Monday, December 02, 2013

Free-market libertarians and Pope Francis

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, "Let’s Listen to Pope Francis on Economics" (On the Square, November 27, 2013), writes:
I don’t know how many pro-free market Catholics there are, but I sure know a lot of them, and when the Pope speaks on economics, we (and I very much include myself in this “we”) tend to either plug our ears and ignore it, or else confidently and even irreverently dismiss it (here’s an example of me doing it to Pope Benedict XVI, in French).

Neither of those approaches can suffice.
While I cannot count myself among those Catholics who are unabashedly of the free-market libertarian crowd, I do find interesting the questions raised by their frequent cognitive dissonance over Magisterial pronouncements on Economics. Thomas Stork, Christopher Ferrara, and others have pointed out the difficulty Austro-Libertarians have keeping faith with traditional Catholic social teaching on such matters as the "just wage," "just prices," etc.

But here there is also another question that surfaces. A reader who also read the above article asks:
Can someone help me out here? When the Holy Father writes a book about Jesus, he is careful to say, "My ideas, take them or leave them."

When the Holy Father writes an Exhortation and focuses in part on Economics, I am supposed to give my religious assent.

I am confused.

And frankly, the thought that I must give blind assent to transparently speculative and questionable teachings such as the Theology of the Body or the Religious Imperative of Poverty-first Government Policy would leave me hard-pressed to be loyal son of the contemporary Church. Many of the Comments [to the linked article] are very good. I remain of the opinion The Pope seems to think like a 70s Protestant mainliner... and will take the Church closer to the same demographic fate. When I see a huge surge in Mass attendance and homeless shelter volunteers, I will admit (with some ambivalence) I was wrong.
Any volunteers to help out here?


I am not Spartacus


Fr. Heinrich Pesch: Capitalism is the dominion over the national economy by the acquisitive interests of those who own capital.

E. Michael Jones. Capitalism is State-Sponsored Usury.

I am in complete agreement with Pope Francis on paragraph 54 and we Catholics do have to agree with him for what he said in that paragraph is simplified Catholic Social Teaching and it is part of our Faith.

The defense of Capitalism (which began in England with the theft of Catholic Church Property) is but one form of Americanism which, in the economic area, is actually an ideological infection contracted with our intellectual intercourse with heretics.

Over at my crummy blog I have posted a number of links which might be helpful for the autodidact interested in the truth of the Catholic Church's teaching on the economy.

Far from being what is claimed for it - a science outside the realm of Faith and Morals- economics is about Faith and Morality but there are very very few men striving to teach this to Catholics and they are drowned-out by the voices of men like Lew Rockwell, Michael Novak, George Weigel, Thomas Woods, Sirico at Acton Institute - etc etc.

One simply has to become an autodidact and search out these truths for his own self because the Bishops have been, repeatedly, cowed by the Michael Novaks,Thomas Woods Robbie Georges, and George Weigel's of this world when it comes to economics.

Thanks be to God I have been a subscriber to Culture Wars which has been running a lengthy series of articles and debates on economics over the past several years and I really look forward to Dr Jones' upcoming book, Barren Metal which, I assume, will be a summary of that fascinating debate.

The claims of the Libertarians and the Capitalists about economics have been slow to be submitted to Catholic Truth but Dr Jones, and Dr. Anthony Santelli have been doing just that in Culture Warsand that debate and discussion have caused me to cast aside the blinders given freely to me by Rush, Woods, Sirico, Rockwell, et al.

If I had any Common Sense, I would have asked my own self who is more likely to be telling me the truth about what the Catholic Church teaches about the Economy - Jewish Agnostics or Popes?

We Catholics have a top tier Economist, a genius, Fr. Heinrich Pesch, S,J,, who developed his own complete Catholic System of Economics based upon solidarism but few have heard of him because most Catholics are learnt economics from Rush and Weigel, and Novak, and Woods.

Catholic Truth is the antidote to the ideological infection contracted by the majority of Catholics in America and it they take the cure, the scales will fall from their eyes to such an extent that they will discover they have been in the same cafeteria of Catholicism (just at their own table in the corner) as the modernist dissenters and heretics they descry.

El Gringo


I am quite, quite confused. First, I'm confused by the article on first things. I'm not sure who this Gobry guy is, but trotting him out to speak on behalf of libertarians or austrian economists is a bit like The New York Times trotting out David Brooks as a conservative. Sure enough, read his bio and he's a web marketing guy... And he's french. Neither are very convincing in tackling the Keynesian that has brought us to this point - and a libertarian, or at least an properly educated libertarian he is certainly not.

Second, as someone who subscribes to the austrian school, I have no cognitive dissonance regarding matters such as a just wage. I believe it is a sin for an employer to deny an employee a just wage. I also think it's unwise for the government to attempt to regulate what that "just wage" is because the government will never successfully determine a single just wage in a heterogeneous employment market and in light of this setting a minimum wage law (how a 'just wage' would be enacted) does not serve the common good.

Third, I haven't read what the Pope wrote, but Fr. Z said there were some translation issues with the most recent English version, which does not surprise me at all.

As I've mentioned before, the Pope has no frame of reference for anything non-Argentinian. He likely sees their crony-capitalism and thinks that's what a free market is.

People experience cognitive dissonance or they throw up their arms at every financial crisis because they don't understand Economics. Thats ok. Economics is hard. I understood Fourier and Laplace transforms much more quickly than I absorbed the concepts around the money system and fractional reserve banking. Furthermore, like traditional catholic teaching, good economic teaching is hard to find. It takes time and effort just to get to the truth, let alone understand it.

El Gringo


The Comment I left on that First Things article is below.

Having this guy speak on behalf of 'conservatarians" is a bit like The New York Times trotting out David Brooks as the 'voice of reason' from the Right. Pascal mischaracterizes nearly every single libertarian or austrian position that he references.

I have not read the Pope's paper yet because I'm not confident in the first version of the English translation, but let me point out a few issues with this article.

"what the financial crisis has laid bare is that the most conventional version of free market economics was actually dead wrong."

Yes, but the "most conventional version of free market economics" is the keynsian view of Central Bankers and senate committees, not that of "conservatarians", libertarians, austrian economists.

"It would have been a pastoral, doctrinal, and theological disaster if the Church had, over the past twenty years, blindly subscribed to what I’ll now refer to as the Washington Consensus"

Again, the "washington consensus" or the "Brussells consensus" (since Pascal is French) is Keynsian, not austrian or even of the Chicago school for that matter.

"What in 2006 looked like the invisible hand of the market leading the financialization of the economy turned out to be a disastrous instance of crony-capitalist central planning."

It did not look like the free hand of anything to Austrians, because it was actually Keynsian Crony-capitalist central planning as the author finally figured out, so how is the failure of Keynsian-Left policies an indictment of either the Austrian or Chicago School?

"When hard money types hold to a moralizing vision of the economy whereby recessions are punishment for excesses and lead to a worldview that says to the poor “suck it up,”"

No, that's not their worldview at all. "Hard Money Types" - one imagines he must be speaking about Austrians - hold that Keynsian policies of easy money do lead to recessions. Our recommended response isn't to "suck it up". It's to end keynsian policies. We've had anything but a "hard money policy" for the last 15 years and we've had extreme keynsianism (money printing + deficit spending) for the last 5. How is that working out for the poor and unemployed?

I can go on and on. Nearly every line from this article is a mis-characterization of the Austrian and Chicago schools of economic thought, of what people from these schools actually believe, of what actually caused the crisis and what is currently fueling the rise in unemployment, inequality, and hopelessness.

First things, you aren't doing much for your credibility running some internet marketing guy from Henry Blodget's business insider as some sort of catholic economic thought leader. Economics is hard. Throwing up our arms when we don't understand it is not the proper response. It's exactly what the Keynsian-left want us to do.

I am not Spartacus


Dear Defenders of the Austrian School Heresy:

...The movement was packaged as a revival of the free market ideology whose flaws had been identified in social encyclicals dating back to Rerum Novarum. The revival was orchestrated adroitly to a significant extent by two atheistic/agnostic-Jewish figures at the University of Vienna — Friedrich von Hayek ( d. 1992), a former Marxist, and Ludwig von Mises (d. 1973), born in what is now the Ukraine. They are presented as the Austrian School. A prominent proponent in the United States was Milton Friedman ( d. 2006), an economist at the University of Chicago who gained the confidence of, among others, Ronald Reagan.

It is a disconcerting fact that there were, and are now, enthusiastic promoters of free market economics also at Catholic universities and colleges, including some which pride themselves on their doctrinal orthodoxy.

Free marketeers are basically positivists. For example, Hayek wrote in an article, “The Mirage of Social Justice” (1976): “…that in a society of free men… the term social justice is wholly devoid of meaning or content.” He added: “Attempts to enforce it in a free society must make that society unworkable.”

Now the virtue of social justice lies at the heart of Catholic social teachings ever since it was placed there by Pope Pius XI in 1931. The attempt to reinstate the free market philosophy in American economic life is therefore irreconcilable with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, that is precisely what has been going on during the post-World War II era as both Pope Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II have warned.

A primordial instance of dissent from Catholic social teachings in the United States came from a then young Yale graduate, William F. Buckley, the son of an oil magnate. Buckley deftly spearheaded the so-called conservative movement with his provocative magazine National Review, along with a popular weekly television program. That included portraying as socialistic the New Deal economic program, and passionate admonitions about Communist infiltration in American politics during the extended Cold War period following World War II. Unfortunately, his apprehension about pinkish and red infiltration into America blurred Bill Buckley’s Roman Catholicism so that he lashed out also at papal social teachings. Pope John Paul II made it clear in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (41) that the Church’s social doctrine “…belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology, and particularly of moral theology.” Buckley’s years at Yale did not make him a theologian, least of all a Catholic one. Yet he did not hesitate to oppose his Church’s position on the application of the cardinal virtue, justice, and the theological virtue, charity, which are proper to the province of moral theology. No sooner had good Pope John’s encyclical Mater et Magistra — a sequel to Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno — been released, when the National Review protested editorially with the lament, “Mater si; Magistra no!” A more explicit rejection of the Church’s magisterium is scarcely imaginable!

The editorial staff went on to downgrade the entire encyclical disdainfully as “a venture in trivialities.” Unfortunately, that appeared to establish the correct posture for the future among proper “conservatives” with regard to what the Catholic Church might have to say about the social order. And that included certain Catholic theologians who should have known better; but some among them were apparently enchanted by the atmosphere of dissent which lingered from the Second Vatican Council well into the post-Conciliar era.

I am not Spartacus


Atheistic Jews or Catholic Popes? Whom ought the faithful Catholic allow his own self to be taught about economics?

Mr Thomas Woods has written some excellent historical material (O, and he is a Historian) but his promotion of the Austrian School Heresy (He has as many economic degrees as do I) has infected the minds of millions of conservative Catholics who, unbeknownst to them, are in the same cafeteria occupied by the modernists and heretics they routinely descry.

Here is Ederer (He is an economist) on Mr. Woods and his agitprop succoring economic heresy;

Mr. Woods, and Mr. Lew Rockwell, and other libertarians, are forever citing the Salamanca Priests and claiming that their ideas represent Catholic Tradition – here is Woods;
These ideas are not foreign to Catholic tradition: The Late Scholastics of the 16th and 17th centuries favored an economy very largely free of government controls..

OK, please cite for us just one mention in one Social Encyclical where those priests are even mentioned to say nothing about where their ideas are acknowledged by Popes to be part of Catholic tradition.

Dont bother trying, long ago I had such a question asked in the letters section of Culture Wars and, as I knew would be the case, there was no response, for no such references exist.

Beware of nominal catholics echoing their atheistic-Agnostic Jewish Masters when it comes to the economy.

O, and as as aside, how many soi disant trads know that charging interest on loans is usury and. ergo, serious sin?

When was the last time you read, Vix Pervenit -it remains in effect up to this minute.

Usury is condemned in the Bible and in Catholic Tradition and in Catholic Magisterial Teaching but you would look like Papa Smurf were you to hold your breath waiting for Novak, Weigel, Woods, Rockwell, Sirico to tell you that.

I am not Spartacus


The Fifth Column Judeo-Protestant AgitProp Organisation, Acton, was kind enough to share its economic expertise with the NY Times as it, in the person of Fr Sirico, came-out (so to speak) against unions.

Culture Wars in its Bullets section told the story of a Duquesne Adj Prof of a quarter-century duration who recently died sick and broke.

She had taught three classes a semester and two classes each summer but cleared less than $25K.

Duquesne cut her to one class a semester and her salary plummeted to under $10K and she got cancer.

She couldn't afford to heat her home and so she moved into office to sleep during the day while she worked at night for a restaurant.

Duquesne had the cops evict her from her office and subsequently fired her but, I guess Acton Institute and Fr Sirico were right - such workers like Adj, Prof, Mary Vojtko, didn't need no steenkin union or health care.

The Baron of the Brick By Brick Bund routinely promotes the work of Acton Institute and Acton has an Institute in Rome, the Belly of the Beast for Usurers, and Sirico and his outfit are doing what they can to subvert Catholic Social Doctrine and I'll just bet the Magisterium has yet to catch a clue about this outfit and its diligent striving on behalf of the 1%.



IAN'S I went to a blog called "my crummy blog" is that your blog or did I misunderstand your post?


Robert Allen


Spot on IANS; I agree wholeheartedly with your history of capitalism especially your insistence that it is Protestant in origin. (Are you also a fan of Belloc? For he puts the matter in much the same way.) We cannot as Catholics support capitalism, nay we must oppose it, not only because it is part of a heresy, in fact its driving force, but because, in enshrining greed and worldliness as virtues, it is profoundly at odds with the Gospel.



This is a vigorous counterpoint to Gobrey.

I am not Spartacus


Dear Donna. Crummy refers to the quality of my

I am not Spartacus


I am not Spartacus


Dear Dr. Allen. Thank you for the generous comment. It is much appreciated.

I love Belloc, and Chesterton, but I have to write that I really began to admire the arguments advanced by Prof Ederer in Culture Wars. and I am buying his book.

Quite some time ago I read Ethics and The National Economy by the great Fr Pesch (back when I was in Maine in a Trad Study Group) but my group members were more conservative than traditional and so we never really discussed it.

But I am four square in support of every thing you wrote, Doc.

Is there any movement in that direction at your univ?

Have a Blessed SAdvent, brother.



IANS: Popes have also taught dubiously, on create and evolution, on Universalism, etc, contradicting what went before. So while your primary contention may be correct, citing papal teaching hardly shores it up--they themselves often go against earlier ideas. Unless it is ex cathedra, how do you know? Not from the last three or four guys. Pascendi…its right, its wrong, who knows, based on the variable tenor from Rome. Social doctrine does not seem to be faith and morals, so where'd does that leave the authority of pall economics? Average CAtholics can be forgiven for saying, WHo knows.

I am not Spartacus


The problem with modern capitalism — a problem that escaped the scrutiny of His Holiness — is not too much freedom, but too little. The regulation of free markets by governments, the control of the private means of production by government bureaucrats, and the unholy alliances between governments, banks and industry have raised production costs, stifled competition, established barriers to entry into markets, raised taxes, devalued savings and priced many poor out of the labor force. The pope would do well to pray for those who have used government to steal freedom so as to satisfy their lust for power, and for those who have bowed to government so as to become rich from governmental benefits and not by the fruits of their own labors.

Dear JM. He is simply wrong. In 2008 our Governmental genuises repealed Glass-Steagall which led to the Free Market suicide by the Banksters as their gambling with yiour money failed.

I am really not surprised he made this
false claim given that he also falsely believes Popes do not have the competence to teach inthe artea of economics -butJewisshatheists do?

I am not Spartacus


The problem with modern capitalism — a problem that escaped the scrutiny of His Holiness — is not too much freedom, but too little.

The ideological blindness of many soi disant traditionalists is a wonder to behold.

Thanks to the incessant badgering of the libertarians, usurers, and capitalists, the gov't ditched Glass-Steagall and the Free Marketeers got just what they wanted and they killed the economy and did untold damage and yet they have the gall to claim the Pope is not competent in the area of economics?

Worse, they do not even acknowledge the damage their ideeology caused - although it was historically horrific - but they demand more of the same malign madness.

JUdge Napolitano has many thinghs to recommend him but he is seated at the traditionalist table in the same catholic cafeteria occupied by the dissenters, schismatics, heretics, and lunatics he rightly castigates.

From Rush, to Weigel, to Woods, to Sirico, to Rockwell,,the attack on the Pope and his defense of Catholic Tradition in economics is disgusting; one expects that sort of lunacy from Rush (Deist?) but rrom putative Catholic experts in economics?

Not one of these so-called experts has any degrees in economics and yet they shamelessly attack the Popes who had holy, accomplished,professional economists advising them (experts who literally wrote the book on Cathollic Economics )whereas the economic dissenters have been learnt by Athheistiic Messiias-Deniers and Judiaased Proddies.

Ideology accounts for this insane dissent. Ideology has made them blind to economic reality and Catholic Truth; and such ideology is as intellectually debilitating and as impossible to overcome with reason as are psychotic delusions.



IANS said

"Thanks to the incessant badgering of the libertarians, usurers, and capitalists, the gov't ditched Glass-Steagall and the Free Marketeers got just what they wanted and they killed the economy and did untold damage and yet they have the gall to claim the Pope is not competent in the area of economics?"

I find this very interesting and am amazed that I have never heard this before. I have read most of the Culture Wars articles that site Dr. Pesch, Dr. Ederer, and Dr. Thomas Woods so I have gradually awakened to what is not right, what is wrong, about the Austrian "free markets" school.

I am going to search for some more evidences that these libertarian types actually pushed for the rescinding of Glass-Steagall.

I have unfortunately listened for several years to alternative radio of the "patriot" type where many Ron Paul supporters live. The show hosts and guests are often Ron Paul "conservatives" and they often decry the elimination of Glass-Steagall. And now I learn that they were the same people who called for it to end.

Alan Aversa


E. Michael Jones quoted Fr. Pesch, S.J., in the documentary Goy Guide to World History.