Robert Geroux is a political theorist.
By this author
The comments from my last blog entry turned in the direction of civil society and religion. We seem to be living in a new Gilded Age, an era of massive economic inequality with no apparent end in sight. Can the influence of religion – via the indirect influence of civil society – address and perhaps ameliorate this condition? I am pessimistic about this possibility.
As a complement to the excellent recent essays here on libertarianism, capitalism and religion, I wanted to make two very uncomplicated observations. What troubles me is the possible connection between the two; I think that without question a causal relationship exists, but I want to open matters up for discussion.
First observation: in economic terms, the United States is the most unequal of all industrialized nations. One could argue about the different ways of measuring this, but the pattern is clear, especially when one focuses on a measure like income distribution.
Here's something I learned today, from Joe Carter's entry over at Sirico's Acton Institute: the working poor "tend to make terrible economic decisions." Why? Because they “think about money differently than other economic classes.” For more, see http://blog.acton.org/archives/63344-think-money-like-working-poor.html#...
The market is an abstraction, a mobilized concept with a set of functions. In a contemporary turn of phrase, one of those functions is speaking “truth to power.” What power? The power of politics. What truth? This is a trickier question, but the heart of the idea of the truth of the market is that it exposes human beings “as they really are,” without all of the accretions of social norms, mores, customs and so on. This idea became prominent in the late eighteenth century.
For those of you interested in the libertarian "Tea Party Catholic" spin on Evangelii Gaudium, here's a short talk by Robert Sirico, accessible on the Acton Institute website:
Thank you for some insightful comments. Here's another short contribution, followed by a call for your input. I'd like to continue the conversation, albeit in a slightly different vein.
Many of you are familiar with the Cardinal Newman Society. Some of you mentioned it in your comments. In an article from the CNS website entitled "Colleges Need Better Measures of Catholic Identity, Study Finds," I found this claim:
Every year, the National Catholic Register comes out with a Catholic identity list. Some of these schools are considered "New Catholic Colleges," some are not. What makes a school authentically Catholic? According to the NCR, at least some of these features:
At approximately 10:15 pm on October 24, a Gonzaga University undergraduate answered a knock at the door of his off-campus apartment, and was faced with what he called a “homeless man” who asked for money. The man’s behavior was perceived as threatening, and so the student called for his roommate, who appeared with a loaded and drawn pistol, which he then leveled at the man. The “homeless man” fled and was apparently arrested later. After the incident, the students contacted Spokane police and campus security.
It's worth remembering that politics used to called "the art of the possible," that men and women pursued lives of public service without ideological axes to grind. I'm thinking of this as I read Elizabeth Drew's blog entry on the recent memorial for Tom Foley, here: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/nov/01/foley-memorial-decency/
I enjoy writing blog entries, I really do.
And yet at times I reflect and notice a bit of repetition in the work, a nagging and perhaps obsessive idea. A fixation.