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  1. postfuturum
    March 20, 2015

    Bravo! A+ post.

    People like Bruenig and the Catholic Integralists really need to unite to fight (ideologically) against this type of neoliberalism/capitalism. We should put aside our differences and focus on actually combating this problem.

    Reply
    1. Bernard Brandt
      March 20, 2015

      postfuturum,

      agreed as to your assessment of the value of Gabriel’s post.

      I would disagree, however, as to the advisability of a union between ‘People like Bruenig’ and Catholic integralists. The reason for my disagreement is that just as the Acton Institute and others are viewing Catholic Social Doctrine through the lens of the European Liberal Tradition (these days reduced to libertarianism), so also Bruenig and others of her feather are viewing CSD through the lens of Socialism (albeit an ostensibily Christian Socialism).

      The problem with either is that that doctrine is being suborned by the viewpoint used to interpret it. Far more reasonable would be to support Catholic Integralists, so that they might examine (and possibly even put into practice) an integralism unsullied by either libertarianism or socialism.

      Reply
      1. postfuturm
        March 20, 2015

        Bernard,

        How do you expect to fight capitalism without some form of Socialism(and by Socialism I am referring the complete abolition of private property IN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION.)

        How does Catholic Integralism provide (economically at least) an alternative for Capitalism without destroying two of it’s main attributes? Those attributes being:
        1. Private property (Absentee ownership, landlordism)
        2. Wage labor

        I am well aware of Rerum Novarum’s assertion that private property is a natural individual right. But that view does not seem to have been held by many theologians(especially St. Thomas Aquinas! Which seem ironic because Leo XIII is considered *the* thomist Pope, is he not?) Should we not interpret CSD through a Thomistic lens?

        The part of CSD that really bothers me is: “The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man;” – Rerum Novarum
        How is this thomistic at all? Aquinas clearly states that:
        “Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above (57, 2,3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.”
        This clearly implies that Private Property arises from political association/human agreement, which then implies that other forms of property can come into existence.

        I think the Papal condemnations of Socialism and Communism come from a fundamental misunderstanding of them.

        God Bless.

        Reply
        1. Bernard Brandt
          March 20, 2015

          postfuturum,

          I

          Reply
  2. Bernard Brandt
    March 20, 2015

    Damned Microsoft OS. I’ve named my copy after a particularly obnoxious church lady in my parish who is always interfering in the process of being allegedly ‘helpful’.

    Now, to return to my original comment, postfuturum, I fear that your argument is not with me, but with Catholic Social Doctrine. While Gabriel can probably state this far better than I, CSD both states that humans can own property for themselves, and that they have the responsibility of using that property to help the poor. Libertarians latch onto the first part of that last sentence; socialists on the last half. Advocates of CSD try to avoid the extremes by holding to both.

    I fear that you are also indulging in false dichotomy and begging the question. In just about all iterations of communism which I have had the misfortune of witnessing, they simply replace the elites of capital owners with the elites of government regulators, and the rest of the people are simply tenant farmers or slave workers, either in the gulags or in the collectives. Those exceptions to the rule have been either Mao’s Cultural Revolution, or Pol Pot’s dissolution of the means of production. Neither of those ended particularly well.

    Socialism is little better. We are seeing it play out now in Europe with the PIIGS. Maggie Thatcher put it most succinctly when she said, “The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Or, as the poet has put it:

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Finally, proof texting St. Thomas Aquinas is little better than proof texting Scripture. It might be better to read the whole of Scripture, and to attempt to get some sense of the consensus patrum, or the communion of saints, or even the consensus of the popes before attempting to speak on behalf of Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Please feel free to come back when you have done so.

    Reply
    1. postfuturm
      March 20, 2015

      I think you are misunderstanding what I mean when I say socialism. I am not referring to leninism(or state socialism) nor central-planning socialism. I am referring to council communism or libertarian(in the original sense of the word) marxism. Which is the concept of workers democratically running the means of production. That is all I mean by socialism, not this Marxist-Leninist “socialism” whose goal is (as you said) “simply [to] replace the elites of capital owners with the elites of government regulators”

      I don’t see how this form of socialism is objectionable at all. Individual families would be able to use their property obviously. The freelancer would own his tools and so on.
      I’m advocating for a localist communism (or another way to say this is to call it “communism at the lowest level”.)

      Reply
      1. Gabriel Sanchez
        March 21, 2015

        I think the problem that Bernard (and myself) have with your scheme is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to square it with the Church’s social magisterium. Yes, worker ownership certainly can find support, but it seems to me that you are advocating for a massive re-distribution of assets — one that would require some sort of central planning/regulatory authority to carry out. After that you would have to have another authority to monitor the situation and ensure that none society’s productive assets fall into too few hands, etc. I am having a hard time envisioning how this would work.

        Also, I should add that Bruenig and others of her feather seem to be advocating for something like the New Deal on steroids: more welfare, more entitlement programs, more distribution, etc. In other words, she wants to layer more regulations and more programs on top of those which already exist without, it seems, taking a hard look at how extant programs can be recalibrated or reformed to better meet the ends they are supposed to serve. This is not entirely surprising. Bruenig hasn’t studied these issues in any depth (her husband, however, has). Her articles read like wishful thinking with a lot of jabs tossed in at Republicans, libertarians, etc. who disagree with her.

        Reply
        1. postfuturm
          March 21, 2015

          How is it hard to carry out? It would be at the lowest level, things would be decided directly & democratically.

          Socialism does not have to be (as Chateaubriand says) “blind adherence to the gods of History and Progress.” I am obviously against that type of linear historical myth. All I’m advocating for is that the Integralists, Radicals, etc at least try to do some research on the different types of socialism and to not reject them outright. Socialism isn’t the *only* solution obviously, and I dislike a lot of leftists who hold that it is only *their* viewpoints that can fix things.

          It seems for the time being sadly that the Catholic left(and the left in general) is the only group that are really putting out *actual* anti-capitalist solutions. (Unless I’ve missed something.) What baffles me is the distributists/integralists/monarchists claim that you can stop Capitalism and Neoliberalism without removing the *very* thing that is at the root of Capitalism. I am not a leftist because of some blind love of ~History~ or ~Progress~ I am just unable to find any other viable non-leftist solutions to these problems.

          Reply
          1. Chateaubriand
            March 23, 2015

            I admit I may have been somewhat overbroad in my condemnation of leftists. I appreciate postfuturm’s comments which I find quite thoughtful and worthy of serious consideration. That being said, I do question whether one can be a leftist without accepting historical materialism. But that’s probably a discussion better-suited for another time and place.

  3. Chateaubriand
    March 21, 2015

    Recent events have made it abundantly clear that Integralists and Catholic Radicals have struck a nerve with leftists and right-liberals. (I understand there are significant differences between Catholic Radicals and Integralists as Gabriel explained in his Front Porch Republic article. At this point, however, I refuse to pick a side and I think there are sufficient similarities to justify considering them together). Both leftists and right-liberals have a vested interest in perpetuating the belief that there are no viable alternatives to their respective philosophies. Right-liberals like Zmirak are threatened when we dispute their gnostic belief that somehow the true and authentic Catholic political and social teaching had been obscured for centuries until rediscovered by John Courtney Murray and redeployed in the service of the Austrian School by the sophists at the Acton Institute. Moreover, Zmirak and his ilk become enraged when we point out that the Catholic social and economic encyclicals of the past 125 years are not merely cudgels for beating up leftists but also contain equally forceful and equal binding condemnations against economic liberalism. The shallowness of the right-liberals’ thinking on these matters is particularly revealing: They rarely have coherent responses to our objections. Instead they resort to ad hominem attacks (e.g. we’re secretly fascists or secretly members of the Democratic Party) and hysterical claims that any peep about the evils of economic liberalism will only serve to comfort the Church’s worst enemies and lead to the slaughter of more unborn children. As for the leftists, they have a vested interest in claiming that leftism is the only way to address the legitimate needs of the poor. Although there was never much of a chance of an alliance between Integralists/Catholic Radicals and leftists, ESB’s recent article shows a grave misunderstanding (intentional or not) of our motives. ESB’s views seem to be typical of most leftists who refuse to concede that a general concern for the poor might require something other than socialism and might necessitate a reclamation of tradition instead of blind adherence to the gods of History and Progress.

    (Although right-liberals and leftists are unlikely to convert to or even tolerate the Integralist/Catholic Radical cause(s) there is still probably fertile ground among Burkeans—many of whom arrived at Burkeanism only because it is seemed to be the most traditional philosophy that is still considered patriotic and respectable.)

    So where do we go from here? So far I think Integralists and Catholic Radicals have been very effective at explaining the philosophical tenets of their respective projects and have ably pointed out the numerous irrationalities and immoralities of liberalism. These philosophical (and theological) arguments are undoubtedly of utmost importance. However, I think we Integralists and Catholic Radicals also need to start applying our philosophy to more specific areas. Gabriel has written some great articles about “Law and Distributism” and how it is important to combat and replace the liberal assumptions that undergird contemporary Anglo-American jurisprudence. Another specific area which could use an injection of Integralist or Catholic Radical insight is international law/international affairs. This will be a somewhat difficult project because even the Catholic states (for the most part) stopped following a distinctly Catholic foreign policy at least as early as the sixteenth century. I’m sure others could think of other specific areas that could benefit from Integralist/Catholic Radical insight or pointing out writings that already exist.

    Reply
    1. Gabriel Sanchez
      March 21, 2015

      Thank you for the thoughtful remarks.

      I am by no means against a “grand coalition” of radical and integralist Catholics, though my worry is that the radical camp unduly eyes us with suspicion. There are, at the core, fundamental theological disagreements which may not matter on the front end, but in time will prove problematic. And here I am thinking about natura pura, the Thomistic commentarial tradition (including Neo-Scholasticism), religious liberty, and natural law. It seems to me that radical Catholics either ignore these matters or believe that we have somehow moved beyond them over the course of the last 50-60 years. Another problem, which hasn’t even been looked at in depth, is the role of the Eastern Christian tradition in these projects. There is a lot yet to be mined, and unfortunately Catholics, particularly of a traditional and/or integralist bent, are typically ignorant of the East. Right now, unfortunately, Acton is investing resources into manufacturing — for the Orthodox at least — an artificial “social magisterium of the East” which relies on rather selective readings of a very limited number of Eastern theologians. As of right now I don’t see a lot of pushback against this project coming from the Orthodox. I pray that soon changes.

      As for practical matters, there is a lot of work to be done on that front. I confess that I don’t have the time to do a lot of the heavy lifting on my own, unless of course some generous millionaire wants to fund a start-up institute. (What would we call it?) But in all seriousness, we will have to move beyond principles at some point, and that includes, I think, putting more emphasis on the spiritual nature of integralism. This is not just a pet political project; it is a movement which keeps faith with St. Pius X’s motto: To restore all things in Christ. I see no point to integralism, or any other Catholic orientation, if it is not deeply rooted in the spiritual life of the Church, particularly her liturgy. At the very least it will keep us humble, or so I would hope.

      Reply
      1. StephenUSA
        March 22, 2015

        Gabriel, what specifically do you mean about the artificial “social magisterium of the East” of the Acton Institute for the Orthodox? Where is this happening? Is it just in the mind of folks at this place, or is there some uptake within the Church somewhere? If the former, it would generate no pushback, as nobody has heard of it. Lots of people can do and say anything they want in the name of the Church or the East or whatever, but if they themselves do not show up regularly at parish services somewhere, then they can’t even be considered to be a part of the Church and it would be an artificial “manufacturing” of something that really isn’t there.

        If the latter, then it would percolate and pushback/refinement would occur eventually.

        Reply

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