I seldom write on economic themes. There is a reason for this. Most political opinion writers overrate the importance of economics. This includes virtually all mainstream “conservative” writers. The economics of these “conservative” writers are, of course, liberal economics, because the field of political economy is almost entirely a debate between liberals on the one hand, who hold in one version or another, to the ideas of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Frederic Bastiat, and the various schools of socialism on the other, of which the discredited Marxism, is both the most popular and the least interesting. There is no such thing as economic conservatism – fiscal conservatism is not an economic theory but a budget policy. The closest thing to an economic conservatism is economic nationalism, the economic theory that the Republican Party in the United States inherited from the Federalists through the Whigs and adhered to until the late twentieth century and which the Conservative Party in Canada adopted under Sir John A. MacDonald and abandoned about the same time as the Republicans, who have since rediscovered it under Trump. Even economic nationalism is a form of economic liberalism, however, being essentially Adam Smith’s theory modified by men like Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, and Friedrich List to favour industrial protectionism rather than free trade.
I usually describe my views as being Tory rather than conservative. While Tory is still in use as a nickname for the Conservative Parties of the United Kingdom and the Dominion of Canada, I use it to denote the ideas associated with the predecessor of the Conservative Party. The original Tories were the parliamentary supporters of royal monarchy and of the established, orthodox, Church of England when these things came under attack by the Calvinist Puritans in the seventeenth century. They were the British equivalent of the original political “right wing”, i.e., those who championed the monarchy and Roman Catholic Church in France during the period of the French Revolution. The Tories were reorganized into the Conservative Party by Sir Robert Peel in 1834. Twelve years later, with the support of the Whigs (Liberals) and Radicals (Leftists), Peel passed a bill repealing the Corn Laws. In doing so he abandoned the agricultural protectionism that had been the primary element in Tory economic policy and embraced the free trade doctrine of liberalism. This demonstrates the difference between a Tory and a conservative. A Tory stands for the traditions and institutions that liberalism attacks, a conservative is someone whom liberalism has put in the place of the old Tories to maintain the appearance of having an opposition.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the theory of political economy was still in its infancy and it was the opponents of the Tories and the continental Right who developed both the theory of economic liberalism and socialism. This shows that while the Tories had economic policies, such as the aforementioned agricultural protectionism, they were less interested in economics as a theory than their opponents, which in turn demonstrates that they did not regard it as being as important as their opponents did. This in itself is an important Tory economic insight – that economics is a lesser rather than a greater matter – and it is for the sake of this insight, that I try to devote to economics only such a fraction of my writing as is in inverse proportion to that which other opinion writers spend on it.
The ancients knew how and where economics fit into the larger scheme of things. To them, what we call economics was a part of politics, in the sense of the science or theory of statecraft. Politics in turn, was a subdivision of ethics, the science or theory of the rights and wrongs of human behaviour. (1) Ethics was primary, politics secondary, and economics tertiary. The fundamental error of modern economics, liberal and socialist alike, is to make economics primary, and to make ethics and politics subservient to economics. This produces a distorted view of human nature – one that has been dubbed the Homo oeconomicus model – and perverts ethics and politics, as well as economics.
I would not waste words addressing socialism were it not for the fact that I keep encountering people who seem incapable of distinguishing between socialism and the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ. I will make the distinction simple. Think of someone saying to others “all my possessions, are yours.” Then think of a group of people saying to someone “all of your possessions, are ours.” The former is an expression of the attitude of sharing which Christianity encourages us to practice. The latter is socialism. The former is one aspect of the highest Christian virtue, Charity. (2) The latter violates both the eighth and the tenth commandments (3), and is in essence Envy, the second worst of the Seven Deadly Sins. (4). Envy is not merely jealousy, in the sense of wanting what is another’s, but goes much further and involves hating others for what they have and wishing to tear them down and destroy them. Socialism is worse than mere Envy, however, for it is Envy, attempting to disguise itself as Charity. It is thoroughly anti-Christian, and utterly repugnant in every way. About the only other thing worth saying about it, is that every other militant left-wing movement today – feminism, the anti-white racism that wears the mask of anti-racism, the alphabet soup movement – are simply versions of socialism in which the hated “haves” are re-defined in such non-economic terms as sex, race, and sexual identity/orientation, and everything that I have said about socialism in this paragraph, also applies to these in spades. See the thirty-eighth of the Anglican Articles of Religion for the above distinction between Christianity and socialism worded another way.
In our day and age, capitalism has clearly won the war with socialism that was such an important part of the last century. While there are many factors that brought this about, the main reason is that something that holds out the promise of becoming rich to everyone, will appeal to a lot more people that something that only promises to bring down the rich. It has frequently been observed that the “capitalism” that has triumphed includes a great deal of “socialism”, i.e., progressive income taxation, the welfare state, etc. in it. What is less often noted is that this has been true of capitalism from the very beginning.
Max Weber, the German sociologist, in his 1905 book The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, famously argued that capitalism was the product of Calvinist ethics. Objections have been made to this thesis, but their validity depends entirely upon the definition of capitalism as being the theoretical system of economic liberalism put into practice. If this definition is valid, then the fact that market based economies pre-dated the Reformation and that certain late Medieval thinkers anticipated the ideas of economic liberalism, would invalidate Weber’s thesis. History, however, does not support the definition. The term capitalism, has historically been applied to the industrial system, characterized by factories and mass-production. This system was not created by the theory of economic liberalism. Rather, it was the other way around. Economic liberalism, although some of its concepts had been anticipated by the aforementioned antecedents, was drawn up in the eighteenth century, as a theoretical justification of this system which the Industrial Revolution, building upon social, economic, and political changes of the preceeding two centuries, had already started to build. The system was given its name by Marxism, the rival theory formulated in the nineteenth century as a rationale for revolution which aimed at replacing capitalism with socialism. The ideas that contributed the most to the actual creation of capitalism, were those of the Puritans, who were the intellectual ancestors of both the liberals and the socialists.
Puritanism began in the reign of Elizabeth I in the late sixteenth century. Protestants, who had fled to Switzerland to escape persecution during the reign of Mary, returned, radicalized by the entire experience, and determined that the Church of England needed to be remade in the image of the Geneva model. This coincided in history with a period of rapidly increasing international trade, and Puritanism was most popular among the merchants and traders of the English middle classes, who were becoming rich through the new growth in commerce. It also gained the support of a younger faction of the aristocracy that was less concerned about the family honour and public duty traditionally associated with their class than with exploiting their estates for pecuniary gain. These latter, determined to throw off their inherited feudal responsibilities to their tenants, began procedures such as the enclosure of the commons, the result of which was that droves of peasants were driven from the countryside where they had lived for generations into the city to seek employment. That employment was provided by the new factories being built by the two aforementioned groups with their newly amassed fortunes. This is how capitalism was born. The process was well underway by the time Adam Smith's book appeared on the scene. As aforesaid, economic liberalism was an ex post facto rationalization of capitalism, not the rational foundation upon which it was built.
The Calvinism that the founders of capitalism were attracted to included theological justifications for property confiscation that, had they been made at a later period and applied to wealth gained through industrial capitalism, would be called socialist. Wealth-yielding property, in pre-capitalist Britain, largely consisted of land. Apart from the Crown lands, and the lands owned by the nobility and the local squires, the Church was the largest owner of landed property which was the source of the livings of the clergy. The Puritans wanted the government to confiscate these lands. In the seventh book of his magisterial response to the Puritan spokesman Thomas Cartwright, Richard Hooker exposes this as being the true motive behind their insistence upon replacing the historical and traditional episcopal government of the Church with the experimental presbyterian model that Calvin had introduced in Geneva. (5) In Geneva, this model had been a make-shift solution to the problem of church government in conditions which made the preservation of the episcopacy difficult, if not impossible and when Calvin attempted to make a case for it out of the Scriptures, this was more of an after the fact rationalization than a setting forth of solid convictions. The Puritans, living in England where the same conditions did not exist, took Calvin’s arguments, like they took all of his teachings, to an extreme and declared the Geneva discipline to be divinely ordained. (6) The elimination of the order of bishops would have made it much easier to confiscate the lands of the episcopal sees and liquidate them into commercial wealth.
Thus we see that the founders of capitalism had the same confiscatory attitude towards the wealth and property of the old Christian order that socialists would later have towards capitalist wealth and property. Which is one reason why capitalism and socialism ought to be regarded as two sides to the same coin – or two stages in the development of the same disease – rather than as rivals and opponents. By the time the Whigs got around to working out their elaborate rationalism of capitalism, in the eighteenth century, the calls for state confiscation were gone, but interestingly, the same contempt for landed property remains. Read Adam Smith’s remarks in the first chapter of the third book of Wealth of the Nations about how the landowner’s natural inclination to improve and cultivate his land stands in the way of the progress to be brought about if he invested his money in manufacture and trade instead, or his arguments for selling off the crown lands in the first part of the second chapter of the fifth book or any number of similar places throughout his magnus opus and take note how much his words seem to convey the same, smug, attitude that is so often, rightly, condemned in today’s tax-and-spend liberals and socialists, of “we know how to spend your money so much better than you do.” When we look back to the origins of capitalism in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, then we begin to understand the capitalism of today’s Western world, all of the countries of which now have as standard features almost all of the ten innovations proposed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the second section of the Communist Manifesto, and where capitalist corporations even more than progressive politicians are attempting to squash all dissent to the left-wing cultural, moral, and social revolution that is underway.
While what we in the twenty-first century call capitalism would be unrecognizable to its Puritan creators and its eighteenth and nineteenth century liberal apologists, both of whom, if they could see it today, would probably denounce it as strenuously as the socialists do, the aspects of it which warrant denunciation can be traced back to the errors of the Puritans and liberals, especially the prime error of modern economic thought, the removal of political economy from its ancient and traditional subordination to ethics. Note that the private ownership of property, the profit motive, or even the general idea of economic freedom provided it is not turned into an absolute, are not among those aspects. Generally speaking, socialists always latch on to the wrong things to criticize in capitalism, (7) being blind to its actual flaws because these are part of their own system too.
The removal of economics from its traditional subordination to ethics began prior to the eighteenth century when classical liberals established economics as a discipline in its own right. It began with Calvinism's modifications to traditional Christian moral theology. As with its innovations in so many other areas of Christian theology and practice, these were more extreme than those of any other form of Protestantism other than the Anabaptist sects. It is not that Calvin or his followers taught that what previous Christians thought was right was wrong and vice versa, although there is a very important and relevant exception to this that we will shortly look at. It was more a matter of emphasis. The most important virtues in traditional Christian ethics were the four cardinal virtues - Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude - prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and regarded by the Church Fathers as the highest virtues attainable by human effort, and the three theological virtues attainable only by God's grace - Faith, Hope, and Charity or Christian love. While Prudence and Temperance retained their place in Calvinist ethics, or, perhaps were even given a promotion, they were joined there by thrift, industry and other similar virtues that had been recognized as virtues to be sure, as the Book of Proverbs would otherwise have to be thrown out of the canon, but much lesser virtues. These virtues, the ones stressed by the Puritans, have in common the fact that they facilitate the material gain of those who cultivate them. To put it another way, they serve man's economic interests, and this new emphasis upon them demonstrates that for Calvinism, in practice if not openly admitted in theory, ethics was subordinate to and served the interests of economics.
This can be seen in other ways as well. In the seventieth and seventy-first chapters of the fifth and longest book in Richard Hooker's work already alluded to, he rebuts the Puritan objections to the Church's festival days. One of their principal objections, and probably the real objection to which all the others were mere dressing, was that these were unnecessary days off from trade and labour. This is the same objection that Ebenezer Scrooge made against Christmas in Charles Dickens' story. The difference is that Scrooge, as far as Dickens tells us, objected only to Christmas, the Puritans attacked all festival and feast days. If the argument be raised in counter to this, that when it came to the weekly day off work, the Puritans were noted for their excessive strictness, for having a rather large stick up their backsides on the matter, for out-Phariseeing the Pharisees themselves, note that Puritanical Sabbatarian severity was directed not against working on Sunday, as there was no dispute over that at the time, but against people enjoying themselves on Sunday. These are the people, remember, who once put a man in the stocks for kissing his wife on the threshold of his own house when he returned from sea on a Sunday. Could it be that the reason they foamed and raged against the royal proclamations by which Kings James and Charles the First declared harmless amusements after Church to be lawful for their subjects on Sundays was because they couldn't stand the thought of anyone being happy when he wasn't working? H. L. Mencken defined Puritanism as the "haunting fear, that someone, somewhere, may be happy" and while he had a general attitude in mind, more than the historical ecclesiastical faction, it certainly seems to be a fitting description. Anthony M. Ludovici made an excellent case that Puritan revisions to worship - extreme simplicity, iconoclasm, stripping the churches of what was aesthetically pleasing in decoration and music, and basically reducing the liturgy to excessively long sermons, in which some jackass or another preached either sedition against the king, the virtue of hard work, or both, were all done for the purpose of making Sunday so horrible that everyone would regard normal work days as the relief from the day of rest. (8)
The most important change which Calvin and his followers made to traditional Christian ethics, however, has to do with usury. Perhaps you remember the episode of The Simpsons where Homer applied to his boss for a company loan. Mr. Burns, who to Homer's surprise handles the request personally, says "By the way, are you acquainted with our state's stringent usury laws?" Homer's response is to slowly repeat the word indicating that he was unfamiliar with it. Burns then says "Oh, silly me. I must have just made up a word that doesn't exist" and tells Homer to sign and the money is his, before giving one of his patented super-villainous laughs. Most people today are as ignorant as Homer as to the meaning of usury precisely because they think it means what Mr. Burns thought it meant. The modern, legal, definition of usury is interest in excess of the limit set by the civil authority. From ancient times, however, usury has simply meant the charging of interest - a rent on the use of a sum of money - regardless of the rate. Dr. Johnson defined it simply as “money paid for the use of money.” For as long as the word and the thing it denotes have been around, it has been condemned by the greatest moral thinkers as a pernicious, predatory, and utterly vile practice. Plato denounced it in his Laws, and Aristotle followed suit in his Politics. Twenty years before the death of the latter, ancient Rome outlawed usury altogether, and when the practice returned despite the law, it was railed against by the Catos, elder and younger, and by Cicero. Meanwhile, the Mosaic Law, in both Exodus and Deuteronomy, strictly forbade the charging of interest to members of the commonwealth of Israel, and while permission was granted to charge use on loans to Gentiles, the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures - which use a word derived from the word for serpent bite to speak of interest - speak of it in terms of absolute condemnation. The fifteenth Psalm lists as a trait of the one who "shall dwell in Thy tabernacle" and "rest upon Thy holy hill" that he "hath not given his money upon usury" and the denunciations of the Prophets, especially Ezekiel, of the injustice-generating usury that ranked with idolatry among the chief evils that brought judgement upon both the schismatic Samaritan kingdom and eventually Jerusalem and Judah are no less vehement than those of Cato. The Church Fathers, building upon both of these foundations, condemned interest on loans to the poor, forbade the clergy to lend on use in their canons and early Councils, including the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, and decried its practice among the laity, to whom the aforementioned prohibition was extended early in the Middle Ages. The Scholastics such as St. Thomas Aquinas, developed the rational argument against usury, using Aristotle's arguments as their starting point. See the Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 78, especially Article 1.
To put the matter as simply as possible, you can transfer ownership of goods justly in one of two ways. You can sell it, that is exchange it for something both parties accept as being of equal value, or give it away. With some goods, you can sell or give away the temporary use of the good rather than the good itself. If you sell the use of the good, this is called renting, if you give it away without charge, this is called lending. If you sell the good itself, you cannot also sell its use. Not honestly and justly at any rate. You cannot sell a person a house and then charge him rent on it. Some goods cannot be rented or lent. All goods that are used up in consumption are like this. You cannot rent or lend an apple, for example, at least for its ordinary use, i.e., eating, because once it is used it is gone and cannot be returned. Money is like this. Its ordinary use is to be spent, and once it is spent, it is gone. You cannot rent or lend money, except when you rent or lend it for some reason other than spending, as you might with a rare coin, for example. When we speak of lending someone money, the transaction we are describing is actually the sale of money itself, with an agreement for payment at a later date. When I "lend" you five dollars, I am selling you five dollars today, in exchange for another five dollars at a later date. It is immoral and unjust to charge interest on such a "loan" because a) it would be selling both the item itself and its use, and b) it is an item the use of which cannot be sold.
The conclusion of the reasoning above, that usury, the charging of interest on loans of money, is inherently unjust and sinful was the consensus of pre-Reformation, orthodox, Christian moral theology. It is a consensus backed by the extremely negative way in which the practice is spoken of in Scripture. It also has the support of the consensus of the best thinkers of the ancient world, and if we look outside the Western tradition, we find similar support in the ancient Eastern traditions as well indicating its ample qualification for being considered to be among the universal precepts of the natural law, the "Tao" which C. S. Lewis discussed and defended in The Abolition of Man. (9) The Scholastics who articulated the reasoning behind the rule that usury is sinful, also made a casuistical - and I am not using this word in its pejorative sense (10) - exception for commercial loans. The reasoning behind the exception is as sound as the reasoning behind the rule - such "loans" are really investments in which the financier purchases equity in a profitable enterprise, with an arrangement for the entrepreneur to buy back the equity in instalments over a period of time in which the financier is entitled to his percentage of the profits, which constitute the interest on the loan. While the reasoning is sound, this exception does not have the same ancient and universal support as the rule itself and it could be counter-argued that this is an instance where semantics are very important and that while this kind of financial arrangement is just, using the language of an intrinsically unjust kind of transaction to describe it, opens up a slippery slope towards a more general acceptance of the latter kind of transaction.
Which is exactly what happened. In the Protestant Reformation of continental Europe, Dr. Luther and Philip Melanchthon, and indeed almost all the Protestant Reformers, upheld the pre-Reformation view of usury. Dr. Luther was, as with most matters, quite colourful in his denunciation of usury. In England, Henry VIII lifted the long-standing total ban on usury and set a legal interest rate, but this, like his seizure of the monastic property, was a matter of pure greed and not of a change in theology. His son, Edward VI, the first truly Protestant king of England, reinstated the ban. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the other English Reformers upheld the traditional view and the greatest Anglican divines such as Bishop Lancelot Andrewes and Archbishop Laud condemned interest-taking in their preaching. It was John Calvin who took the next step down the slippery slope.
Calvin, in a letter in 1545, took the position that usury was not inherently wrong. He qualified his position, of course, by saying that it was wrong to charge interest on loans to the poor, loans for consumption, etc., and in fine, these qualifications left him basically in the same place as the Scholastic casuists - interest on commercial loans is acceptable, all other interest is bad. It made a huge and radical difference, however, that he arrived at that place from the opposite direction. When you start from the position X is right, except when Y you will find it a lot easier to justify specific instances of X than when you start from X is wrong, except when Y. Calvin’s English followers, who had a tendency to run with his doctrines in directions that would have brought them to the fate of Servetus had they done so during his life and within his sphere of authority, latched on to the usury is not inherently sinful part of his doctrine, and overlooked the many qualifications. It was in their interest to do so. The boom in international trade, from which they stood to make their fortunes, depended upon an ample and expanding supply of liquid wealth, either in the form of currency or of credit. By the eighteenth century, Whiggism, the secular heir of Puritanism, had in the doctrines of economic liberalism, lifted usury out of the depths of depravity to which traditional ethics had assigned it and elevated it to the level of a great benevolent virtue benefiting all of mankind.
Usury has been the lifeblood of capitalism from its earliest days. The enterprising individual looking to strike it rich, whether by trading goods abroad or by manufacturing a new product, unless he already had a fortune to stake, needed to borrow to raise the capital to risk in his venture. This is the kind of usury that the Scholastics saw as the exception to the rule, but which Calvin made the rule rather than the exception. Today, however, the usury flowing through the veins of globalist, corporate capitalism is the kind which Scholastics and Calvin alike, both unequivocally condemned – the lending of money at interest for the sake of consumption rather than production. For the capitalist system to work at all, people need to buy the goods it produces, which means that they need to be affordable. At first this was accomplished by manufacturing in bulk to keep the unit price low. Today it is accomplished by the financing of consumption. The major retailers have either gone online, where credit card is the simplest means of making a purchase, or they entice their customers with reward points to get and use a store credit card, or both. Such a system which encourages people to borrow money to buy items that will not help them pay the money back and which are used up in their use causing the debt to keep piling up, so that it is common for people to end up paying an amount in interest that exceeds by far the principal that they borrowed in the first place, surely deserves all the opprobrium which the ancients and the Christian Church heaped on usury.
Indeed, it is even worse than I have depicted above, for the “money” upon which interest is charged, is fake money. This requires a bit of an explanation.
Money is the means of exchange. Without it, all trade would have to be conducted on a barter basis – “I’ll give you my cow in exchange for a bushel of your apples.” In a commercial exchange, money is a symbol accepted as vicarious for the goods and services offered in a barter exchange. When Person A offers Person B x amount of money for a loaf of bread, x amount of money represents a good or service that Person A had earlier produced and received that money for, just as when Person B then takes that same money and offers it to Person C in exchange for a carton of milk, it now represents the bread of loaf which Person B had sold to Person A. That is how real money works. Its value is based entirely upon goods and services, already produced and sold. When usury was condemned as a mortal sin by the Church and condemned as a crime by the state, real money was the only money.
When usury was legalized, however, and much of the Church began to weaken in its moral opposition to it, this opened the door to fake money. Lending institutions, instead of handing over to their borrowers the coin of the realm, would issue notes of credit that could be exchanged for such. These were circulated as currency and became the first paper money. These promissory notes were issued far in excess of the amount of real money the lenders kept on hand to make good on them with. While Adam Smith praised this practice, called fractional reserve banking, in the second chapter of the second book of Wealth of Nations for allowing “twenty thousand pounds in gold and silver” to “perform all the functions which a hundred thousand could otherwise have performed” the flip-side to this is that a) it is the source, or rather the very definition, of inflation, which robs real money of much of its per unit value and b) the new “money” created in this way by usury, does not stand for goods and services already produced, but for those goods and services yet to be produced. It is money based on debt rather than production, and thus fake money. It is a gross understatement to say that the dawn of electronic financial transactions has made this problem much worse.
If it is wrong, and it is, to take real money, sell it to someone on a pay-at-a-later-date plan, while also charging rent on its use in the meantime, how much more so it is to do this with fake money. There is an economic case against this, as well as an ethical one, in that a system that runs on an ever-expanding currency based on future production – contemporary capitalism – is, like contemporary socialism, operating in accordance with the fraudulent insurance scheme that landed Charles Ponzi in prison a century ago and is therefore one big bubble that must inevitably burst. Just as the bankruptcy of Greece a few years back gave a foretaste of the collapse of the socialist Ponzi scheme, so the sub-prime mortgage crisis of twelve years ago foreshadowed the bursting of the capitalist bubble. I must, however, reiterate my main point, which is that modern economics, of which capitalism and socialism are but two sides to the coin, went astray when men began to make their ethics subject to their economics, rather than the other way around. By inverting the order of ethics above economics, they inverted the entire hierarchy of goods, placing the lowest of material goods, money, the value of which is entirely derivative from real material wealth, i.e., the things people need and use in their everyday lives, and the things which help them produce those things, at the top and making it something to be desired for its own sake, and ignoring entirely the realm of higher goods, whether they be the civil goods sought by the cultivation of the cardinal virtues, or the heavenly goods which can only be sought through the theological virtues. It is no wonder then, that in the midst of material abundance, the happiness that the ancients saw to be the true end of human activity, is as elusive as ever, or perhaps, more so than ever.
It is appropriate therefore, to close with the following words of wisdom, as true today as ever, and by which modern thought is weighed in the balance and found wanting:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)
(1) The eighteenth century Scottish Whig Adam Smith is regarded as the father of modern economics. His training was in moral philosophy, of which he was professor at the University of Glasgow where he succeeded his mentor Francis Hutcheson, and his treatise on that subject, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), predates his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) by seventeen years.
(2) The term Charity has been debased to mean merely “giving to the needy” but originally it was the English term for the highest degree of love, the kind called ἀγάπη in Greek and caritas in Latin, which is also the highest of the three theological virtues (Faith and Hope are the other two), that depend on the grace of God. The thirteenth chapter of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is a description of it.
(3) That is the eighth and the tenth as Protestants (and Jews) number them, “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, etc.” By the Roman Catholic numbering three rather than two of the commandments are violated by socialism.
(4) The worst is Pride, but Envy is inseparable from Pride. These are the Satanic sins, the ones by which the devil fell from grace and brought evil into the world. (Wis. 2:24, 1 Tim. 3:6)
(5) Richard Hooker, Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, Book VII, chapters twenty-one through twenty-four, especially the first and the last of these, and in the latter especially paragraphs twenty-two to twenty-four.
(6) If any form of church government is of divine ordinance it is the episcopal. The “Scriptural evidence” for the Calvinist discipline, in which the church is governed without bishops, by a council or court of elders, some of whom are ministers (teaching elders) others of whom are elected laymen (ruling elders), consists entirely in the fact that the New Testament uses the terms πρεσβύτερος and ἐπίσκοπος interchangeably in the epistles to Timothy and Titus. These words, which have the literal meanings of “elder” and “governor”, are usually rendered by “priest” and “bishop” in English when used of offices in the church, these words being Anglicized versions of the Latinizations of the original Greek words. While it is true they are used of the same office in the New Testament, the conclusion that Calvin and his followers drew, that the New Testament knows only two orders, that of elder/overseer and that of deacon, rather than three does not follow. It ignores the fact that the Apostle Paul who wrote to Timothy and Titus instructions about choosing and ordaining presbyters and deacons, and Timothy and Titus who received those instructions, were themselves, obviously, of a third and higher order, one which is not named in the Scriptures, for the simple reason that during the time the New Testament was being completed it consisted, apart from Timothy and Titus, of the Apostles themselves. When, in the next generation after the Apostles, it was decided that the title Apostle should be reserved for those who had been called to that ministry by the Risen Christ in Person, a new title was needed for this order and ἐπίσκοπος was appropriated from the order of presbyters immediately beneath it, as being the most fitting description of their governing role. See Hooker, op. cit., Book VII, chapters four to fourteen as well as William Sclater IV, An Original Draught of the Primitive Church, London, Geo. Strahan, 1717, and Bishop John Sage, The Principles of the Cyprianic Age, London, Walter Kettilby, 1695 for the case from Scripture and early Christian literature that no form of church government other than the episcopal was known in the early centuries of Christianity.
(7) Socialists, amusingly, still attack capitalism as a violation of distributive justice, despite the fact that in the last century, the countries unfortunate enough to be subjected to experiments in the most extreme form of socialism, ended up with conditions where the bulk of their populace would have to stand in line ups for measly amounts of necessities such as bread, whereas consumer goods, essential and non-essential, were readily available even to the very poor in capitalist countries. When socialists talk about the “1%” controlling all the wealth of a capitalist country, they mean capital, the productive wealth. Stephen Leacock masterfully rebutted their way of thinking a century ago when he wrote: “’But,’ objects Mr. Bellamy or any other socialist, ‘you forget. Please remember that under socialism the scramble for wealth is limited; no man can own capital, but only consumption goods. The most that any man may acquire is merely the articles that he wants to consume, not the engines and machinery of production itself. Hence even avarice dwindles and dies, when its wonted food of “capitalism” is withdrawn. But surely this point of view is the very converse of the teachings of common sense. ‘Consumption goods’ are the very things that we do want. All else is but a means to them. One admits, as per exception, the queer acquisitiveness of the miser-millionaire, playing the game for his own sake. Undoubtedly, he exists. Undoubtedly his existence is a product of the system, a pathological product, a kind of elephantiasis of individualism. But speaking broadly, consumption goods, present or future, are the end in sight of the industrial struggle. Give me the houses and the gardens, the yachts, the motor cars and the champagne and I do not care who owns the gravel crusher and the steam plow.” Stephen Leacock, “The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice”, 1920, part six.
(8) Anthony M. Ludovici, A Defence of Aristocracy: A Textbook for Tories, pp. 189-190. Ludovoci wrote “Not only was all amusement forbidden, but the Church services themselves were made so insufferably tedious and colourless, and sermons were made to last such a preposterous length of time, that Sunday became what it was required to be by these employers of slaves — the most dreaded day in the week.” He had borrowed this insight from Nietzsche, the “well-known German philosopher” whom he then proceeded to quote as having said “It was a master stroke of English instinct to hallow and begloom Sunday to such an extent that the Englishman unconsciously hankers for his work and week-day again.” It is Nietzsche, rather than Marx, who ought to be considered to be the great nineteenth century critic of capitalism. Western man had two paths open before him, Nietzsche argued. One of these, the path he urged man to take, was that of the Ubermensch or Superman, his concept of which is illustrated by the heroes and heoines of Ayn Rand’s novels, not by DC Comics’ Clark Kent. It was far more likely, he lamented, that capitalism would lead man down the other path, the path of the Letzter Mensch or Last Man, a path of contentment and complacency, devoid of any sort of heroism whatsoever. While the history of the twentieth century has falsified the predictions of Adam Smith with regards to free trade and Karl Marx with regards to – well, everything he said – it has amply justified Nietzsche’s gloomy prediction about the Letzer Mensch, although his preferred alternative is just as loathsome. The only redeeming characteristic of Francis Fukuyama’s regurgitation of the Whig Theory of History is that he uses this insight of Nietzsche’s to call into question whether the outcome of the march of progress to universal democratic capitalism is all it is cracked up to be.
(9) Lewis does not include the prohibition on usury specifically in the Appendix to The Abolition of Man, which includes “Illustrations of the Tao”, although there are some more general principles that would cover it there, but he does mention it in Mere Christianity as “is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed.” He could have added quotations from the ancient Hindu Vedas, Islamic Koran and Buddhist Majjhima Nikāya to show just how universal the ancient moral consensus against usury was, abundantly qualifying it for inclusion as a natural law principle.
(10) In the non-pejorative sense, casuistry is the application of general and universal moral rules to specific instances. The English Common Law is a secular example. See Thomas Fleming, The Morality of Everyday Life: Rediscovering an Ancient Alternative to the Liberal Tradition, Columbia and London, The University of Missouri Press, 2004 for a fuller description and defense of casuistry.
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