Re-posted from September 10th in honor of our new friend, @warrioress…
I’ve been tiring of beating up on Obama over the past few weeks and now that the conventions are over, I think I’m going to take a bit of a break from that and focus once again on the underpinnings of his political beliefs. There will not be very much new to chew on between now and the election, it is going to be an ad blitz with each candidate trying to “out define” the other. All that will do is harden support for people who have already made up their mind.
I see the polls. I don’t understand them. I simply don’t understand how Obama’s personal favorability ratchets up after that lackluster speech at the convention, a continuation of the crap jobs and economic statistics and no occurrence of any major event that favors him. I do think more people have made up their minds already and all we are seeing is polling “noise” in these fluctuations. There hasn’t been an election with this stark of a difference since Reagan and Carter in 1980, so for there to be very many “undecideds” seems to me to be a bit counterintuitive.
I still don’t think it will be close and I think Romney wins. Perhaps not what the numbers indicate, but down to my viscera, I simply cannot see how Obama gets a mulligan from America for the past four years. The media has focused on the conservatives who aren’t thrilled with Romney but they have not accurately gaged the feelings of the largely silent ABO (Anybody But Obama) crowd – I think this group is substantial and may not appear until the lever is pulled on election day. This election could turn into a stunner of Pauline Kael proportions for the compliant Obamedia pundits.
Unless somebody gets an unexpected ass whuppin’ at on of the debates, I don’t expect much to happen. Pollsters will continue to oversample Democrats in the same percentages as 2008 and we won’t start to see accurate polling until about 3 weeks before the election, about the time that the polls started to correct themselves in 1980 (the pollsters have to retain some degree of credibility). I expect Romney to do well, Obama will, of course, appeal to emotions rather than logic and Ryan will smash Biden. Slow Joe could lose a debate to his reflection in a mirror, so I hope Ryan doesn’t beat him to the point that the electorate feels sorry for Biden. Punditry aside, the solution to the win/lose equation is now mostly in the hands of the candidates.
Well, back to philosophizing. I ran across a quite intriguing piece at TownHall in which Katie Kieffer argues capitalism, not socialism, is compatible with Christian teachings and that Ayn Rand’s philosophies are actually compatible with Christianity as well, opinions that I share and have expressed. She writes:
Increasingly, priests and pastors are preaching that socialism (in the name of “social justice”) is Christ-like. In truth, capitalism, not socialism, reflects Christian values. I think Christians would be less likely to embrace socialism if they understood that the economic philosophy of Ayn Rand is compatible with Christianity.
‘Social Justice’ Evolves
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of a general form of justice that encompasses all virtue. Describing general justice, Aristotle writes: “It is complete virtue and excellence in the fullest sense… It is complete because he who possesses it can make use of his virtue not only by himself but also in his relations with his fellow men; for there are many people who can make use of their virtue in their own affairs, but who are incapable of using it in their relations with others.”
Thomas Aquinas, a renowned Catholic philosopher adopted a form of Aristotle’s idea of general justice. Eventually, the Catholic Church attempted to modernize Aristotle and Aquinas’ idea of general justice by calling it “social justice.”
The Catholic Church developed the term primarily to help explain justice in a modern society that was moving from farming to more complex forms of production and human interaction. As Michael Novak with the Heritage Foundation points out, Pope Leo XIII specifically slammed socialism and praised the natural differences in talents and abilities among human beings as beneficial to society.
Novak explains how, over time, progressives warped the term “social justice” to mean “equality” (redistribution of wealth and resources based on arithmetic, not individual production), the “common good” (determined by federal bureaucrats) and “compassion” (forced sharing).
Today, numerous pastors are preaching a version of social justice that is basically no different from socialism. I encourage Christians to exchange the convoluted idea of “social justice” for “capitalism.”
Katie further argues that if there is a God, He is a capitalist, not a socialist:
That said, one may not believe in any “god” and still claim to be rational. For example, one cannot believe that God condones socialism because socialism is inherently irrational and violates natural law, as I explained here.
Natural law (that which we know through reason alone) tells us that private property and freedom are inherent human rights. Aquinas writes in his Treatise on Law that all human laws must stem from natural law: “But if in any point it [human law] deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of the law.”
Jesus did not say: “Blessed are the wicked, for they shall obtain equal salvation.” Jesus did not tell Caesar: “Take 90 percent from the wealthy and redistribute it among the poor.” As I’ve written, Jesus’ own biblical teachings were capitalistic in nature. So, if you claim to be a rational Christian, you must admit that Jesus is a capitalist.
Her reference to Aquinas and Natural Law got me thinking about the Summa Theologica (written between 1265 and 1274) and the wisdom there. Why is Natural Law important? It is because it is the basis for the founding ideals of our nation is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…
If you want a good example of Socratic method and its application to reason and logic, there are worse places to start than with Aquinas. Here is the excerpt from Question 95: Human Law, Article 2:
Article 2. Whether every human law is derived from the natural law?
Objection 1. It would seem that not every human law is derived from the natural law. For the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 7) that “the legal just is that which originally was a matter ofindifference.” But those things which arise from the natural law are not matters of indifference. Therefore the enactments of human laws are not derived from the natural law.
Objection 2. Further, positive law is contrasted with natural law, as stated by Isidore (Etym. v, 4) and the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 7). But those things which flow as conclusions from the general principles of the natural law belong to the natural law, as stated above (Question 94, Article 4). Therefore that which is established by human law does not belong to the natural law.
Objection 3. Further, the law of nature is the same for all; since the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 7) that “the natural just is that which is equally valid everywhere.” If therefore human laws were derived from the natural law, it would follow that they too are the same for all: which is clearly false.
Objection 4. Further, it is possible to give a reason for things which are derived from the natural law. But “it is not possible to give the reason for all the legal enactments of the lawgivers,” as the jurist says [Pandect. Justin. lib. i, ff, tit. iii, v; De Leg. et Senat.]. Therefore not all human laws are derived from the natural law.
On the contrary, Tully says (Rhet. ii): “Things which emanated from nature and were approved by custom, were sanctioned by fear and reverence for the laws.”
I answer that, As Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5) “that which is not just seems to be no law at all”: wherefore the force of a law depends on the extent of its justice. Now in human affairs a thing is said to be just, from being right, according to the rule of reason. But the first rule of reason is the law of nature, as is clear from what has been stated above (91, 2, ad 2). Consequently every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature. But if in any point it deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law.
But it must be noted that something may be derived from the natural law in two ways: first, as a conclusion from premises, secondly, by way of determination of certain generalities. The first way is like to that by which, in sciences, demonstrated conclusions are drawn from the principles: while the second mode is likened to that whereby, in the arts, general forms are particularized as to details: thus the craftsman needs to determine the general form of a house to some particular shape. Some things are therefore derived from the general principles of the natural law, by way of conclusions; e.g. that “one must not kill” may be derived as a conclusion from the principle that “one should do harm to no man“: while some are derived therefrom by way of determination; e.g. the law of nature has it that the evil-doer should be punished; but that he be punished in this or that way, is a determination of the law of nature.
Accordingly both modes of derivation are found in the human law. But those things which are derived in the first way, are contained in human law not as emanating therefrom exclusively, but have some force from the natural law also. But those things which are derived in the second way, have no other force than that of human law.
Reply to Objection 2. This argument avails for those things that are derived from the natural law, by way of conclusions.
Reply to Objection 3. The general principles of the natural law cannot be applied to all men in the same way on account of the great variety of human affairs: and hence arises the diversity of positive laws among various people.
Reply to Objection 4. These words of the Jurist are to be understood as referring to decisions of rulers in determining particular points of the natural law: on which determinations the judgment of expert and prudent men is based as on its principles; in so far, to wit, as they see at once what is the best thing to decide.
Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vi, 11) that in such matters, “we ought to pay as much attention to the undemonstrated sayings and opinions of persons who surpass us in experience, age andprudence, as to their demonstrations.”