Category: General

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The role of economic liberty in contributing to human flourishing and the common good remains deeply underappreciated, even by those who are dedicated to religious liberty.

Samuel Gregg

Gregg is a contributor of One and Indivisible: The Relationship Between Religious and Economic Freedom, on sale now in the Acton Book Shop. Compiled by Kevin Schmiesing, the book contains 13 essays from highly acclaimed authors, speakers, and religious leaders, including Michael Matheson Miller, Anielka Münkel Olson, and Michael Novak. The essays describe the major events and trends that inspired an ambitious three-year program of conferences organized by the Acton Institute designed to bring a wide variety of scholars together to discuss one important theme: What is the relationship between economic and religious freedom? (more…)

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Antonio Gramsci (1922)

In a new article, “The Most Dangerous Socialist in History,” written for The Stream by Acton Institute’s Research Director Samuel Gregg, a socialist ideology running rampant throughout culture today is unveiled. The thoughts of Antonio Gramsci, “an Italian philosopher, journalist and Communist official who spent the last 11 years of his life in Mussolini’s prisons” are eating away at institutions today, calling for university departments and journalism schools to reveal the capitalist rule and “hidden structures of privilege.” Unfortunately, this idea proves “tougher to dismantle than the crude cement blocks of the old Berlin Wall.”

Gregg points out to his readers that Marx and Lenin previously thought that different religions and cultural institutions were mere distractions presented to hide the power wielded by capitalists with tight grips on money and power. According to this Marxist theory, the dismantling of false religion would take place after capitalism was squashed. Gramsci, however, thought that it was through voice of art, literature and education that power was gained and therefore socialist thought should be filtered. Gramsci’s writings called for leftist control of prominent cultural institutions, proposing rhetoric difficult to fight. Gramsci’s ideas are alive today, posing threats to liberty: (more…)

Poverty rates in America’s largest cities; such as Indianapolis, Charlotte, and Detroit; have risen in the last decade. New York City however, stands out as an exception, as its poverty rate has conversely declined. The combined actions and innovations of individuals have proven yet again to be effective in producing economic flourishing. The hope of New York City springs from the ability of people made in the image of God to use their skills and rise up out of poverty.

Believing that poverty is best combated with the rise of the job force, Robert Doar (Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute) stresses that it is not in government which we should rely, but rather in the people.

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School of Athens by Raphael

School of Athens by Raphael

In considering issues of political economy today, it is always prudent to refer to wisdom from the past.  The American Enterprise Institute’s recent publication “Economic Freedom and Human Flourishing: Perspectives from Political Philosophy” is a collection of essays that analyzes the thought of several prominent philosophers on the connection between the title’s two subjects. Many of the quotes below, pulled from six of the nine essays, challenge foundational aspects of classical liberalism and the value of the free market. As Yuval Levin comments at the end of his essay on Edmund Burke, markets can enable human flourishing, but they do not do so perfectly, “And it is precisely the friends of markets who should be most willing to acknowledge that, and to seek for ways to address it…for the sake of liberty and human flourishing.” (more…)

Blog author: CRoberts
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
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Working comprises the bulk of most people’s adult lives. Unfortunately, many people find their work unfulfilling and dread Monday mornings. How can we find meaning and a sense of vocation in even the most mundane work environments?

In a recent article published in The Atlantic, Uri Friedman presents seven helpful pieces of advice given by David Brooks (New York Times columnist) and Arthur Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute) in order to shed light on how people can better view their job and find purpose. The difference between attitudes of boredom and laziness versus those of enthusiasm and productivity boils down to one’s motivation to work. Do you work for the paycheck alone? Or do you view your work as contributing to the service of others?

Construction WorkerI found one point especially helpful. Friedman narrates a story:

Arthur Brooks set out on a career as a French horn player. But then he came across Johann Sebastian Bach’s answer to why he’d become a composer: “The aim and final end of all music is nothing less than the glorification of God and the enjoyment of man.” Brooks gradually decided that he could better serve such aims as an economist, with a focus on improving the lives of the poor, than as a musician.

“The happiest people feel like they’re needed,” Brooks said. “The greatest engine of misery in our society is a sense of social and economic superfluousness”—a sense, he added, that is contributing to the anger on display in U.S. politics today.

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Samuel Gregg, Research Director for Acton Institute, recently published an article titled “Catholicism and Global Institutions: It’s Time for a Rethink” in The Catholic World Report which calls for the Catholic Church to reform its approach to supranational bodies, and think critically before engaging with issues raised by Brexit.

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Pope Francis visits the European Parliament in Strasbourg in November 2014 (AP)

Gregg shrewdly justifies his call for the Catholic Church to reform its treatment of political organizations. Gregg points out that many Catholics are increasingly suspicious about the Europeans Union’s growth of power and recognize that some United Nation agencies “directly violate Catholic teaching on human life”- and while this is true, he organizes additional points which strengthen his case.

Some of the most important factors which the Catholic Church should consider is first the lack of prioritizing decentralization among EU officials, and secondly the tendency of supranational institutions “not only to dilute national sovereignty but even national identity” through Kantian institutional internationalism. Lastly, Gregg explains that even if the Kantian liberalism were taken out of supranational bodies, the EU has only shown signs to approach change by implementing ‘top-down’ centralization. (more…)

The founding fathers possessed a vision of liberty illumined by philosophy and religion. In order to best understand their vision, it is wise to investigate which writers and thinkers inspired John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and especially Thomas Jefferson in the drafting of the constitution.weal_06_img1219

John Locke, philosopher and physician, anonymously published his book on political philosophy, Two Treatises of Government in 1689. It is indisputable that the United States constitution was largely influenced by Locke’s work. Jefferson wrote later, “Neither aiming at originality or principles or sentiments, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American Mind.” While the constitution is not explicitly drawn from any one work, it was the culmination of much influential political thought and philosophy. J.W. Peltason states in his book Understanding the Constitution, that Locke’s Two Treatises of Government “was thought to be an authoritative pronouncement of established principles. Locke’s ideas provided ready arguments for the American cause, and they were especially embarrassing to an English government whose own source of authority was based on them.” (more…)