This week’s news notes . . . which we’ll amplify on later today (we hope):
• The big news, of course, is the “Brexit.” This has sent shock waves around the world. Such is the confused nature of things these days, however, that no one seems to know either what it means, or what to do. Naturally, we do, but we won’t address it here. We’ll put something together for a posting later today, outlining a “Where do we/they go from here?”
|Rev. John A. Ryan, "Monsignor New Deal"|
• Yesterday we received a very rare copy (all the way from a rare book dealer in Tokyo, Japan) of the autobiography of Msgr. John A. Ryan, Social Doctrine in Action: A Personal History (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941). Msgr. Ryan, of course, was the social justice guru who ruled the Catholic University of America for twenty years. We haven’t had a chance to read it yet, just flipped around a bit and looked through the index, but already we’ve seen a number of problematic assertions and the omission of key information. For example, Msgr. Ryan carefully failed to note that the dissident priest Father Edward McGlynn, a follower of Henry George, ultimately fully recanted his adherence to the principles of georgism. Msgr. Ryan merely commented that Fr. McGlynn’s excommunication for disobedience was lifted, thereby making it appear that it was the Vatican that changed its opinion of the agrarian socialism of George, not Fr. McGlynn. In another instance, Msgr. Ryan quoted from an article by Dr. Harold G. Moulton, who opposed the Keynesian New Deal, in a way that made it sound as if Moulton supported Keynesian programs. Other examples of equivocal statements and careful omissions abound throughout the book, many of which can easily be disproved or rectified . . . perhaps explaining why the book is so rare! One of our personal favorites is the space accorded Ignatius Loyola Donnelly, whom Msgr. Ryan claimed “exercised more influence upon my political and economic thinking than any other factor.” (John A. Ryan, Social Doctrine in Action: A Personal History. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, 12). And who was Ignatius Donnelly? Msgr. Ryan described him as a populist politician who wrote novels and a volume of Shakespearean scholarship that attributed Shakespeare’s plays to Francis Bacon. Msgr. Ryan carefully omitted the interesting facts that Donnelly was a former Catholic turned spiritualist, a primary source for Madame Blavatsky’s theosophy (being quoted as an authority on Atlantis at length in The Secret Doctrine), an ardent follower of agrarian socialist Henry George, rejected private ownership of land (and made two fortunes speculating in real estate), advocated nationalization of the railroads and major industries, and was generally viewed as a nutcase, especially when at the age of sixty he married his eighteen year old typist.
|Fr. Vincent McNabb: God will provide.|
• We also obtained a copy of Father Vincent McNabb’s collection of essays, The Church and the Land (1926). Oddly, for a Dominican who claimed to be a Thomist, the essays seem to try and force reality into an ideal mold, rather than develop a vision starting with reality. That might be just our impression, though, especially since the basic theme that appears to run through the essays is don’t be concerned with sound theory or even too much with practical matters, for God will provide . . . at least for the godly who run away from the city and return to ultra-low tech subsistence farming. Interestingly, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Msgr. Ronald Knox all make a point of mentioning just how “unworldly” Fr. McNabb was — something that comes across as strikingly evident in these essays, which come across as rather sneering at anyone who worries about the Who, When, Where, How, and Why of something instead of just getting to work on the What and letting God take care of the details. McNabb’s essays are difficult reading for those of us who don’t have magic wands or access to the slave of a lamp or ring.
• A Brexit tie-in? Repeal of the 1800 Acts of Union that joined the U.K. and Ireland has been “the” Irish Question from their passage down to the present day. We actually get into this in CESJ’s latest book, Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, which is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many “regular” bookstores. The book can also be ordered in bulk, which we define as ten copies or more of the same title, at a 20% discount. A full case is twenty-six copies, and non-institutional/non-vendor purchasers get a 20% discount off the $20 cover price on wholesale lots ($416/case). Shipping is extra. Send enquiries to email@example.com. An additional discount may be available for institutions such as schools, clubs, and other organizations as well as retailers.
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it. To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/. Next, sign in to your account. (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.) Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.” If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through. Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 50 different countries and 43 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “The Purpose of Production,” “Financial Resilience,” “How Not to Limit Capital,” and “Aristotle on Private Property.”
Those are the happenings for this week, at least those that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we’ll see that it gets into the next “issue.” If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated, so we’ll see it before it goes up.