Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Attaining Justice in the Arab World, Part V: An Economically Just Society

Looking again at the list of demands being made in the increasingly distressed areas (to say nothing of Wisconsin), we are forced to conclude that the system is broken, that is, structured in a way that inhibits or prevents people from realizing their human potential, described in Aristotelian philosophy as acquiring and developing virtue.

To reiterate, first and foremost, there is the moral outrage that people feel at decades of corruption and greed. Second, there is the demand for democracy and respect for human rights. Third, there is a growing demand that the government do something about jobs. Fourth, there is the recent rise in the cost of food as such staples as wheat and corn double and treble in price.

Clearly what is wrong cannot be fixed by fiat, divine or otherwise, whether we implement our private interpretation of what we think God wants us to do based on the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, or the Laws of Manu, any more than we can fix things by declaring war on religion. We must address basic issues of justice, not faith, whether we put our faith in the secular State, religious revelation, the Volksgeist, science, or anything else. Our faith serves to illuminate, not replace our reason.

Keeping faith and reason in their proper places so that they can fill the roles for which they were intended, the people in the distressed areas need to concentrate on meeting their basic material needs through economic justice before they can even think about political justice, to say nothing of life and liberty. The chief mechanism for securing economic justice is direct ownership of the means of production, individually or in free association with others. As Aristotle commented, neither the good life — the pursuit of virtue (happiness) — nor life itself is possible without an adequate private property stake. Propertyless, you might be nominally free, but you are a slave. As the natural law scholar Dr. Heinrich Rommen pointed out, "It is morally impossible to exist as a free person without property." (Heinrich Rommen, The State in Catholic Thought: A Treatise in Political Philosophy. St. Louis, Missouri: B. Herder Book Co., 1947, 189.)

Capital Homesteading, an application of the principles of the Just Third Way, offer the best means developed at present to secure the blessings of liberty to the people in the distressed areas. The question is whether they will follow the commonsense program, or allow themselves to be persuaded that political democracy alone, rather than political democracy supported on a solid foundation of economic democracy, is sufficient to secure life, liberty, and property.

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