Posts tagged with: politics

enemy-posterThis month mark the fiftieth anniversary of the China’s Cultural Revolution. Here are five facts you should know about one of the darkest times in modern human history:

1. The Cultural Revolution — officially known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — was a social and political movement within China that attempted to eradicate all traces of traditional cultural elements and replace them with Mao Zedong Thought (or Maoism), a form of Marxist political theory based on the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China. Mao governed as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.

2. The beginning of the Cultural Revolution is traced to May 16, 1966, when Mao issued a document that included ‘indictments’ against his political foes. In what has become known as the “May 16 notification”, Mao claimed that, “Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists.” Although Mao unveiled his intention in May, it was not until August that the Communist Party issued the “Decision Concerning The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” which outlined the Chairman’s goals. The two primary institutions that Mao wanted to eliminate were education and religion, the main threats to Mao Zedong Thought.

venezuela-food-shortagesThe Venezuelan economy is buckling under the weight of its severe socialist policies, and even as its president admits to a nationwide economic emergency, the government continues to affirm the drivers behind the collapse, blaming low oil prices and global capitalism instead.

This was supposed to be the dawn of “21st-century socialism,” as the late President Hugo Chavez proclaimed over 10 years ago, complete with the right tweaks and upgrades to its materialistic, mechanistic approach to the human person. “We have assumed the commitment to direct the Bolivarian Revolution towards socialism,” he said, “and to contribute to the socialist path, with a new socialism…which is based in solidarity, in fraternity, in love, in justice, in liberty, and in equality.”

Alas, with a shrinking economy, booming inflation, violent outbreaks, and empty food shelves, “21st-century socialism” is feeling mighty nostalgic in all the wrong ways.

In the years before Chavez, the country was in better shape than much of the continent. Now, thanks to the temptations of centralized power, the arrogance of centralized planners, and a series of faux upgrades to age-old bad ideas, the nation is crumbling. The oil prices simply served as the messenger. (more…)

redistribution[Note: This is the second in an occasional series evaluating the remaining presidential candidates and their views on economics and liberty. You can find the first article here.]

In the previous article in this series I explained that the key to understanding Donald Trump’s economic policies is the recognition that, for him, policy and principle are secondary to process. The overriding concern for Trump is not money or wealth but deal-making.

“I don’t do it for the money . . . I do it to do it,” wrote Trump in The Art of the Deal. “I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”

This flippant disregard for money is the type of thing that is only said by saints and trust fund kids. And Trump is no saint.

Trump started out in business with a loan from his father worth almost $7 million in 2016 dollars. He also inherited between $40 and $200 million when his father died in 1999. As a rich kid, he’d be fabulously wealthy even if he never worked a day in his life.

Because he has never had to be concerned about earning money, he has always treated it as a measuring stick. For Trump, dollars are the main way that “deals” are measured. The more dollars you can extract from someone else, the more you “win.”

This may sound like the normal process of capitalism, but it’s not. In a free enterprise system (at least in an ideal one) “deals” are mutually beneficial to both parties. The deal may not be equally beneficial to both parties or even beneficial in the same way, but each side must believe they are better off for having entered into an economic exchange. If they did not, they would not have agreed to the deal.

There is a way, however, to “win” at a deal without everyone involved agreeing that it was mutually beneficial: get the government to redistribute someone else’s property to you.

donald-trump-has-surged-to-the-top-of-2-new-2016-pollsYesterday, Acton Institute Senior Editor Joe Carter joined host Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta in the Afternoon to discuss the phenomenon that is Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. Carter explains that Trump’s appeal lies in the fact that he’s bringing a brand of folk Marxism to an entirely new audience. Trump is not a Marxist, but his pitting of oppressed classes against their oppressors is drawn from folk Marxism, and has been a powerful political tool in the 2016 campaign.

You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.

Working For Our Neighbor“If you are a manual laborer, you find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart. It teaches and preaches how you should treat your neighbor.” –Martin Luther

Christian’s Library Press has now released Working for Our Neighbor, Gene Veith’s Lutheran primer on vocation, economics, and ordinary life. The book joins Acton’s growing series of tradition-specific, faith-work primers, which also includes Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Reformed perspectives.

Veith, who describes Martin Luther as “the great theologian of vocation,” believes Luther’s approach is distinct in approaching vocation as a manifestation of “the spiritual and the physical, transcendence and incarnation, ascent and descent, faith and love, love of God and love of neighbor.” Luther’s theology “shows the interconnections of faith, work, and economics not just theoretically, but practically,” Veith writes, “and discloses how the ordinary, seemingly secular activities of everyday life are essential dimensions of Christian spirituality.”

Beginning with a hearty critique of Max Weber’s classic work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Veith argues that the Reformation’s influence on capitalism has long been mischaracterized and misunderstood. Although Weber properly identified a variety of psychological and cultural factors, his analysis of the theological and spiritual connections fell remarkably short. (more…)

AKSWPTYesterday was Abraham Kuyper’s birthday, and tomorrow is Reformation Day, so it seems appropriate to note once again in this space that we have launched a new 12 volume series of Kuyper’s works. The title of the series is Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology, and the goal is to bring more of the primary source materials from this virtuoso theologian and statesman into circulation in the Anglophone world.

Mel Flikkema and I are serving as general editors of the series, and I am also serving as a volume editor for the three volumes on Common Grace. You can read more details about the origins, contents, and goals of the series in the General Editors’ Introduction that I have posted here. As Mel and I write, “The church today—both locally and globally—needs the tools to construct a compelling and responsible public theology. The aim of this translation project is to provide those tools—we believe that Kuyper’s unique insights can catalyze the development of a winsome and constructive Christian social witness and cultural engagement the world over.”

The first volume to be made available in the series is Our Program: A Christian Political Manifesto, translated and edited by Harry Van Dyke. This remarkable text is a commentary and elaboration of the principles and convictions of the Anti-Revolutionary Party in the Netherlands, of which Kuyper was a key leader.

Kuyper has a powerful legacy that has most often been noted explicitly within the context of the Reformed tradition, and particularly Dutch Reformed churches. But it is my conviction that Kuyper has important lessons, many positive and some negative as well, perhaps, to teach us today and to communicate more broadly to the evangelical and even ecumenically Christian world.

As Tracy Kuperus reflects on just the political aspects of Kuyper’s diverse legacy,

left v. rightIn today’s American Spectator, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg notes that left-wing politicians, supporters of socialism, and social engineers seem to have taken over – not just in American politics, but globally. Why? Gregg suggests three reasons:

One abiding cause of the left’s on-going ascendency, I’d suggest, is that the visible weakening of orthodox religion throughout the West. As the 20th century Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac observed, liberalized forms of Judaism and Christianity don’t involve abandonment of a desire for the transcendent. Man, he claimed, remains homo religiosus. The yearning for the eschaton subsequently gets channeled by liberal religion into the pursuit of this-worldly commitments …

A second enduring dynamic that’s boosting the left’s forward-march, and which is perhaps even less curable by policy-changes. It is, in a word, democracy. (more…)