THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Age of Revolution

Today’s blog posting is adapted from the book, Economic Personalism, which you can get free from the CESJ website, or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

To oversimplify somewhat, three revolutions have led to the alienation of most people from the institutions of the common good by stripping them of power. The first two did this almost inadvertently by limiting access to social and technological tools, while the third did it by the nature of the change itself. These were,


·       The Financial Revolution, the reinvention of commercial banking in the fourteenth century and the invention of central banking in the late seventeenth century,

·       The Industrial Revolution, the invention of machinery that could out-produce human labor at an exponential rate, and

·       The Political Revolution, widespread upheavals sparked in reaction to existing conditions and social orders that denied the dignity, rights and powers of every person, and which evolved into three distinct socio-economic philosophies.

At more or less the same time, and combining with the three revolutions, three worldviews gained a new lease on life and began to spread. It is important to note that only the third of these world views is based on both the individual and social aspects of the human person. They were,

Most people don't even consider personalism.


·       Individualism. Only an élite, a special or favored class of persons, has effective rights and thus dignity, and the ability to realize its full humanity,

·       Collectivism. Only humanity as a whole has rights by nature and thus dignity applies to the abstraction of the collective, and

·       Personalism. Every human person has rights by nature, is of equal dignity, and is fully human; thus, any school of thought, or any intellectual movement that focuses on the reality of the human person and each person’s unique dignity.

Not by coincidence, three political philosophies developed out of and correspond to three views about human beings. All three were called liberal democracy, meaning government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  This discussion covers only political liberalism, not religious liberalism. Religious liberalism is the idea that all religions are equally true, which also means they are all equally false. The analysis of political liberalism is based on that of George H. Sabine.


George H. Sabine

As Sabine defined it, liberalism is “a fundamental postulate about the nature of value, viz., that all value inheres ultimately in the satisfactions and the realizations of human personality.” (George H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, Third Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961, 669-753.)  What each “world view” meant by “people” and “person” differed significantly from the other two. They were,

·       English Liberal Democracy. An élite is sovereign and has power,

·       French or European Liberal Democracy. The abstraction of the collective, not every human person, is sovereign and has power, and

·       American Liberal Democracy. Every human person is sovereign, and thus political power is spread out among citizens (contradicted by the institution of chattel slavery).

It is outside the scope of this discussion, but it is useful to know that the theology the Catholic Church calls by the misleading name of “modernism” is common to both individualism and collectivism. Modernism shifts focus away from God, the uncreated ultimate reality, to an abstraction created by human beings that has no existence apart from the human mind.

Finally, there are three systems of political economy that arose, corresponding to these political philosophies. These are,

·       Capitalism. Allows for concentrated private capital ownership and thus concentrated power; thus, only a private sector élite has access to the opportunity and means to be fully productive,

·       Socialism. Abolishes private capital ownership and thus personal power; only the collective has access to the opportunity and means to be fully productive.

·       Economic Personalism. Spreads private capital ownership, and thus power; it holds that every person is entitled to equal opportunity and access to the means to be fully productive and empowered.

John Paul II


It should be noted the term “economic personalism” has at least three other meanings in addition to the one given here, of which their respective adherents claim are consistent with the personalism of John Paul II. These correspond to capitalism, socialism, and the Servile or Welfare State, and are thus not fully consistent with the essential respect for human dignity that characterizes the personalism of John Paul II. The capitalist position can be found in Gregory M.A. Gronbacher, Economic Personalism: A New Paradigm for a Humane Economy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Acton Institute, 1998). The socialist position is seen in Daniel Rush Finn, “The Economic Personalism of John Paul II: Neither Right Nor Left” (Journal of Markets and Morality 2 (1999) 74-87). The Servile/Welfare State position is seen in Richard J. Coronado, “Centesimus Annus and Key Elements of John Paul II’s Political Economy,” Benedictine College (, accessed August 22, 2019).

The matrix below outlines the relationship between these three conceptual paradigms, political philosophies, and systems of political economy:





English Liberal


European Liberal


American Liberal







All of these arose in response to fundamental changes in the institutions of the common good brought about by the three revolutions noted above, the order of which is no coincidence.