The Dangers of Speculation

The Dangers of SpeculationSpeculation on the market has always been dangerous business for the uninformed. Edward Chancellor writes about the activities of nineteenth century speculator Daniel Drew who manipulated the market with great ability.

Chancellor writes that, “Male or female, rich or poor, healthy or infirm, the vast majority of speculators were necessarily outsiders, mere fodder for the great operators. It was a saying of the drover [Daniel] Drew that “anyone who plays the stock market not as an insider is like a man buying cows in the moonlight.”

(Edward Chancellor, Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation, Plume, New York, p. 167)




When Craftsmanship Prevailed

How_should_we_ProductsThe idea of craftsmanship has long languished as the standard of quantity has prevailed. Products are more often judged by how many can be produced in a given time rather than the quality of the product and the excellence of the skills employed.

Sociologist Richard Weaver writes that it was the concept of perfect Subscription1.1execution of skills in production “that gave zest to labor and served to measure the degree of success. To the extent that the concept obtained, there was a teleology in work, since the laborer toiled not merely to win sustenance but to see this ideal embodied in his creation. Pride in craftsmanship is well explained by saying that to labor is to pray, for conscientious effort to realize an ideal is a kind of fidelity. The craftsman of old did not hurry, because the perfect takes no account of time and shoddy work is a reproach to character. But character itself is an expression of self-control, which does not come of taking the easiest way. (Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, p. 73.)



How Social Bonds Drives Markets

800px-Mercato_del_pesce_a_MilanoIt is commonly thought that advertising is the key to creating demand. While advertising does make known the availability of products, it is often not the reason why people buy. People tend to buy from people.

Sociologist David Halpern notes that social networks are very important in driving markets:

Subscription11Even in the high-tech world of e-based world markets, it remains the case that most business continues to be channeled not just by price signals but by social networks. People tend to buy from and do deals with those that they know, be they farmers or city financiers, and the business lunch remains as ubiquitous today as ever. Today’s market is high-tech, but still ‘high touch.’” (David Halpern, Social Capital, Polity Press: Cambridge, 2005, p. 51.)



Why the State Cannot Substitute the Family

Happy_family_(1) copyThe State can never substitute the family especially in the formation of children. Sociologist Carle Zimmerman notes that “the parent who prevents a baby from swallowing a safety pin, keeps him from high places, warns a child daily about crossing the street” and other protective functions, “does more protecting of a family member than the whole police force of the United States does altogether for the child in its entire pre-adult life.”

In a similar way, the parent who keeps the child away from “scalding water, matches, electrical circuits, stoves (wood, gas, and electric), and fireplaces” does more to safeguard him from danger than the local fire department.

Indeed, he concludes that the “religious and moral attitudes and behavior Subscription11of the parents, still have ten times more influence upon the value behavior of the young than all the other ‘moral’ agencies put together” (Carle C. Zimmerman, Family and Civilization, ISI Books, Wilmington, Del., 2008, p. 196).


Wisdom: the Highest Cause of Things

Freedom Is Not ChoiceExcerpt from the talk, “Wisdom: The Foundation of an Organic Christian Society” given by John Horvat II at the 2013 TFP National Conference on October 26, 2013

As I said before, wisdom is to know the highest cause. I like very much the explanation of wisdom of German philosopher Josef Pieper. He says: “To know the highest cause,’ then, does not mean to know the cause of some particular thing, but to know the cause of everything and of all things: it means to know the ‘whither’ and the ‘whence,’ the origin and the end, the plan and the structure, the frame work and the meaning of reality.”1

And he has a point. We live in a hyper-specialized world where everyone knows more and more about less and less. That is why the specialist is not necessarily a wise man; he often lacks a vision of the whole. We have lost the notion of that the whole framework of a Christian order that explains the meaning of life together in society; that order of the universe that serves as the map to get us to our final goal of salvation which is why we are here in the first place.

In this sense, the book, Return to Order: From Frenzied Economy to Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go is all about wisdom. It comes naturally to the book.

When you think of return, return insinuates causes. You are turning back to something that came before. You are retracing your steps to find a cause, which will provide a solution.

Order also speaks to us of wisdom. Order insinuates intelligent design built into the nature of things. Somebody organized a “plan and structure.” There is an efficient cause with an original intent. When you think of order, you think of a whole framework. When I say a room is in order; it means everything is where it should be.

Subscription5.2And so from the perspective of the book, Revolution and Counter-revolution by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, we need to return to order because the Revolution has destroyed Christian civilization; it has scrambled everything all up and made a real mess of things. Our noble purpose is to put this order back together; to reconstruct the map, to carry out a Counter-revolution.

1 Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, (New York: The New American Library, 1963), p. 110.

Why Private Property Is Needed

745px-Josef_Kinzel_Abendläuten_1903The need for private property is hardly a mystery. From time immemorial, property has existed and can be justified by simple common sense.

Aristotle gives four such reasons that can be applied to both his times and our own. We quote from economic historian Odd Langholm who summarizes these four reasons:

First, if property is commonly owned, “complaints are bound to arise between those who enjoy or take much but work little and those who take less but work more.” Secondly, private property will be taken better care of “because each will apply himself to it as to private business of his own.” Thirdly, to know that a thing is one’s own is pleasurable. Fourthly, the exercise of liberality requires private property.1


These reasons come from human nature and are valid for all times and peoples. It is all so simple and yet so true…

1 Odd Langholm, Economics in the Medieval Schools: Wealth, Exchange, Value, Money and Usury According to the Paris Theological Tradition 1200-1350, (Leiden: E.J. Brill), 1992, p. 172.

A Biblical Reference for Organic Society

biblicalA true organic society is based on the idea that society works in a manner similar to the body. The more developed we become, the more our social nature impels us to seek our perfection in association with others, to help and be helped by others. An organic society is a true society oriented towards a common good and not just a mere collection of individual wills. The common good involves the welfare of the whole of society while allowing each person and group to achieve its own perfection and individuality.

This relationship between members of society is wonderfully expressed by Saint Paul (I Corinthians, 12:14-26) who uses the analogy of the members of the body to explain the unity that should exist in society:

Subscription8.11“For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say: Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body: Is it therefore not of the Body? And if the ear should say: Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: Is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God hath set the members, every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased him. And if they all were one member, where would be the body?  But now there are many members indeed, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help. Nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you. Yea, much, more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body are more necessary. And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour and those that are our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour. That there might be no schism in the body: but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.”

New Video: A Look at Return to Order

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 5.21.32 PMAn exciting new video has just been released that gives an in depth explanation of 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. The April 2 release provides extensive interviews with author John Horvat II, who explains how the book was written and the major concepts that it contains. There are also insightful interviews of readers of the book who recount how the book has impacted their lives.

The video is part of the Return to Order Campaign, a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP).

Death by Regulation

Death_by_RegulationsSome people wonder why it is so hard to do business in America.


One reason is the massive wave of regulation that has engulfed many industries over the last few years. One prime example is the 848-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of July 2010 (also called the Dodd-Frank Act). It is estimated that provisions of the act will eventually generated some 30,000 pages of regulations. The act required its regulators to create new 243 rules, conduct 67 studies and issue some 22 periodic reports.


There is also Obamacare which itself will generate some 20,000 pages of regulations, many of which American employers will have apply to an increasingly overburdened workplace.


Ten Ways to Avoid Frenetic Intemperance

Friston_The_Toy_SellerIn 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, we speak of an impending economic crisis to be caused by what we call “frenetic intemperance.”

Frenetic intemperance can be defined as a restless spirit inside certain sectors of modern economy that foments a drive inside men to throw off legitimate restraints and gratify disordered passions. It is not a specifically economic problem but a moral and psychological vice that manifests itself everywhere in modern economy.

Like any vice, frenetic intemperance can be avoided on a personal level. Here are some suggestions on how this might be done.

1. Avoid speculative investments that promise huge return on investment in little time. Such offers usually do not deliver what they promise and always feed frenetic desires that create anxiety and stress.

2. Stay away from business relationships that are cold and mechanical. Treat workers like family. Respect those for whom you work.

3. Avoid trendy business gurus and books that call for radical changes that will “revolutionize” a company or keep people in a constant state of change.

4. Do not have work schedules that are inhuman and stressful. Learn to appreciate leisure.

5. Avoid compulsive buying especially during those sales frenzies around the holidays.

6. Shun the overuse of credit cards and especially the temptation to pay only the minimal monthly amount.

7. Learn not to have everything right now. The culture of instant gratification creates a frenzied lifestyle – and economy.

8. Do not take as role models those who have money as the central axis of their lives. Admire character not a person’s bottom line.

9. Resist the temptation of seeing only quantity and cheapness. Learn to appreciate the beauty of quality and good taste.

10. Avoid lavish display, especially of fancy Subscription8.11gadgetry that leads to a desire to keep up with the e-Jones with the latest version.

To learn what defines an organic Christian society, please see the article “Ten Outstanding Traits of Organic Christian Society.”

For more ideas on what frenetic intemperance is, please see the article “Frenetic Intemperance: How a Single Vice Throws Economy and Society Out of Balance.”

Can you suggest more ways to avoid frenetic intemperance? Please comment on the Join the Debate page.