Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Look at "Quas Primas," IV: "The Beginning of the Quarrel"

Theodore Roosevelt promoted the idea of a "square deal" for every American, a concept his nephew Franklin corrupted into the "New Deal." Theodore Roosevelt's concepts were very close to the Just Third Way, except that he was still oriented toward past savings as the source of financing for new capital.

The problem is that by relying on cutting consumption to accumulate sufficient savings to finance new capital, ownership of new capital is in most cases restricted to the already wealthy. They are the only ones who can afford to save in the required amounts.

Since the rich are unlikely to be generous in any way that takes away their property (and thus power), Chesterton and Belloc, respecting the natural law and the fact that it could not be changed, believed we could only sit around and wait for the crash and rebuild civilization to establish the Distributist State.

Keynes, however, had a "better" idea: "re-edit the dictionary"! That is, give the State the power to abolish the natural law and re-define money, credit, property, life and liberty to get everything you want. Yes, this effectively declares the State (in agreement with Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan) to be a "Mortall God" (dig that 17th century spelling), able to do what God cannot — contradict His own Being — but it gets you what you want: absolute power . . . if you can keep it.  Hobbes also claimed that the State is the ultimate owner of everything, thereby abolishing private property.

Hobbes, of course, followed Filmer as the chief proponent of divine right theory, and was esteemed as a great political scientist by Walter Bagehot. Bagehot's The English Constitution (1867) appears to have been intended as a response to Orestes Brownson's The American Republic (1866), and is a model for rule of an empire by a small financial elite (a "chosen people" — Bagehot's phrase and emphasis), the way the Great East India Company ruled India as a private business enterprise prior to the Great Mutiny.

Bagehot's Lombard Street (1873) is a virtual manual for the mismanagement of the financial markets . . . and is considered a "bible" for today's Wall Street types. Keynes believed Bagehot to be the greatest economist of the 19th century, as he, Keynes, was the greatest of the 20th century.

It is thus probably no coincidence that as Keynesian economics gained a firmer hold on the global economy, Pius XI became increasingly insistent that ordinary people become owners of capital. Quas Primas was merely the first salvo in the "war" between the Church and the moral and legal positivists who have been in power through much of the 20th century, and have so far maintained their hegemony in the 21st, chiefly by preventing ordinary people from becoming capital owners.

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