Posts tagged with: Political philosophy

In a recent article for The Telegraph, Sir Roger Scruton discusses the importance of national borders in Europe and the threat that the EU poses to them.  He explains how religion once united Europe but since religion began to fade in the 17th century, territory took over as the principle that Europeans turn to in order to find unity.  Scruton says this:

European civilisation has been steadily replacing religion with territory as the source of political unity. The process began in the 17th century, as the call for popular sovereignty and national unity began to be heard above the noise of religious conflict.  Following the French Revolution and Napoleon’s failed attempt at a pan-European Empire, Europe emerged as a collection of nation states.

Scruton goes on to talk about how national identity contributed to the outcome of the Second World War: (more…)

EdmundBurkeAdvocates of economic freedom have a peculiar habit of only promoting the merits of the free markets as they relate to innovation, poverty alleviation, and economic transformation. In response, critics are quick to lament a range of “disruptive” side effects, whether on local communities or human well-being.

Alas, in over-elevating the fruits of material welfare, we forget that such freedom is just as important as a restraint against the social dangers of an intrusive state as it is an accelerant to economic progress. If our concern is not just for economic prosperity, but for the wider flourishing of individuals and communities – social, spiritual, and otherwise – economic freedom has a role to play there, too.

As I’ve noted before, Edmund Burke builds the best bridge on this topic, offering a robust vision of liberty that connects these dots accordingly. In a new essay on Burke’s “economics of flourishing,” Yuval Levin highlights those very views, noting that, although his economic solutions were similar to those of his friend and contemporary, Adam Smith, Burke’s conclusions were more closely tied to a deeper commitment to human flourishing.

This begins with Burke’s view of liberty, which rejected any notion of radical individualism or choice as a good unto itself. As Levin explains, Burke “was moved to articulate his vision of human liberty precisely in opposition to a highly individualist, choice-centered understanding of what freedom entails and enables.” Or, as Burke himself puts it, true liberty “is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the whole of his conduct by his own will” but “social freedom” – “another name for justice; ascertained by wise laws, and secured by well-constructed institutions.” (more…)

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Did Pope Francis just publicly endorse Communism? Recent comments have prompted many to suggest he has. During an interview with Eugenio Scalfari, they had the following exchange:

[Scalfari:] You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?
[Francis:] “It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom” (emphasis added)

Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, suggests that there’s something else going on. In a recent article for The Stream, he begins: “Marxists, Marxist ideas and Marxist regimes have brought death and destruction to millions. Yet according to Pope Francis, “if anything, the communists think like Christians.” What’s going on here?” He goes on to note that though some have accused the Pope of “Marxist sympathies,” that is simply not true: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 14, 2016
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socialism-0916“In spite of socialism’s sorry track record, millions of well-meaning people think it’s a virtual synonym for compassion,” says Lawrence Reed. “But socialists themselves are constantly retreating from their own handiwork. It’s socialism until it doesn’t work, then it was never socialism in the first place. It’s socialism until the wrong guys get in charge, then it’s everything but.”

Socialism never seems to have any theory of wealth creation, only fanciful schemes for its reallocation after somebody goes to the trouble of creating it.

Oxford Dictionaries (whose slogan is “Language Matters”) defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

What is meant by “the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole”? If you own a convenience store, are you supposed to put to some public vote the decisions about what to stock the shelves with or whom to hire for the night shift?

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 27, 2016
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“In modern times, more and more Americans have unwittingly relinquished their freedoms and self-determination to career politicians,” says Daniel Garza, president and chairman of The LIBRE Institute. “Millions have ceded their fate to a raft of government programs and entitlements administered by a powerful central government.”
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On October 13, the fall 2016 Acton Lecture Series continued with a timely address from Benjamin Domenech, publisher of The Federalist and host of The Federalist Radio Hour, who spoke on the rise of American populism.

Domenech looks at the history of populism in America, from Andrew Jackson to William Jennings Bryan, and traces that strain in American politics straight through to the rise of Donald Trump. According to Domenech, the roots of the current populist uprising in America can be traced to the failure of elite institutions to address or even acknowledge the problems and needs of average citizens:

Today, big government and its partner big banks, business, labor, ag, and their armies of lobbyists represent a common enemy to both communities and individuals. Organic communitarianism depends on individual agency and autonomy in the market and in civil society. The breakdown of the ability of our neighborhoods to self govern is collateral damage brought about by the left’s war on individual liberty and the rise of an illiberal technocratic left, those who seek to absorb, marginalize, or extinguish institutions of civil society which compete with them and the state.

Domenech’s address can be viewed in full below.

As fall takes hold, it’s time once again for the Acton Lecture Series to take center stage here at the Acton Institute. Last Thursday, John Wilsey, assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, kicked off our fall 2016 series with a lecture on how to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Wilsey explores ways that Tocqueville’s background shaped him as an author, and the unique insights into American society that Tocqueville shared in his classic work.

Wilsey has produced Democracy in America: A New Abridgment for Students which will be appearing this November, and is also the author of One Nation Under God: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America, and American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.

You can view his lecture in its entirety via the video player below; to hear his appearance on Radio Free Acton, click here.