I have removed the search box because it was not working but the search box in the title bar seems to.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Welcome to Raleigh Street – Be as Rude as you Like

I'm posting again, using a fantastic Word 2007 template, which allows me to create a post and publish it, all from within Word.

Blogging is a form of self-indulgence – innocent, I hope. It helps me to formulate my thoughts about this and that. Sometimes it leads me to research. Perhaps it will help to keep the Alzheimer's at bay.

So far I have done practically nothing to attract traffic to this blog. I have sent the link to family and friends and that's about it. The counter shows several hundred visits but the fact is that most of them have been me! I would like more traffic and more comments – rude comments if you wish, but preferably no abuse.

Here is the address:

If you see fit to send the link to your correspondents, I shall be grateful. If you or they post comments, I shall do my best to reply.

The thinking is, I hope, a reasonably coherent mixture of Catholicism, Libertarianism and Free Market Economics. Yes, I do have a number of bees in my bonnet:


  • I am certain that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a crock and that the measures proposed to counter it will not have any measurable effect on the climate but will be economically disastrous.
  • I am certain that HIV is a hoax, that AIDS in the West is caused by lifestyle choices (including the use of recreational drugs), that what is called AIDS in Africa is simply a new name for diseases caused by poor hygiene – that it has nothing to with sex. This view has cost me at least one friend. I think she thought it was a homophobic view
  • I am certain that government funding of Science has had a wholly negative effect on Science and caused it to become radically politicised and corrupt.
  • I am certain that nearly all government spending has effects which are corrupting: in Education, Health and Social Policy, that the spending nearly always has effects which run counter to intentions and that we can't afford it.
  • I am certain that Heaven cannot be built on Earth and that anyone who claims that it can is either deluded or evil.
  • I am certain that recreational drugs are bad but our drug policies make things worse, not better. In this instance, I very much regret finding myself on the opposite side of the argument from two of my heroes: Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips.
  • I am certain that modern Materialism is not only incoherent and wrong but that it screws up your thinking about everything. It's very bad.
  • I wish that the Catholic Church were more aggressive in its evangelism and in opposing the zeitgeist. We have all the best arguments.
  • I am passionately pro-Justice and anti-Social Justice. The very concept of Social Justice is the source of many terrible evils and I wish the Church would condemn it.

Enough to be going on with. Welcome and God bless.

Dishonesty of Michael Ruse

I watched a YouTube debate on the subject of Intelligent Design between Stephen Meyer and Michael Ruse today and was appalled by the dishonesty of the latter.

Ruse accused Meyer of being motivated by "faith" and of hiding his theological/philosophical position. This in spite of Meyer's frank declaration of a Christian faith and in spite of his patient explanation that his methodology was inspired by that of Darwin himself and his mentor, the geologist Lyell.

Lyell and Meyer's argument is that when we seek to explain past events, our best recourse is to causes known to explain present events. Thus, if we dig down and discover a layer of ash and pumice which seems to have been laid down thousands of years ago, our best recourse is to postulate a volcano. Why? Because modern volcanoes produce layers of ash and pumice. It would be absurd to account for the prehistoric ash and pumice by postulating a prehistoric barbecue. This example is not my own but I can't remember where it comes from.

When we discover information in DNA, the question of where it comes from is best answered by saying, "Well, whenever we encounter information in the present, it is always the result of intelligence and intention." If it looks designed then the most obvious explanation is that it was designed.

Meyer and his colleagues freely admit that this sensible hypothesis has theological implications. They further admit that the hypothesis can tell us nothing about the designer. Ruse and his ilk simply rule out the possibility of a designer and think that they have disproved the design hypothesis. This is like ruling out the existence of architects and then concluding that the Taj Mahal came into being by chance. Stupid and dishonest!

The thing about DNA is that it doesn't just look like a digital code: it is a digital code which is interpreted by nano-machines in the cell, which then build proteins. The code is highly abstract. We can conceive of the instructions in DNA being encoded differently – just as different computer languages can encode one outcome differently; and two programmers using the same language can produce the same outcome by using radically different routines.

It would be bizarre for a thinking person to deny the existence of architects. It is just as bizarre for someone who claims to be a thinker to rule out the existence of a designer in biology. Their "argument" boils down to: "You believe there is a God and you believe that you can detect strong design hints in biology of a God. But we know there is no God. So, your design hints are an illusion. QED!" Pathetic and dishonest.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


Capitalists have had a hard time of it since the time of Marx. They exploit workers, so goes the narrative.

What is a capitalist? He is not necessarily a rich man. He may be a working man with a savings account. If he has a savings account he is, by definition, someone who has decided to defer (or forgo) indulging himself with a steak dinner, an extra holiday, a bigger house or any other consumer good.

What crime has he committed so far? He has exercised restraint. Why? Perhaps in order to provide for his old age or his children's' education – pretty evil huh?

How does he choose to deploy his unspent cash? He may deposit it in a bank with a view to receiving interest upon it. How will this happen?

We will, for the moment, leave aside the fact that the banking system in pretty well all "advanced" countries is an unmitigated scam, a crime against the citizenry. Most people would not believe the fact that banks are allowed by governments to create money out of "fresh air". Actually, fresh air is more concrete than that from which money is created. Let's say out of f*** all. This is the simple (almost unbelievable) truth. Quantum Mechanics is as easy to get your head around.

After almost a year of reading Austrian Economics, I am (sort of) getting to grips with Fractional Reserve Banking. That is to say, I (sort of) know what it is. I am totally baffled by the fact that it is legal. Not one in a hundred, I'd guess, is as sophisticated as I am; but I'm sure that, without being a beneficiary, no one could fail to be appalled. The system is almost certain to implode, and soon – I don't know whether to be suicidal or relieved.

In an honest banking system the depositor would make an agreement with the bank that it can have his money for a fixed period of time to lend, as it sees fit (he has got to trust it to do it judiciously), to someone, an entrepreneur, who can make the case that he has got a plan wherein, by mixing the cash with a good idea and labour (his and perhaps other peoples') he can produce goods or services that the public will want.

Assuming that the bank does its job competently – ie lends to competent entrepreneurs, what, so far, has the depositor done that is so evil?

Best case: the entrepreneur makes money, employs people and provides the public with what it is happy to have – and, in all probability, at a lower price than would otherwise have been the case. The bank receives interest on the loan; the depositor gets a share of that interest and is less likely to be a burden on his family – or the state – when he is old and decrepit.

Worst case: the entrepreneur's business fails, his employees are fired and the bank takes a hit – learns a lesson. Our depositor and others like him don't get a share of the interest the entrepreneur would have paid. Good things may happen as a result, however. The unemployed workers are taken on by "better" entrepreneurs, as are his premises and his capital goods (machines etc). We are, of course, not indifferent to the fact that the entrepreneur may have lost his house in the process or to the fact that his sometime employees are anxiously scouring the job pages. We should be glad if and when their labour is taken up by a "better" entrepreneur. When all labour is in the service of "good" entrepreneurs, we are collectively better off.

A capitalist may actually be someone who uses his savings (or perhaps an inheritance) to start his own business – ie without help from a bank. With a lump sum from Auntie Lilly, he arranges a lease on a shop, and using his skills as a butcher (or whatever) starts selling meat. He may well take on staff. How wicked is that? Needless to say, his steak and kidney must be of a quality and price that the public like – and he must be civil to his customers. Jobs and decent meat – a consummation devoutly to be wished for. What a bastard!

Just one word about his employees: The school leaver he takes on to sweep up proves capable of handling cash and perhaps of book keeping. The bastard realises before long that he has to up her wages or she will be off to a competitor. This happens routinely. Poor old Marx had another theory. He didn't notice that, as he was writing, wages were rising.

Butchers, like all fallen human beings, are likely, if they can organise themselves, to do what they can to keep others out of their trade. Insofar as they do so, they are being bastards. As capitalists, they and depositors are wholly innocent.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Laws come in a variety of flavours.

First there are laws like the Laws of Rugby: eg If you pass the ball forward, you will be penalised. These laws are pretty well exactly analogous to Statute Law: eg If you fail to pay your taxes you will be penalised. But there is a difference. A forward pass does not make you a "bad person"; but the case for laws against theft is based upon the idea that thieves are "bad people". In the case of the Laws of Rugby the stipulation is modest – it has nothing to say about forward passes in American Football; those guys have their own rules and good luck to them. Statute Law is much more ambitious in its claim and much less modest.

So, then we have, so far, two types of law: Sports' rules, which can be and are amended from time to time by fiat of the governing body and Statute Law which claims to be based on something higher. When Statute Law is amended, it is (almost) always with a view to conforming to "Justice" – except of course when it is being done to obviate the catastrophes caused by previous legislation. But homage is always being paid to the "something higher" – something we can call Moral Law.

We now have three types of law. Moral Law may or not be the basis of Statute Law, as when both prohibit one man from having two wives; or when Moral Law forbids one from coveting the possessions of others and Statute Law is silent.

Moral Law is much much more interesting than the previous two. A host of questions present themselves: does it really exist and, if so, where does it come from? And, very importantly, what does it mandate? Is having two wives really "bad"?

Because it is so interesting and of such obvious importance, acres of space have been devoted to it by the greatest minds in History: Moses, Aquinas and C S Lewis, for example. I sometimes wonder why we ever discuss anything else. In fact, pretty well all political discourse boils down to questions such as: "How should we organise society?" and "How should we behave?" I am not even going to attempt to justify my belief that it does exist, except to say that we all believe that it does. Only psychopaths would deny it.

A fourth type of law is "Scientific Laws". These are statements which describe the world as it is. Our current formulations of these laws may be inexact or incomplete; but when we state that there is a gravitational attraction between any two bodies and that it is proportional to the mass of those bodies and that inverse squares are involved, we are only describing – not prescribing, as is the case with the first three types of law.

You have to ask yourself whether we can legitimately use the same word for all four types – the fact is that we do.

When we think about Scientific Laws, we may (I do) conclude that there are (at least) two kinds of law: those which can be drawn by inference from observation (eg the Law of Gravity) and those which turn out to be axiomatically true (eg Pythagorus' Theorem or the law that human beings act with the intention of substituting a less satisfactory state of affairs with a more satisfactory state of affairs).

Fascinatingly, it turns out that the Law of Gravitation (though true) can be more accurately stated in terms of Relativity, whereas the Law of Human Action is as immune from refutation as Pythagorus' Theorem.

Gosh! We've got two types of Scientific Law. Who woulda thought that?


Is there a hierarchy of laws? In other words, should one type of law take precedence over any other? I think we would agree that Statute Law should be lower down the hierarchy than Moral Law, even though we might disagree on what Moral Law prescribes. Moral Law, of course, has nothing whatever to say about forward passing.

However, there has been dispute between those who claim to describe Moral Law, and those who describe what they say they is Scientific Law. It is never between the "Moral Lawyers" and the "Gravitation Lawyers", for example. No Moral Lawyers say that "Gravitation Lawyers" are wrong because it is wrong to drop heavy things on innocent people. Some do say that "Human Action Lawyers" are wrong because the latter point out that Minimum Wage Laws increase unemployment.

Moral Law is the highest law – no question. But Moral Law has to conform to Scientific Law – otherwise it is worthless. Moral Law has nothing to say about Gravity and nothing to say about Human Action.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Catholicism Makes Sense of Everything

I feel very lucky to have found my way to Catholicism. It wasn't inevitable. I might have been born a Muslim or a Sikh. I might have been caught up in Scientology. I might have been the student of an atheist professor. I might have found myself a dialectical materialist or a born-again Baptist or a Unitarian or a Mormon. There are brainier people than me in all these categories. How did I get so lucky? I suppose the Catholic answer has to be: by the Grace of God.

I make no pretence of being non-judgemental. What is the good of having judgement if we don't exercise it? So, I don't regard all of the alternatives as being equally inferior to Catholicism. Being a Baptist is, in my view, far far better than being a dialectical materialist, which is scarcely better than being a psychopath. A psychopath, on the other hand, seems to have the excuse of having something wrong with his brain.

The great thing, for me, about being a Catholic is that it is consonant with Common Sense and with Intuition, neither of which, admittedly, in the era of quantum mechanics, is terribly reliable. Catholicism is consonant with Reason, with a teleological world view and with a fundamentally moralistic outlook. It is not consonant with Historicism (the idea that History reveals its purpose and direction) or with Scientism (the idea that Science is the only way we have of understanding the world).

Is this all rather circular? Might you say to me, "Beeby, you would be an odd sort of Catholic if you didn't have a teleological world view? Catholicism and dialectical materialism cannot logically co-exist in the same mind." Touché!

It's in the somewhat less obvious realms of thought, Politics, Economics, Education and Aesthetics that I am constantly finding myself saying, "Yes, that is clearly so. And that fits perfectly with Catholicism!" I have what you might regard as a naive confidence that no obviously true assertion, no convincing argument will ever conflict with Catholicism.

I clearly have not wriggled out of your accusation of circularity. "Beeby," you will say, "you are not going accept as true any assertion that conflicts with Catholicism. You will never be convinced by an argument that does not conform to Catholic belief." Touché again!

I had better give an example of what I am talking about. As readers of this blog will know, I have belatedly become interested in Economics – particularly the Economics of the Austrian school: von Mises, Hayek, Murray Rothbard and their followers. All this after my conversion to Catholicism. It turns out that some of these people (for example, Thomas Woods and Gerard Casey), though not von Mises or Rothbard, I think, are Catholics. Both Woods and Casey have written scholarly works on Theology.

The Austrians are strongly opposed to the Keynesians for utterly convincing philosophical and historical reasons. The Keynesians believe in a large measure of state interference in a nation's economy and deficit spending by government to stimulate economic activity. The Austrians demonstrate (with their praxeological method) that state interference (eg, high taxes, manipulation of interest rates, deliberate inflation and detailed regulation) can only have a bad effect on the economy as a whole. Then, as historians, they show how time and again state interference has only ever had bad effects on the economy as a whole, though not (at least in the short term) for all members of the economy. They have predicted boom and bust cycles, created by interference with interest rates, and have been vindicated when these have come to pass, exactly as predicted. They are very strong on the unintended, unforeseen consequences of interference in the form of high taxation, price controls and minimum wage laws etc.

The Austrians believe in private property rights and the rule of law. The Keynesians believe in theft by taxation and inflation. Some Austrians have severe doubts about Democracy; though they would oppose any form of tyranny. Indeed they regard the re-distribution of wealth by majority governments as tyranny.

I have long been of the view that Democracy is the least bad form of government that has ever been tried. I am now of the opinion that it is pretty bad. Indeed, it is unsustainable. C S Lewis maintains that the justification for Democracy is not that the electorate is so wise and virtuous that they should be in control but that no small group is wise enough and virtuous enough to be entrusted with power. But the populace habitually votes for politicians who will increase their entitlements (ie taking from the productive and giving to the unproductive). A certain remarkable goose comes to mind and her fate at the hands of a stupid greedy farmer.

Well, I am with the Austrians all the way. Pray God that the Keynesians' time is coming to an end.

What's all this got to do with Catholicism?

Here are some fundamental Catholic teachings, some of which we share with other Christians and with Jews, some with Muslims:

The Image of God

We are made in the image of God. Therefore:

  • We have Reason
    God is the only possible source of Reason
    Materialism negates it
  • We have Free Will
    Materialism, of course, denies us Free Will
  • We are Creative
    How could creatures without Reason and Free Will possibly create anything?

If we are not made in the image of God, none of the above could be true. But they all are!

If we are not made in God's image, all of the above would be fantasies. Materialists would like to lay claim to Reason and perhaps Creativity but they admit that, on their grounds, Free Will is impossible.

They're stuffed. Some of them are clever... An odd case of the cleverer the stupider.

Back to Economics: almost all Human Action involves transactions between humans. In every case Free Will and Reason are involved. Without Creativity (production) wealth creation would be impossible.

We can't (famously) argue from is to should.

So, why can't Catholics be Keynesians and why is Catholicism consonant with Austrian Economics?

Free Will

Catholicism teaches that each of us is free to reject God's Grace. We may say, "Thanks, but no thanks." We may protest, "Infinite Father, Loving Creator, I don't want this freedom. Just save me and let's be done." We may say, "Thy will be done."

The Austrians teach that we are hourly faced with economic choices, that the creativity of the entrepreneur is the only source of wealth.

I have ordered The Church and the Market by Tom Woods and am looking forward to reading it. Perhaps I shall have more to say on this subject when I have.

BTW I am using a Word 2007 blogging template for the first time. This means that I can post to the blog from within Word. Will it work?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Who are the Bad Guys?

There is so much evil in the world. A Catholic cannot be surprised. We have the doctrine of Original Sin: this is a fallen world; Satan is its prince. He, Satan, must rejoice in the bad ideologies that are the source of so much woe. The decline of Reason, which lets the bad ideologues get away with so much, must buck him up no end.

So, Catholics should expend much more of their energies in actively opposing bad ideologies. Personal piety is, of course, important; but reasoned resistance to these ideologies is also important.

Where to start? Well, I’m going to leave out, for the time being, other religions. I could never be a Muslim; but have to admit to respect for much in Islam. At the same time, when Islam morphs (rather easily, as it happens) into a programme for perfecting human society it partakes of the evils of secular ideologies – religious Iran is less ghastly than North Korea but it is ghastly.

So, the baddest of the bad is Materialism – Satan’s twentieth century masterpiece. It is no exaggeration to say that when Materialism takes hold, Reason and Morality cease to have any purchase. Without Reason and Morality the pit beckons.

Materialism is the metaphysical assertion that the physical universe is all that there is. There is no justification for this assertion – none. See earlier posts. But if the physical universe is all that there is, then there are no metaphysical truths – Materialism has destroyed itself. Would that that were an end to it.

Even in the materialist mind, though, lingers an unjustified, metaphysically incoherent longing for Justice, for a better world. Should we thank God for this phenomenon? Should we wish that all Materialists took the following (coherent) line: the physical world is all there is and I will act as I please? This is tough. It must be the case that this longing has, at least sometimes, mitigated the horrific consequences of the materialist mindset. At the same time, when Materialism and a longing for Justice coexist (incoherently) the results are frequently catastrophic. Incidentally, Leftists talk of Social Justice. Catholics never should. Catholics should proclaim Justice simpliciter. What is worse: greedy self-serving Materialists or Materialists passionate about “Social Justice”? Well, in the twentieth century it was the latter who “shut the gates of Mercy on Mankind”, who slaughtered human beings by the hundreds of millions. Give me Ayn Rand every time.

An inclination towards Justice seems to me to be the default human position, at least where we ourselves are concerned. What would we mean by “it isn’t fair” if we didn’t believe in Justice? C S Lewis develops this idea brilliantly in the first chapter of Mere Christianity.

So we start by believing in Justice and some contract the materialist meme . This meme does not destroy our belief in Justice. The two co-exist with disastrous consequences.

We might expect a metaphysical truth mixed with a bad idea to be at least better than a bad idea on its own. Perhaps not. This reminds me of C S Lewis’ Last Battle in which the ape tells the assembled Narnians that there was a donkey masquerading as Aslan – true. By mixing some truth with his big lie (that Aslan is in the stable and that the ape is his mouthpiece) he strengthens his lie.

As the nineteenth and twentieth centuries wore on materialism and its bastard offspring Socialism gathered strength and developed a corpus of doctrine. Regrettably, Materialism, being incompatible with Reason, the Socialists managed to construct doctrines which were in defiance of actual observation and Common Sense. They cast Capitalism in the role of demon, whereas Capitalism (the idea that by serving your fellow man you serve yourself) is the only system whereby humanity has consistently improved the lot of ordinary people.

The logical flaws in socialist economics (for example, its hopelessly inadequate price theory), as well as its counterfactual predictions, meant that state violence was inevitably necessary to make the system work. I was talking to a catholic friend recently, who suggested that Socialism was a good idea perverted by bad people. No! Socialism requires ruthless bastards in charge to make it work at all.

Lest you should think that I am talking only about Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Jong Ill, please remember that Hitler and Mussolini were Socialists. How comes it that Fascist and Nazi are only ever used now as terms of abuse, while many apparently decent people proudly proclaim themselves to be Socialists? Otherwise wholesome young people wear tee-shirts featuring Che Guevara, a murdering bastard if ever there was one.

Nazis and Socialists and now Environmentalists! Dear God! By “Environmentalists” I do not mean people who like clean air and water better than polluted air and filthy water, but those who take the position that people are the problem and that growing the economy means raping the Earth. Their science is flawed and their “remedies” are calamitous. Regrettably, the environmentalist cause has been taken up by many mainstream churches.

It is also, regrettably, the case that some strands of Christian thinking are tainted with Socialism. Some members of the early Church lived communally but communal living is no part of the Creed. Socialism undermines Charity and St Paul teaches us that Charity is the greatest virtue.

Oh God, protect the Church of Rome. Remind Catholics that You love humanity. Remind them that they are made in Your image, endowed by You with Reason, Ingenuity and Free Will. Remind them that Your Kingdom is not of this World.