Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A thought on Catholic Economics.

Unfortunately I've been busy moving house the last few weeks and haven't been able to devote much time to blogging. In my previous post, an annonymous commentator was critical of my support of some aspects of Protestantism, particularly its work ethic. Now I'm not sectarian, and from perspective can see various problems with Protestantism, I can also see its virtues.  Commentator anonymous said:
Their much vaunted work ethic is generally no more than glorified avarice, an attitude more worthy of Shylock than a man who calls himself a Christian. During the Ages of Faith the people were given a great many Holydays throughout the year, they not only weren't made to work, but would be guilty of sin if they did. This was much better than the frenzy of modern people who go about foaming at the mouth to get more money to buy more useless chinese-made rubbish. If they were Catholics rather than pagans, they might remember Our Blessed Lord's words "What doth it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul."
Wealthy economies are not simply made by working hard. For prosperity to ensure a whole lot of ancillary virtues must pre-exist. Things like honesty, punctuality, suppression of envy, etc must exist as well. Catholic South America is dysfunctional not because of a lack of work ethic, but because an absence of an honesty, punctuality and scientific ethic. Being Catholic does not seem to have protected the South American elite from the sin of avarice.

And wealth doesn't just give cars and big houses. It allows medical research, MRI scanners, proper sewerage, electricity that is reliable, the provision of running water, good quality food etc.

I don't have time to elaborate on this tonight but here's a good essay by a man who pretty much shares the same mind with me on  the subject.

I'll reply to comments if I can.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Problem with Conteporary Conservatism.

I'm glad to see that Novaseeker is back to blogging. His comments, even though I disagree with some of them, are always thoughtful and worth considering and one of his recent posts got me thinking on the problems with contemporary conservatism.

From the post:
The core of the problem[Ed: with regard to conservatism] is that the underlying political philosophy of the United States finds its roots in the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolutionary period.  Even though these were expressed somewhat differently in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S Constitution than they were in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the main ideas are congruent — all men are created equal, and the highest order principles are liberty and equality.  All of our political discussions take these principles, these ends, as givens.  The “debate” between the left and the right is about the relative importance of each, how each is to be properly defined, how each is best to be realized in policy terms, how each applies in different spheres, and, above all, about the appropriate speed and timing of substantial change, but both the left and the right see themselves as champions of the principles of liberty and equality.
I partially agree with what Novaseeker is saying here but I feel that blaming the enlightenment for the problems of the modern world is a misdiagnosis of the disease: The problem is far more complex. As I see it, the reason why the conservative movement has become utterly irrelevant is because it doesn't stand for something as much it is against something. It is reactionary rather than propositional and, as such, has become a refuge for all those against the Left. Each having their own axe to grind against it but nothing else in common.

And who are these types?

Novaseeker clearly identifies a certain type that is prevalent in the conservative movement, that is, a man who dislikes change. Their conservatism is biological and their opposition to change is sentimental rather than ideological. It's the "novelty" element of the proposition that concerns them, not the proposition itself.  Movements in the wrong direction are opposed just as vigorously as movements in the right one and Liberalism is quite readily accepted as long as the poison is absorbed gradually.  These people hate the Left because its desire for perpetual novelty.

Then, of course, there are natural allies of the biological conservatives, the Traditionalists, who believe that whilst their fathers could think and solve problems,  the current generation can't. Traditionalism is really the ideology of the infallibility of the past and the irrelevance of the present. Their stance makes it impossible to adapt when situation warrants it. Unlike the biological conservatives, who will eventually accept a truthful proposition, the traditionalists refuse to.

Then there are the pseudo-conservatives.  The Rothbards and the Rands who champion the cause of materialism more effectively than any Marxist but who disagree with them on how to best implement the materialist Nirvana. Their disagreement with the Left is on theological subtleties rather than core dogma. They side with the conservative cause on matters of economics only but otherwise are more radical than many of the leftoids. Any call to a conservatism beyond economics is fiercely resisted by them.

Then there are the Neo-Conservatives. These are men who want a Christian-God-lite version of conservatism. These are frequently ex-communists/socialists who have seen the error of their ways but can't stomach an acceptance of a Christian conservatism for whatever personal reason. These men are conservative in their politics and economics rather than culture.

Then there are the single issue nuts of various persuasion who find common cause with the conservatives on their particular issue but are against it otherwise.

There are other groups as well but those described are enough to describe that what unifies them is a hatred of the left rather than any core commonality of the right. In fact, if the left could be totally defeated then many of these "Conservatives" would be at each others throats. The fact is that many of these Conservatives are not conservatives at all, they are leftoids in conservative clothing. They are the enemy within.

The way the left "wins" is either through implementation of its political program when it achieves outright political victory, or, by exploiting differences in "conservative" factions to their advantage. The left knows that it can side with the libertarian crowd when a pro-abortion position is required. It can side with soft-Christians when an aggressive "Social Justice" or "Peace" policy is required. It plays off one faction against the other to its advantage.

The problem with contemporary Conservatism is that being inclusive in its battle against the left, it stands for nothing. 

This is why a certain amount of ideological housekeeping is in order. It's housekeeping that is well overdue.