Tag Archives: Free market

The Key is Freedom

I haven’t seen Arthur Brooks’ documentary on the free market (The Pursuit) but I have followed his work at AEI and am currently reading (and enjoying) his new book Love Your Enemies. I have some traveling to do in this next month. Hopefully, that will give me time to see Brooks’ documentary.Image result for braveheart freedom

The takeaway for me from the review at Bleeding Heart Libertarian (see below) is the connection between human flourishing and not only economic freedom but moral freedom (virtue).

If we care for the poor, if we care for our communities, if we care for our families, children, and students, then we will defend freedom. This means having a fuller notion of freedom that just the absence of external constraints.

It also means the freedom that comes from a life of virtue of those habits of thought and action that make it possible for me to love my enemy and to forgive those who have wronged me.

Above all, freedom in this fuller sense means cultivating the virtues that help me focus not simply on what’s best for me but best for my neighbor. I wish to become a morally better person and a more productive member of society not only because this is good for me. It’s good for you as well when your neighbor is virtuous and working to make the world a better place economically, politically, culturally, and yes, morally.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Source: The Pursuit: Arthur Brooks on Capitalism, Dignity, and Opportunity for All

Marriage, Market, and Politics in Middlemarch 

Note that the market here is not portrayed as destroying other values, like love and fidelity, as is often the case in both Marxist and conservative critiques, but as putting them on a realistic and stable foundation. Moreover, a successful life does not consist of throwing off authority or vindicating the authentic self, but in creating enduring associations with others. Middlemarch is thus a riposte to those who think that the essence of liberalism must loosen rather than strengthen the bonds of community and family.

And it is also clear that Eliot contrasts politics unfavorably with the market and a market infused family life. The story takes place in the shadow of the struggles to enact the Reform Bill — probably the most important democratizing act in British history, greatly expanding the franchise and making it more effective by eliminating or at least tempering rotten boroughs. But the people acting together without the bonds of market or familial associations are not portrayed favorably. When they condemn Dr. Lydgate, they are mostly motivated by malice and envy. Political actors are generally represented as quite self-interested. At the end of the book, some characters speculate how they can use the initial failure of the Reform Bill to get into the House of Lords. If the danger of marriage is that it will be built on illusions, however benevolent, the danger of politics is that it may rest on sheer malevolence.

Of course, Middlemarch is not a political tract. But Eliot makes important points about the relation of private life, public life, and the spirit of market liberalism that are as powerful today as they were when she wrote them almost 150 years ago.

Source: Law & Liberty

For Consideration: Intellectual Pathology

The pathology of Western intellectuals has committed them to an adversarial relationship with the culture—free markets and individual rights—that has produced the greatest alleviation of suffering; the greatest liberation from want, ignorance, and superstition; and the greatest increase of bounty and opportunity in the history of all human life.

This pathology allows Western intellectuals to step around the Everest of bodies of the victims of Communism without a tear, a scruple, a regret, an act of contrition, or a reevaluation of self, soul, and mind.

Alan Charles Kors, “https://atlassociety.org/objectivism/atlas-university/deeper-dive-blog/3962-can-there-be-an-after-socialism“>Can There be an ‘After Socialism’ ?”

Orthodox Witness in the Marketplace

What follows isn’t a “how-to” manual or a program for Orthodox evangelism or church building. There are enough of those available on the market already. My concern here is to trace out the areas for the fruitful, dare I say, profitable, engagement of the free market by Orthodox Christians.

As I argue below, while America has been a source of social and economic blessing for Orthodox Christians, it also has presented the Church with certain challenges. Chief among these is that the Church is in competition with other religions (Christian and non-Christian) as well as the broader, secular, culture for the allegiance of the human heart.

And because we are embodied beings, competition for the human heart also includes competition for the material and social resources needed for Orthodox Christians to live our lives in a pluralistic society. We need these resources as individual and families but also as parishes and dioceses. While we might prefer to focus on theology and liturgy—these are after all our strengths—Orthodox witness in the marketplace of ideas can’t be limited to what we do well. Our witness must also extend to the economic and political dimensions.

In what follows, I propose to look at five themes:

  1. Christian and civil society as an ordered fullness.
  2. The person as ontologically and morally prior to society.
  3. The ascetical flourishing of the human person.
  4. A brief introduction to human rights in Orthodox Social Teaching.
  5. Christian philanthropy and human flourishing.

Each of these themes is worth a book length study, indeed several such studies. What I’m doing here is merely introducing reader to these themes. This is maybe a good moment to say who I imagine is reading this work.

Though I write as an Orthodox Christian priest, I’m not writing specifically to Eastern Orthodox Christians. Certainly, I hope my Orthodox brothers and sisters read what I’ve written but I’m not primarily writing for them. Rather, I hope that Christians outside the Orthodox tradition will pick up my work and use it to reflect on their own experience in bearing witness to the Gospel in a free market context. Sometimes we can see ourselves and our situation best when we look from someone else’s perspective.

This is true for Orthodox Christians as well. Inviting Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians to reflect on my tradition from their perspectives will, I hope, help me see things about my Church, our pastoral situation and my own praxis as a priest that I might not see otherwise. To put it directly, I think there is profit not only in the free exchange of goods and services for money but also in the free exchange of ideas. You see, this is my overwhelming experience as an Orthodox priest ministering in a highly competitive—sometimes brutally so—free market of ideas. The competition makes me a better priest, a better disciple of Jesus Christ and a better human being. This isn’t to say there aren’t cost associated with this. It is only to say what any free market economists will tell you. Without risk, there is no profit. These words hold as true in our spiritual life as they do in economic life.

So, what has been the effects of the free market for the Orthodox Church? Let’s look at that next.