Monarchism, Triumphalism, Capitalism, Communism and other -isms.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    This might become inflammatory, but I just can't let this fascinating quip about a hymn in another thread pass without comment:

    For a Berkeley anti-fascist though, it dredges up old bitterness about that other innovation, the Feast of Christ the Monarchist. (PURPLE)

    I've always been interested in the subject of religious liberty and the tension between, let's say, Quas Primas and Dignitatis Humanae, esp. as it concerns the famous Vatican II doctrine that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. (Section 2, DH)

    The subject has come up recently in a dialogue I've been having with a friend, a young man in another state who is homeschooled and a long-time "traditional" Catholic. However, this enterprising young fellow in his ongoing exploration of political theory has gone from being a conservative Republican to a libertarian to an anarcho-communist in a few years. He claims that he is now an "anti-liberal, anti-capitalist, anti-Americanist" and a fervent "Bernie" fan. It's all more than a bit disconcerting since he insists that the Catholic Church has always acknowledged that "coercion" and "force" are "as it should be! Force is necessary for any political movement, be it Communist, Catholic, or what-have-you. Coercion in of itself is not bad."

    At any rate, from my own point of view, any discussion of the political -ism's seems to center upon this question of "coercion." I just wonder in the end, how a Catholic can admit that coercion/force/violence is sometimes necessary to implement a form of government. Isn't that basically the wrong-headed Caiphas Ethic: "it is better that one man die than that an entire nation perish", or, in other words, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one"?

    Any help unraveling this difficult subject would be appreciated. : )
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,071
    Talk to the French and you will get really fascinating answers..... Vive la Republique ou Vive le Roi.
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  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 362
    The Professor that I took Moral Theology from boiled it down to this: we shouldn't coerce or force, but providing incentives for people to stoop dragging their feet and become more devout can be a good thing.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    Classically, the Church distinguished in theory at least between coercion of the baptized versus the unbaptized - the former were, by virtue of baptism, under her sovereignty, as it were. That's why the Inquisition technically only had jurisdiction over the baptized. Et cet.
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  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,532
    It all boils down to the difference between "liberty" and "toleration". The two aren't synonymous, as some would like to think.
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  • Julie,

    I think an analogous situation can be found in the question: "Is the killing of another person always wrong?"

    One may not use force to impose Communism or Socialism or Nazism on a populace -- but that's because the end result is, by its nature, evil. Imposing a monarchy is un-necessary, but monarchical systems are, again, by their nature, morally superior to Communist, Socialist or Democratic ones.

    Killing another person isn't intrinsically evil, because there are times and places where it is morally justified.

    Now -- your muddled friend --- in no uncertain terms needs to be told that one can't be a logically coherent traditional Catholic and a socialist.

    Compelling someone to live up to his wedding vows is not morally objectionable. Coercing someone to be baptized, even though Baptism itself is a good, surely would be wrong.

    Taking a wreckovation ball to the liturgy is (IMHO) a crime on nearly the same level as sacrilege.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,808
    The originally purpled quip was made in the context of a concurrent thread entitled St Joseph the Communist. Far be it from me to take remarks like
    monarchical systems are, again, by their nature, morally superior to Communist, Socialist or Democratic ones. Killing another person isn't intrinsically evil
    out of context, but I must say most of my friends would be deeply shocked to learn how much time I spend among the present company ;-)
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,808
    Liam is correct about 'sovereignty' being a technicality when forced baptism is prevalent, as in the Catholic Monarchs' Spain or Stepinac's Croatia. I'm reading a fascinating wartime journal by Mikhail Sebastian, a Romanian writer who survived the holocaust and had more experience of the world than Anne Frank (he tunes in to the Matthaeuspassion every Spring for consolation, noting the increasing cuts and de-judifications introduced). 'Sovereignty' could cut both ways: Sebastian's friends urged him to be baptized as a condition for the church to offer such protection as it could, but he preferred to attend Yom Kippur services even as a non-believer (Stepinac at least made no such distinction between baptized and unbaptised Jews).
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks so much for these helpful thoughts. I'm just having a hard time understanding why Marxism has such great appeal to this young man and why he is so determined to salvage it from the ash heap of history. The fact that 100 million lives have been lost by the communist experiment in one century is completely irrelevant to him, and he insists there are forms of communism that have never been tried that are perfectly viable and worth losing some more lives to implement. It's disturbing that this fellow is not an isolated example among kids his age.

    A quick look through The Black Book of Communism on our shelf was all it took for our teens to decide that communism was not worth a second thought. Watching documentaries on the life of Pope John Paul II was helpful also.

  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    P.S. Chris, I know there is deep controversy surrounding Dignitatis Humanae and the question of political coercion and am aware the ambiguous phrase "within due limits" has been legitimately criticized. It's also not without irony that this document more than the other VII documents has been an obstacle to traditional Catholics, but in the context of the times then when almost 2/3 of the world was living behind the Iron Curtain, the Church's bold proclamation that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, makes eminent sense, at least to me.

    That this document contained enough "ticking time bombs" to allow it to be used to promote a false, feel-good relativism is also without question, but perhaps the main focus was defending the rights of those being oppressed and crushed by communism at the time. Is that possible?
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,532
    Julie, has your friend read anything of Cardinal Mindszenty? Or Father Cizek? Or Bella Dodd? Or Dorothy Day? Or Elizabeth Bentley? Or Douglas Hyde? Or the parable of "AA-125"? etc.
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks so much for these! I sent him The Black Book of Communism and Bella Dodd's book, and recommended Gulag by Ann Applebaum, and he's also very familiar with the life of Pope John Paul II, but nothing so far seems to sink in.

    Whenever I mention the death toll or negative effects of Communism now, I'm accused of "red-baiting" so he's becoming impervious to that line of argument.

    I thought maybe if I asked him to compare body counts for capitalism vs. communism, that might make him think, but I'm afraid he's already gone round the bend and further discussion may be futile. Hopefully this is just an adolescent phase, but it has been ongoing for a number of years, and I'm troubled by it. I just feel so badly about this very earnest young man who, unlike so many of his age, is asking serious questions and trying to find solutions to the problems he sees.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    I don't know how on earth one could credibly create a comparison of death-tolls from capitalism vs Communism that won't have cringeworthy problems of attribution that will defeat the rhetorical value of it. So that's a dead-end.

    I suggest that you won't be able to fight books with books and arguments with arguments unless assumptions are sufficiently shared. Assumptions are pre-logical - they are issues of plausibility, and do not succumb to argument as such. This young man doesn't seem to share your assumptions.

    Instead, you start with: curiosity. About his assumptions. And not getting sidetracked into judging them - that will cause conversation to end prematurely. Only after you've gotten a sufficient sense for his terrain of assumptions can you determine where conversation would best go next.

    And only if you're interesting in doing that.
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  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 53
    FWIW, in the 90s Notre Dame put out a collection of correspondence between Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinsky, who became close friends late in life. A very good read. Towards the end, they deal a lot with ends vs. means, and it seems both men are struggling with the limitations of their respective beliefs.

    If your friend is interested in that sort of thing.
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    I only suggested the comparison between capitalism and communism since, in my friend's mind, capitalism is the cause of evil in the modern world and communism is its only antidote. It really is that black and white for him.

    I readily concede that capitalism has had its victims and negative effects, but mass slaughter and gulags, along with institutionalized fear and intimidation are not the normal mode of operation in capitalist-based societies.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    Julie

    Sins of commission vs sins of omission (though, it should be noted, deaths from chattel slave system - which was a particularly viral form of capitalism - would be sins of commission...plantations were, in simple terms, torture and forced labor camps).

    You don't "win" a battle of black and white. Btw, I wonder if there are addiction issues in his family of origin - often an issue lurking behind compulsively B&W thinking, and you never win arguing with B&W thinking if there's a much bigger iceberg like that below the surface.
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Liam, excellent point about slavery being a form of capitalism. I'm cognizant also of the bleak situation for employees of corporations which is a modern form of slavery. (One of my sons would like someday to form labor unions for retail workers and office workers which seems to me a far more constructive solution than anarcho-communism or similar paradigms.)

    So I'll rephrase my question, just for argument's sake:

    If 100 million have died in the last century as a direct result of communism, how many would you estimate have died as a result of people directly electing their rulers and lawmakers in that same century?

    To what would you attribute the disparity in body counts?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    Julie

    Your friend, if he's alert, will refuse the 100-year limitation as artificial AND refuse the equation of capitalism with direct election of lawmakers/governors. Your attempt to define the terrain will merely confirm to him what will look in his eyes to be your bad faith. (*I* don't accuse you of bad faith - I am describing what I suspect is one of several predictable possible outcomes of that gambit you suggest. You are playing a kind of chess; the problem is, this game has rules that only your friend is in charge of setting. I, instead, suggest you stop playing the game and do something else.)

    Another question: is it important to you that you be the one to enlighten him on this?
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Great call, Liam. You're very adept at not accepting the premise of the question. I don't think I'm going to change anyone's mind at this point, and that's perfectly fine. More than anything I just want this young fellow whom we have known and loved since he was a baby to know that there is someone who takes him seriously and with whom he can discuss things. Since this has been going on for a while I was just running out of ways to present my side of the discussion, but believe me I'm ready to throw in the towel. In the end, though, I hope the young fellow in question knows that my husband and I are friends at whom he can throw ideas and get a sympathetic response. That's what is most important.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    Then, start *there*. Sometimes the obvious is staring you in the face.

    PS: Premises for questions are always in play until both sides agree on them. (The most Catholic response to a question is, in polite form . . . "Is that the right question?") Assuming one side gets to dictate the premises only works if that side has effective authority over the other. And sometimes not even then....

    PPS: You also don't have to hide that you disagree with your friend. Indeed, what may be most important is modelling how friendship can coexist with principled disagreement. He may not be used to that. It's a vital thing to see in action. If he wants to argue with your disagreement, then it becomes a situation where HE needs to persuade YOU - but you can say that it would not be fruitful to have that until you shared sufficient assumptions to proceed further. I don't mean this as a seduction/game - it has to be more sincere than that. But it also happens to be truthful....

    See how this works?
    Thanked by 2JulieColl kevinf
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,313
    In an attempt to merge three current threads:

    Liam the Wise for Pope No. 4!

    (I don't count Michael I, Peter III, or other Wannabees.)
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I like Mike.
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks for the sage counsel, Liam, on the value of honesty in cultivating friendship. I don't mean to be cagey; I just want to avoid the standard lines in this discussion since this fellow can see the usual arguments coming a mile away.

    Mostly though, the arguments don't really matter in the end. What we really want is for our young friend to know that when he suddenly proclaims to all his friends and relatives that Karl Marx and Bernie Sanders are his new heroes and begins calling for collectivisation and redistribution of wealth that we won't scuttle away in horror or ignore him or quietly delete him from our "Friends" list. Instead he can count on our family to listen carefully and applaud his sincerity and endeavor to present our point of view for as long as he wants to dialogue.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    You can not argue a leftie out of his leftism. It is a worldview forged not just in the absence of facts but in their willful misinterpretation and selective exclusion. Moreover, leftism is deeply tied to one's personality. A change in political or economic perspective will require a change in personality, which almost everyone fights to avoid at all costs.

    However, gradual unraveling of this toxic ideology is possible.

    I can tell you the three things, besides simply growing the eff up that helped me overcome the Marxism of my youth:
    1. Going to sales, and therefore having my income directly tied to my work and the value I can bring to the company that paid me;
    2. Personally knowing conservatives, libertarians, and other non-leftists who were nothing at all like the villians and bumpkins caricature of them promoted by the left establishment;
    3. The writing of Jeffrey Tucker.
    Thanked by 2Scott_W JulieColl
  • Julie,

    In Geometry, as the math gurus here will confirm, one method of establishing the truth is called "proof by contradiction". What if you accept his premises, for a moment, and let him tie his own knot? When you see the contradiction, ask him questions. When he says "Of course x= 0, because x (does not equal) 0.", have him explain the contradiction. Socrates used the method many years ago.

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,105
    In Geometry, as the math gurus here will confirm, one method of establishing the truth is called "proof by contradiction"
    Not just in Geometry, but nearly everywhere in mathematics. For example, the Theorem from elementary Number Theory which says that there are an infinite number or prime numbers is classically proved by "Reductio ad absurdam" (i.e. by "contradiction"). The proof runs as follows

    Suppose to the contrary that there are only finitely many prime numbers. Multiply them all together and add 1, obtaining a number N which is not divisible by any of these primes (because the remainder upon dividing N by any of these primes is 1), and so either N is itself a prime or it has a prime factor that cannot be in the finite collection of primes that was assumed to be all the primes. This is a contradiction to the definition of that collection. Hence, the Theorem is true as stated.

  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    "You can not argue a leftie out of his leftism."

    True for any ideology, not merely leftism.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Olivier
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 453
    What we really want is for our young friend


    Youth is usually the dabbling phase for most, meaning trying all kinds of stuff (veganism, eastern mystic religions, and wonky theories of economic justice.). Most move on when they realize no one really cares.

    One of my professors used to teach a class on Marxism in the '70s. But he made the students go through Marx's "logic" in Das Kapital. By the end of it, most students realized that once you remove the romantic dross of the little guy vs. corporate fat cats, the actual theory is hollow.

    My advice is don't feed the troll. Yes, I realize that he is probably not consciously trolling, but I suppose you get my meaning.

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  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    adolescent phase


    It is striking how many adults remain in "adolescent phase" these days, no?
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks for the reassurance and advice. It's my first experience with a really committed leftist/Communist, and the anger, nihilism and callous disregard for property and human rights are hard for my sedate, blue collar, middle class, suburban psyche to take; I certainly hope most of it is rhetorical and will dissipate with age and experience and a decent job, as Scott says.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,494
    Oy.
    For most of my adult life I was at the least a libertarian, and sometimes an anarcho-capitalist. It's still my go-to position, but I've had to consider, post-conversion, that the State might have a role to play. I'm only going to address the coercion question. (Of course, Catholicism and Communism are incompatible -- which doesn't stop some folks from trying.)

    One cannot be an anarchist and support coercion, because the use of force on another human sets you up as a state, forcing others to become state-analogues to protect themselves, which results in the war of all against all. One may of course choose to cooperate instead of compete. If one doesn't believe in original sin or know history, one might think this is possible. If one has accumulated any property at all, one must defend it, and who is to say one has more of a "right" to it than the person taking it? If, for the purposes of having a life, one delegates protective powers to an outside agency...boom, you have a state.
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 53
    Plus, there seems to be some conflation or confusion. As all know and most admit, the socialism espoused by Sen. Sanders--which amounts to more regulation of banks and huge corporations, a larger safety net, and a living wage, all of which seems to me kind of New Deal-y--is obviously not USSR totalitarianism. Sen. Sanders would not bring upon us a dictatorship of the proletariat, or begin liquidating kulaks as a class. I can't see how the reforms he says he would pursue, whether we in this forum find them desirable or not, would even begin to satisfy a militant communist.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    Sen. Sanders would not bring upon us a dictatorship of the proletariat, or begin liquidating kulaks as a class.


    You don't really know that.

    The movement he currently leads wants to dismantle capitalism altogether. They want to eliminate "making money" as the reason for starting a business. They claim that there should be a legal limit on the amount of money people make; a limit that must be enforced with ever greater surveillance and violence. They want to insert themselves into every human transaction, no matter how intimate or private.

    However "New Deal" Sanders sounds, you have to remember that he is one old man in front of a YUGE number of young people. There is no telling what this generation, once emboldened, will bring about.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,396
    There is no telling what this generation, once emboldened, will bring about.

    If one looks at the videos of their protests of various persons with which they disagree, the future looks bleak: a bunch of adolescent ninnies setting fire to cars and screaming in the faces of people who hurt their feelings. I am sure that this is not the society that any of us want to live in, and this is just the beginning.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,952
    I understand what you are saying, but... I remember the riots and unruly demonstrations of my younger years. Somehow, the protesters grew up, got jobs, and settled down.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    Somehow, the protesters grew up, got jobs, and settled down.


    And became the worst parents in history, raising a generation of entitled crybabies who light cars on fire when someone hurts their feelings.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,952
    I think it was the generation between the two that actually raised the current generation. The original protesters would be grandparents and even great-grandparents now. I agree on the crybabies.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    That's true.

    It's pretty much been a decline since the economic success of the 1950s. Funny how that works.

    Children who can afford everything they want grow up to be adults who want all the wrong things.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 647
    Since when has the Church supported capitalism? If you actually read the pertinent Church documents, the Church disagrees with both Capitalism and Communism as economic models.
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 53
    Since when has the Church supported capitalism?
    Some say JP2 kind of blessed it in Centesimus Annus.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    The problem is that, capitalism - in the Adam Smith sense - is not a fundamentally prescriptive system/model as such, but a more of a description/observation of how human beings tend to transact with each other under certain conditions of freedom of exchange, but there's an ideology of capitalism that is more prescriptive - and problematic from a Church perspective.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,703
    Oh, and the social-political divisions and protests of today are child's play compared to the 1960s. It's just that our media cycle amplifies it far more to our attention.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,952
    It's just that our media cycle amplifies it far more to our attention.


    Right. With 24-hour cable news channels, every event is blown out of proportion and covered to death. Someone referred to those news channels as a monster that has to be constantly fed.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,808
    worst parents in history, raising a generation of entitled crybabies who light cars on fire
    ...don't remember when it was people that were being lit on fire.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    and a decent job

    Any job.
    The eye opener is the pay stub.
    The eye poke is the tax forms.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Some relevant thoughts from Cardinal Sarah:

    "I encourage you to truly make use of the freedom willed by your founding fathers, lest you lose it." —Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Holy See's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, speaking to an American audience in Washington D.C. at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday morning, May 1

    "Today we are witnessing the next stage — and the consummation — of the efforts to build a utopian paradise on earth without God. It is the stage of denying sin and the fall altogether. But the death of God results in the burial of good, beauty, love and truth. Good becomes evil, beauty is ugly, love becomes the satisfaction of sexual primal instincts, and truths are all relative.So all manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, but even promoted as a social good. The result is hostility to Christians, and, increasingly, religious persecution." —Cardinal Sarah, Ibid.
  • I know I am late to the discussion, but try pointing this young man towards Rerum Novarum, and the works of chesterton, Belloc, and CS Lewis. Both capitialism and socialism(communism) are deeply flawed systems and at odds with the Magesterium, the solution lays in a "third way", consistent with Catholic Social Doctrine. This thrid way has. come to be known as distributism, which is rather misleading but further research will show that it teaches wipespread distribution of the means of production(property), ans promotes the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.

    "Distributism: an alternate system that subordinates
    economics and government to ethics and subsidiarity
    because they exist serve the common good.

    Distributism does not advocate government "redistribution" of wealth, which many assume based on the name alone. The name refers to the idea that justice and power in both the economic and political realms should be distributed throughout society." - David W Cooney

    http://practicaldistributism.blogspot.com/p/basics.html?m=1

    http://practicaldistributism.blogspot.com/p/catholic-social-doctrine.html?m=1

    http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/09/why-distributists-should-not-romanticize-middle-ages-pearce.html

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 362
    Another name for it that I coined is "Democratic Capitalism".

    The best primer on Catholic Social Teaching and economics is Just Money by Clifford Longley. It's relatively succinct and can be downloaded for free from the Theos website. Now if only the print books were available in the U.S. so I could buy them for all my free-market worshipping family members.

    http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/publications/2014/10/09/just-money-how-catholic-social-teaching-can-redeem-capitalism

    At the root of the current problem is the secular "neoliberal" anthropology that leaves no room for acting in a virtuous, godly, or humane way in the economic or political world of neoliberalism because such things as religion and religious anthropology and morality are totally private and divorced from public life. It doesn't really matter whether this godless anthropology is right or left flavored. Godless free reign for giant corporations or for the government isn't that different in the end, or even incompatible.
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 453
    Since when has the Church supported capitalism?


    It doesn't, but there is a bit of a shell game going on by elites that conflates capitalism with free markets and then pretends there is moral equivalence between "Capitalism" and Communism. The Church unambiguously asserts the moral licitness of private property (within limits), subsidiarity, and that Work was made for Man and not the other way around, which are all inescapably incompatible with Marxist communism.