Category Archives: Œconomics

Graham Greene Reads Bourgeois Christianity

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We warrin’ on bourgeois Anglicanism like it’s 1689.

In The North American Anglican, Brian Miller has some brief thoughts, ‘Praying to Themselves’, about Graham Greene and a passage in his Orient Express.

In this short piece’s second part he says, ‘Graham wants us to think about what happens when religious bodies undertake the effort to update and modernize religious texts.’ Greene, he says, shows us how an attempt at relevance in fact makes the Church accessible only to a select group, weakening or destroying the ‘common prayer’ that the English world and the Latin world once enjoyed. Replacing the language of Zion, therefore, is a fool’s errand. That second part is well done.

The first part, however, is strange. It may make full sense only to a bourgeois audience, for it is perhaps only to a bourgeois audience that it seems necessary. To those with a bourgeois sense of Christianity, Mr Miller notes that Graham Greene ‘had notorious communist sympathies’ but was nevertheless a devout Romanist. ‘Catholic and Communist’, he says, ‘seem oxymoronic.’ He then quotes the ‘conservative’ William F. Buckley interviewed in The Paris Review:

Graham Greene always struck me as being at war with himself. He had impulses that he sometimes examined with a compulsive sense to dissect them, as though only an autopsy would do to dissect their nature. He was a Christian more or less malgré soi. He was a Christian because he couldn’t quite prevent it.

But Mr Miller can see in the Greene passage in view that, ‘far from being a contradiction, the communist and the conservative Christian impulses are perfectly aligned in that they both speak a universal moral language that seeks to transcend the matters of every-day life.’ Maybe, just maybe, William F. Buckley was wrong about Graham Greene, and Buckley was the one at war with himself. Buckley attempts to read Greene, but through that Orient Express passage he instead is read by Greene.

Buckley, eat your heart out. The contradiction is between Christianity and Whig conservatism.

ChristBol Defended Ethically on Just War, Subsidiarity, and Wealth

OrthodoxPolitics has replied to my more recent defence of ChristBol, which addresses a comment of his, on three points:

  1. Just war and aggression;
  2. Subsidiarity and sovereignty;
  3. Redistribution and commonality of wealth.

Just war

Following the order we have used in the earlier parts of our exchange, I shall begin with just war. Continue reading

A Reply to OrthodoxPolitics on ChristBol

In response to my post defending an irenic approach to Christian -Bol (particularly of the National Bolshevik variety), the author of the Orthodox Christian Politics blog has commented,

While I like some elements of Nazbol, there are elements of both National Socialism and Communism that are contrary to Christianity. With National Socialism, it is usually very aggressive, rather than following the principle of just war. It also has a very centralized system, violating the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of Communism, while it does a lot of good in helping the poor. It also does mass redistribution of property, but private property is a right in Christianity.

First, I shall note that National Bolshevism, despite the common nickname NazBol, is not directly related to Hitler’s National Socialism, and its exponents have never claimed ideological descent from National Socialism. The resemblance or convergence between the two, historically, was mostly in the general context of German nationalism; National Bolshevism, however, was part of the Conservative Revolutionary milieu and not of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Nevertheless, with a view to patriotic ideology’s dialectical development, I think it useful to answer some of the objections that the Orthodox Christian Politics author has expressed, so I shall not limit my remarks to the matter of Bolshevism.

Second, as I have noted in my ‘Defence of Christian -Bol’, it is with some ironic distance in the first place that I take up the name of National Bolshevik. I am not a German like Ernst Niekisch, who may be considered the father of National Bolshevism; nor am I a Russian like Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin; nor am I even of Europæan descent. I am a Chinaman, and my perspective naturally differs from that of the average Western dissident against contemporary liberalism.

ROC-nazbol

With those caveats, what follows is my reply to the Orthodox Christian Politics author’s comment:

* * *

The problems you posit for a Christian’s appropriating National Bolshevism are not insuperable, and I think as Christians we are free to take what’s healthy from movements that are not explicitly Christian, or even profess themselves opposed to Christianity as actually practised, under the judgement of holy Scripture.
Continue reading

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Self-Determination through Guilds

bakers’ guild

William Morris on the power of mediæval guilds, in ‘A Summary of the Principles of Socialism’:

‘The trade guilds which in the first instance were thoroughly democratic in their constitution, protected the craftsmen against unregulated competition, or from the attempt to oppress them in any way. Moreover, as it was easy then for a labourer to obtain a patch of land, and to remove himself wholly or in part from the wage-earners, so a journeyman apprentice starting in life as a mere worker could and generally did attain to the dignity of a master craftsman in mature age. The amount of capital to be amassed ere a man could work for himself was so small that no serious barrier was placed between the journeyman and independence; besides, the arrangements of the guilds were such that wherever a craftsmen wandered he was received as a brother of his particular craft. Although also the rest of Europe was behind England in the settlement of the people on the soil, the craft-guilds were even more important in the Low Countries and part of Germany in the Middle Ages than in England. Thus it should appear that in the record of the feudal development the period reached in each country when the peasant was a free man working for himself upon the land, and the craftsman was likewise a free man master of his own means of production represents the time of greatest individual prosperity for the people.’

From Distributism to Better Things

What took me away from distributism: too much wishful thinking and nothing significant about actually using force to protect national sovereignty. Concretely, there is overlap between distributism and national syndicalism, but the former seems to suit ultimately bourgeois fantasists who have little concern for geopolitical reality. The latter actually aims to defeat international capitalism and strengthen the place of the nation. Some will reckon that a weakness; I consider it a strength. There are alternatives to the usury-owned bourgeois managerial state, but I think distributism is not it. What force it lacks, national syndicalism has. So forgive me for not being a hobbit.

Natural Beef

cattle-pasture-ozarks

By Julie A. Brown (CC BY 2.0).

I once saw a specimen of beef in Wegman’s, so fine that I could not help drawing my parents’ attention to it, that they too might appreciate the beauty by which naturally raised beef is distinguished: the meat’s deeper red and the fat’s orange tinge, but especially the fat’s delicate fractal interlacing with the muscle. When we consider the necessity of food for the human race’s large population, and for its various populations considered severally, I hope we can treat with dignity what is often a short and miserable life.

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Mere Wage Increases Alienate the Worker

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Karl Marx, in ‘Wages of Labour’, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, against the notion that a mere increase in wages is adequate or even ultimately useful to the worker:

‘The raising of wages excites in the worker the capitalist’s mania to get rich, which he, however, can only satisfy by the sacrifice of his mind and body. The raising of wages presupposes and entails the accumulation of capital, and thus sets the product of labour against the worker as something ever more alien to him. Similarly, the division of labour [which is increased by the accumulation of capital] renders him ever more one-sided and dependent, bringing with it the competition not only of men but also of machines. Since the worker has sunk to the level of a machine, he can be confronted by the machine as a competitor.’

Raising the worker’s wages has not given him greater power over his own work; instead, because of the other things a wage increase involves, it has only further alienated the worker from his work and its product. Thus, Marx says, Proudhon is wrong to regard æquality of wages as the goal of social revolution; instead, he goes on to say, the workers need to seize the means of production for themselves in order to take back their own work.

Offences’ Debts

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Will God’s forgiveness free me now
From bondage unto man?
Are all my debts to man absolved
According to the plan?

I know his Spirit gives me pow’r,
Upon Christ’s perfect merits,
Without the law to plead his grace;
For whom he loves, inherits.

But what inheritance is worth
Enough my dues to pay?
For if I shun my duties now,
My hope will not appear:

If by my works I see my faith,
Which only justifies,
Then all assurance I dream up
Is nothing but cruel lies.

Could Newton make it up
To those he’d taken slaves?
No, he could only hope in God,
His final judge who saves.

No tears, no groans, no paltry works
Can heal the lashes’ scars;
But Christ, who meekly gave himself,
Will make them like the stars.

And is that treasure not enough
To satisfy all want,
Abundant beyond man’s design,
Your baptism’s full font?

From riches give that he has giv’n,
Incalculable worth,
And weigh not money’s sum but love –
Now have you any dearth?

Aside

Are there Christian mutual funds that, like Amana and other Islamic mutual-fund trusts, are not involved in usury? Or have Christians treated it as a foregone conclusion that, in a capitalistic world œconomy, avoiding usury is neither morally necessary nor … Continue reading

Aside

‘Among many people on the right, social justice has as little meaning as can be fit on a piece of confetti. They want to defend the nation but ultimately care very little for the people. They still do not understand … Continue reading

South China Morning Post to Become Pro-CCP Propaganda

Spectators in front of a large sign on Nixon’s motorcade route in China.

Mainland Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, reports the New York Times, is buying Hong Kong’s respected South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that China’s state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases. Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the company’s position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.

I agree that WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) nations have pretty biased mainstream media, which is why I also read RT with its pro-Putin bias; but the way to confront the false propaganda of the WEIRD media, with their often duplicitous talk of ‘human rights’, is not to add false propaganda supporting the CCP and ‘China stronk’ (強國). Because of money, the SCMP is already under pressure from the HK-China oligarchic establishment, but this development just seals the deal.

Aside

Oswald Mosley on the good sense of British abstention from Jewish quarrels: ‘We, always rejected the nonsensical doctrine that a whole people were born wicked, and doomed to sin and damnation from birth. This is the deep moral and intellectual … Continue reading

Aside

St John Chrysostom: ‘I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out … Continue reading

Restoring the Sabbath

Charles II touching the scrofulous.

One matter about which Christian students sometimes have questions is the keeping of days of rest. Having created the world, God rested on the seventh day; in the law of Moses, he confirmed his ordinance of days of rest by commanding ancient Israel to work six days and on the seventh cease completely. Today, no less than in the days of Moses, we have the example the Lord has set: as testified even by the rhythms of the earth itself, there is a time to labour and a time to cease. This necessity is written into nature itself, which no ordinance of man will take away, and to which the opposition of man can make no law at all. Let him beware who in the name of grace and truth in Jesus Christ makes bold to declare all nature abolished in favour of his own acquisitive desire.

And let him who has not imagined Sabbath, even he who is not a Christian, first mark what humane value there is in a weekly day of rest. Peter Hitchens says,

Does anyone miss the British Sunday, when our cities were like vast, well-ordered cemeteries, the sky always seemed to be black with impending rain, and a deep quiet fell on the land?

Actually, I do. I chafed at it as a child, because children don’t grasp the point of such things. Now that I know what it was for, it is too late.

I know this partly because of the experience of being in Cairo on a Friday morning, or Jerusalem on a Saturday, cities where a universal day of rest still exists, in defiance of all the racket and commerce of the 21st Century.

Before you have even opened your curtains or fully woken from sleep, you can sense that the day is different from all the others. You can feel the peace in your bones and blood.

But any Christian practice of a day of rest, as by nature it must be social, is incomplete without the power of the civil magistrate. Without such a power protecting its practice from the concrete predations of internationalist finance and (as much as lies in temporal care) the spiritual prison of greed, even among Christian believers the exercise of days of rest, though a testimony, is only a shadow of justice, an impoverished manifestation of the righteousness of God.

Godly magistrates or not, however, a day of rest will not even begin in earnest until the deacons, even if they have little civil influence at first, have urged and organized the people to do what they can and commit to more as they are able. And until we are convinced of what integral part the day of rest plays in – one might say – social justice, and until we have grappled with the principle of natural law which made it a wise and just commandment in the Old Testament, we shall always be convincing ourselves to limit its application, to quench the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is crucial, therefore, that the Church think about the meaning of the Lord’s just order and seek to do what she can, not for her own sake but for the sake of the world to which she is sent. This will entail far more than lies within the ability of individuals alone, and its practice needs to encompass the common good of man.

It is unseemly, for instance, for Christians to keep a Shabbos goy within their gates, working for them while they rest. Such devices are a means of jihad against the Canaanites; but now that the Son is come, and the gospel brought to the heathen, such warring measures are beyond the purview of Christian politics and ethics. The gospel is conquering the earth promised to us as part of our inheritance, but it proceeds by the word brought to all nations, a testimony of the Son’s saving power and purpose.

Arguably, the Sabbath allows of necessary labour during harvest, as was done in Europe. Even so, such necessity cannot be allowed to reduce days of rest to a dead letter, nor yet to the custom of the middle class only. For the spirit of the law, consonant with not only the general law of charity but also the Mosaic law’s specific provision for the household’s servants and even its animal chattels, is to give rest even to the lowliest and humblest, that those who have no power of resistance may, by the justice of their masters, be given times to rest their bodies and souls for the testimony of God’s kingdom. The law of charity rules over the demands of money, as Christ rules over coinage of every inscription; and he who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for many, he also desires that those who hold power, even lawfully, on days of rest should count it a blessing to give liberally, not requiring the service of their subordinates but rather washing their feet. For is it not the case that our resting is in the finished work of Christ, in justification by faith alone, that what we rejoice in is a certain æquality before God as justified sinners? Is it not clear that power and authority come from God for the good of those who by the law of nature must submit to it? Therefore let not one’s own prætended necessity be the occasion of denying rest to those with no power to take it.

So who is the Shabbos goy? He is an Amorite, whose hardening wickedness of 400 years has moved the justice of God to dispossess him from the land. Who will so præsume of anyone who, like Onesimus, might become a brother in Christ, and to whom one has the Christian duty to proclaim the gospel? Are there any such Amorites even among the Jews, who have assumed an ethnic identity both apostate and anti-Christian?

Along these lines the deacons must reflect on just application. It is not as simple as being the godly among the ungodly, the godly as a whole society separate from the ungodly: for Christ came into the world to save sinners. As long as the gospel is for all men, as long as Jesus of Nazareth gave his life for all, we must so keep days of rest as to testify to the world concerning the righteousness of God. It must give rest for our souls, but it must also call to the weary unbeliever to come to Christ, that in Christ he may enter the everlasting rest in which we believers rejoice in this world and are glorified in the world to come. The Son of God will come to be our judge, and his righteousness must be the clothing of the Church until he returns through the clouds descending.

Falangist Sympathies

Interested in nationalist or fascist movements not wedded to racial theories, movements whose goals I may consider similar in spirit to those of Chiang Kai-shek in China, I find that I broadly approve of the Programme of the Spanish Falange (1937). Its words are sometimes more extreme than I would write myself, but I think the statement can be reconciled to a godly understanding of the commonwealth.

Nation, unity, empire

1. We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. The urgent collective task of all Spaniards is to strengthen, elevate, and aggrandize the nation. All individual, group, or class interests must be subordinated without question to the accomplishment of this task.

2. Spain is an indivisible destiny in universal terms. Any conspiracy against this indivisible whole is repulsive. All separatism is a crime we shall not forgive. The prevailing Constitution, insofar as it encourages disintegration, offends against the indivisible nature of Spain’s destiny. We therefore demand its immediate repeal.

3. We are committed to Empire. We declare that Spain’s historical fulfillment is the Empire. We demand for Spain a prominent position in Europe. We shall not tolerate international isolation or foreign interference. Regarding the countries of Spanish America, our aim is the unification of culture, economic interests, and power. Spain claims that its role as the spiritual axis of the Spanish-speaking world entitles it to a position of preeminence in world affairs.

4. Our armed forces – on land, at sea, and in the air – must be sufficiently strong and efficient to ensure at all times for Spain total independence and a world status that befits the nation. We shall give back to the land, sea, and air forces all the public dignity they merit, and we shall see to it that a similar martial outlook pervades the whole of Spanish life.

5. Spain will look again to the sea routes for her glory and her wealth. Spain will aim to become a great seafaring power, for times of danger and for the sake of trade. We demand for the Fatherland equal status among navies and on the air routes.

State, individual, freedom

6. Ours will be a totalitarian State in the service of the Fatherland’s integrity. All Spaniards will play a part therein through their membership in families, municipalities and trade unions. No one shall play a part therein through a political party. The system of political parties will be resolutely abolished, together with all its corollaries: inorganic suffrage, representation by conflicting factions, and the Cortes as we know it.

7. Human dignity, the integrity of the individual, and individual freedom are eternal and intangible values. But the only way to be really free is to be part of a strong and free nation. No one will be permitted to use his freedom against the unity, the strength, and the freedom of the Fatherland. A rigorous discipline will prevent any attempt to poison or split the Spanish people, or to incite them to go against the destiny of the Fatherland.

8. The National-Syndicalist State will permit any private initiative that is compatible with the collective interest and, indeed, will protect and stimulate those that are beneficial.

Economy, work, class struggle

9. In the economic sphere, we think of Spain as one huge syndicate of all those engaged in production. In order to serve national economic integrity we shall organize Spanish society along corporative lines by creating a system of vertical unions that will represent the various branches of production.

10. We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and transforms the workers into shapeless masses that are prone to misery and despair. Our spiritual and national awareness likewise repudiates Marxism. We shall channel the drive of the working classes, that are nowadays led astray by Marxism, by demanding their direct participation in the formidable task of the national State.

11. The National-Syndicalist State will not stand cruelly aloof from economic conflicts between men, nor will it look on impassively as the strongest class subjugates the weakest. Our regime will make class struggle totally impossible, since all those cooperating in production will constitute an organic whole therein. We deplore and shall prevent at all costs the abuses of partial vested interests, as well as anarchy in the workforce.

12. The primary purpose of wealth is to improve the standard of living of all the people – and this will be the declared policy of our State. It is intolerable that great masses of people live in poverty while a few enjoy every luxury.

13. The State will recognize private property as a legitimate means of attaining individual, family, and social ends, and will protect it against being abused by high finance, speculators, and moneylenders.

14. We shall defend the move toward nationalization of banking and the takeover of the major public services by corporations.

15. All Spanish citizens have the right to work. The public institutions will provide adequate maintenance for those who are involuntarily out of work. While we are moving toward the new overall structure, we shall retain and increase all the advantages the workers derive from current social legislation.

16. Every Spaniard who is not an invalid is duty-bound to work. The National-Syndicalist State will not have the slightest regard for those who do not fulfill any function but who expect to live like guests at the expense of other people’s efforts.

Land

17. As a matter of urgency we must raise the standard of living in the rural areas, on which Spain will always depend for her food. For this reason, we commit ourselves to the strict implementation of an economic and social reform of agriculture.

18. As part of our economic reform, we shall strengthen agricultural production by means of the following measures:

By guaranteeing all farmers an adequate minimum price for their produce;

By seeing to it that much of what is nowadays absorbed by the cities in payment for their intellectual and commercial services is returned to the land, in order to endow rural areas sufficiently;

By organizing a real system of national agricultural credit that will lend farmers money at low rates of interest, thereby guaranteeing their possessions and harvests and freeing them from usury and patronage;

By spreading education pertaining to matters of agriculture and animal husbandry;

By rationalizing production according to the suitability of the land and the outlets available for its products;

By promoting a protectionist tariff policy covering agriculture and the raising of cattle;

By speeding up the construction of a hydraulic network;

By rationalizing landholdings in order to eliminate both vast estates that are not fully exploited and smallholdings that are uneconomic by reason of their low yield.

19. We shall achieve a social organization of agriculture by means of the following measures:

By redistributing once again all the arable land to promote family holdings and by giving farmers every encouragement to join the union;

By rescuing from their present poverty the masses of people who are exhausting themselves scratching on barren soil, and by transferring them to new holdings of arable land.

20. We shall launch a tireless campaign of reforestation and stockbreeding, imposing severe sanctions on whomever obstructs it, and even resorting temporarily to the enforced mobilization of all Spanish youth for the historic task of rebuilding our country’s wealth.

21. The State will have powers to confiscate without compensation any land the ownership of which has been acquired or enjoyed illicitly.

22. A priority of the National-Syndicalist State will be to return to villages their communal property.

National education and religion

23. It is a fundamental mission of the State to impose a rigorous discipline on education that will produce a strong, united, national spirit and fill the souls of future generations with joy and pride in their Fatherland. All men will receive preliminary training to prepare them for the honour of admission to Spain’s national forces.

24. Culture will be organized in such a way that no talent will be lost for lack of finance. All those who are deserving will have easy access even to higher education.

25. Our Movement integrates the Catholic spirit, which has been traditionally glorious and predominant in Spain, into the reconstruction of the nation. Church and State will come to an agreement on the areas of their respective powers, but any interference from the Church or any activity likely to undermine the dignity of the State or the integrity of the nation will not be tolerated.

National revolution

26. The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS demands a new order, as set forth in the foregoing principles. In the face of the resistance from the present order, it calls for a revolution to implant this new order. Its method of procedure will be direct, bold, and combative. Life signifies the art and science of warfare (milicia) and must be lived with a spirit that is purified by service and sacrifice.