so don’t think me a bigot.) The virtue of Faith is sapiential, and allows us to judge what is not according to Faith.

    Economics is a “social science”, and no science is sapiential. Having studied it in depth 40 years ago, yes I have know economic science. But, as a result of that study of economics, I also know lots of problems with it, its assumptions, its (statistical) reliance on time series data, whence its weakness at forecasting, blah, blah, blah.

    I also know that without “economic science”, there would still be markets, because markets are part of the way human beings provide for the needs of human beings. They are a natural response to such needs, and natural in the typically human sense: with reason, we are given the capacity by our Creator to find a solution to provide for our needs, not a specific solution.

    Panda bears don’t have to think about it; they eat bamboo. And when the bamboo runs out, all the pandas die off.

    The specific solutions are up to us, and that is where our wisdom and morality enters in, and why we are not just obliged, but wise to give heed to the Church’s social teachings. But, again, those teachings don’t give us “the answers”, but rather the delineations of the “foul lines”, so to speak.

    Therefore, accusing others of good-will who disagree with oneself about how to “hit the ball” of being anti-Catholic, or anti-Papal, when both are trying to hit the ball fair, is foul, if the umpire is to be the social teaching of the Church.

    What you don’t seem to appreciate about my post is the point I was making about “free professionals”. People who actually work with other people (“solidarity”) in supplying the goods and services of society (part of the “common good”) are the best judges of what the Popes teach in the social teachings of the Church, in specific fields where they work. We should listen to them, and not immediately think their views are “tainted” by contact with gritty, down-to-earth, secular realities.

    This is not much different than Aristotle’s view when he asks about the kind of man from whom to ask advice about seeking wisdom. Shouldn’t we ask the wise man with experience?

    Your mistake is that you equate your school of economics with economics in general, the alleged “objective science,” and then, since you know more about your school, claim that you know more about “economics in general”.

    And your mistake, my friend, is to think that I care one fig for any economic “school”.

  35. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    BTW, I meant no disrespect to DR. Woods, by calling him Mr. Woods. It was an oversight and I apologize for it.

  36. mpm says:

    My main point in the article presently under discussion (or derision, as they case may be) was to make the distinction between dogmatic and prudential positions of the Magisterium. Period. If the Distributivists and I agree on the kinds of authoritative doctrinal and moral matters I mention above, is it not possible to disagree on prudential matters without calling people heretical – unless of course, one thinks one’s economic position IS infallible.

    Fr. Robert,

    I think you accomplished your objective. I think it bears repeating, early and often.

    One of the tactics of the self-identifying “progressives” is, as you said, to confuse this issue especially. Note that it was the USCCB document’s lack of clarity, or perhaps it was deliberate unlcarity (?), IMHO, that was used by those of the Kmiec stripe in 2008 to conflate “intrinsically evil actions” and “prudential judgement regarding cooperation in evil”. I’m not saying it would have made any difference to the elections, but at least we would know that the directive was well written!

    That conflation needs to be undone and made available to all Catholics for their study. I think it is important that this be done before the next political season commences.

  37. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    I am not Spartacus,

    I agree with Fr. Z, you should have tried to summarize the article, however, it was a wonderful piece and demonstrates clearly that Dr. Woods, and Fr. Robert, are wrong when they say that they can disagree with Catholic Social Teaching. I would like to know if Dr. Woods felt that Mr. Storck fairly represented his position. From the quotes he gives it seems he correctly represents Dr. Woods.

  38. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Tom and Fr. Robert-

    I think some of the things you claim against your opponents on the distributist side could with equal verity be claimed against you. Case in point, Tom, your article ‘What’s Wrong With Distributism’ (http://mises.org/story/1062) is quite a bad criticism of distributist economic theory, as it labors against a kind of straw man of the latter. I completely agree with you when you say “It is exasperating to have to deal with people who refuse to take ten seconds to bother to understand what you’re saying”, as that’s what I feel when reading such articles of yours. If I had the time and wherewithal to point out your many fallacious interpretations in this article, I would. Maybe at some point in the future I will have the time to devote whole articles or books myself to your misinterpretations of distributism.

    Fr. Robert-

    If you are able to ask the question of why distributism shouldn’t be linked to National Socialism or fascism, you apparently do not know the basic principles of distributism. In essence, the difference is in who controls the means of production. In socialism/fascism it ends up being a government elite, as in capitalism in practice it ends up being a private business elite. With distributism, there would be wider access to the means of production, and no such elite ownership. There are some great books you should read by Chesterton (What’s Wrong With the World, Outline of Sanity, Utopia of Usurers, etc.) and Belloc (The Servile State, Essay on the Restoration of Property, etc.) among others.

    mpm-

    Yes, I do believe the Pope was complimenting Belloc’s economic theories, because he said Belloc has “understood” the encyclicals, not just that Belloc had read them, taken them to heart, and run with them.

  39. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Tom-

    In reading through your article at http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?Itemid=48&id=3525&option=com_content&task=view , you seem to make the same errors in thinking as in the other articles I have read by you. Capitalist Catholic thinkers such as yourself have often made the same error in approaching Catholic Social Teaching and economics, and it is an error of begging the question. The argument is about economics, how it works, what it does, what is right for it to do. You answer the argument by saying that \’the laws of economics dictate such and such, and to force the market to do otherwise is folly\’. In answering the argument thus, you are presupposing the truth of your own capitalist interpretation of economics.

    Also, morality cannot be so divorced from interpersonal interaction. If the laws of economics dictated that it is right for one economic agent to use another as means to an end, thereby ignoring the other’s inherent personhood, could you really divorce that from the moral tenet it contradicts?

  40. Mark Windsor says:

    I don’t know much about economics, so you’ll have to pardon the simplistic question. But its adherents claim that distributism is not socialism, then why has it been adopted by so many socialists? It looks like the only people to embrace it and NOT be socialists were it’s originators.

  41. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Mark Windsor-

    I’m not really sure what you mean. I’ve never known any true socialists to support distributism.

  42. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    To one another socialism and distributism are anathema, if only for the issue of control of private property. Socialism wants no private control of property, distributism wants as much private control as possible. As Chesterton said, the problem with capitalism in practice is not that there are too many capitalists, but that there are too few. Having more private ownership is specifically against socialism.

  43. Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia says:

    Belloc clearly points out in ‘The Servile State’ that socialism and capitalism in practice do not oppose one another as completely as many in both camps assume. Distributism is farther from either than either are from each other, which again can be seen easily in the issue of who, in practice, controls the means of production in each system.

  44. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mark Windsor,

    I am also unaware of any socialists that support distributism, and I would be very interested in hearing their names. Would you be so kind as to give me some?

  45. Paul says:

    Thanks Mark.

    “Pegging money to the supply of a commodity is better than pegging to Debt via usury, but still is a rather arbitrary measure against which to base the money supply. Social Credit pegs the money supply to the total value of ALL real wealth, facilitates all real exchanges possible. It’s not quite so “concrete” as being able to cash in dollars for gold, but every dollar made would represent real wealth, in goods and services, in the economy.”

    I’m not so much advocating pegging the money supply to a specific commodity, as I am to releasing the “regulation of the value thereof” to you and me (and others AKA The Market) rather than a group of politicians or a monopoly of a private special interest.

    I fear that a thing such as “Social Credit” requires an entity to define and regulate “the value of All total wealth,” and necessitates the creation of an entity the “facilitates all real exchanges.”

    I really believe, Mark, that if we got together, we could exchange bikes, used batteries, chickens, coins, home-made youghurt, or anything else to our mutual satisfaction, without cops, politicians, regulatory agencies, tax accountants, licenses, capitalists, distributionists, communists, protestants, etc. et. al.

    I also believe that, were it not for our fallen nature, in a purely economic sense, we would do well with any economic system. if we could but erect it under the social kingship of Christ, rather than Trotsky, Carter, Ron Paul, Reagan, Herod, Louis XIV, etc.

  46. Mark says:

    Paul, the entity that would (and does) determine the total value of all new production already exists (as the Bureau of Economic Analysis), and many independent agencies can verify it, so there is no need to worry about them faking it (which actually is more of a worry when it comes to hidden gold reserves).

    Such values are independently confirmable, and so they would be kept honest. And it wouldnt have to be exact. Social Credit money could support a large margin of error when it came to the possibility of underestimating or overestimating GDP.

    And as Paul Grignon points out, the people might even be willing to accept a little inflation, if this loss of buying power through the government printing too much money…replaced taxes.

    Values like the GDP, GNP, etc…can be determined with reasonable accuracy, enough to make social credit possible.

    The money supply is currently rising at 3 times the GDP each year. No wonder there is inflation! Simply peg the money supply to GDP in some stable proportion (not necessarily a direct proportion, it could be a more complicated algorithm than that) and then the government can distribute that money, debt free, by spending it into existence on public works and services, the social dividend, and the Just Price discount. Calculations I’ve seen suggest that under social credit, the national budget could be funded without taxes, and everyone could get a few thousand dollar social dividend, plus the gap between prices and purchasing power would be closed.

    The problem with a money market is that it still requires providing a mechanism for profit on the part of the private suppliers. It’s better than a Fed monopoly, would probably create a more accurate money supply, but it still has the problem of needing to unnaturally pay for the use of money which should not be a commodity in itself. The government could supply it not-for-profit and as one of its legitimate public purposes.

  47. Hidden One says:

    Why does discussion of economic theory always end up so very complicated? I’d like to file a complaint with somebody about the robots fighting in code.

    Here’s how I look at Distributism:

    Three acres and a cow. I’m up for that. As long as I can buy egg-laying chickens.

    Here’s how I look at Acton-ism:

    … I don’t see how I end up with three acres and a cow (or two, with chickens) this way. Until I can sufficiently explain benefits of this system to a seven year old, I shall find it very difficult to believe.

    There. I have a perfectly logical economic position that isn’t heretical, doesn’t insinuate anything except that the opposing position has no slogan as catchy as that of Chesterton, and you know both what and why I believe what it is that I believe. You also probably think I’m crazy. (You wouldn’t be the first, nor the last, and I am tempted to return the favour, in this case.)

    You may now return to your regular economic warfare. This silliness interlude is complete.

  48. Matt K says:

    Are non-distributist afraid if there is pro-distributism in the encyclical that all Walmarts will start closing? Fear not! We just want locals making good beer!

  49. Brian Murphy says:

    Mark Windsor,

    I would not classify myself yet as a distributist as I am still learning about it. Although I am liking it more and more as are my friends. And we all come from a conservative Capitalist background and upbringing. We all have a distaste for socialism. Actually I think you would find our distaste for socialism as the impetus for our attraction to distributism as the current state of capitalism in this country has given us the means of production and power with the few business elite. Which when it boils down to it, unbridled capitalism can result in a product that is very similar to socialism where the means of production and power is owned by the government.

    So to put it another way I find your comment to be wholly unfortunate and flat out wrong.

  50. Mark VA says:

    I completely agree with Father Sirico that “the pope’s conversion to progressivist causes has been greatly exaggerated”.

    When I listen to and think about progressive Catholics’ economic and political preferences, I get a sinking feeling that many are willing to make common cause with various undeclared socialists floating around in our politics today. To be fair to all of them, I believe many make beginner’s mistakes when they flirt with various socialisms – they seem to view them as only economic systems that will leave the non-economic ares of our private and public lives alone.

    Every type of socialism, when it is established well enough, reveals itself as a false religion without and against God. It seeks to posses one’s will and conscience. I views things we hold dear to our hearts, such as family, right to free speech and association, a private sphere in life, or freedom of movement, as things to be eliminated. It forces a collective conscience (as codified by the politbureau) on all individuals. I tolerates no competitors – the Roman Catholic Church being the main competitor it engages. In addition, it also has an economic theory of sorts – private property should be a thing of an “unenlightened” past. Individuals will be allowed to have those things that are useful to the ruling elite.

    What I see here, is the almost complete disconnect between their theoretical knowledge of socialism, and the reality of its practice. To expect that our Pope will cast a friendly gaze in this direction is silly.

  51. Peregrinus says:

    Mark Windsor:

    What you call “unbridled capitalism”, I call “Global Captitalism” and you are correct when you say it “unbridled capitalism can result in a product that is very similar to socialism”.

    I am contending that not only has it, but it has joined with Socialism to form an incestuous relationship. The over-regulation by governments give an obscene advantage to Global Capitalism while making it very difficult, if not impossible for smaller/distributist types to even exist. It is easier for the Socialist to control fewer entities (that is why they are hell bent on “population control”) and Global Capitalism, while be more powerful, gives them fewer entities to control.

    Both Socialism and Global Capitalism are abject failures. Time for a replacement.

  52. Peregrinus says:

    I would like to add that the Global Capitalist loves to label Distributists as Socialists (even Communists) and the Socialist loves to label Distributists as Capitalists. They both vilify us because we are a threat to their power base.

    Guess what, we are.

  53. Peregrinus says:

    OOPs. My comments to Mark Windor should of been directed at Brian Murphy. Sorry.

  54. Joe from Pittsburgh says:

    I don’t buy Chesterton’s claim that there ends up being too few capitalists, not too many,

    Chesterton isn’t infallible and while I enjoy reading his quotes and certain of his books, he wasn’t an economist.

    Concentration of ownership of capital – which is what produces wealth – is dangerous. State capitalism is what Louis Kelso called Communism. The state controls the capital – the means of production of wealth – and manipulates it for its own benefit.

    Ayn Rand and those of her ilk subscribe to what Kelso called “pure capitalism”. That doesn’t work either.

    Kelso advocated “market capitalism”. I did a paper on Kelso’s book The Capitalist Manifesto in 1982. Kelso made more sense than most any economist today. Read it to find out more.

  55. I am not Spartacus says:

    Fr. Z. Thanks for you patience. I apologise for not summarising that too long post. I won’t do it again.

    I do have some objections to register against the free market capitalists and I begin by claiming an amateur’s ignorance of economic “laws.” I did take a few economic courses in College and I have been a bit of an economic autodidact online and have read Lew Rockwell, and thus Mr. Woods, for years, and I insist that the more I read about economic laws and science the less I understand. And I fully take the blame for that.

    That aside….Here is Mr. Woods, from Rockwell’s site:

    In sum, much of the economic counsel set forth as Catholic social teaching over the past century suffers from logical flaws and is factually mistaken in a number of its assertions. Such a position, whether or not its proponents realize it, represents the triumph of will over intellect, of the substitution of arbitrary will and desire for a rational assessment of laws of social interaction and the inevitable consequences of violent interference in that interaction. Such a posture, in addition to the damage it does to the existing stock of wealth and to social comity itself, is thoroughly uncharacteristic of the Catholic Church, an institution that has always emphasized the mind’s ability to perceive (and to rejoice in) the orderliness of God’s creation and to conform itself to it. Truth, say Catholic catechisms, consists of the conformity of mind to reality. Catholic “social teaching,” on the other hand, too frequently demands that man allow mere desire and sentiment to form his judgment in economic matters, rather than assessing the consequences of economic measures with the aid of economic law, and rather than looking in the economic realm for the order and regularity to which the Church points in so many other areas as reflections of the orderliness of God himself.

    That strikes me, at face value, as absurd and insulting. The Popes who have written these Encyclicals had expert Christian economic advice and counsel and the idea they drafted and promulgated economic error and nonsense is arrogant nonsense.

    As a brief aside, I note that when I do a search of the writings of Messers Novak and Woods I discover they have critical things to write about Fr. Heinrich Pesch, S.J., whose has directly influenced more than one Pope and Encyclical.

    And so I do not have to be an expert in any specific field of study to have that phenomena register with me as a huge red flag. If they, I think, are objecting to such a great Catholic Economist maybe it is their own economic ideas that are suspect, not Fr. Pesch (an economic giant in Catholicism) and the Papal Encyclicals.

    In the column I lifted the quote from, Mr. Woods goes on to write that: The Scholastics Had It Right and then cites some Spanish Theologians.

    OK, fine. If the Spanish Theologians were right and truly do reflect Catholic Social Doctrine, why has not one Pope footnoted their work?

    It seems to me that if the ideas of those Spanish Theologians were not adopted by the Church than their ideas do not represent Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Because this post has to do with commentary by Fr. Sirico, I want to take the opportunity to publicly thank Fr. Sirico who has has been very kind and solicitous towards me (even writing me a personal email).

    And I want to conclude by thanking Mr. Woods for all of the work he has done. I have learned a lot from him and while I have specific areas of disagreement (esp. economics) with him he has been fantastic when it comes to educating Catholics re our historical contributions to science.

  56. mpm says:

    Yes, I do believe the Pope was complimenting Belloc’s economic theories, because he said Belloc has “understood” the encyclicals, not just that Belloc had read them, taken them to heart, and run with them.
    Comment by Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia — 4 July 2009 @ 7:54 pm

    So, would it, then, be your position a) that there is, and can only be, one understanding inspired by Papal teachings, AND b) that is what the Popes have taught?

  57. Mark VA says:

    I would like to pose this question to those who comment here:

    The word “socialist” is frequently used in many of your comments. I think it may help this discussion if there emerged among us a more or less accurate description of what this concept actually signifies. So my question is:

    What do you understand socialism to be?

  58. kgurries says:

    I am amazed that the debate always settles into two standard options: unregulated capitalism vs. distributism. Nobody looks to the German Jesuit school founded by von Ketteler and Heinrich Pesch (solidarism). These are the figures that supplied the content for Rerum Novarum and Quadragessimo Anno (and the solid principles repeated or developed in practically all subsequent Papal social teaching). Pope Benedict had mentioned von Ketteler by name in Deus Caritas Est as the pioneer in this field — and the Pope’s thinking is sure to follow this tradition — rather than the philosophy and systems of Adam Smith, Marx, or Belloc. If you want some backgound on what is coming then I suggest checking out some key Solidarist perspectives here:

    http://opuscula.blogspot.com/2006/03/solidarist-perspectives.html

  59. laminustacitus says:

    Sigh, not one person who is against capitalism can be bothered to give a proper, pure economic assault against it. Instead, they hide behind church documents even though they enter into a realm of science, and try to morally justify their economically infeasible fairy-tales.

  60. Mark says:

    I dont see the solidarist positions as conflicting with my notions of a distributist ideal through Social Credit. They seem to compliment and mesh with them quite nicely in most regards.

    The only thing I think is a little naive there is their justification of charging interest and “explaining away” of the Church’s teaching.

    No doubt, interest on an actual loan can be justified today in an economy with opportunities for investment as charging for the opportunity cost or risk involved, not merely for the “use” of the money itself. I dont think anyone informed objects to that, so it is addressing a straw man.

    But this is not, I think, what most crediteers are objecting to. It is the practice of privately creating money out of debt and then expecting interest on top of that (even though the system only creates the principle), which we would consider the modern manifestation of usury properly so called, and which results in increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the capitalist financiers.

    In a social credit system, private banks lending at moderate interest would be certainly part of the system. An important part, frankly, as it would keep the money “hidden away” as Savings in circulation, so that savings would not cause things to stagnate or be a hidden variable in the money supply question.

    But the money to represent the new production would be injected not-for-profit into the system by the government each year, instead of loaned into existence by putting the new production in hock, thus also solving the question of how the interest could be paid without increasingly concentrating wealth in the financier’s hands and needing an unsustainable rate of production-increase.

    They’d also have to lend from deposits, so they would not be privately creating money and increasing the money supply. There would have to be real risk for depositors, in that sense, and things like CDs where you can’t withdraw your money for a specific period would probably be more common.

  61. Mark says:

    “Sigh, not one person who is against capitalism can be bothered to give a proper, pure economic assault against it.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8

    http://www.michaeljournal.org/myth.htm

    http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/WORLDSYS.HTML

  62. Mark says:

    This too is a good summary if you dont have time to watch the whole original Money As Debt video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgXu-AHO0X4&feature=channel_page

  63. Mark says:

    Also, take the Wallerstein article with a grain of salt. He is, I believe, some sort of socialist, and so while I believe his analyses of the PROBLEMS in the current system are correct…I do not agree with his solutions necessarily (certainly not a socialist world government).

  64. laminustacitus says:

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8

    http://www.michaeljournal.org/myth.htm

    http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/WORLDSYS.HTML

    And its all an intellectual disappointment with not a single citation to a legitimate economist. Its anything but a pure economic thesis, rather a fairy tale that cannot sustain a full broadside from the economics academia so it doesn’t bother citing anything from it.

    “This too is a good summary if you dont have time to watch the whole original Money As Debt video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgXu-AHO0X4&feature=channel_page
    My above comment is also relevant here. I’ll only trust interviews from PhD level individuals on youtube, everything else is absolutely distrustful.

    “But this is not, I think, what most crediteers are objecting to. It is the practice of privately creating money out of debt and then expecting interest on top of that (even though the system only creates the principle), which we would consider the modern manifestation of usury properly so called, and which results in increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the capitalist financiers.

    In a social credit system, private banks lending at moderate interest would be certainly part of the system. An important part, frankly, as it would keep the money “hidden away” as Savings in circulation, so that savings would not cause things to stagnate or be a hidden variable in the money supply question.

    But the money to represent the new production would be injected not-for-profit into the system by the government each year, instead of loaned into existence by putting the new production in hock, thus also solving the question of how the interest could be paid without increasingly concentrating wealth in the financier’s hands and needing an unsustainable rate of production-increase.

    They’d also have to lend from deposits, so they would not be privately creating money and increasing the money supply. There would have to be real risk for depositors, in that sense, and things like CDs where you can’t withdraw your money for a specific period would probably be more common.”
    Seriously, read up on monetary theory – I don’t even care if you read up on Keynesian theory only, its far better than this. Quite honestly, there is a reason why this type of theory is mocked among professional economists, for you are lambasting individuals for creating money out of debt, and THEN arguing for the exact same system except you obfuscate your system by calling it a “Social credit” solution, and not realizing that it is the same pure fiat, debt system that we have now.

  65. Okay… I had posted an admonishment and several posters simply ignored what I wrote.

    I have deleted their comments and banned their IP addresses.