Thursday, December 17, 2015

Is America's Freedom Unhinged From Reality or Truth?

Economic historian, Dr. Rupert Ederer issued an urgent warning to America and other nations who had adopted the neo-liberal ethic.  In October 2012 in his article "America and Catholic Social Teaching: An Urgent Warning".  He wrote:
"Capitalist plutocracies should be forewarned. They may well be facing some kind of parallel to the heinous outburst known as the French Revolution. That followed prolonged abuse of political power by long-standing hereditary monarchies and their associated aristocracies. The current murmur of revolution stems from the abuse of economic power by a class of capitalistic plutocrats nurtured in recent centuries by a cult of freedom which has come to be known as liberalism. Basically that is about freedom unhinged from reality — or truth."  [This is] "Indicated in the Catholic Church’s social teachings from the start....the failure of the economic liberals, and now neoliberals, to observe “in the area of economic and social activity” the important link between the “truth about man.” That shortcoming gave birth to Marxian socialism, and now to the current and fatal capitalistic economic pandemonium."
Ederer invokes the stated concerns and even outright opposition of a long series of leading Catholic world figures over the way the neoliberal ideological movement first took hold and then became firmly entrenched.:

the present Pope Benedict XVI [encyclical, 'Caritas in Veritate']
Pope John Paul II in January 1999 and his 'Laborem Exercens', 'Sollicitudo Rei Socialis' and 'Centesimus Annus
Pope Paul VI [May 1971 'Populorum Progressio']
Pope John XXIII [1961 encyclical 'Mater et Magistra']
Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen ['Communism and the Conscience of the West' (1948)]
Pope Pius XII [Address to Italian Workers, June 1941]
Pope Pius XI in 1931 [encyclical Quadragesimo Anno]
Father Heinrich Pesch, Jesuit Master Economist [Lehrbuch der Nationalökonomie (1923)]

In the forward to the 5th volume Pesch wrote:
"People, not excluding learned economists, tend to lapse all too easily into extremes. The recklessness in socialistic free labor union policy did evoke and continues to evoke reaction, so that today one feels entitled to talk about a kind of ‘neo-Manchesterism.’ Mises is regarded as the main exponent of this trend, and because of his incisive and original criticism of socialism he has also gained acceptance and respect among authors who, unlike him, have stepped forward and supported the legal protection of women and children, and social insurance of workers. Mises is on the wrong track when he attributes the terrible conditions in English factory regions where Manchesterism prevailed, not to that phenomenon, but to other circumstances. The historical development of industry among the various nations, and also a proper understanding of human nature, pass judgment on individualistic freedom."
Also mentioned are earlier Catholic popes who laid the foundation for the Church's social teachings on the economic order and the institution's opposition to economic liberalism:
Leo XIII [his encyclical 'Rerum Novarum' and his important encyclical On Human Liberty (Libertas Praestantissimum) which came out in 1888.]

Ederer concludes his article by pointing out that the present Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical 'Cartitas in Veritate' "addressed precisely the quintessential link between charity and truth.  

"Serious study of Caritas in Veritate" says Ederer "not to mention widespread implementation of that principle, has scarcely begun."


blissex said...

The Catholic Church is against neoliberalism because it is still (still!) in general against modernity, as a whole. The Catholic Church has not adapted yet to the end of the feudal system and the Ancien Régime which gave it a prominent role in government. It has not adapted yet to a situation where it is sell-side journalists, television anchors, economists, that preach for the Established Order, rather than their priest and theologians. The lines "The rich man in his castle / The poor man at his gate / God made them high and lowly / And ordered their estate." are no longer sung in church but only slightly reworded they are preached by TV and press "personalities".

This does not mean that their critiques of modernity and some of its aspects are wholly wrong; the same point were made by de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America":

«The small aristocratic societies formed by certain industries inside the immense democratic whole of our day contains, as they did in the great aristocracies of ancient times, some men who are very wealthy and a multitude who are wretchedly poor.
These poor men have few ways of escaping from their social conditions to become rich but the wealthy are constantly becoming poor or leave the world of business after realizing their profits.
«The industrialist only asks the worker for his labor and the latter only expects his wages. The one is not committed to protect, nor the other to defend; they are not linked in any permanent way, either by habit or duty.
The business aristocracy seldom lives among the industrial population it manages; it aims not to rule them, but to use them.»
«The landed aristocracy of past centuries was obliged by law, or believed itself obliged by custom, to help its servants and to relieve their distress. However this present industrial aristocracy, having impoverished and brutalized the men it exploits, leaves public charity to feed them in times of crisis. This is a natural consequence of what has been said before. Between the worker and employer, there are many points of contacts but not real relationship.
Generally speaking, I think that the industrial aristocracy which we see rising before our eyes is one of the most harsh to appear on earth; but at the same time, it is one of the most restrained and least dangerous.»

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Tocqueville was wrong about the industrial aristocracy being "one of the most restrained and least dangerous."

Btw, I don't see a dichotomy between workers and corporations (or aristocracy). Victim and perpetrator are part of the same mindset that creates crisis.

I don't follow any particular religion but I a acknowledge the sacredness of things.

“Some things are sacred. Until you act like they're not. Then you lose them”
― Karen Marie Moning

Denis Drew said...

I'm waiting for the Church to publish something like "Union Nuvoarum." :-) Balance the power in the labor market with institutionalized collective bargaining (gold standard: centralized bargaining) and you resolve most economic and political inequities through an inherently healthy social structure. Meanwhile I will just keep preaching it myself in pathologically de-unionized America.

Jack said...

" the heinous outburst known as the French Revolution."

That is a gross insult to one of the most effective, though short lived, efforts to rectify an extreme example of income inequality. Keep in mind that those who would come to lead that revolution had tried for several years to come to some kind of equitable resolution through debate and compromise within the Estates General. It seems to be a condition of human history that the One Percent will not give up their grip on an economy's treasures without a fight to the death.