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The riotous events on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, January 7, have rightly been identified by Michael Lind in a recent essay as another symbol of America’s slow and painful decline. Lind perceptively traces recent incidents of mob violence on both the Left and the Right to five crises that currently affect American society at a deep level: a political crisis, an identity crisis, a social crisis, a demographic crisis, and an economic crisis.

What Lind is diagnosing is the peculiar combination of social factors that make up the neoliberal order — an order that is supported in various ways by the elites of both of the political parties that dominate the American political landscape. The lives that have been ruined or lost because of the riots perpetrated in this last year by either MAGA Trump supporters or Antifa/BLM fanatics must be lain at the feet of America’s contemporary ruling elite. …


A vigorously Catholic political philosophy is ascendant in online discourse. Here’s what it holds.

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“The Coronation of Mary” in the Sanctuary of Fátima, Portugal

Prior to Vatican II, the Council in which Roman Catholic leadership assembled from 1962 to 1965 to address important theological matters, the Catholic Church had never really been hospitable to the idea of a separation of church and state.

Vatican II didn’t actually deviate from that historically held position. But many observers — including within the Church — thought it did. As a result, a disconcertingly high number of Catholics have been led to believe the Church has little political guidance to offer. And with this has come widespread Catholic reliance on other, usually secular sources — politicians, academics, journalists, etc. …


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Tensions between China and the U.S in the last few years have produced so much newsworthy material that it is vain to attempt to summarize the main events here: trade wars, Hauwei, coronavirus, travel bans, Hong Kong, and now there is talk of Cold War — a whole lot of drama and hype. Suffice it to say that the U.S. now views China as a national security threat. This is the context for much of the anti-China rhetoric that populates the American political discourse on both the left and the right, despite superficial differences. …


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In the Republic, Plato paints a vivid picture of the ideal city, in which the aim of all politics consists in the cultivation of a common life of wisdom, or the pursuit of wisdom — philosophy. Famously, this is why the ruler of the Plato’s city must himself be a philosopher, if he is to lead his subjects on the path to wisdom. This concept of politics is repeated in Plato’s Seventh Letter, where he recounts in detail his own failed attempts to teach philosophy to Dionysios, the tyrant of Syracuse, in the hopes of making him into the ideal philosopher-king. …


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The White House coronavirus Task Force holds a press conference.

After many days of tense negotiations, the Senate finally passed a massive stimulus bill on Wednesday night, in response to the economic crisis which has been unleashed by COVID-19, or the coronavirus. The pace of the negotations was painfully slow, compared to the quick responses of European countries such as Denmark, whose politicians crafted a strategy in about 24 hours. Yet the style and size of U.S.’s response comes closer to Denmark’s progressive, state-driven strategy than what has characterized American political economy in the age of neoliberalism. American neoliberalism, sustained by the ideology of “small government” (in the words of conservatism) and “free markets,” is typically averse to intervention by the heavy hand of government, preferring instead to leave entrepreneurship and productivity to the ingenuity of the private sector, exclusively. As I have written at The Daily Caller, it may be that the coronavirus will expose the flaws of this model, revealing how desperately America needs its government to implement a more progressive industrial policy, which would secure the productivity and economic well-being of the nation. …


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The political discourse of the last several years has increasingly revolved around the question of whether capitalism is really operating in the interests of all. Many on both the Left and the Right are seeking for ways to move beyond capitalism, or at least to fix it so that it truly serves the common interest. In all of this discourse, inevitably the role of the state becomes a question of central concern. There are currently several models for the state’s involvement in the transition from capitalism circulating in the discourse, and it would be useful to consider a couple of these models in comparison. I would characterize these models as productive and distributive models. …


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As the Thomist philosopher Charles DeKoninck once wrote in an obscure and unpublished lecture On Philosophy of History, history does not progress in a purely linear way, nor in a merely cyclical way, nor even in a merely successive process of disconnected moments and events. …


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In a recent interview with the editorial board of The New York Times, Senator Bernie Sanders made some salient observations about the causes of institutional racism in the United States. As might be expected, Sanders explains the phenomenon of racism with reference to the socioeconomic crises that currently afflict the country and form the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Prompted by a question from Brent Staples, referring to Donald Trump’s racism, Sanders claims that the socioeconomic ills of our time — or of any time — lead those with an agenda to play “the blame game.” …


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Since Bernie Sanders recently opened his Twitter DMs, I decided to send him some quick thoughts on the issue of abortion, which I have explored somewhat on my Medium page, and its relation to the current economic situation. It is my belief that a pro-abortion agenda is actually counter-productive to an anti-capitalist, and even socialist, political platform. So I presented Bernie with my best formulation of the socialist argument against abortion. Here it is.

Dear Senator Sanders and staff,

In the interests of the working people of America and the world over, I must entreat you to reconsider your position on abortion. As many socialists and communists have argued, abortion is a cruel instrument of oppression wielded by the wealthy capitalist class, to control and subjugate the working class. The history of abortion in the modern era has always been tied up with class warfare under oppressive capitalism. The question of abortion has little to do with the issue of conservative vs. progressive ideology, which is a distraction, and much more to do with the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. The obligations of rearing children and raising families are naturally inconvenient to the wealthy who wish to exploit potential mothers and fathers for their labor. Consequently, it is unsurprising that approximately half of abortions in the US occur around or below the poverty line. …


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Senator Marco Rubio

It is rare that a secular politician cites papal teaching in order to make a political argument. The last time I can recall a conservative politician publicly citing a pope was when Rick Santorum dismissed Pope Francis’ acceptance of climate change.

But more recently, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida published an article in the conservative religious journal First Things, which opens with a citation of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum, on the condition of workers, and finishes by citing Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Francis, and Pope Benedict XVI. In a speech given at Catholic University of America, he again cites these popes in critique of the “free market” which has hurt American families and weakened the middle class. …

About

Jonathan Culbreath

I write about Philosophy, Politics, Economics, Culture, and Religion.

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