29 de maio de 2011

The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching
People of all faiths, in spite of their doctrinal differences, have generally been encouraged when the Catholic Church takes a stand for religious belief. In a skeptical and materialistic age, the social encyclicals seem to garner the widest attention because everyone is interested in seeing how the Church will adjust to the trends of the modern world. However, it is arguable that there has never been a real surprise in any papal encyclical. The Pope simply affirms the truths the Church has always affirmed. The encyclicals are needed only because the world changes, not because the truth changes. The world needs to be refreshed by the truth. For instance, in 1968, the only surprise of Humane Vitae was that the Church was not going to give into the world. Lust is still wrong. Now, in 2009, the only surprise of Caritas in Veritate was that the Church was not going to give into the world. Greed is still wrong.

14 de maio de 2011

Verdades simples, mas que não deixam de ser verdade


Gnostic Economics: compreender o Liberalismo

Crunchy Pope, Part Two: Against Gnostic Economics

In a sense, Locke treats the parent-child relationship as something accidental, a relationship of convenience between beings capable of free exercise of will. The child needs the parents because he is not yet capable of “the Freedom … of acting according to his own Will.” The parents provide nutrition and education during the period of preparation for independence, and the child’s duty to honor his parents is in exact proportion to the care taken for his education. The “bare act of begetting” carries with it no claim to gratitude.

The human body, like the rest of nature, begins as worthless material until it is labored upon by the will of the person whose body it becomes. It is by the action of our will that we develop all of our capacities beyond the merely nutritive. Education is the great labor by which the human species makes of itself something worthwhile, and whatever role the parents play in that education, it can accomplish nothing without the exercise of the child’s will. Hence my mind too attains its worth from the labor that I will to invest in it.

This is the sense in which Locke understands human beings as being their own individual property. All that they are that is of any value results from the labor they exercise upon themselves. Parents are, at best, the enablers of our self-creation, providing us with the material that is nearly worthless until improved by our own efforts.

In short, just as nature and the earth constitute the worthless world whose value lies in what humans can make of it, so too my body and mind are initially parts of that worthless world. It is when my will reshapes all this and turns it into some embodiment of itself that I lay claim to it. The world as given is essentially worthless, and the value things have results from our laboring to make the worthless material suitable to our wishes. It is the will that imparts value both by determining what will make something valuable and by causing that valuable something to be built up in it.

The older Gnostics turned away from the created world in revulsion; the newer Gnosticism turns against it in active opposition. By reducing the terms to world and will, modern Gnosticism more forthrightly declares that the world can only be good if our will declares it such.

On this view it is reasonable to understand our bodies as our own property. It is reasonable to understand the gestating child as the property of the mother as long as it remains part of her body and is far more the product of her labor than of its own. If we view human beings as abstract choosers, wholly equal as such, it is reasonable to view them as only accidentally related to other abstract choosers, such as parents, who are moved by whatever incentives nature has planted in them to help along our project of attaining independence. It is reasonable to understand life and the given world as in themselves negligible, as little to merit gratitude.

All this accords with Benedict’s description Gnosticism:

Human beings want to understand the discovered world only as material for their own creativity…. Gnosticism will not entrust itself to a world already created, but only to a world still to be created.

This means that Gnosticism will always be prepared to sacrifice what is, or “life as we encounter it,” to its vision of the unfettered life of the will, and to deny the reality of whatever places limits on our choices, such as the normative principles built into intergenerational relationships or into long-term sustenance of productive soil. Modern Gnosticism, under the guise of worldliness, is more thoroughly and intransigently world-negating than its ancestor.

As Benedict observes, this vision of the person confronting the world sets us in a new total antagonism to the created order:

Previously human beings could only transform particular things in nature; nature as such was not the object but rather the presupposition of their activity. Now, however, it itself has been delivered over to them in toto. Yet as a result they suddenly see themselves imperiled as never before.

Christianity, by contrast, recognizes the created order as a gift:

The fundamental Christian attitude is one of humility, a humility of being, not a merely moralistic one: being as receiving, accepting oneself as created and dependent on “love.” … The doctrine of redemption is based on the doctrine of creation, of an irrevocable Yes to creation…. Only if the being of creation is good, only if trust in being is fundamentally justified, are humans at all redeemable.

If we do not recognize the created order as harboring a goodness that comes to us from outside and makes claims upon us, we can recognize nothing as good except what is said to be so by our own act of valuing. Only if we are not the source of all value can we embrace the possibility of redemption.

Thus faith in creation is not (as modern theology too often treats it) “devoid of anthropological importance.” The question of creation, and of whether the creation and the Creator deserve our love and gratitude, goes to the very heart of what it means to be human, of what it means to be a laboring being, of what constitutes wealth and prosperity and an economy consonant with human aspirations and the human good.

10 de maio de 2011

Ideias Distributistas

“A Distributist View of the Global Economic Crisis”: A Report

“The winner in all this,” I continued, “will be the Servile State: Hilaire Belloc’s label for a system where monopoly capitalists, financiers, and government bureaucrats merge into an entity practising state capitalism. Under its terms the capitalists and bankers gain order and protection of their wealth and property while property-less workers receive welfare benefits specifically tied to their wage labor, such as unemployment insurance, which provides security but also confirms their servile status. For his part, Chesterton called this arrangemnent a ‘Business Government’ which, he said, ‘will combine everything that is bad in all the plans for a better world…. There will be nothing left but a loathsome thing called Social Service.” The balance of my talk included examples of the Servile State at work in America, Russia, and China. It also explored the curious new subjegation of women found– most remarkably– in Scandinavia, where the Business Government has essentially socialized “women’s work”: “women find servility in their strange, new, functional marriage to the state.”

“Servile World: How ‘The Big Business Government,’ ‘The Loathsome Thing Called Social Service,’ and Other Distrubutist Nightmares All Came True

At a still more troubling level, there is evidence that shifts in federal housing policy were actually coming to favor family break-up. In brief, by 1970 most married-couple American families with children were in their own homes. To keep up housing demand, regulators subtly shifted mortgage subsidies away from intact traditional families toward “underserved,” “non-traditional,” “non-family” households: single persons; sole-mother households; unmarried couples; the divorced. In fact, two analysts showed that as early as 1980, the American population was “diffusing itself” into a still expanding housing supply; the number of housing units was growing at nearly twice the rate of population increase. Put more bluntly, the new availability of subsidized mortgages for the non-married actually appears to have encouraged divorce and other forms of modern post-family living.[7] In a manner that Chesterton would have deplored, lawmakers and regulators had stripped American housing policy of normative content. No longer family-centric, with a special focus on the needs of children, it would now be “neutral” as to lifestyle. In practice, these changes blended the U.S. mortgage market together with certain emerging social pathologies and unstable speculation to create a precarious system: again, a problem already evident to some observers as early as 30 years ago. The wonder is that the contradictions in this system took nearly three decades to work themselves out as part of the current crisis.

6 de maio de 2011

Uma Sociedade de Desejos e Impulsos

Dos arquivos d'O Pasquim da Reacção

E pela mesma razão ambos observam o Cristianismo como inimigo a ser conquistado e dominado pela vontade dos governantes, como se observa pelo cesaropapismo britânico fundamentado por Locke e pelas nacionalizações religiosas dos comunismos que se verificaram por esse mundo fora. Tanto o Comunismo como o Liberalismo têm perfeita consciência de que só sobrevivem numa sociedade de impulsos e desejos e em que toda a repressão é injustificada. Prazer e Dor, Desejo e Satisfação, são os elementos essenciais dessa sociedade suinizada de resposta a impulsos. Qualquer apelo à Virtude, à medida do Homem que proporciona acesso a bens não quantificáveis e qualitativos, é por isso banido por extra-subjectividade. O epíteto “fascista” deixou o significado original de movimento político de massas, para se dizer daquele que não acredita que o indivíduo-átomo é o destinatário final de toda a política. Qualquer pessoa que se recuse a aceitar que os laços humanos são mais importantes que uma individualidade possessiva, que não tem outra finalidade que não seja a total plasticidade do Homem para obter uma total submissão ao poder e ao tempo, quebra a grande premissa de Comunismo e Liberalismo: que devemos todos estar juntos (comunismo) ou separados (liberalismo) para que possamos no fim caber nessa orgia de auto-satisfação do ponto-ómega do Progresso ou da sociedade em que cada um vê satisfeitas as suas necessidades.

4 de maio de 2011

Hoppe, Monarquia, Democracia, Livre-Mercado e Moral

While Hoppe is correct about the political sources of mass social democracy, he may be overly indulgent when he looks at the role of the market. Granting that the free market is preferable to an economy run by the friends of John Judis does not mean that commercial activities bear no blame for the greed and moral degeneracy in our society. An economy that arouses ceaseless material desire complements and reinforces a polity that increases its power by promising material gratification. As observed by the now deceased intellectual historian Panajotis Kondylis, consumer capitalism is the economic counterpart of welfare state democracy. Both stand in stark opposition to the bourgeois Denkform of the nineteenth century , which stressed family and social order and the maintenance of taste and decorum. Hoppe’s reduction to the “free market ” of what its critics call “turbocapitalism,” a globalized corporate capitalism that obliterates regional and cultural distinctions and tries to arouse the same appetites everywhere, is not convincing.
What Hoppe is defendingmay sometimes be the lesser of two evils; but the pursuers of that lesser evil are usually ranged on the anti-traditional side of social and moral questions.
Hoppe can (and will) respond that at least on the European continent palpable alliances do exist between the critics of multiculturalisma and Euro-bureaucracy on the one hand and the defenders of a market economy on the other. Such examples, which abound on what the Western media call “ the extreme Right,” would include the Lega Nord in Italy, the Alliance of the Democratic Center in Switzerland, the Vkzarns Blok in Belgium, the various factions of the Front National in France , and the Oesterreichische Freiheitliche Partei in Austria. Though not every one of these anti-immigration and culturally traditionalist parties has represented consistently free market positions, all of them have attacked centralized administration and have been open to ideas about privatization and deregulation. Hoppe, moreover, has been affiliated with more than one of them as an advisor. It is also possible, as we learn from his book, to make a libertarian argument against immigration and in favor of a culturally stable society. If one conceives of human communities as a collection of property owners authorized to establish their own rules about who should be allowed to enter their property, then it follows that these owners should be able to exclude unwanted aliens . One might also invoke the quintessentially Lockean position, now being revived by Northern Italian separatists, that those who are members of the social contract have a right to keep others out. Membership in civil society does not require one to reach out for new members, particularly if the ensuing demographic shift is perceived as harmful to present members of the community.