Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Power to the People, III: Countering the Culture of Death

This is our 1,000th posting on the blog, no doubt a cause for great celebration throughout the world. (If not, it should be, as the Just Third Way — the paradigm, not the blog — is pretty much the only hope for returning the world to a more sane course.) In any event, it's probably appropriate that it falls on February 29th, which comes around about as often as a 1,000th posting. It's also appropriate that today's posting finishes off our short series on "Power to the People" and (more importantly), points in the direction of a solution.

While we appreciate the urge of people in the Pro-Life movement to turn the tables on the Culture of Death, we do have to point out that it really isn't the best way to go. Pro-Life adherents clearly don't realize that it is increasing State power itself, and the effective enslavement of people by wages and welfare, that is the root cause of the spread of the Culture of Death, not merely the "wrong" (i.e., what we disagree with) use of that power.

Attempting to use the power of the State to reverse the trend of modern society is not only ineffective — that is, socially unjust — it actually reinforces and strengthens the Culture of Death. People become increasingly susceptible to "Welfare Blackmail," i.e., accepting abortion, same-sex "marriage," inflation, war, a gigantic national debt, and so on, in order to secure increasingly uncertain benefits coerced, guaranteed, or provided directly by the State. Give the State an inch without retaining effective power in the people through capital ownership and control over the purse strings, and the State will not only take a mile, it will take everything.

There is, frankly, only one way to reverse the trend toward increasing State control of every aspect of life. That is to recognize, as Daniel Webster declared in the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820, that "Power naturally and necessarily follows property." The only way to reverse the total takeover of society by the State and defeat the Culture of Death is to secure to each child, woman and man the means of acquiring and possessing private property in capital.

The only program that has the potential to do that at this late date is Capital Homesteading, for only Capital Homesteading eliminates the slavery of past savings from the financing of new capital formation, thereby taking power away from the State that has usurped it, and returning "power to the people," from whence the power came in the first place, and where it belongs in accordance with the dignity of the human person under God and the realization that the State was made for man, not man for the State.

This is, in part, the argument we made in the book, Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda (2010). The foreword is by Father Edward Krause, C.S.C., Ph.D., chaplain of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, professor of social ethics at Gannon University and editor in chief of Social Justice Review, the official journal of the Central Bureau of the Catholic Central Union of America in St. Louis, Missouri.

Unfortunately, people remain trapped by the slavery of past savings, and are, evidently, terrified of rocking the boat or of risking losing the benefits that the State presumably guarantees. Some people, upset with them if they step out of line, might even call them names!

People who toe the "party line" on this — e.g., as one misguided enthusiast gushed, "The State is the sold intercessor available to the poor" (Rupert J. Ederer, "Solidaristic Economics," Fidelity magazine, July, 1994, 9-15) — forget that the State, which produces nothing, cannot continue to redistribute what others produce. Neither can the State continue to punish the productive for the benefit of the non-productive, and make it difficult to impossible for ordinary people to become productive through the direct ownership of capital as their labor declines in value relative to advancing technology and cheaper labor in other countries.

Nor can the State continue to try and control every aspect of every person's life in a fruitless effort to care for every conceivable individual good, letting the common good continue degenerate in consequence. Something has to give, as the situation in Greece demonstrates. The price of increasingly ineffectual State control is high, as is shown by every aborted infant, and it is a price that never should have been paid, however initially attractive high wages and guaranteed State benefits appear on the surface. With Capital Homesteading, the payments can be stopped. Without Capital Homesteading, the situation will only get worse.



Robert D. Crane said...


The paradigms of "money to the state", i.e., socialism, and money to the already rich, i.e., plutocratic capitalism, or a combination of the two, i.e. fascism, have failed to promote peace, prosperity, and freedom, which are both the purposes and the fruits of justice.
An important question, however, is whether institutional change designed to make credit universally available to every citizen based on future profits, will by itself substitute for moral change derived from both spiritual depth and natural law.
We may grant that the state should not impose moral values in a religious issue like when the human body is infused with an immortal soul. But we should avoid claiming or even suggesting that institutional change in access to productive property ownership will remove or even substantially change the rationales either for or against abortion.
Ultimate issues, like the right to life, including a decent life free from hunger, oppression, and war, depend not merely on economic justice but equally on spiritual awareness and personal morality.
Rabbi Lerner calls this the "spiritual bottom line." Steve Young prefers to cleanse "capitalism" of Marx's association of it only with greed. He likes to support a paradigm of "moral capitalism," which he says must focus on personal morality but also include institutional changes to the entire system of money and credit in order to broaden access to capital ownership as a fundamental human right in a capital intensive economy.
In other words, "Power to the People" as a means to "Counter the Culture of Death" is like the two wings of a bird, one providing the lift of personal morality and the other the support of justice-based economics. Neither of these will enable flight along a straight course without global vision and grand strategy represented by the tail, which provides guidance through an inborn sense of direction.
Bob Crane

Michael D. Greaney said...

We have never made the claim that changing the monetary, fiscal, financial and credit systems will, in and of themselves, substitute for the acquisition and development of virtue. Rather, reform of institutions is, as Pius XI explained in Quadragesimo Anno and Divine Redemptoris, a necessary precondition to the restructuring of the social order so that acquiring and developing virtue becomes the optimal choice. The State cannot force morality, any more than it has the right to force immorality. The best — and the most — the State can do is provide the environment within which virtue can be acquired and developed. It cannot, however (any more than you or I or any organization or group, including organized religion) force anybody to be virtuous. It can, within limits, coerce virtuous behavior, but the widespread delusion today that the State can impose its version of morality, even if the majority shares that belief, any more than the State can guarantee every individual good, is the most dangerous delusion that afflicts the world today.

Michael D. Greaney said...

Or "Divini" if you prefer correct spelling.