Unenlightened Enlightenment Thought

ahume00001p1David Hume (1711-1776) exercised a great influence on the formation of the modern mind. However, his “enlightened” views that were part of the Enlightenment had dark consequences. He paved the way for the present moral relativism with his idea that man is more a creature of sensitive and practical sentiment than of reason.

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The Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist famously wrote, “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

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To Send A Package, Just Ask a Priest.

ship_a_packageAs I traveled up the interstate toward Washington, D.C., my colleague suddenly realized that he had left some items behind in the hotel room where we had stayed. It was too late to return to the place, but he really wanted the items back.

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“Just ask!” was the motto on the hotel brochure. It was a reassuring invitation that this hotel was different from others, and would surely make that extra effort to help us out. It was a matter of just asking.

My colleague called the receptionist at the desk to ask if the items had been left behind and he confirmed that the items were indeed there. It was now the time to “just ask.” Credit card in hand, he asked the receptionist if he might package them up and send them back. Certainly this kind of thing happens all the time.

“No, we don’t do that,” was the reply. “You will have to arrange the whole matter with UPS or some other service.”

My colleague asked if he might at least package the items up, but was told that he could not do it. We would have to arrange the packaging as well.

The next calls were to two parcel services to try to arrange a pickup. The first call was immediately routed to an answering machine that listed all the options. Since no option seemed to fit our special need, my friend asked for a real live operator to explain his unique problem and find a solution.

“Just ask!” also did not seem to work here. My increasingly exasperated colleague was asked if the items were in a package, which again seemed to be an insurmountable problem. He was then told that the operator could not initiate a pickup and that he would need to visit the website and generate a label for the driver to pick up his still unpackaged items.

He was further informed that generating a label would require the use of an established account which he did not have. Without a package, a label or an account, my colleague hung up. There was really nothing we could do.

He called another service and found the same restrictions applied. We simply did not fit into the system. His items seemed to be lost forever.

Such a dilemma is indicative of the impersonal nature of business in many areas of our economy. There is a cold, machine-like system in place where the essential human element is left out. It is part of what I call the “frenetic intemperance” of our times where everything must be done instantly without regard for those complicated relationships that are part of commerce and culture. People simply don’t want to get involved in such things. That normal desire to help others is somehow suppressed in the quest for efficiency.

In our plight to get the items back, we started to look at other, more human options. Suddenly, it occurred to us that we might ask someone we knew to help us.

The night before leaving we had met with a priest at an event we were attending at his parish. We had not known him before, but we were impressed by his solicitude for us. We had no doubt that this was a way out. When you need help, call a priest. Just ask….

Father answered the phone and was glad to hear from us. He had no difficulty in resolving our problem. He handed the phone to his secretary and asked her to solve a problem which mega mailing operations and our hotel could not. The secretary happened to live right next to the hotel. She offered to stop by, package the items, and send them by mail to the address indicated. My colleague received the items in good order and took note of the $10.15 shipping cost, which did not include the price of the box itself. He also noticed there was no bill inside.Subscription5.1

It seemed so simple. The human element was there. And the supernatural element of Christian charity that would have us do unto others what we would want done to us was there as well. Such charity and solicitude is what is missing in our self-absorbed culture. We need to return to an order where we can resolve our problems with a simple “just ask.”

No Professor Left Behind

College_18_College_classroom I recently had the opportunity to guest lecture for an American Government class at a private Midwestern college. My friend who teaches the class invited me to share some insights about political theory. While I have taught classes to select groups of motivated students, I was ill prepared for the harrowing experience of addressing the ordinary university student.

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The 25 or so students entered into the classroom and plopped into their seats. I immediately tried my best to connect with them by explaining some basic concepts of government and law. It proved very difficult since most of the students, although polite, were simply not interested in the topic. Some three or four students carried on the class discussion. I thought I had failed miserably until my friend later commented that he was pleased to see how much interest the class had generated.

My experience was hardly unique.

I have spoken with other professors who have had similar experiences. There may be a few fine students who really do want to learn and are highly motivated, but there are also many students who simply don’t want to be in their classes. They are there because they are required to be there to graduate. Moreover, many students feel a university degree is a kind of entitlement that they have the right to claim despite their performance in the classroom.

Anyone who is involved in education will acknowledge the mechanical nature of the modern education process. The university is often focused on granting even more degrees, securing larger enrollments or raising massive funds. This can lead to the lowering of standards or overlooking problems like cheating and plagiarism in order to keep enrollment numbers high, so as to keep federal funds flowing.

As a result, something very important has been lost in higher education. In our efforts to leave no child behind, we are leaving teachers and professors behind. We are turning our professors into mere monitors of testable information rather than mentors who guide their students to develop character and wisdom. We are asking them to conform to politically correct agendas, instead of giving students a vision of society based on reality and a notion of truth. Professors cannot advance in the practice of doing that which they should be doing: real teaching. They are being left behind.

It is an example of what I call the “frenetic intemperance” of our times where the higher purposes of education are left behind and the concrete results of numbers are highlighted as success. It involves sending people to college for the sake of going to college.

What is particularly tragic about this whole mentality is the obsessive idea that more is better. Those who hold this view believe that if students with degrees earn more than those without, then all students must be granted degrees, any degree, regardless of their abilities or debts contracted.

The recent proposal to grant all students two “free” years of community college is an example of this numbers mindset. It does not get to the core of the matter. Rather, the proposal will end up filling more classrooms with “students” who really don’t want to be there. It will occupy more professors with processing, not teaching, students. It will saddle taxpayers with the bill to pay for the “free” education that fails to educate.

Higher education should be for students who want to be there. It should be for those who Subscription13have a passion for the subjects for which they study. Contrary to so many who now enter the university system, students should have a clear notion of what they are going to do with their degrees…and how they are going to pay for them.

Higher education should also be for professors who want to profess, not monitor. They should be free to communicate their passion for study, knowledge and truth to their students. In our folly, to push students ahead, we must not leave our professors behind.

As seen on, TheBlaze.com

‘Return to Order’ Enters Second Printing

rto-smallCHANDLER, AZ (Feb. 18, 2015) – With the first-edition supply of Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society depleted, a second printing of 20,000 hardcover copies is almost complete. The highly lauded book centered-on providing solutions to address the nation’s social and economic chaos has earned nine awards and sold more than 30,000 copies to date, while continuing to receive accolades.

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“A clear indictment of our mad rush to obtain more and more stuff, regardless of the cost to society, or families, and even ourselves. While the book’s central argument will make more sense to someone who has a background in Christian theology, this book is also of value to anyone who sees the inherent problems in a culture whose only tenets appears to be, “MORE!” and “NOW!” said one reviewer in Dec. 2014 on Amazon.com.

Return to Order has received dozens of endorsements from leading academic, political, military and religious leaders, with numerous readers describing author John Horvat II as one of America’s great thinkers.

“Anyone who considers the ongoing public debate as superficial… should study Mr. Horvat’s Return to Order. It is to be hoped that this book reaches a large reading public and will have an impact on public policy, theoretical debates and personal decisions alike,” said Gregor Hochreiter, former director of the Institute of Applied Economics and Western Christian Philosophy in Vienna, Austria.

Horvat draws from our nation’s rich Christian past and 20 years of research to explain the correlation between the economy, faith and moral values in Return to Order. Without relying on statistics, formulas and economic indicators, he shows how society’s obsession for a secular, materialistic culture is causing social and psychological emptiness and economic ruin.

“All of these dynamic elements—church, community, family and private property—form an invaluable human infrastructure that actually provides the moral capital, psychological health and stability upon which even our modern economies must be built,” writes Horvat.

Return to Order ranked number one on Amazon/Kindle in four countries and also has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon.

“I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it for everyone who cares about our society going down the tubes, both financially and morally,” wrote Lantana Al, Amazon top 500 reviewer.

Horvat, who is also vice president of The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), continues sharing his message in 2015, speaking to groups across the country. He has given presentations in more than 60 American cities as well as in Europe and has participated in more than 200 media interviews since Return to Order was first released in 2013. Horvat has also published hundreds of articles that have appeared worldwide, including in The Wall Street Journal, FOX News, The Christian Post, The Washington Times, ABC News, C-SPAN, American Thinker, Spero News and TheBlaze.com.

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 is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0988214804; 400 pages $21.95 U.S.), and eBook (ASIN: B00B5HED8W $4.95). Both can be purchased at www.returntoorder.org. For more information or to request an interview with Horvat, please call Linda F. Radke at 480-940-8182, or email fivestarpublications@gmail.com.

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Adam Smith Did Not Invent Economics

402px-AdamSmithContrary to the popular myth, the science of economics was not invented by Adam Smith. We can find the early foundations of economics in the writings of medieval figures like Saint Bernardine, Saint Antoninus, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and other early Scholastics.

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They prepared the way for Spain’s School of Salamanca (1500-1650), which began to shape such “conceptual milestones as the subjective theory of utility, the quantity theory of money, opportunity cost, and liquidity preference” in terms often clearer than those of the modern economists who followed them.(1)

That is to say, many elementary economic principles claimed as modern can be traced back to medieval or Scholastic times. As economic historian Raymond de Roover points out, Adam Smith’s “‘thunderous broadside’ against monopolies can be traced back to Aristotle and Roman law, and especially to the Middle Ages when a theory of monopoly was truly formulated. The Schoolmen’s aversion to monopoly hinges on their doctrine of just price.”(2)

Taken from 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, p. 136.
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1 Julius Kirshner, ed., Business, Banking and Economic Thought in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Selected Studies of Raymond de Roover (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), 20.

2 Ibid., 21. It should be noted that Adam Smith acknowledges no such sources although the ancient condemnation of monopolies was the common heritage of Western civilization and widely taught in his time.

When People Don’t Believe in the Soul…

20141011_191700Perhaps one of the most harmful practices of today’s secular society is its turning away from concerns for the soul. The focus has shifted to this world and not the next.

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When people believed in the immortal soul, they sought after moral virtues and transcendental values whereby they might satisfy spiritual desires, and reach the goal of sanctity and salvation.

But when secular materialism came to dominate society, the spiritual side of man was effectively neglected and all efforts were concentrated on acquiring material happiness.

This change of focus merely took spiritual desires and applied them to material objects. Indeed, when people cease to believe in the soul or its equivalent, they turn to the perfection of the body as a substitute. That is why people have an obsession for the body and the image they wish it to convey.

It is, however, a futile search for perfection, since the body is mortal and progressively Subscription14decays. Materialism itself promotes unhealthy habits and a wide range of products that work against the discipline of maintaining the body in shape. The inevitable failure to reach perfect bodily satisfaction helps explain the sadness and depression of many whose expectations for bodily perfection are frustrated. It is one more sign that men have abandoned the soul to their own peril.

Experiences From a South Carolina Book Tour of Return to Order

_DSC9112Charleston is a special city that draws people in and makes itself loved. There is an appreciation of beauty and taste that lingers and captivates the visitor.

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When invited to speak in the city, I was struck by how well the message of my book, Return to Order, resonated with the culture. It was a natural fit for a book signing.

As part of a mid-February book tour, I traveled with fellow author, Norman Fulkerson,who wrote the book, An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC. Together we held several double signings since the two books naturally complement each other. The special focus of the tour was centered on the role of honor, authority and leadership as an essential part of any return to order.

The Citadel, the city’s famous public university in a cadet military setting, was one of the _DSC9075highlights of the tour. The school embodies order and honor found in its regimented program and highly motivated cadets. We were honored to speak to some 500 cadets of the school’s large Republican Club during _DSC9105lunch break. Even the lunch was not without its regimented aspects, as cadets ate their lunches quickly during the meeting, and rushed out to make it to their afternoon classes after a brief signing session.

A high point of the afternoon was viewing the Friday parade, a military review with some _DSC9137maneuvers dating back to the Crusades and others to Revolutionary War times.

Its renowned pipe and brass band played, while the Citadel’s 2,300 cadets were drilled, paraded and reviewed before the school’s Commandant Eugene F. Paluso.

Another opportunity to know Charleston was a sidewalk book signing on King Street in front of the Pauline Book and Media Center. At such a location, we came in direct contact with the public and experienced the warmth of constantly greeting passersby who were friendly, whether interested in the books or not. It was unlike those busy cities where a book table would be ignored as though it did not exist.

It is always that cordial human element that makes Charleston so delightful and charming. It is the organic development of the city that puts it outside the box and gives it that originality and character for which it is famous.

Yet another signing took place in nearby Columbia, the state capital. We were the guests Subscription6of the dynamic St. Thomas More Catholic Center at the University of South Carolina. The presentation of the two books provoked a lively and excellent discussion, which showed that the themes of honor and leadership resonate well among our youth.

The second South Carolina tour of Return to Order was a wonderful opportunity to spread the ideas of the book and influence the debate over the nation’s future.

Read about the last book tour in South Carolina here:

Return to Order in Charleston

My “Return to Order Moment” in Charleston

To schedule a talk about Return to Order in your area, write to: jh1908@aol.com

The World Is Not Flat

the_worl_is_not_flatThere is an impatient restlessness inside our globalized economy that is constantly tearing down and building anew. This particular aspect of the economy is like an unstoppable machine that runs over all obstacles. To resist is considered futile.

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Such views are often expressed in major liberal newspapers where economic dogmas are affirmed (and discarded) almost with an air of infallibility. One such dogma is pronounced in the title of a bestselling book by The New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman: The World is Flat. His central thesis is that all trade barriers must be flattened, all processes maximized for efficiency, and whatever can be outsourced should be.

In Friedman’s flattened world we should celebrate each unstoppable impulse of the markets and every fiber optic cable that binds us together. It is a world of Thomas Hobbes’ “war of everyone against everyone.” Everyone competes with everyone—the assembly line workers in China, the software experts in India, engineers in Russia or Americans in general are all part of single global market. Anyone can displace another anytime and anywhere.

chinese_factoryFriedman gives the example of a Peruvian village that for centuries has made distinctive ceramic plates. He is ecstatic over the fact the Indians there have now outsourced the plates to China who ship it directly to the U.S. and other markets so that the Indians never have to touch another plate. These Indians may sell a lot of plates, but something human, something very personal has been taken out of their economy.

Perhaps that is the main problem with this concept of a flattened world; it takes something of the soul out of economy. In the process of flattening barriers it destroys those cultural and social supports that protect society from coming apart. Even Friedman himself is forced to admit the disruptive challenges that threaten the “particular cultures, values, national identities, democratic traditions, and bonds of restraint that have historically provided some protection and cushioning for workers and communities.”1

All of this is sacrificed in the name of free trade and competition. However, the problem with this flat-earth vision is that the only thing that is not flat is the playing field. Free trade and competition only really work and thrive when similar standards and fairness prevail everywhere.

But in a flattened world, frenzied production trumps everything. The prevailing doctrine is: If something can be produced cheaply somewhere, let it be done. As a result, many producers ignore the same standards of production that exist in the West and that make production more expensive. That is why, for example, the rivers of China have been turned into sewers and its air made toxic. That is why the substandard structures of textile factories in Bangladesh have come tumbling down with the loss of hundreds of lives. That is why so many businessmen tragically overlook basic human rights violations, political prisoner (slave) and child labor, unethical labor, manufacturing and trade practices, and regimes that persecute the Church. They have this disregard because they worship at the altar of this flat-earth doctrine. The playing field is far from level; it is downright lopsided.

Of course, not everyone subscribes to this flat-earth doctrine. In fact, a good portion of industry follows fair practices that allow modern economy to supply demand with great abundance. However, the sector that does follow this doctrine has a disproportionably great influence in the economy as a whole.

526152_10151219488120139_813022095_nIn my 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, I describe what I call frenetic intemperance. Frenetic intemperance is a reckless and restless spirit inside certain sectors of modern economy that leads us to throw off legitimate restraints, and gratify all desires. This moral defect creates an economy that is frenzied and out of balance. It creates a flat world.

This frenzied economy and a corresponding way of life ends up attacking economy’s natural immunity systems of family, community and Church that help defend society against intemperance and keep economy in balance.

That is why it is so important that we keep the economy within the framework of society in general. We should adopt a “round” approach that naturally restrains, while ensuring that markets and the economy and truly free. It also creates enormous variety and diversity inside markets and prevents mass standardization from turning consumers into the “masses.” It is this human touch that makes cultures and their corresponding economies so different, interesting and refreshing.

world_is_not_flatA round world is much more suited to our human nature, which is constantly calling for new products that satisfy individual needs and preferences beyond mass markets. No matter how hard we might try to flatten them out, they always seem to pop right back up.

Like our planet Earth, the world is not flat but round. We should celebrate its roundness.

 

1 Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Picador, 2005), 237.

Religion Inspires Scientific Progress

what_we_can_oYet more evidence that religion promoted and inspired scientific progress can be found in the lives of the actual scientists who helped establish modern science.

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Economic historian Lynn White Jr. reports that, “Every major scientist from about 1250 to about 1650, four hundred years during which our present scientific movement was taking form, considered himself also a theologian: Liebnitz and Newton are notable examples.

The importance to science of the religious devotion which these men gave their work cannot be exaggerated” (Lynn White Jr., Machina Ex Deo: Essays in the Dynamism of Western Culture, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1968, p. 101).

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When Life Is Organized Like Machines

chinese_factoryWe note that technology does not refer only to the machines and computers that make up our industry. It also refers to those identical methods, procedures, and practices that men employ equally upon others and in this way imitates the action of efficient machines. This can be seen in the development of bureaucracy, teaching methods, advertising, and public relations practices. All these techniques tend to imitate the processes of a machine or computer.

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We, in our turn, tend to organize our own lives into machine-like techniques and processes. “It would be a major error to limit technology to mere machinery and to material culture as such,” warns sociologist Robert Nisbet. “Technology is no less present in rationalized, efficiency-oriented structures of organization in education, entertainment, and government than it is in the churches of our day, and even in family life.”1

The family, for example, often delegates its functions to experts outside the family and home who provide uniform child-care, education, entertainment, and counseling to its members.

Today there is no field of human action that in some aspects is not modified in such a way as to impel men to act like a machine or computer. Inside these systems, all must be simplified, planned, and engineered to adapt to the machine and subsequently minimize individuality and maximize efficiency. In our turn-key franchises, for example, every procedure is planned out in detail to ensure “discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine, consistency, and methodical operation.”2 In such a regime, the individual is reduced to a depersonalized “unit” to be inserted, replaced, and deleted at will in the industrial processes.

Subscription1.1An Excerpt from 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.

 

1 Robert A. Nisbet, The Social Bond: An Introduction to the Study of Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 245.

2 Ritzer, McDonaldization of Society, 97.