Not unexpectedly, the news items this week have mostly to do with the war in Ukraine:
The Incredible Shrinking Economy has us in a trap
• Shrinking Economy. As reported in both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, the U.S. economy shrank 1.4% in the first three months of 2022, with the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine taking most of the blame. No one seems to be considering the possibility that the economy simply isn't structured in a just or healthy manner. One thing that could turn the situation around is the Economic Democracy Act.
• Cheerleading for Putin. One of the more bizarre phenomena over the past several years is the adulation showered on Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, by people who view themselves as
|Vladimir the Insane, Tsar of Russia|
conservative Christians. On the surface, nothing seems more unlikely than holding up the greatest thief in human history, murderer, dictator, warmonger, etc., etc., etc., as sent by God to set the world straight and punish evil and anyone you don’t like. In response, we’ve been developing a theory that if you’re supporting, apologizing for, or otherwise excusing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, you one, have an intense loathing of modern society, especially as it manifests in the United States, two, confuse everything new with the “New Things” (rerum novarum) of socialism, modernism, and the New Age (and probably don’t understand socialism, modernism, or the New Age), and three, have no idea what social justice is. This contention is supported by the fact that a number of Putin’s admirer’s also advocate what CESJ co-founder Fr. William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D. called “radical non-participation.” That means doing in some fashion what Msgr. Ronald Knox noted is always a characteristic of “enthusiasm”: the desire to form a theocracy, a version of what all forms of socialism seek: the “Kingdom of God on Earth.” Archbishop Viganó, for example, whose support for Putin as some kind of Christian savior is something of a scandal, rejects the modern world and seemingly everything that followed the Second Vatican Council and wants to return to a Middle Ages that never actually existed except in his own mind. Then there is
|Rod Dreher, BNF of Vladimir the Insane|
noted “American Conservative” commentator Rod Dreher, who is cited by the Kremlin as somehow being a supporter of Putin to save the modern world from being modern, apparently by destroying everything in his path and killing as many people as possible. Dreher appears to favor Putin’s tyranny over what he calls “wokeness” and the threat of Gay Pride parades. Dreher appears to have an intense loathing for the modern world, belittles Ukrainians efforts to survive and efforts to aid them, and advocates that people leave this sinful society and form their own communities-within-communities, something he calls the “Benedict Option.” Dreher and his ilk clearly misunderstand the act of social justice, the goal of which is to restructure our institutions to help people become virtuous, and also falls into the trap of hating the sinner at least as much (if not more) than the sin. The moral of the story? Don’t get caught sinning by Viganó, Dreher, or others like them, for they don’t forgive or try to correct what they see as the sins of others or of modern society, but think in terms of either running away or destroying anything they disagree with.
|"I wonder where I went wrong?"|
• Putin’s “Economic War” On the West. Russia has begun cutting off oil and natural gas to selected countries. This, according to analysts, is another phase in the economic war Putin is waging against the West. This could easily be another sign of desperation by Russia, as it badly needs oil and gas revenues to keep the economy afloat and fund the war effort. A number of countries, notably Germany, have pledged to reduce or eliminate entirely use of Russian fossil fuels, but that could take years. One thing that Putin doesn’t seem to have considered is that the recent breakthroughs in fusion research may make cheap, non-polluting, sustainable energy available in as little as a decade, if not sooner, if a Manhattan Project-type effort is undertaken to move it along.
• Ukraine’s “Secret Weapon”. It’s a bit of hyperbole, for it’s hardly secret and it’s not, strictly speaking, a weapon, but the Ukrainian rail system has proved key to maintaining Ukraine’s war effort. Putin and the Russian invaders may have missed the significance of Ukraine having the largest rail system in Europe. Yes, the Russians have targeted a few railway stations, but little has been done to hit the rails themselves — and that’s what’s important. It’s also easier to repair track than to rebuild a highway and keep supply lines moving. That’s why in the U.S. Civil War in his “March to the Sea,” Union General Sherman made a special point of tearing up tracks and rendering the rails unusable, by, e.g., heating the rails and wrapping them
around trees in “Sherman’s Bow Ties” to prevent the tracks from being repaired with the Confederacy’s minimal manufacturing capacity. Ukrainian authorities might want to consider two things once the Russians have been driven out of Ukraine. One, shift over from the rail gauge they’re using now, inherited from the Soviet Union and incompatible with the U.S./European gauge of 1,435 mm/4 feet 8½ inches (the standard from Roman chariots, if you can believe it). With so much laid track, and thus alternate routes available, this could be done over time without too much trouble and without having to replace the entire system at one time. This would facilitate trade after the war, as cargo transported by rail wouldn’t have to be transshipped. It would also mean that Russia couldn’t use the system in the event of another invasion. Then, if the Ukrainian rail system is privatized in a way that makes every Ukrainian an owner of the system, expanding what was proposed for Conrail in the U.S. from just workers to every citizen, it would greatly facilitate the rebuilding that will be necessary in a way that benefits all citizens, not just the government or already wealthy people or foreign investors.
• Dollar Desperation. The significance appears to have gone largely unnoticed, but Russia has made partial payment of its overdue sovereign debt — in dollars instead of the “threatened” rubles. Why is this significant? Because despite all of Putin’s threats and saber-rattling (and murder, and theft, and war, and, and, and), one, making the payments at all says that Russia doesn’t think it can conquer the world or win the war, at least in the short run. Consider: one of the first things Hitler did as soon as he felt Germany was strong enough to withstand international pressure, even outright coercion, was to stop paying reparations. Whatever Russia’s dictator is saying, Russia still needs to have a good credit rating to maintain even the pretense of being a member of the family of nations. Two, making payment in dollars instead of rubles could very easily be a sign of desperation. If Russia was as strong economically and militarily as the rhetoric of Putin and his stooges insists, they would pay in rubles and sneer at the West with an implied “take it or leave it.” This further suggests that there may be unspoken fears at the Kremlin that the politically significant May 9 deadline for a great victory is seen as increasingly unrealistic, and the Russian powers-that-be want to hedge their bets a bit.
• The Greater Reset. CESJ’s new book by members of CESJ’s core group, The Greater Reset: Reclaiming Personal Sovereignty Under Natural Law is, of course, available from the publisher, TAN Books, an imprint of Saint Benedict Press, and has already gotten a top review on that website. It can also be obtained from Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon, or by special order from your local “bricks and mortar” bookstore. The Greater Reset is the only book of which we’re aware on “the Great Reset” that presents an alternative instead of simply warning of the dangers inherent in a proposal that is contrary to natural law. It describes reality, rather than a Keynesian fantasy world. Please note that The Greater Reset is NOT a CESJ publication as such, and enquiries about quantity discounts and wholesale orders for resale must be sent to the publisher, Saint Benedict Press, NOT to CESJ.
• Help Joe Walk Again for Economic Justice. Just a reminder, if you haven’t already done so, to visit the GoFundMe campaign and consider making a contribution and spreading word out among your social media networks. It’s off to a good start, but it’s still just a start.
• Hortense and Her Whos. In case you’ve been wondering how you might advance the Just Third Way by introducing it to legislators at any and all levels of government, we’ve made it easy for you, with the “Hortense Hears Three Whos“ initiative. Visit the explanatory website, and consider downloading the postcard to send to people in government. Don’t worry if you think they won’t be open to it, as the postcard is intended to get them to open their eyes.
• Economic Personalism Landing Page. A landing page for CESJ’s latest publication, Economic Personalism: Property, Power and Justice for Every Person, has been created and can be accessed by clicking on this link. Everyone is encouraged to visit the page and send the link out to their networks.
• Economic Personalism. When you purchase a copy of Economic Personalism: Property, Power and Justice for Every Person, be sure you post a review after you’ve read it. It is available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble at the cover price of $10 per copy. You can also download the free copy in .pdf available from the CESJ website. If you’d like to order in bulk (i.e., ten or more copies) at the wholesale price, send an email to email@example.com for details. CESJ members get a $2 rebate per copy on submission of proof of purchase. Wholesale case lots of 52 copies are available at $350, plus shipping (whole case lots ONLY). Prices are in U.S. dollars.
• Sensus Fidelium Videos, Update. CESJ’s series of videos for Sensus Fidelium are doing very well, with over 155,000 total views. The latest Sensus Fidelium video is “The Five Levers of Change.” The video is part of the series on the book, Economic Personalism. The latest completed series on “the Great Reset” can be found on the “Playlist” for the series. The previous series of sixteen videos on socialism is available by clicking on the link: “Socialism, Modernism, and the New Age,” along with some book reviews and other selected topics. For “interfaith” presentations to a Catholic audience they’ve proved to be popular, edging up to 150,000 views to date. They aren’t really “Just Third Way videos,” but they do incorporate a Just Third Way perspective. You can access the playlist for the entire series The point of the videos is to explain how socialism and socialist assumptions got such a stranglehold on the understanding of the role of the State and thus the interpretation of Catholic social teaching, and even the way non-Catholics and even non-Christians understand the roles of Church, State, and Family, and the human person’s place in society.
• 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 28 different countries and 36 states, provinces, and territories in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Philippines and Canada. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Can Distributism Rebuild Ukraine?” “Social Justice, IV: The Characteristics of Social Justice,” “JTW Podcast: The Focusing Way, Part III,” “News from the Network, Vol. 15, No. 14,” and “The Attack on Fulton Sheen.”
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.” Due to imprudent language on the part of some commentators, we removed temptation and disabled comments.#30#