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Monday, 22 August 2011

Two Excellent Books by Catholics – Now, there’s a surprise!

I have recently read Peter Kreeft's CS Lewis for the Third Millennium. It is magnificent. I downloaded it to my Kindle – what a fabulous device! More at a later date on PK, perhaps.

Over the weekend I read for the third time Tom Woods' The Church and the Market – beyond magnificent!

It was occasioned by Woods' disquiet about certain trends in "Catholic Social Doctrine" from the nineteenth century onwards. He is very courteous about the authors with whom he takes issue (including Popes Leo XIII, Pius IX and John XXIII). He does not question their Theology. Indeed, as an orthodox Catholic, Woods subscribes impeccably to the Catholic view that when the pontiffs pronounce on Faith and Morals, we have to accord to their words a very special importance indeed. Am I being wishy-washy about papal infallibility? Perhaps. Woods does not have a problem with it. However, it is when they come to recommending particular social policies, even popes will err if those policies lead to outcomes that are contrary to the very objectives they espouse – because those policies are based upon faulty economic reasoning. If they were to recommend bleeding for sundry diseases, neither their Charity nor their Theology would be at fault. It would be their medical knowledge.

The so-called Late Scholastics were the first to observe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that there are Scientific Laws of Human Behaviour – and this before the idea of Scientific Laws of Nature (gravitation etc) was generally accepted. Their writings influenced Adam Smith. In fact they understood prices better than he did. Their latter day successors were Mengler, von Mises and Rothbard – the Austrian School, of which Woods is such a distinguished member.

TC&TM contains an excellent introduction to Austrian Economics, which I am not going to summarise here. I will only say that it is true, as irrefutable as Pythagorus.

What a tragedy that we have not accepted these well-founded theories. If we had similarly disregarded the Germ Theory of Disease, our life expectancy would be half what it is, or less.

Private property, the rule of Law, free markets and sound money would have vouchsafed us a standard of living light years beyond what we now enjoy (having only sporadically based policy upon them). We could easily have eradicated poverty and probably war.

Bien pensants elites have not only failed to understand what the Austrians teach. They have actively embraced contrary ideas: State Interference, Social Justice (the whole disastrous panoply of Socialism). Would it be enough to erase the influence of Marx and of Keynes – if we could? Perhaps not. There is something seductive about meddling.

Nevertheless, Hope is a virtue. Watch me as I practise it! Truth will out! The inexorable rightness of Austrian thinking will continue to spread. Its future is assured by the failure of current policies. God's Kingdom is not of this World. Austrian Economics will not abolish Original Sin. But we can make the World better.


  1. Just out of curiosity kiffy, what is it you don’t like about Grandma and Grandpa’s Church? Or rather, why do you prefer the Catholic Church to the one you were brought up in?

  2. Dear Elisa
    The United Reformed Church has, it seems to me, pretty well become a subsidiary of the Green Movement. I detest the Green Movement because it is an uber-political band wagon (which sprang into existence when International Socialism collapsed), dedicated to Socialism and World Government. Green Peace has been denounced by its co-founder, Patrick Moore. You may think that they are the good guys. I think that they are not. I cannot in polite language describe my detestation of of their humanity-hating philosophy. I cannot bring myself to excuse them on the grounds of good intentions.
    I was also, for a while, an Anglican. But so many Anglican priests are atheists - I know two.
    Lots of love.

  3. St. Francis is arguably the oldest and most outspoken ‘animal lover’ we’ve seen in Europe and his “gift of sympathy” for animals and nature is not that different from the 19th century transcendentalists’ “intrinsic value of nature”, which influenced the green movement so much. I can just imagine young, handsome Giovanni Francesco of Assisi commanding the Rainbow Warrior across the Pacific to rescue his ‘brothers’ the blue whales from the greedy and heartless Japanese (-: