Panic in the streets. Again. As this is being written, the stock market is crashing. Again. Don’t worry, though. Give it another hour or two and it will be back up. After all, it doesn’t really measure anything except people’s inability to recall what happened fifteen minutes ago. Other things are of more concern, such as the surge in support for “democratic socialism” . . . which might not be all that worrisome, either, despite the hysteria from both ends of the spectrum. Of course, if people would get off the spectrum altogether and on to the Just Third Way, then a lot of things that take up far too much of their time could take a back seat to what is really important: actually living life:
|Don't let democratic socialism "bully" you!|
• Democratic Socialists of America. In his book Enthusiasm (1950), Msgr. Ronald Knox noted that people in the middle will often side with conservative or reactionary groups or individuals when they perceive the extreme liberal position as antagonistic or a threat, even though they find the conservative or reactionary position equally opposed to their beliefs. It’s a matter of self-defense, a joining together in the face of what is perceived as a common enemy. As Knox put it, people with traditional religious beliefs often find themselves in an uncomfortable alliance with people who have no religious beliefs to stave off the attacks of people with radically different religious beliefs. And if that is true in religious circles, it is even more true in politics, the aphorism being “politics makes strange bedfellows.” That is why it is possible that the recent upswing in the cause of democratic socialism with the primary win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could easily result in non-socialist Democrats (democratic or otherwise) voting Republican in order to keep someone they might consider “radical” out of office. This, in fact, was how the Old Guard Republicans kept Theodore Roosevelt from being elected president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1912 . . . repeating the trick they had played on TR back in 1886 by instructing Republicans to vote for the Democratic candidate (Abram Hewitt) to prevent the agrarian socialist Henry George from being elected mayor of New York City.
|"Uh, guys, you might want to read what I actually wrote. . ."|
• “Democratic Socialism”? Not So Fast. . . This past week we received a copy of Cardinal Ratzinger’s compendium Without Roots (2006), a revision of the earlier anthology, Europe: Today and Tomorrow (2004). This is important because for a number of years now socialists, modernists, and New Agers have strained every fiber of their being in an effort to prove that Catholic social teaching and democratic socialism are not only compatible, they are the same. Nor are such people necessarily Catholic or even Christian. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church is widely recognized even outside that body as authoritative. If Catholic social teaching is the same as socialism, then socialism must be legitimate. That is why a passage from “Europe and Its Discontents,” an essay in Europe: Today and Tomorrow/Without Roots, has been touted as absolute proof that democratic socialism has been infallibly declared the same as Catholic doctrine. Not surprisingly, however, it turns out that quotes from and references to the essay have very carefully omitted the rest of Ratzinger’s argument in which he utterly repudiates the essence of all forms of socialism, whether totalitarian, democratic, or religious. As he said, “[H]uman rights and human dignity should be presented as values that take precedence over the jurisdiction of any state. Fundamental rights are neither created by the lawmaker nor granted to the citizen. ‘But rather they exist in their own right and must always be respected by lawmakers, to whom they are given beforehand as values belonging to a higher order.’” (pp. 74-75) Since the fundamental principle of all forms of socialism is that the welfare of the people as a whole takes precedence over the needs, wants, desires, and even rights of any individual or group to life, liberty, and private property, there is only one possible interpretation of Ratzinger’s analysis. That is, while socialism, democratic or otherwise, may contain much that is good and true, even to the extent of a certain similarity to Catholic social doctrine, it is essentially and irrevocably directly contrary to nature itself. No, democratic socialism is not compatible with Catholic social doctrine based on the natural law.
|The data say there is no inequality. That makes it so.|
• Do Data Run the Economy? In the Wall Street Journal of August 10, 2018, Erica Groshen and Robert Graves asserted that the U.S. economy runs on data. In explanation, Groshen and Graves said that the data from three key federal agencies allows the government to make the right decisions for the economy. On the contrary — data do not run the economy, consumer demand runs the economy. Government economic policy should not, therefore, be based on what is good in the aggregate to bolster statistical data, but on what will empower ordinary people with the ability to be productive and therefore have the power to consume..
• American Inequality. Ironically, on the same page in the Wall Street Journal was another article, “The Myth of American Inequality” by Phil Gramm and John F. Early. This time the argument was that economic inequality is not as bad as reported because by redistributing the income accruing to productive citizens to the less fortunate, economic inequality is evened out. The problem of economic inequality, however, is not that people have unequal income, but that have unequal access to the means to become productive and thereby generate income. The inequality in productive capacity remains. The only solution is to promote true economic equality by removing barriers to ownership of the capital instruments that today account for the bulk of the production of marketable goods and services, not to redistribute what some produce for the benefit of others.
|"Sure, it's corny. Do it anyway."|
• 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 25 different countries and 43 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, France, Peru, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were, “,” “‘When He Enters Into a State of Society’,” “American Liberalism, Theory and Practice,” “Newman and Brownson,” and “News from the Network, Vol. 11, No. 31.”
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.