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Re: [eldil] Mere ideology: the politicisation of C.S. Lewis

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  • Steve Hayes
    ... Here is the reply from David Theroux In response to: Blog: Notes from underground Post: Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis Link:
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 26, 2010
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      On 26 Aug 2010 at 20:35, Steve Hayes wrote:

      > I recently wrote a post on my blog:
      >
      > Mere Ideology: the politicisation of C.S. Lewis
      >
      > http://su.pr/1N9cGd
      >
      > It was a comment on two articles that appeared to be trying to claim C.S.
      > Lewis's support for American Libertarianism.
      >
      > The author of one of the articles, David Theroux sent me a reply, which I
      > tried to post in the blog comments, but it was too big, so I thought I would
      > post a link to my blog post (and from there to the two articles), and then
      > post his response here. I hope it may lead to some discussion.

      Here is the reply from David Theroux

      In response to:

      Blog: Notes from underground
      Post: Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis
      Link: http://methodius.blogspot.com/2010/08/mere-ideology-politicisation-of-
      cs.html

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my new article, "C. S. Lewis on Mere
      Liberty and the Evils of Statism".

      1. However, nowhere in my article do I mention "libertarianism" or "classical
      liberalism," as it is you are describing the views I have shared by Lewis as
      "ideological." Lewis would certainly agree with Eric Voegelin that ideologies
      are modern inventions, secular religious substitutes to fill the vacuum
      created by the incoherence and emptiness of atheism. Ideologies are
      utilitarian because they are based on consequentialist arguments that “the
      end justifies the means.” Indeed, a major point of my article, as I clearly
      discuss, is that Lewis was not just apolitical, he was anti-political and
      averse to all forms of campaign and partisan politics. However, this anti-
      political sentiment was based on his own political philosophy that was rooted
      in Divine, objective morality and deeply opposed any and all forms of
      government power (by mortal men and women) that defied such moral standards.

      My point is a very simple one. Lewis was a firm champion of the classic
      natural law principles of individual liberty under a universal rule of law,
      and he understood that Christianity was the pure embodiment of natural law.
      Indeed, it is in our understanding of the existence of the natural law that
      we come to see ourselves as sinners in falling short of this standard. God
      gave us free will in order to come to know Him, but the choice is ours to
      make, and in choosing to transgress the natural law, we face the penalty of
      separation from God. Only Grace provides the door to overcome such fallen-
      ness, and Jesus taught that in seeking the Good, we are always to submit to
      and employ the natural law in everything we do in our dealings with others.
      Justice is not relative or situational: it is based on the natural law.

      2. Your attempt to characterize the classic natural law critique of statism
      as something concocted by Ayn Rand is profoundly mistaken. Rand’s contrived
      “ethical egoism” (narcissism) based on utilitarian (consequentialist),
      reciprocal-rights theory to establish a coherent basis for natural rights is
      deeply flawed and has nothing to do with natural law. Despite her claims to
      the contrary, Rand’s view is utterly subjectivist and denies any objective
      standard for truth, goodness or beauty above each individual’s own self-
      interest, exactly contrary to the natural law view that all individuals are
      entirely subject to an overarching reality of natural moral law. In effect,
      Rand’s view boils down to saying that “the end justifies the means” for each
      individual, which Lewis completely disagreed with. Incidentally, Rand’s view
      also fails more fundamentally because of its naturalistic foundations and
      Lewis also correctly critiqued naturalism as being self-refuting. Please see
      the following:

      Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism: C. S. Lewis’s “Argument from
      Reason”, by David Theroux

      In contrast and as I show in my article, “Lewis drew on the natural-law
      insights of such thinkers as the apostle Paul, Augustine, Magnus, Aquinas,
      Cicero, Grotius, Blackstone, Acton, and Locke, and he considered modernist
      dismissals of such work to be fundamentally erroneous.” Lewis admired Acton,
      Tocqueville, Madison, and other proponents of natural law who sought to
      radically constrain government power because, as you (and I) quote, “no man
      or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over
      others.”

      You also properly quote Lewis that the very police power of the State itself
      is something to be leery of because if unchecked by a natural law standard,
      tyranny will result: “The worst of all public dangers is the committee of
      public safety. The character in 'That hideous strength' whom the Professor
      never mentions is Miss Hardcastle, the chief of the secret police. She is the
      common factor in all revolutions; and, as she says, you won't get anyone to
      do her job well unless they get some kick out of it.”

      But this in fact means that Lewis, like Aquinas and others, was non-
      ideological because he had a coherent political philosophy based on natural
      law.

      3. As for “progressives,” the further point is that “progressivism” is
      another modern ideology, and this certainly is the case for such people as
      Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who view
      government power as a sanctified means to create a good society if just the
      “correct” amount of invasive police power is applied to control people, seize
      and redistribute their wealth and regulate their lives. And Lewis did not
      hesitate to critique such situational ethics.

      In the process, Lewis was saying that social and economic problems are not
      solvable through political power and such power should be opposed because it
      necessarily breaks the natural law. The natural law itself includes both
      ethical and economic lessons (what became the “Austrian School” of economics)
      and by keeping political power to a minimum, all individuals in a civil
      society have the freedom and flexibility to function through the process
      making their own choices in a competitive market under a rule of law. As I
      note, Rodney Stark and others have shown that it is no accident that such
      insights sprang first from the discovery by deeply devout Christian clerics
      of Scholasticism in the Middle Ages at universities such as that at
      Salamanca. There is a wealth of information on this and here is just one
      excellent book on the subject:

      Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, Alejandro
      Chafuen

      Here also are some article references:

      Free Market Economists: 400 Years Ago, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

      How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West, by
      Rodney Stark

      Juan de Mariana: The Influence of the Spanish Scholastics, by Jesus Huerta de
      Soto

      “The Late-Scholastic and Austrian Link to Modern Catholic Economic Thought,”
      by Robert A. Sirico

      New Light on the Prehistory of the Austrian School, by Murray N. Rothbard

      New Light on the Prehistory of the Theory of Banking and the School of
      Salamanca, by Jesus Huerta de Soto

      Connections Between the Austrian School of Economics and Christian Faith: A
      Personalist Approach, by Paul A. Cleveland

      4. You are indeed correct that a utilitarian (subjectivist) economics view
      that all human problems are materially resolvable by economics is deeply
      mistaken (as Lewis noted), and I discuss this point in my article. Economics
      is the understanding of the cause-and-effect unfolding of human choice as
      determined by and subject to the natural law, but such causal knowledge does
      not tell us what we “ought” to choose. This bigger question is reserved to
      the theological matter of “right behavior.” Hence, as I quote Lewis in my
      article and he wrote in many instances, being free is not the end goal, but
      instead we need to be free to seek the Good, and we can only do so if we are
      free.

      But such an insight does not justify the misconceived concept of “social
      justice” which presumes that a second standard above the natural law exists
      that trumps the natural law that determines justice based on the choices of
      each individual. There are additional and ultimate standards of justice above
      simply opposing invasive behavior, but to achieve such standards, one cannot
      do so by trampling on the natural law itself. Those who advocate the mirage
      of “social justice” are saying that even if one were to follow the natural
      law perfectly (as in the case of Jesus), that person would still sin (and
      hence sin and the Fall would have no meaning) and the only way of salvation
      is to erect government programs of “social salvation” that achieve some
      societal arrangement based on some unknown collectivist calculus. Lewis was
      devastating in his critique of such folly, as I note in my article because
      again the creation of such government machinery is done by flawed men and
      women who must do so by defying the natural law based on their own
      utilitarian, subjectivist views.

      5. Finally, your discussion appears hinged by your mistaken belief that a
      society in which all individuals are left free to make their own choices
      under a rule of law is necessarily dysfunctional and will create huge
      disparities of misery and abuse. However, the opposite has been the case, and
      again, you are saying that utilitarian considerations overrule natural law
      and should instead be the basis for moral ethics. But, using your own
      criterion of utility, I will note that societies that are the most free are
      the most effective in overcoming poverty and all manner of temporal, social
      maladies, just as the natural law would predict. Contrary to the belief of
      Nikolai Berdyaev, free markets were the means that overcame massive human
      misery and it was when the Russian feudal and socialist state controlled the
      lives of the citizenry that poverty was abject and enduring. Freedom produced
      the Industrial Revolution which uplifted the lives of entire societies as
      people flocked from the forests into mill towns to take on jobs that ended
      starvation and disease, and created an upwardly mobile middle class with the
      ability to protect and educate their children. Here is one of many books that
      sets correctly the historical record:

      Capitalism and the Historians, edited by F. A. Hayek

      David J. Theroux
      Founder and President
      The Independent Institute
      100 Swan Way
      Oakland, CA 94621
      (510) 632-1366 Phone
      (510) 568-6040 Fax
      DTheroux@...
      http://www.independent.org
    • Robert
      Steve - If you would forward my comments to Mr. Theroux as well, I would be deeply appreciative. I think that the whole problem of trying to pigeonhole Lewis
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 30, 2010
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        Steve -

        If you would forward my comments to Mr. Theroux as well, I would be deeply appreciative.

        I think that the whole problem of trying to pigeonhole Lewis' politics and/or economic theorems [and, let us confess, all politics appears to have reduced to economics in our darkening era] is that Lewis' thinking along operated primarily on a pre-Enlightenment, pre-"Victorious Analysis" basis.

        I don't know anything about Natural Law theory, except that it seems to be often on the lips of a certain type of Catholic. I am assuming that Natural Law is something akin to what Lewis dealt with when he introduced the concept of the "Tao" in 'The Abolition Of Man', so if I make mistakes in understanding the ideas begind Natural law, please bear with me. I have to admit that the whole idea of 'law' leaves me a bit cold, whichever phrase it is embedded in; "Natural Law", "the Law of Historical Necessity", "the Law of the Marketplace".

        I would like to bring the thought of another of the circle of Lewis' friends, Owen Barfield, to play upon the issue of economic thought:

        "[Francis] Bacon... was at least among the first to draw the analogy in English. so that in the history of thought, we have a here a pretty definite point - round about the beginning of the 17th century - at which the concept 'laws of nature' first begins to reveal itself as working in human minds."

        Barfield goes to to explain that the idea of Law, from the time of Bacon on, displaced the older idea of Form as a metaphor of "thinking Nature". The older idea of Form, which was useful in explaining 'natura naturans', Barfield maintains, were the "memory of those elements which the best Greek thinking could still apprehend in its time as living Beings" was usurped by the menta habit of thinking of Laws, which dealt with 'natura naturata', as a static thing "which dealt with the rules that govern the changes which occur in the sense-perceptible part of nature."

        This helps me to distinguish the economic thinking of Lewis, and his companion Tolkien from the algorithmic thinking about The Market© that is so ubiquitious in our day. The Algorithm arose in the Seventeenth Century as a way of thinking and swept all before it. The United States, it is sometimes helpful for me to remember, is not a Nation based on ties of race, religion, or culture, but literally an Algorithmic state, based not on centuries of precedent and custom, but on ABORSGSIARTATBWTAADR (A Bunch Of Really Smart Guys Sitting In A Room Thinking About The Best Way To Achieve A Desired Result). And the temptation is, when confronted by undesireable results proceeding from the execution of the Algorithm, is to reach for the levers and tweak it until it produces the desired results.

        The result of the triumph of the Algorithm has been an undeniable increase in the levels of comfort for those who benefit from its application, especially for those close to the levers and those who directly support them. Indeed, the limited liablity corporation and the ersatz personhood rendered to it by legal fiat represents kind of an Incarnation for this Algorithm. The pronouncements of those in charge of these entities indicate there is a kind of reverse-theosis underway in them that strips them of any concern that cannot be quantified by this Algorithm.

        In contrast, Lewis champions a kind of a pre-Algorithmic ordering of society, where The Market© digests other concerns besides the merely economic. Novelist Gene Wolfe in a masterful essay on Tolkien says this in a way I can only marvel at:

        "Philology led him to the study of the largely illiterate societies of Northern Europe between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the true Middle Ages (roughly AD 400 to 1000). There he found a quality -- let us call it Folk Law -- that has almost disappeared from his world and ours. It is the neighbour-love and settled customary goodness of the Shire. Frodo is "rich" in comparison to Sam, though no dragon would call Frodo rich; Sam is poor in comparison to Frodo, though Sam is far richer than Gollum, who has been devoured by the tyranny and corruption of the One Ring. Frodo does not despise Sam for his poverty, he employs him; and Sam does not detest Frodo for his wealth, but is grateful for the job. Most central of all, the difference in their positions does not prevent their friendship. And in the end, poor Sam rises in the estimation of the Shire because of his association with Frodo, and rich Frodo sacrifices himself for the good of all the Sams."

        "Sam Rayburn, a politician of vast experience, once said that all legislation is special-interest legislation. Of our nation, and of the 20th century, that is unquestionably true; but it need not be. We have -- but do not need -- a pestilent swarm of exceedingly clever persons who call themselves public servants when everything about them and us proclaims that they are in fact our masters. They make laws (and regulations and judicial decisions that have the force of laws) faster and more assiduously than any factory in the world makes chains; and they lay them on us."

        It need not be so. We might have a society in which the laws were few and just, simple, permanent, and familiar to everyone -- a society in which everyone stood shoulder-to-shoulder because everyone lived by the same changeless rules, and everyone knew what those rules were. When we had it, we would also have a society in which the lack of wealth was not reason for resentment but a spur to ambition, and in which wealth was not a cause for self-indulgence but a call to service. We had it once, and some time in this third millennium we shall have it again; and if we forget to thank John Ronald Reuel Tolkien for it when we get it, we will already have begun the slow and not always unpleasant return to Mordor."

        Unfortunately, I do not believe that the way back is the way forward. Nostalgia for Holy Rus or the Anglo-Saxon Thengs or even the Scotland of David Ricardo will not assist us in our current extreme. We live in a time where children now consider it a judicious investment to bring a firearm to school, but I do not want to return to a time when such schooling was available to very few, if at all.

        What Barfield indicates is that we need to have a different way of thinking;

        "The economic life is today the real bond of the civilised world/ The world is not held together by political or religious harmony, but by economic interdependence; and here again is the same antithesis. Economic theory is bound hand and foot by the static, abstract (algorithmic) characte of modern thought. On the one hand, everything to with industry and the possibility of substituting human labor by machinery, or at very least standardizing it into a series of repetitive motions, has reached an unexampled pitch of perfection."

        "But when it is the question of distributing this potential wealth, when it is demanded of us that we think in terms of flow and rate-of-flow, in otherwords that we think in terms of the system as a whole, we cannot even rise to it. The result is that all our 'labour-saving' machinery produces not leisure but its ghastly caricature unemployment while the world sits helplessly watching the steady growth within itself of a malignant tumor of social discontent. this incereaasingly rancourous discontent is fed above all things by a cramping penury, a shortage of the means of livelihood which arises not out the realities of nature, but out of abstract, inelastic thoughts about money."

        Now, I will be the first to admit that I am clueless about the kind of thinking Barfield says we require at this juncture. Whether it is holistic rather than reductionistic I cannot penetrate at this time. If it holistic, it runs the risk of requiring somebody to know a system extensively before saying anything about it, and every time I head down that path, I find myself thinking algorithmically about non-algorithmic thought, and thus get myself all balled up in knots.

        The closest I have gotten is, maybe, when meditating in a grove of trees about photosynthesis, I entertained a kind of a pre-sentiment that the trees "wanted" to trap the sunlight and turn it into useable energy, not only for themselves, but for all the biosphere, and if I could just 'learn their language', as it were, I could find a way to cooperate with the trees and help them do this.

        I think another of the neglected Inklings, Charles Williams, with his concepts of Co-Inherence and Webs of Exchange, lends himself to an economic interpretation. Certainly Williams, as a lifelong City dweller, would have a different outlook than the bucolic Lewis or Tolkien. Certainly, a good case could be made for there being different Webs of Exchange; the Chemical, the Biological, the Semantic, the Anthro-Economic which exists over and above the others and which currently is returning evil for good.



        --- In eldil@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Hayes" <hayesstw@...> wrote:
        >
        > On 26 Aug 2010 at 20:35, Steve Hayes wrote:
        >
        > > I recently wrote a post on my blog:
        > >
        > > Mere Ideology: the politicisation of C.S. Lewis
        > >
        > > http://su.pr/1N9cGd
        > >
        > > It was a comment on two articles that appeared to be trying to claim C.S.
        > > Lewis's support for American Libertarianism.
        > >
        > > The author of one of the articles, David Theroux sent me a reply, which I
        > > tried to post in the blog comments, but it was too big, so I thought I would
        > > post a link to my blog post (and from there to the two articles), and then
        > > post his response here. I hope it may lead to some discussion.
        >
        > Here is the reply from David Theroux
        >
        > In response to:
        >
        > Blog: Notes from underground
        > Post: Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis
        > Link: http://methodius.blogspot.com/2010/08/mere-ideology-politicisation-of-
        > cs.html
        >
        > Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my new article, "C. S. Lewis on Mere
        > Liberty and the Evils of Statism".
        >
        > 1. However, nowhere in my article do I mention "libertarianism" or "classical
        > liberalism," as it is you are describing the views I have shared by Lewis as
        > "ideological." Lewis would certainly agree with Eric Voegelin that ideologies
        > are modern inventions, secular religious substitutes to fill the vacuum
        > created by the incoherence and emptiness of atheism. Ideologies are
        > utilitarian because they are based on consequentialist arguments that "the
        > end justifies the means." Indeed, a major point of my article, as I clearly
        > discuss, is that Lewis was not just apolitical, he was anti-political and
        > averse to all forms of campaign and partisan politics. However, this anti-
        > political sentiment was based on his own political philosophy that was rooted
        > in Divine, objective morality and deeply opposed any and all forms of
        > government power (by mortal men and women) that defied such moral standards.
        >
        > My point is a very simple one. Lewis was a firm champion of the classic
        > natural law principles of individual liberty under a universal rule of law,
        > and he understood that Christianity was the pure embodiment of natural law.
        > Indeed, it is in our understanding of the existence of the natural law that
        > we come to see ourselves as sinners in falling short of this standard. God
        > gave us free will in order to come to know Him, but the choice is ours to
        > make, and in choosing to transgress the natural law, we face the penalty of
        > separation from God. Only Grace provides the door to overcome such fallen-
        > ness, and Jesus taught that in seeking the Good, we are always to submit to
        > and employ the natural law in everything we do in our dealings with others.
        > Justice is not relative or situational: it is based on the natural law.
        >
        > 2. Your attempt to characterize the classic natural law critique of statism
        > as something concocted by Ayn Rand is profoundly mistaken. Rand's contrived
        > "ethical egoism" (narcissism) based on utilitarian (consequentialist),
        > reciprocal-rights theory to establish a coherent basis for natural rights is
        > deeply flawed and has nothing to do with natural law. Despite her claims to
        > the contrary, Rand's view is utterly subjectivist and denies any objective
        > standard for truth, goodness or beauty above each individual's own self-
        > interest, exactly contrary to the natural law view that all individuals are
        > entirely subject to an overarching reality of natural moral law. In effect,
        > Rand's view boils down to saying that "the end justifies the means" for each
        > individual, which Lewis completely disagreed with. Incidentally, Rand's view
        > also fails more fundamentally because of its naturalistic foundations and
        > Lewis also correctly critiqued naturalism as being self-refuting. Please see
        > the following:
        >
        > Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism: C. S. Lewis's "Argument from
        > Reason", by David Theroux
        >
        > In contrast and as I show in my article, "Lewis drew on the natural-law
        > insights of such thinkers as the apostle Paul, Augustine, Magnus, Aquinas,
        > Cicero, Grotius, Blackstone, Acton, and Locke, and he considered modernist
        > dismissals of such work to be fundamentally erroneous." Lewis admired Acton,
        > Tocqueville, Madison, and other proponents of natural law who sought to
        > radically constrain government power because, as you (and I) quote, "no man
        > or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over
        > others."
        >
        > You also properly quote Lewis that the very police power of the State itself
        > is something to be leery of because if unchecked by a natural law standard,
        > tyranny will result: "The worst of all public dangers is the committee of
        > public safety. The character in 'That hideous strength' whom the Professor
        > never mentions is Miss Hardcastle, the chief of the secret police. She is the
        > common factor in all revolutions; and, as she says, you won't get anyone to
        > do her job well unless they get some kick out of it."
        >
        > But this in fact means that Lewis, like Aquinas and others, was non-
        > ideological because he had a coherent political philosophy based on natural
        > law.
        >
        > 3. As for "progressives," the further point is that "progressivism" is
        > another modern ideology, and this certainly is the case for such people as
        > Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who view
        > government power as a sanctified means to create a good society if just the
        > "correct" amount of invasive police power is applied to control people, seize
        > and redistribute their wealth and regulate their lives. And Lewis did not
        > hesitate to critique such situational ethics.
        >
        > In the process, Lewis was saying that social and economic problems are not
        > solvable through political power and such power should be opposed because it
        > necessarily breaks the natural law. The natural law itself includes both
        > ethical and economic lessons (what became the "Austrian School" of economics)
        > and by keeping political power to a minimum, all individuals in a civil
        > society have the freedom and flexibility to function through the process
        > making their own choices in a competitive market under a rule of law. As I
        > note, Rodney Stark and others have shown that it is no accident that such
        > insights sprang first from the discovery by deeply devout Christian clerics
        > of Scholasticism in the Middle Ages at universities such as that at
        > Salamanca. There is a wealth of information on this and here is just one
        > excellent book on the subject:
        >
        > Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, Alejandro
        > Chafuen
        >
        > Here also are some article references:
        >
        > Free Market Economists: 400 Years Ago, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
        >
        > How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West, by
        > Rodney Stark
        >
        > Juan de Mariana: The Influence of the Spanish Scholastics, by Jesus Huerta de
        > Soto
        >
        > "The Late-Scholastic and Austrian Link to Modern Catholic Economic Thought,"
        > by Robert A. Sirico
        >
        > New Light on the Prehistory of the Austrian School, by Murray N. Rothbard
        >
        > New Light on the Prehistory of the Theory of Banking and the School of
        > Salamanca, by Jesus Huerta de Soto
        >
        > Connections Between the Austrian School of Economics and Christian Faith: A
        > Personalist Approach, by Paul A. Cleveland
        >
        > 4. You are indeed correct that a utilitarian (subjectivist) economics view
        > that all human problems are materially resolvable by economics is deeply
        > mistaken (as Lewis noted), and I discuss this point in my article. Economics
        > is the understanding of the cause-and-effect unfolding of human choice as
        > determined by and subject to the natural law, but such causal knowledge does
        > not tell us what we "ought" to choose. This bigger question is reserved to
        > the theological matter of "right behavior." Hence, as I quote Lewis in my
        > article and he wrote in many instances, being free is not the end goal, but
        > instead we need to be free to seek the Good, and we can only do so if we are
        > free.
        >
        > But such an insight does not justify the misconceived concept of "social
        > justice" which presumes that a second standard above the natural law exists
        > that trumps the natural law that determines justice based on the choices of
        > each individual. There are additional and ultimate standards of justice above
        > simply opposing invasive behavior, but to achieve such standards, one cannot
        > do so by trampling on the natural law itself. Those who advocate the mirage
        > of "social justice" are saying that even if one were to follow the natural
        > law perfectly (as in the case of Jesus), that person would still sin (and
        > hence sin and the Fall would have no meaning) and the only way of salvation
        > is to erect government programs of "social salvation" that achieve some
        > societal arrangement based on some unknown collectivist calculus. Lewis was
        > devastating in his critique of such folly, as I note in my article because
        > again the creation of such government machinery is done by flawed men and
        > women who must do so by defying the natural law based on their own
        > utilitarian, subjectivist views.
        >
        > 5. Finally, your discussion appears hinged by your mistaken belief that a
        > society in which all individuals are left free to make their own choices
        > under a rule of law is necessarily dysfunctional and will create huge
        > disparities of misery and abuse. However, the opposite has been the case, and
        > again, you are saying that utilitarian considerations overrule natural law
        > and should instead be the basis for moral ethics. But, using your own
        > criterion of utility, I will note that societies that are the most free are
        > the most effective in overcoming poverty and all manner of temporal, social
        > maladies, just as the natural law would predict. Contrary to the belief of
        > Nikolai Berdyaev, free markets were the means that overcame massive human
        > misery and it was when the Russian feudal and socialist state controlled the
        > lives of the citizenry that poverty was abject and enduring. Freedom produced
        > the Industrial Revolution which uplifted the lives of entire societies as
        > people flocked from the forests into mill towns to take on jobs that ended
        > starvation and disease, and created an upwardly mobile middle class with the
        > ability to protect and educate their children. Here is one of many books that
        > sets correctly the historical record:
        >
        > Capitalism and the Historians, edited by F. A. Hayek
        >
        > David J. Theroux
        > Founder and President
        > The Independent Institute
        > 100 Swan Way
        > Oakland, CA 94621
        > (510) 632-1366 Phone
        > (510) 568-6040 Fax
        > DTheroux@...
        > http://www.independent.org
        >
      • Steve Hayes
        ... I hope he would be reading them here. ... I think you are right. Lewis and Tolkien, I think, did a great job of interpreting premodern worldviews to
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 30, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          On 30 Aug 2010 at 15:59, Robert wrote:

          > If you would forward my comments to Mr. Theroux as well, I would be deeply
          > appreciative.

          I hope he would be reading them here.

          > I think that the whole problem of trying to pigeonhole Lewis' politics and/or
          > economic theorems [and, let us confess, all politics appears to have reduced
          > to economics in our darkening era] is that Lewis' thinking along operated
          > primarily on a pre-Enlightenment, pre-"Victorious Analysis" basis.

          I think you are right.

          Lewis and Tolkien, I think, did a great job of interpreting premodern
          worldviews to moderns, and ideology is something that belongs very firmly to
          modernity.

          > I don't know anything about Natural Law theory, except that it seems to be
          > often on the lips of a certain type of Catholic. I am assuming that Natural
          > Law is something akin to what Lewis dealt with when he introduced the concept
          > of the "Tao" in 'The Abolition Of Man', so if I make mistakes in understanding
          > the ideas begind Natural law, please bear with me. I have to admit that the
          > whole idea of 'law' leaves me a bit cold, whichever phrase it is embedded in;
          > "Natural Law", "the Law of Historical Necessity", "the Law of the
          > Marketplace".

          I to know nothing about "natural law", which I associate in my mind with
          Western scholasticism.

          Lewis's concept of Tao makes sense to me, even if it is not the Dao of
          Daoists.

          > I would like to bring the thought of another of the circle of Lewis' friends,
          > Owen Barfield, to play upon the issue of economic thought:
          >
          > "[Francis] Bacon... was at least among the first to draw the analogy in
          > English. so that in the history of thought, we have a here a pretty definite
          > point - round about the beginning of the 17th century - at which the concept
          > 'laws of nature' first begins to reveal itself as working in human minds."
          >
          > Barfield goes to to explain that the idea of Law, from the time of Bacon on,
          > displaced the older idea of Form as a metaphor of "thinking Nature". The
          > older idea of Form, which was useful in explaining 'natura naturans', Barfield
          > maintains, were the "memory of those elements which the best Greek thinking
          > could still apprehend in its time as living Beings" was usurped by the menta
          > habit of thinking of Laws, which dealt with 'natura naturata', as a static
          > thing "which dealt with the rules that govern the changes which occur in the
          > sense-perceptible part of nature."
          >
          > This helps me to distinguish the economic thinking of Lewis, and his companion
          > Tolkien from the algorithmic thinking about The Market© that is so ubiquitious
          > in our day. The Algorithm arose in the Seventeenth Century as a way of
          > thinking and swept all before it. The United States, it is sometimes helpful
          > for me to remember, is not a Nation based on ties of race, religion, or
          > culture, but literally an Algorithmic state, based not on centuries of
          > precedent and custom, but on ABORSGSIARTATBWTAADR (A Bunch Of Really Smart
          > Guys Sitting In A Room Thinking About The Best Way To Achieve A Desired
          > Result). And the temptation is, when confronted by undesireable results
          > proceeding from the execution of the Algorithm, is to reach for the levers and
          > tweak it until it produces the desired results.
          >
          > The result of the triumph of the Algorithm has been an undeniable increase in
          > the levels of comfort for those who benefit from its application, especially
          > for those close to the levers and those who directly support them. Indeed,
          > the limited liablity corporation and the ersatz personhood rendered to it by
          > legal fiat represents kind of an Incarnation for this Algorithm. The
          > pronouncements of those in charge of these entities indicate there is a kind
          > of reverse-theosis underway in them that strips them of any concern that
          > cannot be quantified by this Algorithm.
          >
          > In contrast, Lewis champions a kind of a pre-Algorithmic ordering of society,
          > where The Market© digests other concerns besides the merely economic.
          > Novelist Gene Wolfe in a masterful essay on Tolkien says this in a way I can
          > only marvel at:
          >
          > "Philology led him to the study of the largely illiterate societies of
          > Northern Europe between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the true Middle
          > Ages (roughly AD 400 to 1000). There he found a quality -- let us call it Folk
          > Law -- that has almost disappeared from his world and ours. It is the
          > neighbour-love and settled customary goodness of the Shire. Frodo is "rich" in
          > comparison to Sam, though no dragon would call Frodo rich; Sam is poor in
          > comparison to Frodo, though Sam is far richer than Gollum, who has been
          > devoured by the tyranny and corruption of the One Ring. Frodo does not despise
          > Sam for his poverty, he employs him; and Sam does not detest Frodo for his
          > wealth, but is grateful for the job. Most central of all, the difference in
          > their positions does not prevent their friendship. And in the end, poor Sam
          > rises in the estimation of the Shire because of his association with Frodo,
          > and rich Frodo sacrifices himself for the good of all the Sams."

          I think that Tolkien's description of Saruman's enterprises, and the scouring
          of the shire, shows that he had as little love of the industrial capitalist
          period as Berdyaev, when he said, "It was the industrialist capitalist period
          which subjected man to the power of economics and money, and it does not
          become its adepts to teach communists the evangelical truth that man does not
          live by bread alone."

          > "Sam Rayburn, a politician of vast experience, once said that all legislation
          > is special-interest legislation. Of our nation, and of the 20th century, that
          > is unquestionably true; but it need not be. We have -- but do not need -- a
          > pestilent swarm of exceedingly clever persons who call themselves public
          > servants when everything about them and us proclaims that they are in fact our
          > masters. They make laws (and regulations and judicial decisions that have the
          > force of laws) faster and more assiduously than any factory in the world makes
          > chains; and they lay them on us."
          >
          > It need not be so. We might have a society in which the laws were few and
          > just, simple, permanent, and familiar to everyone -- a society in which
          > everyone stood shoulder-to-shoulder because everyone lived by the same
          > changeless rules, and everyone knew what those rules were. When we had it, we
          > would also have a society in which the lack of wealth was not reason for
          > resentment but a spur to ambition, and in which wealth was not a cause for
          > self-indulgence but a call to service. We had it once, and some time in this
          > third millennium we shall have it again; and if we forget to thank John Ronald
          > Reuel Tolkien for it when we get it, we will already have begun the slow and
          > not always unpleasant return to Mordor."
          >
          > Unfortunately, I do not believe that the way back is the way forward.
          > Nostalgia for Holy Rus or the Anglo-Saxon Thengs or even the Scotland of David
          > Ricardo will not assist us in our current extreme. We live in a time where
          > children now consider it a judicious investment to bring a firearm to school,
          > but I do not want to return to a time when such schooling was available to
          > very few, if at all.

          I'd question whether we ever had it once. Human beings in whatever generation
          have never been perfect.

          >
          > What Barfield indicates is that we need to have a different way of thinking;
          >
          > "The economic life is today the real bond of the civilised world/ The world
          > is not held together by political or religious harmony, but by economic
          > interdependence; and here again is the same antithesis. Economic theory is
          > bound hand and foot by the static, abstract (algorithmic) characte of modern
          > thought. On the one hand, everything to with industry and the possibility of
          > substituting human labor by machinery, or at very least standardizing it into
          > a series of repetitive motions, has reached an unexampled pitch of
          > perfection."
          >
          > "But when it is the question of distributing this potential wealth, when it is
          > demanded of us that we think in terms of flow and rate-of-flow, in otherwords
          > that we think in terms of the system as a whole, we cannot even rise to it.
          > The result is that all our 'labour-saving' machinery produces not leisure but
          > its ghastly caricature unemployment while the world sits helplessly watching
          > the steady growth within itself of a malignant tumor of social discontent.
          > this incereaasingly rancourous discontent is fed above all things by a
          > cramping penury, a shortage of the means of livelihood which arises not out
          > the realities of nature, but out of abstract, inelastic thoughts about money."
          >
          > Now, I will be the first to admit that I am clueless about the kind of
          > thinking Barfield says we require at this juncture. Whether it is holistic
          > rather than reductionistic I cannot penetrate at this time. If it holistic,
          > it runs the risk of requiring somebody to know a system extensively before
          > saying anything about it, and every time I head down that path, I find myself
          > thinking algorithmically about non-algorithmic thought, and thus get myself
          > all balled up in knots.
          >
          > The closest I have gotten is, maybe, when meditating in a grove of trees about
          > photosynthesis, I entertained a kind of a pre-sentiment that the trees
          > "wanted" to trap the sunlight and turn it into useable energy, not only for
          > themselves, but for all the biosphere, and if I could just 'learn their
          > language', as it were, I could find a way to cooperate with the trees and help
          > them do this.
          >
          > I think another of the neglected Inklings, Charles Williams, with his concepts
          > of Co-Inherence and Webs of Exchange, lends himself to an economic
          > interpretation. Certainly Williams, as a lifelong City dweller, would have a
          > different outlook than the bucolic Lewis or Tolkien. Certainly, a good case
          > could be made for there being different Webs of Exchange; the Chemical, the
          > Biological, the Semantic, the Anthro-Economic which exists over and above the
          > others and which currently is returning evil for good.

          I quite recently read "The socialist sixth of the world" by Hewlett Johnson,
          the "Red" Dean of Canterbury. He reminded me of nothing so much as Ayn Rand
          saluting smoke stacks. He claimed that the Soviet Union had solved the
          problem of distribution, but they quite clearly hadn't.
          --
          Steve Hayes
          E-mail: shayes@...
          Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/STEVESIG.HTM
          Blog: http://methodius.blogspot.com
          Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
          Fax: 086-548-2525
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