Friday, December 19, 2008

News from the Network, Vol. 1, No. 17

With the end of the year coming fast on us, things are slowing down both politically and economically. Many people believe that the current situation in both areas is due to inherent flaws in the Bush administration (if not Mr. Bush himself), but we tend to think that virtually the whole of the mess can be traced directly to reliance on an outdated and inadequate paradigm of political economy. Thus, even as there is frantic activity directed toward fixing the system and repairing specific failures of institutions, little or nothing is done to correct the underlying flaws; the system itself is badly in need of a drastic overhaul and restructuring. In light of this overwhelming need to address a desperate situation, we have been making various efforts to wake people up to the need for reform.
• To correct the item from last week's News from the Network, the start of project "Celtic Cornucopia" was delayed until this week. On Tuesday, December 16, 2008 we sent 226 e-mails, one to each member of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann (the Irish House of Representatives and Senate, respectively). On Thursday, December 18, 2008, we sent out a press release to 81 Irish and Irish American newspapers and other media (such as RTE). As of this morning, we have received 10 acknowledgments from various Deputies in the Dáil (including Mr. Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach, or Prime Minister), and only 9 of the press releases were returned as "undeliverable," which is a very good rate, considering that we located the media e-mails more by guess and hit-and-miss than anything else. The 10 responses from the Deputies indicated that they (or their staffs) had read the e-mails, at least in part, and were simply acknowledging receipt. This was much more than we expected, for none of them have any idea what this "Center for Economic and Social Justice" might be, or what business Americans might have in offering unsolicited advice on the Just Third Way to the Irish government. In the future, however, there are at least ten people connected with the government of Ireland who might recognize the term "Capital Homesteading" (especially if it appears in a newspaper), and may remember it as a possible solution to the current crisis as the economic situation continues to deteriorate. We hope to get out bound copies of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen to the Taoiseach and various party leaders either today or in the coming week, with the hope that such seed-dropping will bear fruit when the legislature reconvenes after Christmas.

• We received the "proof" copy of our edition of The Emigrant's Guide by William Cobbett, the early 19th century journalist and political commentator whom G. K. Chesterton considered the "apostle of distributism." Cobbett, however, is much more than an obscure precursor of a "romantic" economic theory (as some rather dyspeptic critics have termed Chesterton and Belloc's brainchild). The Emigrant's Guide, almost unknown since its original publication in 1829, contains a wealth of information about early 19th century America that not only distributists, but followers of Henry George and, especially, admirers of Alexis de Tocqueville's monumental Democracy in America and libertarians will find extremely fascinating. Although we've added a lengthy foreword and have heavily annotated the text, in addition to compiling a bibliography and index, the book makes for a relatively quick "read," and at a little over 200 pages, is much easier to digest in a single sitting than de Tocqueville's masterpiece. The foreword in particular provides the reader with a necessary orientation to a world that now seems almost alien to the average American, while the book itself serves as an invaluable guide not only for people emigrating from England to America in the 1830s, but for serious de Tocqueville scholars today. Like all of Cobbett's writings, however, the book was written for ordinary people, and is extremely entertaining, as well as a source of first-hand early American history. High school students in particular should find the book interesting, as Cobbett habitually questions unthinking authority and urges people to make their own decisions, albeit with proper respect and deference to thinking authority. The book should be available for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble by the first week of January 2009. Be sure, however, that you obtain our annotated edition, ISBN 0-944997-01-5, although the other editions out will, of course, have the full text of Cobbett's original.

• We haven't obtained a copy yet, but we received an e-mail that mentioned the December 12, 2008 issue of The Wanderer, a national Catholic newspaper, made some very favorable comments about the Just Third Way (the movement, not the blog) in its "From the Mail" column, along with information about the social thought of Reverend William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D., one of the co-founders of the Center for Economic and Social Justice. When Father Ferree died in 1985 he was termed "America's greatest social philosopher" by Reverend Andrew F. Morlion, O.P., Ph.D., founder of the International University of Social Studies in Rome. If you have a copy of the "From the Mail" column from the 12/12/08 Wanderer, we'd be grateful if you'd send a photocopy to CESJ at P. O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016.

• In light of the above news item, we are pleased to report that we are making progress in our ongoing effort to republish the works of Father Ferree. Of course, both Introduction to Social Justice (1948) and the transcript of his series of talks on social charity are available as free downloads on the CESJ web site,, but we expect within the next couple of months to publish both in a combined volume, with a foreword and annotations to explain the large number of topical references Father Ferree made in the course of the seminar on social charity he presented in 1966 after he returned from Rome. We also hope to republish Father Ferree's doctoral thesis, his revolutionary analysis of the social doctrine of Pope Pius XI, The Act of Social Justice, from 1942. If we get the time, we also hope to begin editing two manuscripts Father Ferree left incomplete at the time of his death, Forty Years After . . . A Second Call to Battle, and Administration and Social Ethics, as well as revise Introduction to Economic and Social Development (1966) in light of the development of Louis Kelso's binary economics, of which Father Ferree was unaware when he wrote the book.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 24 different countries and 35 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months.
As usual, there are a great many other news items that we haven't heard about because you haven't submitted them. If you're tired of reading about what we're doing, let's hear from you. If you have a SHORT item about how you are advancing the Just Third Way, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org.


Margie said...

I have been following your postings for a few weeks, it does not surprise me that most of the members of the Dail and Seanad here in Ireland failed to acknowledge your letter. But ten is better than none.

Michael D. Greaney said...

Dear Margie:

Actually 10 is far better than we've ever gotten from approaching the U.S. legislature -- and it's increased to 14 as of this morning, including a very nice note from Senator Shane Ross, to which we're in the process of preparing a reply. This is very encouraging, especially since the most we expected was to start the long process of familiarizing leaders and policymakers with the terminology of the Just Third Way. All of the 14 responses have been polite and gentlemanly, again more than we've come to expect from legislators on this side of the pond. Thanks so much for visiting the blog!