Category: Acton Commentary

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
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“It’s not good manners to begin the year with dire predictions,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary, “but with continuing Islamic terrorist attacks, increasing concern over Russian aggression, and the general fecklessness of its leaders, we have many reasons to worry about the future of liberty in Europe.”

Italian and German anti-terrorism officials were fully aware of the threat posed by Tunisian national Anis Amri and still could not prevent his driving a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin. Combined with the Istanbul nightclub shootings on New Year’s Eve as well as the murder of a French priest celebrating Mass in Normandy and the Bastille Day rampage in Nice, we can expect to see even more internal security measures in every major European city. Rome already has plenty of armed police, many of whom comport themselves much too casually to inspire any confidence in their ability to stop an actual attack.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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Every Wednesday we publish the Acton Commentary, a weekly article that covers topics related to Acton’s mission. As 2016 comes to a close we thought it would be worth highlighting the top ten commentaries produced by Acton Institute staffers and contributors over the past year.

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1. Global elites put Christianity in the crosshairs

Global governance ideology is the intellectual stepchild of Marxist materialist thought, says Robert F. Gorman.

The term global governance refers to the political dimension of globalization. Here the question is to what degree governance will be centralized and controlled by international institutions in ways that threaten to diminish national and local governmental capacity. Global governance advocates tend to prefer both transnational regulation of markets and the creation of new human rights norms marked by increased centralization.

In the latter sense, global governance can imply much more than simple international coordination and cooperation, which has existed throughout modern international relations. Now it is also a deeply and widely embedded ideology that seeks global centralization and regulation of wide-reaching areas of international interaction. It is believed and advanced by its devotees with an almost religious zeal.

2. Alexander Hamilton’s warning to fans of Trump and Sanders: Populism Endangers Liberty
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Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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Makers FrontIn this week’s Acton Commentary I examine the foundations of what is today identified as the “preferential option for the poor” in writings that appeared 125 years ago, Pope Leo’s Rerum Novarum and Abraham Kuyper’s “The Social Question and the Christian Religion.” These two texts have appeared in an anniversary volume, Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought: Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper on the Social Question, now available from the Acton Book Shop.

In the introduction to that volume, I touch on important themes that arise from these foundational texts, such as subsidiarity, solidarity, sphere sovereignty, stewardship, and property. In today’s essay, “The Christian Preference for the Poor,” I examine another theme that runs throughout both texts: the overt concern for the marginalized that is required within the context of any social order.

As Leo and Kuyper both observe, the wealthy, the well-connected, and the powerful can fare well under any regime. They can help to shape or reform laws and policies in their favor. But the poor and the marginalized have little influence and are least able to draw on their own reserves, whether capital or otherwise, in times of need.
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
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Giorgio Vasari - Last Supper“Succumbing to despair is by definition never a winning strategy, which is why the story of Giorgio Vasari’s painting, ‘The Last Supper,’ resonated so strongly with me when I read it had been successfully restored,” says Rev. Robert A. Sirico in this week’s Acton Commentary.

I’ve loved Vasari since discovering his “Lives of the Artists” when I was in college, and the restoration of his work (not to be confused with the more famous Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci) was reported a week before one of the most bitterly fought presidential elections of my memory. Readers at that time may have found little space for optimism, and much less hope for the immediate future. But we at the Acton Institute recognize that recent events only represent an opportunity to redouble our efforts to advance free-market principles based on sound religious doctrine.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

In the coming weeks, a film speculated by many to be Martin Scorsese’s most personal and poignant project to date will release throughout the United States.

“While Silence depicts a Japan deeply resistant to Christian influence,” says Ken Marotte in this week’s Acton Commentary, “the story actually begins approximately 100 years earlier, when Christianity was not only tolerated, but encouraged.”

The Christian faith reached Japan’s shores in 1549, when Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuit order and one of the church’s most prolific missionaries, made landfall. As superior of the mission in Goa, India, Francis had heard a great deal about Japan. He concluded that the Japanese were an educated, industrious, and reasonable people, and so particularly ripe for the Gospel message.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Global governance ideology is the intellectual stepchild of Marxist materialist thought, says Robert F. Gorman in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The term global governance refers to the political dimension of globalization. Here the question is to what degree governance will be centralized and controlled by international institutions in ways that threaten to diminish national and local governmental capacity. Global governance advocates tend to prefer both transnational regulation of markets and the creation of new human rights norms marked by increased centralization.

In the latter sense, global governance can imply much more than simple international coordination and cooperation, which has existed throughout modern international relations. Now it is also a deeply and widely embedded ideology that seeks global centralization and regulation of wide-reaching areas of international interaction. It is believed and advanced by its devotees with an almost religious zeal.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
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BernieTweetIn this week’s Acton Commentary I weigh in with some reflections on the US presidential results: “Naming, Blaming, and Lessons Learned from the 2016 Election.” I focus on much of the reaction on the Democratic side, which has understandably had some soul-searching to do.

The gist of my argument is that “the New Left forgot the Old Left and got left out this election cycle.”

For further elaborations on this theme, I recommend the following: “The Real Forgotten Man Of 2016 Was Bill Clinton,” by Ben Domenech; “Rust Belt Dems broke for Trump because they thought Clinton cared more about bathrooms than jobs,” by James Hohmann; and “Bernie Sanders, In Boston: Democratic Party Needs To Focus On Working Class,” by Simón Rios.

The only coherent way forward for the Democratic Party in America is to embrace an Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders-style approach to material inequality, to return the Old Labor vision of progressive politics. To paraphrase Sen. Sanders, going forward the Democratic Party has to be much more Piketty and much less RuPaul.

Winning in politics, as in sports, can make things seem like they are better than they really are. For the GOP, it could be that holding both houses of Congress and taking the White House ends up preventing the kind of reflection and reformation that really needs to happen. In that vein, I conclude the piece by pointing out that Trump’s economic message, which resonated among certain voters this time around, has its own problems and shortcomings.

White working class voters have suffered materially to some extent. The benefits of globalization and economic growth are not spread evenly, and there are some tradeoffs. The Right has largely been unwilling to acknowledge even short-term domestic losers in the global, free enterprise system.

But perhaps even more importantly than material losses, working classes have experienced suffering in a subjective and psychological sense, which includes feelings of isolation, purposelessness, and disrespect. Donald Trump became the vehicle for expressing this disaffection, while Clinton was the embodiment of a cronyist, corrupt Washington establishment.
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