As the world continues to warm up (at least here in the northern half of the globe), things are also picking up in the Just Third Way movement. At the top of the list of stories this week is the upcoming CESJ Planning Symposium next week, which will bring attendees from across the country. There are also a number of what appear to be problems that would be greatly reduced or even disappear entirely if the Just Third Way were to be implemented:
• CESJ Planning Symposium. The interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) will be holding a three-day symposium next week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to discuss possible projects and initiatives for the coming year. The event, which is drawing people from across the United States, is expected to be very fruitful, and will focus on possible applications of the Citizens Land Cooperative, which could be used in places like Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Hartford, Connecticut to revitalize America’s decaying cities and fund infrastructure.
|Pope John Paul II, Thomist.|
• The Hijacking of Personalism, Part II. Lat week we reported that we had obtained a number of works on the “personalism” of Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950). Since then we have obtained materials on the personalism of Pope John Paul II, which has resulted in a reassessment of Mounier’s work on our part. It turns out that a number of sources cite Mounier as John Paul II’s starting point, but on investigation it does not appear that John Paul II ever actually referred to Mounier’s work in any substantive way, or at all that we have been able to determine. Instead, the sources given for John Paul II’s “Thomistic personalism” — which he had no problem describing as a philosophy, albeit within the parameters of classic Aristotelian-Thomism, are Martin Buber, Edith Stein, and others of a more traditional bent. John Paul II did confuse some people by applying phenomenological techniques within the Thomist framework, giving some people the impression that he had abandoned Thomism, but he seems to have been extraordinarily adamant that he was adding to Thomism, not turning away from it. We have therefore changed our opinion that Mounier’s personalism was hijacked then corrected by John Paul II, to Mounier’s personalism was a blind alley that John Paul II simply bypassed.
|Pope Leo XIII, worker ownership advocate.|
• New Vatican Document on Finance. The Vatican has released a new document, Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones (“Economic and Financial Questions”): Considerations for Ethical Discernment about Some Aspects of the Current Financial-Economic System. It contains the by-now standard moral criticisms of the modern financial system, ironically framed within the assumptions that led to the problems in the first place. This is not to say that the criticisms aren’t valid — they most certainly are, and we could add a number that aren’t even addressed or even thought of — but there is no acknowledgement that it is the system itself that is flawed as the direct result of taking some very bad assumptions for granted, viz., the legitimacy of backing any part of the money supply with government debt, the necessity of existing accumulations of savings to finance new capital formation, the wage system as the only legitimate way for most people to gain income, the tacit acceptance of the labor theory of value and production, the Servile State as an acceptable political-economic arrangement, and so on, and on, and on. All of these are, frankly, rooted in an inadequate understanding of natural law, particularly the right to own embedded in human nature itself. This leads to an inadequate (in some cases completely erroneous) understanding of money and credit, and the necessity of linking all money and credit directly to production by only creating money backed by actual current or reasonably expected future production, and by ensuring that every consumer can be a producer, and every producer a consumer by implementing a program of expanded capital ownership. As Pope Leo XIII said over a century ago, “We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.” (Rerum Novarum, § 46.)
|Dr. Harold G. Moulton|
• Robotic Kroger. The Kroger supermarket chain will be experimenting with robot workers in its warehouses. No word on how the displaced workers will be earning an income. Of course, as Louis Kelso pointed out well over half a century ago, if the workers owned the robots that were taking their jobs, it wouldn’t matter.
• Walmart in India. Walmart is moving into India in anticipation that there will be increased demand for consumer goods. According to the analysis of Dr. Harold G. Moulton in his classic refutation of Keynesian economics, The Formation of Capital (1935), this is exactly backwards. The demand for new capital, whether industrial, commercial (such as Walmart), or agricultural, derives from consumer demand, not the other way around. The only way to ensure that there is sufficient consumer demand to take up what new capital can produce is to build consumer demand into people as you form new capital, and that can best be done by making as many people as possible owners of the new capital.
• Shop online and support CESJ’s work! Did you know that by making your purchases through the Amazon Smile program, Amazon will make a contribution to CESJ? Here’s how: First, go to Next, sign in to your Amazon 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..
• Blog Readership. We have had visitors from 45 different countries and 39 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, Peru, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were, “15. A Completed Theory of Personalism,” “Reserve Currency, III: Money Manipulation,” “,” “14. The Task of Sisyphus,” and “The Just Third Way Hour Podcast with Guy Stevenson and Jeanna Casey.”
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.