Click on the seal to find out for yourself…
Now, vote accordingly.
Click on the seal to find out for yourself…
Now, vote accordingly.
I don’t hate or even envy the rich; what I do hate are materialist philosophies telling me I MUST in order to be socially just. Seems to me that in too many cases a certain disinterestedness (in the spiritual life of man) is shared by both, making each the poorer in those things that truly matter: the treasures of heaven. And it is the things of heaven that supernaturally draws one toward a healthy contempt for riches, and so a more just and merciful world. I’m thinking St. Francis of Assisi would agree.
Below is a great article on the inherit weaknesses of the Occupy movement. Enjoy.
The Occupy Movement’s Vacuous Critique of Inequality
by Carson Holloway
April 16, 2012
The Occupy Movement should be an occasion for the American left to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice.
The so-called “occupy movement”—which began with Occupy Wall Street and then spread to other cities—is back. After a period of relative calm during the winter months, the movement reappeared in mid-March to celebrate the passage of six months since its initial protests in New York City. While the encampments themselves may come and go depending on the weather and resolve of city officials, the movement enjoys a persistent influence on our public discourse. The movement’s complaint about the inequality between the upper 1% and the lower 99% of American society has become a powerful rhetorical tool of the American left.
But the complaint, whatever its rhetorical power, is intellectually groundless. As a mere lament about inequality it is unrelated to any sober appreciation of human realities. As a complaint about injustice, or about the abuse of social power and influence, it is undermined by the left’s own moral crusades of the last two generations. An inquiry into the vacuity of the Occupy Movement’s critique of American society reveals two serious failings of the contemporary left: its utopianism, on the one hand, and its tendency to devour the very moral principles necessary for an effective defense of social justice, on the other.
To some extent, the movement’s invocation of the 99% against the 1% is meant to convey, without further argument, a sense of injustice: it is wrong that the 1% should have more wealth and political influence than the vast majority of the society, or at least it is wrong that the inequalities should be so large. In other words, the complaint assumes that inequality is injustice, or at least that extreme inequalities amount to injustice. While this certainly sounds reasonable, a moment’s reflection reveals that the fact of inequality itself, even extreme inequality, is not a sufficient basis on which to criticize a society—at any rate if we are applying realistic and non-utopian standards.
Machiavelli famously dismissed earlier classical and Christian political thought, with its belief that politics should aim to make men good and noble, as idle talk of “imaginary republics and principates.” That is not, he suggested, how political societies really are. Liberals are inclined to agree with that critique, but then they fall into a similar mistake by pressing too hard their complaint about inequality. To insist on a large scale society that is free from political and economic inequalities, or even free from extreme inequalities, is to demand an imaginary society. Experience teaches us that all human societies are characterized by inequalities: some people enjoy more benefits, status, and power than other people. The larger and more complex the society, the more extreme the inequalities become. Even modern societies that make equality their explicit aim fail to achieve it and in fact maintain extreme inequalities. Most people in the Soviet Union were not members of the Communist Party, and most Party members were not high-ranking enough to have significant influence compared to those at the peak of the pyramid.
Inequality, therefore, is simply a fact of human social life. To be sure, it may reasonably become a matter of complaint if it turns out to be an impediment to people’s enjoying other goods that they are due. Despite what the Occupy Movement wants us to believe, however, it is far from clear that this is the case in contemporary America. Certainly the elevation of the 1% is compatible with the life of the 99%. Starvation in America is not a widespread problem. Inequality is even compatible with the positive material flourishing of the 99%, who enjoy access to all manner of consumer goods and services, as well as higher things like education, far in excess of what was available in earlier societies, even societies characterized by less extreme inequalities of wealth. This generally rosy view may indeed conceal very real abuses and evils that should be remedied through political or economic reforms. But to speak in this way is already to surrender the moralistic utopianism of the left’s simple complaint that the 1% has more wealth and influence than the 99%.
Ultimately the Occupy critique goes beyond a simple complaint about the fact of inequality. The argument is pressed further, not merely that inequality is presumptively unjust, but that the 1% use their superior influence to rig the game of American life in their favor, at the expense of the 99%. We have a problem not just of inequality but also of exploitation. Given man’s fallen condition, some measure of such exploitation is probably inseparable from social life; and we might therefore respond to this complaint with reflections similar to those above. Why, we might ask, should we get so excited about such exploitation if it is compatible, as it evidently is, with an unprecedentedly high standard of living for all members of society? To raise this response is not necessarily to endorse or acquiesce in such injustices. It is merely to observe that they are part of the normal course of events, inevitable in any society, and therefore that their existence in ours does not constitute a justification for a radical reconstitution of society, as some of the Occupy protestors seem to desire, but rather for specific, limited reforms aimed at specific ills.
But why should we even care about such injustices, if they do exist? Put another way, why shouldn’t the 1% exploit the 99% if they think they can get away with it? In raising this question we move beyond the utopianism of the Occupy Movement and expose the moral bankruptcy into which the American left has spent itself over the last half-century.
The exploitation of the poor by the rich, and the moral condemnation of such abuse, is a common theme of the Bible. To that extent, our civilization has—or had—access to a widely respected moral tradition through which we could question such exploitation. For the last sixty years, however, the American left has dedicated considerable energy to undermining the social and cultural authority of biblical religion. They have tried, and succeeded to a considerable extent, to convince Americans that any appeals to religious morality are illegitimate in a pluralist democracy. The left’s full-court press against religion was really intended to advance specific aims: for example, the advancement of sexual liberation, which is impeded by conceptions of sexual morality held by traditional religions. But now they find that their effort to marginalize religious morality leaves them without an important source of support in their quest to evaluate inequality and exploitation.
Moreover, the American left has, by its own political example, repeatedly undermined the public sense that it is wrong for a small minority to use superior social power to impose its views or interests on the majority. It has done this most obviously by its persistent use of the judicial power to achieve aims that could not win popular political support. This is the mode by which the left has imposed extreme secularism in government, a liberal abortion regime, and is the mode by which it is trying to redefine marriage. In each of these cases the judicial victory was awarded to a position representing a minority of the population and was based upon constitutional principles that were transparently invented simply to achieve a desired outcome. If the left is willing not merely to tolerate but in fact to celebrate such maneuvers, on what principled basis can they complain that a wealthy minority manipulates law and policy to its own advantage? Complaints about the power of the 1% ring hollow in the mouths of those who have shown themselves willing to govern contrary to popular consent.
Finally, the left’s insistent promotion of a right to abortion further undercuts the capacity for indignation about the exploitation with which the Occupy Movement is now concerned. Abortion necessarily involves the exploitation of weak human beings by strong ones. This conclusion is unavoidable unless we adopt the claim that the being whose life is ended by abortion is not human. This claim, however, is hardly credible on its own terms and was proposed precisely in order to obscure the exploitation in question. Furthermore, this exploitation, done in the name of individual autonomy, necessarily involves a denial of moral bonds that are essential to social solidarity. According to the reigning pro-abortion ideology, individual autonomy is more important than a mother’s natural obligation to protect her particular child’s life, and also more important than the physician’s obligation to preserve and not destroy life in general. Contrary to what the left would like to believe, a society that, in the name of individual autonomy, authorizes mothers to pay doctors to destroy unborn children has already in principle authorized the wealthy to exploit the rest of us, if they can get away with it.
The Occupy Movement is a tool by which the American left wishes to compel America to rethink the question of social justice. It should instead be an occasion for the American left itself to rethink its own moral crusades, which turn out to be morally corrosive and hence incompatible with any serious commitment to social justice. Physician, first heal thyself.
Carson Holloway is a political scientist and the author of The Way of Life: John Paul II and the Challenge of Liberal Modernity (Baylor University Press).
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Crazy. Just freakin’ crazy. Blackhawks over Chicago…
Brings passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the President the power to arrest and detain American Citizens, into perspective. In fact, it makes these Anonymous fruitcakes appear reasonable…
More video/coverage here.
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And tell me, were there people calling for bringing back the guillotine? Yes. For beheading bankers? Yes. Complaining that the protest wasn’t violent enough? Yes. That the entire system of capitalism be destroyed? Yes. That this country needs a real revolution? Yes. That there were representatives of the communist party? Yes. That the protest was called for by a group out of Canada that don’t even live under our political system? Yes.
If you are going to tell the truth, tell the whole truth. This has been a 3 ring circus from jump street. The problem is, it’s using people’s anger or envy over 100 different issues, and when the only uniting factor is anger, being fueled by global reformists that are not part of or care about the American way of life, you are creating a brew that is not good for the 99%, not good for civilization. If you get your 100 wishes, the economy will be worse, entitlements will be unsustainable, blood will run in the streets, and the system that has done more for the quality of life of millions around the globe will be weakened.
Thank you for your words of welcome on behalf of this distinguished gathering. As I address you, I am conscious of the privilege afforded me to speak to the British people and their representatives in Westminster Hall, a building of unique significance in the civil and political history of the people of these islands. Allow me also to express my esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries and which has had such a profound influence on the development of participative government among the nations, especially in the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world at large. Your common law tradition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe.
As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose “good servant” he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.
This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.
And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.
Your readiness to do so is already implied in the unprecedented invitation extended to me today. And it finds expression in the fields of concern in which your Government has been engaged with the Holy See. In the area of peace, there have been exchanges regarding the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty; regarding human rights, the Holy See and the United Kingdom have welcomed the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; in the field of development, there has been collaboration on debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all.
I also note that the present Government has committed the United Kingdom to devoting 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013. In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare. Where human lives are concerned, time is always short: yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Surely the integral human development of the world’s peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world’s attention, that is truly “too big to fail”.
This overview of recent cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See illustrates well how much progress has been made, in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. I hope and pray that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens, in harmony with this Parliament’s historic practice of invoking the Spirit’s guidance upon those who seek to improve the conditions of all mankind. For such cooperation to be possible, religious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed. The angels looking down on us from the magnificent ceiling of this ancient Hall remind us of the long tradition from which British Parliamentary democracy has evolved. They remind us that God is constantly watching over us to guide and protect us. And they summon us to acknowledge the vital contribution that religious belief has made and can continue to make to the life of the nation.
Mr Speaker, I thank you once again for this opportunity briefly to address this distinguished audience. Let me assure you and the Lord Speaker of my continued good wishes and prayers for you and for the fruitful work of both Houses of this ancient Parliament. Thank you and God bless you all!
Personal Finance Index — 8/10/2010
Getting Better — 26%
Getting Worse — 46%
Presidential Approval Index — 1/21/2009 [+28]
Strongly Approve — 44%
Strongly Disapprove — 16%
Presidential Approval Index — 9/03/2010 [-16]
Strongly Approve — 27%
Strongly Disapprove — 43%
Notice any correlation here?
SOURCE: Rasmussen Reports
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The legacy and fate of a one-term-only Marxist-Socialist president and his party…
Map Information/Large screen here
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