|Ludwig Von Mises|
The only Christian voice that has truly tackled the issue of economics in the modern world is that of the Catholic Church. From the social encyclicals of the popes, we see that what the Church advocates is something akin to what G. K. Chesterton called "Distributism." In today's terminology, it might better be described as "Micro-Capitalism." Perhaps the term "Distributed-Capitalism" may be another way of putting it. By this is meant the free market. But the market is not truly "free" if it is dominated by a handful of men who have cornered it with monopolies. In this sense, the government truly does have a role in economics in the form of protecting the free market from those few powerful businesses that would seek to crush the free market trade of smaller businesses. For the most widely distributed ownership of property, via legitimate free market trade at a local level, is the most sure safeguard against widespread poverty and dependency. It is also the most consistent producer of charity for the poor among individuals. The problem with Austro-Libertarian economics is that a locally controlled market is lost to international free traders and cutthroat competition coming from the "big box" retail outlets.
|Christopher A. Ferrara|
|Thomas E. Woods|
The source of this text (and accompanying open letter) can be found HERE.
LUDWIG VON MISES
CHRIST, THE GOSPEL AND THE CHURCHFrom Chapter 29 of Socialism1. Jesus’ preaching of a Kingdom to come destroys all social ties:The expectation of God’s own reorganization when the time came and the exclusive transfer of all action and thought to the future Kingdom of God, made Jesus’s teaching utterly negative. He rejects everything that exists without offering anything to replace it. He arrives at dissolving all existing social ties….2. Jesus is like the Bolshevists:…His zeal in destroying social ties knows no limits. The motive force behind the purity and power of this complete negation is ecstatic inspiration and enthusiastic hope of a new world. Hence his passionate attack upon everything that exists. Everything may be destroyed because God in His omnipotence will rebuild the future order. No need to scrutinize whether anything can be carried over from the old to the new order, because this new order will arise without human aid. It demands therefore from its adherents no system of ethics, no particular conduct in any positive direction. Faith and faith alone, hope, expectation—that is all he needs. He need contribute nothing to the reconstruction of the future, this God Himself has provided for. The clearest modern parallel to the attitude of complete negation of primitive Christianity is Bolshevism. The Bolshevists, too, wish to destroy everything that exists because they regard it as hopelessly bad. But they have in mind ideas, indefinite and contradictory though they may be, of the future social order. They demand not only that their followers shall destroy all that is, but also that they pursue a definite line of conduct leading towards the future Kingdom of which they have dreamt. Jesus teaching in this respect, on the other hand, is merely negation.3. Jesus despises the rich, inciting the world to violence against them and their property, and His teaching has borne “evil seed”:One thing of course is clear, and no skilful interpretation can obscure it. Jesus’ words are full of resentment against the rich, and the Apostles are no meeker in this respect. The Rich Man is condemned because he is rich, the Beggar praised because he is poor. The only reason why Jesus does not declare war against the rich and preach revenge on them is that God has said: “Revenge is mine.”In God’s Kingdom the poor shall be rich, but the rich shall be made to suffer. Later revisers have tried to soften the words of Christ against the rich, of which the most complete and powerful version is found in the Gospel of Luke, but there is quite enough left to support those who incite the world to hatred of the rich, revenge, murder and arson. Up to the time of modern Socialism no movement against private poverty which has arisen in the Christian world has failed to seek authority in Jesus, the Apostles, and the Christian Fathers, not to mention those who, like Tolstoy, made the Gospel resentment against the rich the very heart and soul of their teaching.This is a case in which the Redeemer’s words bore evil seed. More harm has been done, and more blood shed, on account of them than by the persecution of heretics and the burning of witches. They have always rendered the Church defenseless against all movements which aim at destroying human society….4. The Church, not Enlightenment liberalism, cleared the way for Socialism:…. It would be foolish to maintain that Enlightenment, by undermining the religious feeling of the masses, had cleared the way for Socialism. On the contrary, it is the resistance which the Church has offered to the spread of liberal ideas which has prepared the soil for the destructive resentment of modern socialist thought. Not only has the Church done nothing to extinguish the fire, it has even blown upon the embers….5. Christian doctrine is destructive of society, prohibits concern for sustenance and work, preaches hatred of the family, and even endorses castration:…. So it is that Christian doctrine, once separated from the context in which Christ preached it—expectation of the imminent Kingdom of God—can be extremely destructive. Never and nowhere can a system of social ethics embracing social co-operation be built up on a doctrine which prohibits any concern for sustenance, and work, while it expresses fierce resentment against the rich, preaches hatred of the family, and advocates voluntary castration.6. The Gospel played no part in the building of Western civilization:The cultural achievements of the Church in its centuries of development are the work of the Church, not of Christianity. It is an open question how much of this work is due to the civilization inherited from the Roman state and how much to the idea of Christian love completely transformed under the influence of the Stoics and other ancient philosophers. The social ethics of Jesus have no part in this cultural development. The Church's achievement in this case was to render them harmless, but always only for a limited period of time….7. Because it opposes liberalism, the Church is an enemy of society:The fate of Civilization is involved. For it is not as if the resistance of the Church to liberal ideas was harmless. The Church is such a tremendous power that its enmity to the forces which bring society into existence would be enough to break our whole culture into fragments. In the last decades we have witnessed with horror its terrible transformation into an enemy of society. For the Church, Catholic as well as Protestant, is not the least of the factors responsible for the prevalence of destructive ideals in the world today…8. Liberalism is superior to Christianity and has restored humanity by overthrowing the Church, which is why the Church hates it:Historically it is easy to understand the dislike which the Church has shown for economic liberty and political Liberalism in any form. Liberalism is the flower of that rational enlightenment which dealt a deathblow to the regime of the old Church and from which modern historical criticism has sprung. It was Liberalism that undermined the power of the classes that had for centuries been closely bound up with the Church. It transformed the world more than Christianity had ever done. It restored humanity to the world and to life. It awakened forces which shook the foundations of the inert traditionalism on which Church and creed rested. The new outlook caused the Church great uneasiness, and it has not yet adjusted itself to even the externals of the modern epoch.9. Christianity has become a religion of hate, seeking to destroy the “wonderful new world” of liberalism:True, the priests in Catholic countries sprinkle holy water on newly laid railways and dynamos of new power stations, but the professed Christian still shudders inwardly at the workings of a civilization which his faith cannot grasp. The Church strongly resented modernity and the modern spirit. What wonder, then, that it allied itself with those whom resentment had driven to wish for the break-up of this wonderful new world, and feverishly explored its well-stocked arsenal for the means to denounce the earthly struggle for work and wealth. The religion which called itself the religion of love became a religion of hatred in a world that seemed ripe for happiness. Any would-be destroyers of the modern social order could count on finding a champion in Christianity.10. Because they follow the Gospel and have not been “inoculated” with liberal philosophy, priests and monks are the enemies of society:Priests and monks who practiced true Christian charity, ministered and taught in hospitals and prisons and knew all there was to know about suffering and sinning humanity—these were the first to be ensnared by the new gospel of social destruction. Only a firm grasp of liberal philosophy could have inoculated them against the infectious resentment which raged among their protégés and was justified by the Gospels. As it was, they became dangerous enemies of society. From the work of charity sprang hatred of society.11. The Church and the Papacy seek to enslave men by depriving them of reason and the spiritual freedom of capitalism:The Church knows that it cannot win unless it can seal the fount from which its opponent continues to draw inspiration. As long as rationalism and the spiritual freedom of the individual are maintained in economic life, the Church will never succeed in fettering thought and shepherding the intellect in the desired direction. To do this it would first have to obtain supremacy over all human activity. Therefore it cannot rest content to live as a free Church in a free state [the very slogan of Cavour, the great Masonic enemy of the Church and Blessed Pius IX - CAF]; it must seek to dominate that state. The Papacy of Rome and the Protestant national churches both fight for such dominion as would enable them to order all things temporal according to their ideals. The Church can tolerate no other spiritual power. Every independent spiritual power is a menace to it, a menace which increases in strength as the rationalization of life progresses.12. Christianity needs socialism in order to maintain theocracy against the threat of “independent production”:Now independent production does not tolerate any spiritual over-lordship. In our day, dominion over the mind can only be obtained through the control of production. All Churches have long been dimly aware of this, but it was first made clear to them when the socialist idea, rising from an independent source, made itself felt as a powerful and rapidly growing force. It then dawned upon the Churches that theocracy is only possible in a socialist community.13. The Church must “transform” itself by embracing capitalism rather than papal teaching, such as that of Pius XI:If the Roman Church is to find any way out of the crisis into which nationalism has brought it, then it must be thoroughly transformed. It may be that this transformation and reformation will lead to its unconditional acceptance of the indispensability of private ownership in the means of production. At present it is still far from this, as witness the recent encyclical Quadragesimo anno.