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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Make Mine Distributed Freedom

When we talk about heresy, the church always has a way of putting it into terms. The dominant heresy of the neo-conservatives both in and out of the Church today is ECONOMISM.

But what is economism?

This consistent image, in which the principle of the primacy of person over things is strictly preserved, was broken up in human thought, sometimes after a long period of incubation in practical living. The break occurred in such a way that labour was separated from capital and set in opposition to it, and capital was set in opposition to labour, as though they were two impersonal forces, two production factors juxtaposed in the same "economistic" perspective. This way of stating the issue contained a fundamental error, what we can call the error of economism, that of considering human labour solely according to its economic purpose. This fundamental error of thought can and must be called an error of materialism, in that economism directly or indirectly includes a conviction of the primacy and superiority of the material, and directly or indirectly places the spiritual and the personal (man's activity, moral values and such matters) in a position of subordination to material reality.

- John Paul II, Laborem Exercens

This little propaganda film (from the Acton PowerBlog) uses communism as a foil to assert a world view which is basically economisitic (the separation of labor and capital) and casts it as THE American WAY. Those familiar with the Distributivist & Agrarianist movements of the last century will know that these lost a lot of steam because of the urgent demands of WWII and then the ideological pressures of the Cold War - a foil works.

One can't effectively argue the nuances between the solidarity and localism of a "business economy" (as JP II would term it), and the aggressive dominance of Big Business and Big Government which capitalism creates when fighting a war - ideological or physical.

This little cartoon is ironic when viewed from our current crisis of oil, pollution, Big Brother government, and the attack of Big Business on the family.

The "voice of reason" character sums up the ideological position of Capitalism: "It's not perfect, but look at all the benefits . . ." Back 50 years ago, this was a powerful argument, but with today's society where Globalized capitalism is stripping America of its productive capacity and a family needs two incomes to pay for housing, this argument is losing its strength.

Columcille thinks the Chesterbelloc were prophets ahead of their time and sees more and more interest in the Church's teaching on the moral ordering of economic life and the thinkers who took it seriously . . . unlike so many of our neo-conservative Catholic pundits today.

One conservative Catholic who knows the time of day has included this term in his new book.