In case you haven’t noticed, it has become increasingly frequent over the past couple of decades to demonize anyone who disagrees with you on virtually any subject. We’d say, “on any subject,” but there must be some things that people don’t disagree on. Somewhere.
In our opinion, this tendency is a direct result of the growing powerlessness of the average person and the frustration people feel when they have little or no control over their own lives. This problem will only accelerate as technology continues to advance and displace more and more people from wage system jobs, disconnecting people from the opportunity and means to be productive members of society.
|Yeah, we know, you thought this was 1789. No, it's 1848.|
This has happened before, causing massive social changes and disrupting life to the point where a prevailing sense of nihilism, the belief that life is meaningless, spreads and seems to take over as the predominant philosophy. Two centuries ago as the Industrial and Financial Revolutions hit full stride, matters reached a crisis.
For reasons that continue to baffle traditional historians (but that become obvious when analyzed from the perspective of the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism), the French Revolution exploded on the scene, cutting the last ties with the old European world of “Christendom” and it’s focus on the human person (admittedly honored more in the breach than in practice at times), and replacing it with a virtual obsession with the collective, especially as manifested in the Nation State.
Nor did matters improve any with the advent of Napoléon Buonaparte and the growth of the concept of “total war” as national policy to replace the more limited concept of war as the final recourse when politics and diplomacy fail. Ordinary people became cyphers, mere cogs in the economic machine or interchangeable and indistinguishable members of the collective, pawns in the economic and political games played for the benefit of others.
The situation deteriorated even further following the Napoleonic Wars. As a result of the demands on governments to finance total war from an inadequate tax base, government debt became increasingly viewed not as a barely tolerable substitute for private sector hard assets to back paper currency issues, but as the only proper backing for the money supply. In extreme cases, such fiat money became viewed as the only legitimate form of money, and government as the only legitimate money creator.
In concert with this major shift in the understanding of money and credit, there arose what Pope Gregory XVI called rerum novarum — “new things” — that would soon become known as socialism, modernism, and esoteric or “New Age” thought. The new things were not merely innovative theories about economics, politics, religion, marriage, family, and everything else under the sun. They represented a shift in thinking completely alien to a personalist understanding of human beings.
|More than a televangelist|
No longer was the individual important, but humanity as a whole. Many people today fail to realize the danger of such a shift, but it changed completely how people viewed reality. Instead of the actuality of the human person created by God as the reason for society, the abstraction of humanity created by human beings became the all-important focus of all human endeavor. As Fulton Sheen explained in his first two books, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy (1925) and Religion Without God (1927), this put Collective Man in the place of God.
The social and economic effects of socialism were profound. First promoted as “the democratic religion,” socialism was specifically intended to replace traditional political, religious, and domestic forms of society with a single monolithic entity that controlled all life.
The only problem was, which system to implement? Some forms of socialism wanted only local society, others national, still others global. Fabian socialism would fragment over the issue of local versus national, while Nazism and Marxism would go to war over national versus international. The only thing common to all forms of socialism was the denial of individual sovereignty and the glorification of the abstraction of the collective, summed up briefly as “the abolition of private property.” As Alexis de Tocqueville noted of the 1848 Revolution in France,
|"It's socialism, mes amis."|
From the 25th of February  onwards, a thousand strange systems came issuing pell-mell from the minds of innovators, and spread among the troubled minds of the crowd. . . . These theories were of very varied natures, often opposed and sometimes hostile to one another; but all of them, aiming lower than the government and striving to reach society itself, on which government rests, adopted the common name of Socialism. (Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1959, 78-79.)
Socialist, modernist, and New Age assumptions became engrained into the human psyche as the “right” way to think. Even capitalists began taking the new things for granted. As a result, when Pope Leo XIII issued a new kind of social encyclical in 1891 presenting a social program along with his social doctrine, he was completely misunderstood by almost everyone. Although he explicitly called for widespread capital ownership as the best arrangement of society, all the experts insisted that what the encyclical, Rerum Novarum, was really about was “the living wage” and “labor unions” — expedients that tried to make the capitalist-socialist wage system bearable, but did nothing to address the underlying problem of widespread powerlessness.
The problem was that people had confused expedients intended to keep things together until society could be put back on a truly human and personalist basis with the proposed solution. Wages and labor unions were interpreted as absolute mandates, while widespread capital ownership was dismissed as “prudential matter.”
As a result, nothing was really changed, and capitalism, socialism, and the other new things tightened their grip on the whole of human life. Leo XIII had given a part of the answer, but two-thirds of the solution was still missing.#30#