A great deal of work has been done in advancing the theoretical framework of the Just Third Way. In particular recent investigations into “personalism” and the roots of social justice reveal just how deeply certain assumptions of socialism, modernism, and the New Age have infiltrated virtually all aspects of society, whether Family, Church, or State. It has become evident that the failure of many in Academia and in Politics to understand the act of social justice and the debilitating slavery of past savings has destabilized the social order to an alarming degree:
|Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard internationally.|
• A Surge in Share Buybacks. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Buybacks Surge, Steadying Market” (05/11/18, A1, A4), companies using “excess cash” to purchase their own shares and retire them are decreasing the recent volatility experienced in the stock market. This, however, is not as good as it might seem at first glance. First, of course, the so-called excess cash belongs not to the company, but to the owners of the company, that is, the shareholders. In effect, the company is using money that belongs to the shareholders to purchase shares belonging to the shareholders. It’s as if a robber takes $100 from your wallet and buys your watch for $100, paying for it with the $100 he just stole from you. Because the money paid to you for the watch already belonged to you, you were in effect robbed of $100 even though you ended up with $100, coming up short a watch worth $100. Second, there is the problem of buying and selling shares in a company as if ownership itself is a commodity to be bought and sold. In a sense that is right, for you can buy or sell some or all rights to something, and it is legitimate to deal in such contracts, but to buy and sell contracts in an effort to manipulate the value of the “underlying” — as the consideration in such contracts is called — is considered a form of “peculation,” or theft of money entrusted to you. Third and finally, buying shares back to keep up the price by artificially reducing the number of shares outstanding is the same sort of thing that forced the United States off of the gold standard internationally in the 1970s. The U.S. had issued so much debt to fund the Vietnam War and the War on Poverty that the official conversion rate of $35 per ounce of gold was impossible to maintain despite massive purchases of U.S. debt by foreign central banks. By abolishing the conversion rate and allowing the value of the U.S. dollar to float, the pressure was off foreign central banks, but so was the de facto cap on government spending. Not having to worry about maintaining an official price of gold meant that government debt was now limited only by what Congress could get away with.
|Robert Maynard Hutchins|
• The Hijacking of Personalism. We recently obtained a number of works on “Personalism,” what Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) insisted on calling a “movement” because in his day it was not a “completed theory” and thus not a philosophy. With Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), Mounier worked to fit an emphasis on the dignity of the human person into the existing framework of Aristotelian-Thomism but were inhibited in this task by the intellectual environment fostered by what Alexis de Tocqueville termed “French” or “European” type democracy that vests sovereignty into the collective instead of the human person. To some degree Maritain’s thought was corrected by exposure to that of Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977) and Mortimer J. Adler (1902-2001), but still lacked two important elements that would turn it into a completed theory. These were, one, the “act of social justice” as a particular act (developed by Pius XI and analyzed by Fr. William Ferree, S.M., Ph.D.), and two, the principles of economic justice and freedom from “the slavery of savings” (articulated by Louis O. Kelso and Mortimer J. Adler). Without these two essential elements, personalism was interpreted as a form of socialism by the socialists, and a form of capitalism by the capitalists. John Paul II made great efforts to correct this problem, and although he seems to have had an instinctive “feel” for the act of social justice and gave encourage to the work of CESJ in the area of economic justice, was not able to break through the social and intellectual barriers in Academia, Church, and State to begin integrating a completed theory of personalism as applied Thomism to social and political problems. As a result, personalism has been relegated to just another form of Christian or democratic socialism without most people realizing it is the antithesis of any form of socialism.
• The Forgotten Social Justice Apostle. In connection with searching out the roots of social justice, we came across the life and work of Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853), founder of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Although “beatified” (one step away from canonization) by Benedict XVI, Ozanam remains largely unknown, and is almost always misunderstood. A strong opponent of all forms of socialism, those relatively few people who know anything about Ozanam insist he was a Christian socialist and a Neo-Catholic, a euphemism for socialism. This is despite the fact that a pamphlet he wrote at the age of 18 was a refutation of the errors of the New Christianity (socialism) of Henri comte de Saint-Simon, and he repudiated the work of de Lamennais when de Lamennais attacked the Catholic Church, although he had formerly admired de Lamennais as a champion of human liberty and democracy. Ozanam’s ideal society was a purified U.S. type of democracy, described by Alexis de Tocqueville (whom Ozanam greatly desired to meet, but was prevented by his own early death), because it was established not on the sovereignty of “the people” as French democracy that leads to socialism, or of an élite as English democracy that leads to capitalism, but of the human person that leads to personalism and its application in the Just Third Way. Ozanam of course condemned slavery and the treatment of native Americans but saw “Democracy in America” corrected of these errors as the necessary wave of the future, and seems to have understood that widespread private property in capital is essential for strong families as well as a stable political order and the growth of religion.
|A grin without a cat? Or a cat without a book?|
• 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 https://smile.amazon.com/. 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 34 different countries and 41 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were, “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “13. The Bottom Line,” “The Just Third Way Hour Podcast (Jeanna Casey and Guy Stevenson),” “A Growing Alienation,” and “The Task of Sisyphus.”
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#