Over at Church Life Journal I have an article up responding to a critique of integralism by Timothy Troutner. I give an exposition of the goods of hierarchy and obedience, and how true freedom and equality depend on them. I argue that the exercise of temporal power for spiritual ends can be a good, albeit secondary, instrument in aiding persons toward their final end. The article was rather long as it was, so I didn’t have time to go into the specific instances of the use of such power that Troutner mentions, and distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. So, as a sort of addendum to my article, I will briefly consider four of them here: 1) the possession of slaves, 2) the burning of heretics, 3) the persecution of Jews, and 4) the “Mortara Case.”Continue reading
I’ve been reading Nation und Staat by Msgr. Ignaz Seipel, chancellor of Austria in the 1920s. He makes the following interesting point about persons whose parents are from different nations or different states:
Even when one’s father and mother come from different nations, he is generally led by education and external circumstances to feel himself a member of one nation, while his feelings for the other, whose language he speaks perhaps just as well and whose way of life is familiar to him, are merely friendly and not national. But should in an exceptional case someone really not feel more a part of one nation than the other, then he is certainly not a double-nationalist, but not nationalist at all. In this case, the cosmopolitan feeling has displaced the national feeling. Similarly, no one is a patriot in two states. Although the laws do not always exclude the citizen of a state acquiring or keeping citizenship in an other state, nevertheless, the devotion and enthusiasm that are essential to patriotism are not capable of being divided between two states.
Wenn auch jemandes Vater und Mutter verschiedener Nation waren, so führen ihn doch in der Regel die Erziehung, die äußeren Lebensumstände oder auch eigene Neigung dazu, daß er sich dennoch als Angehöriger e i n e r Nation fühlt, während seine Empfindungen für die andere, deren Sprache er vielleicht gleich gut beherrscht und mit deren Lebensart er völlig vertraut ist, nur freundschaftliche, nicht aber eigentlich nationale sind. Sollte sich aber ausnahmsweise jemand tatsächlich nicht der einen Nation mehr zugehörig fühlen als der anderen, dann ist er keinesfalls doppelt national, sondern gar nicht. Das weltbürgerliche Empfinden ersetzt und verdrängt in diesem Fall das nationale. Und ähnlich ist niemand Patriot in zwei Staaten. Die Gesetze schließen es zwar nicht immer aus, daß der Bürger eines Staates neben der eigenen Staatsangehörigkeit eine fremde erwerbe oder beibehalte. Aber jene Hinneigung, jene Begeisterung, die dem Patriotismus wesentlich ist, läßt sich ihrer Natur nach nicht auf zwei Vaterländer verteilen. (Nation und Staat, p. 3).
His observation fits with my own experience, of growing up with an Austrian father and an American mother. My approach to the question of immigration, which some of my friends find it so difficult to understand, is, I suppose, partly an effect of ‘the cosmopolitan feeling [displacing] the national feeling.’
In my post “Use Values and Corn Laws, Aristotelian Marxists and High Tories” I argued that Marx’s analysis of capitalism contains some insights that can be useful to those who, like me, reject his egalitarianism and atheism. The post was mainly taken from a longer writing project, which has since been completed, but won’t be coming out for some time. In the same project I also argue that Marx’s analysis is missing some key insights that a necessary to understand capitalism. Particularly, I argue that Max Weber was right to criticize the excessive materialist determinism in Marx’s economic thought. Marx is surely right that the conditions of production influence human social life, but man is a rational animal, and his reasoning can never be entirely reduced to the “superstructure” concealing a material “infrastructure.” As Weber put it:Continue reading
Artur Rosman invited me to write something on integralism for Church Life Journal, and so it went up today under the title “What Is Integralism Today?“— a reference to Balthasar’s “Integralismus heute“. Here is a snip:
All political agents, whether they admit it or not, imply some definite conception of the good for man in their action. As Leo Strauss used to tell his students, all political action is concerned with change or preservation. When it is concerned with change it is concerned with change for the better. When it is concerned with preservation it is concerned with preventing change for the worse. But the concepts of better and worse imply a concept of the good. Therefore, all political action is concerned with the good. The Weberian account of separate spheres of social activity, each acting according to its own inherent rationality, conceals more than it reveals of modern social life. There is not and cannot be a neutral “political rationality” that reduces politics to a technique of achieving certain penultimate objectives. For, such penultimate objectives can only become objectives pursued by human beings when they are ordered to an (implicit) ultimate objective. And if the ultimate objective is not the true end of man, the City of God, then it will be a false end, the diabolical city.
In the latest issue of Studies in Christian Ethics, I review of Marcia Pally’s book Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality. The review can be read online at Sage Journals. It’s free at the moment, but will probably be behind a pay-wall later. Some excerpts from the review follow below. Continue reading
Over at The Josias I have a new piece on the distinction between radical (or hard) liberalism and moderate liberalism, and to what extent the American Founders can be called liberals. The header image, incidentally, is by N.C. Wyeth and depicts the Lord Advocate Prestongrange from R.L. Stevenson’s David Balfour.
Concerning the effeminates consecrated to the same Great Mother, in defiance of all the modesty which belongs to men and women, Varro has not wished to say anything, nor do I remember to have read anywhere anything concerning them. These effeminates, no later than yesterday, were going through the streets and places of Carthage with anointed hair, whitened faces, relaxed bodies, and feminine gait, exacting from the people the means of maintaining their ignominious lives. Nothing has been said concerning them. Interpretation failed, reason blushed, speech was silent. The Great Mother has surpassed all her sons, not in greatness of deity, but of crime. To this monster not even the monstrosity of Janus is to be compared. His deformity was only in his image; hers was the deformity of cruelty in her sacred rites. He has a redundancy of members in stone images; she inflicts the loss of members on men. This abomination is not surpassed by the licentious deeds of Jupiter, so many and so great. He, with all his seductions of women, only disgraced heaven with one Ganymede; she, with so many avowed and public effeminates, has both defiled the earth and outraged heaven. (Civ. Dei VII,26)
Over at the bloggingheads spinoff meaningoflife.tv I have a conversation with Aryeh Cohen-Wade, in which we discuss the Mortara case, debates about liberalism and integralism among Catholics, and finally the monastic life. The conversation was enjoyable, though I was a bit groggy from flu and flu medications.
We discussed an interesting essay by Nathan Shields at the Jewish magazine Mosaic, liberal propaganda about the wars of religion, and Gelasian Dyarchy (I’m afraid I forgot to mention The Josias, the integralist website for which I have written a number of pieces), and then a little about the monastic life and the practice of lectio divina.
In a brilliant essay on the Social Kingship of Christ, Peter Kwasniewski discusses the effect that the organization of temporal political life has on the way in which the doctrine is received. He writes of,
the Catholic vision of society as a hierarchy in which lower is subordinated to higher, with the private sphere and the public sphere united in their acknowledgment of the rights of God and of His Church.
And he writes of how this vision is undermined by the modern, horizontal, secular conception of politics. He argues, quite rightly to my mind, that royal government has a peculiar suitability to communicating a hierarchical vision of social order, and the majesty of temporal kings is help in understanding Christ the King.
My favorite Catholic republican, Aelianus of Laodicea, has responded with a sharp attack on Prof. Kwasniewski’s piece. Aelianus points out that the question of the political recognition of the Social Kingship of Christ, is separate from the question of the best form of government. The Church has always been content to allow various forms of political rule— monarchical, aristocratic, democratic, or mixed— as long as they are “integralist” in the sense of recognizing the superiority of the spiritual power. Aelianus as is right as far as the argument goes. But he does not thereby disprove Kwasniewski’s point. Kwasniewski was not arguing that the Social Kingship of Christ demands a Christian monarchy as the form of temporal power, but rather that such a monarchy “lends itself most readily to collaboration and cooperation with the Church.” And this seems to be primarily because of the “image of sacred majesty” that it presents to the minds and hearts of its subjects. This image calls to mind the “wonderful resemblances” that according to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching in Diuturnum illud, are to be found in the different levels of authority that are all derived from the authority of the one God.
The Josias has started a podcast, in which I and two other Josias writers talk about ethics and politics and Catholic social teaching. In the first episode we discuss the common good— what it is, what it isn’t. The conversation touches on many things including the relation of practical and speculative virtue, Alexander the Great’s complaining of Aristotle’s publishing decisions, and an esoterically anti-Nazi book published by a German professor under the nose of the National Socialist censors.