Friday, April 24, 2009

Blind Men and the Elephant: Hayek, Christianity and Catholic 'Social Teaching'

Sometimes I describe myself as a conservative in politics, an Austrian in economics, a Christian by faith, a Calvinist by doctrine and a Southerner by the grace of God. All of these commitments are involved in my colloquy with Andrew Cusack, who took umbrage at my proudly Protestant skepticism toward Catholic "social teaching," inspiring me to respond at length:
Every faithful Christian seeks to understand what is required of him, as an individual, in dealings with his fellow man. We strive, or at least should strive, for honesty and fairness in matters of business. Yet when we attempt to reason upward, as it were, from the level of individual morality to the question of "social justice," the One True Way becomes increasingly less obvious. Thoughtful minds see that this is a utopian mission, an effort toward universalistic one-size-fits-all prescription, with some central authority dictating down to the minutest level what is prohibited and what is required. During the 1970s, after radicals had captured majority power in the municipal government of Berkeley, Calif., a shopkeeper put up a sign in his window sarcastically describing the new order: "That which is not forbidden is mandatory."
This is the meddlesome tendency unleashed when we make "social justice" our goal in politics and economic. What is "social justice" to the SEIU labor organizer, to the ACORN activist, to the HHS bureaucrat, to the La Raza militant, to the GM executive, to Tim Geithner?
Please read the whole thing. Man, this "top Hayekian public intellectual" stuff keeps a fellow busy. You ought to hit the tip jar. That's my idea of "social justice."


  1. How would you relate, if at all, the theonomy movement to this social justice elephant?

  2. Sorry, Stacy: I'll never make it past 2.5 on the Calvin scale. The interaction between freewill and destiny is just too dynamic.