This has been an interesting week, with things coming to light that tend to underscore the need to adopt the Just Third Way as soon as possible. No, we’re not talking about the “Two No Trump” movement to get rid of the U.S. president, but of what we think are the causes of such things:
• It turns out Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., twenty-sixth president of the United States, had an inherent grasp of the act of social justice as later presented in the social doctrine of Pope Pius XI and analyzed by Father William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D. As Roosevelt explained in an article he wrote while running against the agrarian socialist Henry George and Democratic reformer Abram Stevens Hewitt for mayor of New York City in 1886, “Under the American system it is impossible for a man to accomplish anything by himself; he must associate himself with others, and they must throw their weight together.” (Theodore Roosevelt, “Machine Politics in New York City,” The Century, Vol. 33, No. 1, November, 1886, 79.) This is very like what Pius XI said in Divini Redemptoris in 1937: “It happens all too frequently, however, under the salary system, that individual employers are helpless to ensure justice unless, with a view to its practice, they organize institutions the object of which is to prevent competition incompatible with fair treatment for the workers.” (§ 53) Roosevelt, of course, made it clear that the means did not justify the end: people can organize for evil as well as for good, in fact, the biggest problem that Roosevelt saw with “machine politics,” neutral in and of itself, was the fact that good people stayed home and let politics fall into the hands of thieves like Boss Tweed and demagogues like Henry George. As Edmund Burke really said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” (And you thought he said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.”)
• The campaign against Pope Francis seems to be picking up steam. Fox News reported that anti-Francis posters appeared in Rome not too long ago attacking the pontiff for his handling of the situation with the Knights of Malta. More recently, people have been spray-painting (in Italian, of course), “The Pope is Not Catholic” and “Stop Liberation Theology” on the sides of buildings in the Vatican. Italian police, afraid that these activities are a prelude to a physical attack on the pope, have installed cameras in an effort to identify and arrest the perpetrators. Stepping back from the situation, it seems evident that the “conservative” or “traditionalist” animus against Pope Francis (in common with the “liberal” or “modernist” adulation) is a combination of the usual modern confusion between principle, and application of principle (or, in Church lingo, between unchanging doctrine and changeable discipline), and what we can call “wishful thinking”: both the liberals and the conservatives hear what they want to hear, the liberals to their delight, the conservatives to their horror. Yet, when push comes to shove, actual facts seem very much on the scarce side. Despite the furor over Amoris Laetitia and the presumed lack of clarity regarding Church teaching on Catholics who have divorced and remarried, the document actually says nothing that even suggests any change in doctrine, only in the pastoral approach, i.e., “discipline.” What the conservatives really fear, and what the liberals really hope for, of course, is not a true understanding of the document, but how it can best be twisted and reinterpreted to fit whatever agenda someone might have. Nor is this anything new. The ink was barely dry on Pope Leo XIII’s great encyclical, Rerum Novarum, before that devastating refutation of socialism and “New Christianity” (the “new things” to which the encyclical referred) was reinterpreted and twisted to conform to socialist demands, e.g., abolition of private property, a universal implementation of the wage system, and a vast increase in the power of the State, even though all three were explicitly condemned in the encyclical itself! — abolition of private property and the wage system in favor of widespread ownership (§ 46) and the power of the State in favor of individual sovereignty (§ 7). Nor, for all his good will, is Pope Francis a religious statesman on the order of a Leo XIII or Pius XI; his handling of many situations gives a strong indication of a high level of political naiveté combined with a reluctance to take counsel (although it’s hard to blame him for the latter, in view of the damage done by the Vatican “Old Boys Network”) that has the potential seriously to impair his effectiveness. In our opinion, His Holiness clearly needs to become aware of the Just Third Way — and that, as soon as possible.
|Keynes: Making America Great Again|
• John Frum Day is next week, February 15, the day when “John From America” will return, bringing Spam, Hershey chocolate bars, and Coca Cola, along with metal tools and other advanced technologies back to the people of Melanesia, restoring the universal prosperity of the halcyon days of World War II when everybody got what they wanted without having to struggle so hard, just get a job working for “the Americans” as the foreigners were known. Unfortunately, the Americans knew the Secret of Cargo and were selfish and refused to share it as Jesus-Manup and God-Dodo commanded. By performing the proper rituals, however, and building fake airstrips and wharves as symbols instead of the real thing, God will send His true people Cargo once again, from His Holy Cargo Workshops located in the clouds above Sydney, Australia. (And if you think one word of that was made up, read Peter Lawrence’s Road Belong Cargo. Manchester, U.K.: Melbourne University Press, 1964.) While many foreigners (“Americans”) are tempted to ridicule the Cargo Cults (and all too frequently give in to that temptation), Cargo Cult adherents do not return the favor by insulting or ridiculing Keynesian economics, which promises to restore the universal prosperity of World War II by getting everybody a job working for the government so they don’t actually have to produce anything, by printing money, the symbol of wealth, and mistaking it for the real thing.
• CESJ’s latest book (makes a great pre-Easter gift . . . obviously), Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, 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.
• We have had visitors from 65 different countries and 54 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 01,” “The Purpose of Production,” “The Anti-Francis Effect, II: Leo’s Vision,” “What Would Aquinas Do? — The Refugee Crisis,” and “Thomas Hobbes 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.#30#