It is always easier to criticize than to propose solutions. In the book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go, modern economy is criticized, but the greater part of the text deals with a remedy.
Our proposal is simple and straightforward. We seek what we call an organic Christian society as the remedy that will lead to a balanced economy without frenetic intemperance. It might seem strange that we deliberately propose a society as a solution to an economic problem. However, we believe that economy should be embedded in a social order; that the two realities, social and economic, are united into one and become, so to speak, the two sides of one and the same coin.
When economy is seen in the context of society, it allows the natural restraining influence of human institutions such as customs, morals, family or community to calm markets and create social trust. Economy then becomes anchored in the true mooring of the cardinal virtues, which creates a climate of honesty that favors commerce and keeps markets free and fair.
Of course, it is not just any society that will provide this moderating influence upon economy. What we need is an organic society. We can define this organic society as a social order oriented toward the common good that is wonderfully adapted to the full development of our human nature and our life in community. It is termed “organic” because this order does not treat people like cogs in a machine but as living and unique human beings that are complex and nuanced as all things living.
An organic socio-economic order takes into consideration life’s spontaneity, unpredictability and creativity. Return to Order presents and celebrates organic society and its corresponding economy as a refreshing contrast to modern economy. Organic society is full of vitality and moods; nuance and meaning; poetry and passion. At the same time, an organic economy is full of dynamism and capable of great production. In fact, such a social order is so important that we do not hesitate to call it the heart and soul of an economy.
To the adjective organic, we add the august adjective Christian. An organic order cannot be reduced to a natural manner of organizing society. It must be founded upon Christian virtue if it is to promote fully the common good. When virtues—especially the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance—are practiced in an organic society, everything enters into a proper balance and rhythm because each acts in accordance with his nature. This is the foundation for true order and also the true progress and prosperity that is so needed today.
We must stress that this Christian order extends beyond the mere practice of virtue since it takes into account the reality of our fallen nature. It adapts well to both the sufferings and joys that this vale of tears affords. Indeed, the Christian organic society is born under the constant shadow of the Cross which teaches us how to handle life’s vicissitudes with patience and hope. It must have Christ as Divine model and teacher.
Return to Order deals with many other aspects of this organic Christian society. We discuss its ordering principles such as subsidiarity, solidarity and authority. Institutions like the family, the Christian State and the Church all form part of this order. The book describes an economy based on prudence and justice, naturally regulated by temperance, and crowned with charity. All these elements point to a framework of tested and timeless principles to which we might return.
In the face of the present crisis, we need refreshing remedies like those offered by an organic Christian society. These possibilities can be explored by reading the book, Return to Order.