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 commonsense.

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

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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.

 

The Real Foundation of American Law: Natural Law

All Levels of Society Need Representative CharactersThere can be no doubt about the intention of the Founders regarding the basis of American law. America was founded upon a notion of all law subject to a higher law, that is, natural law.

While there was debate about the content of natural law circulating at the time, sociologist Ellis Sandoz notes that most legal authorities accepted the key text of Sir Edward Coke, the universal tutor of lawyers before the Revolution. Coke plainly and clearly defines this law:

Subscription11“The law of nature is that which God at the time of creation of the nature of man infused into his heart, for his preservation and direction; and this is the Lex aeterna, the moral law, called also the law of nature. And by this law, written with the finger of God in the Heart of man, were the people of God a long time governed before the law was written by Moses, who was the first reporter of the law in the world.”

Ellis Sandoz, A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding, (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge), p.158.

 

What Does An Organic Neighborhood Look Like?

Family_birthdayMany people ask what an organic society would look like. They want to know how and where people would live. They want concrete examples of neighborhoods and towns that embody the organic principles that are expounded in Return to Order.

They would be surprised to learn that some of these principles are still alive and well in America, although not well known. There is a whole school of housing design called the New Urbanism that highlights the need for neighborhoods that integrate and unify society. While this school does not have the full vision found in organic Christian society, it does provide concrete examples of organic housing and shows how it can be inexpensive, profitable and delightful.

One of the main proponents of the movement is Andres Duany, an architect who has actually built such housing projects successfully. During a presentation in San Antonio, Texas (see video below), he shows slides of what an organic arrangement of housing would be like. He calls us back to our tradition, highlighting places like a Georgetown neighborhood in the nation’s capital which offers a wide range of housing options all within a several block area. These various options unify people of different income levels, and facilitate the lives of those who need to work in the area. This diversity creates a sense of place that makes a community like this a delightful place to live and walk around in.

 

Such a housing arrangement is contrary to the suburban development that tends to group people of a single income level into houses that all look the same. Duany claims such arrangements are repetitive, redundant and not conducive to creating a sense of community. People inside must travel outside to work. Workers outside must travel inside to service these developments.

Duany believes that a real community must present numerous options where all can mix, work and interact together. He even says that it is very important to have extremely wealthy people or elites living in towns and communities. Towns with such upper class figures have culture, Duany says. Towns without them, do not, they are “dead ends.” These leading families living inside a community have the time and means to endow their towns with parks, museums, and cultural institutions. They are important components to an organic community that makes a town livable.

Subscription11Perhaps the most important thing about this school of architecture is that it shows that physically building an organic Christian society is possible. Architects like Duany, who has designed 300 projects based on organic principles, are proof that it can be done profitably. But that is only part of the solution.

As critics of the New Urbanism point out, it is one thing to build a physical site, it is quite another to form a community. The human element of relationships is essential for an organic neighborhood. Without this element, such development risk becoming artificial reproductions of the real thing. Much more important is the development of Catholic souls that are the inspiration for this housing. Souls imbued with the right principles yearn for an organic Christian order. When these souls arise, the buildings come almost as a natural consequence.

 

Protecting the Family from the Enemy Within

ACC_1955_058_12Many parents consider themselves satisfied if they succeed in shielding their children from the horrible influences outside the home. They also need to consider the bad influences and distractions that appear inside the bosom of the family home. Parents should give great attention to developing those warm relationships inside an atmosphere of intense affection.

Modern life tends to conspire against these relationships. All too often,Evan_Davis_at_the_Royal_Wedding,_Apr_2011 families live in the same house but fail to communicate. Family members bring inside the home, the frenetic pace, agitation and busy schedules that rule their lives outside the home.

Frequently, in the family’s fragmentation,” writes Dr. Peter Whybrow, “members retreat to their own interests — playing video games, watching television, writing e-mails, working on the computer, talking on the telephone — such that the house is no longer a home but a way station to another world.” (Peter C. Whybrow, American Mania: When More is Not Enough, W. W. Norton, New York, 2005, p. 242).

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Gone are the meals that should be eaten together. Spontaneous familyPS Kroyer activities like conversing, singing or entertaining are edged out by pursuits without any interaction. All the while, many parents live with the illusion that these shortcomings can be overcome by sharing “quality time” with their children. Such intervals often have neither quality nor time since everyone is caught up in their own heavy schedules.

Any return to order must have as a basis a return to family life. This must include the physical living together of father, mother and family members – already considered a great accomplishment in these days of divorce andSubscription11 single parenthood. However, it must especially consist of that spontaneous and natural interaction that unites all members in joy and sorrow and makes of the family an irreplaceable social unit for the survival of society.

 

From the Mail: Why Amazon?

Kindle_Fire_twitter_logoSeveral readers have asked why we allow Return to Order, the quintessential book denouncing frenetic intemperance, to be carried on Amazon and even use the firm as a means of distribution. It would seem a contradiction to utilize this frenzied company which also supports all sorts of liberal causes.

Indeed, Amazon embodies so much of the frenetic intemperance that upends markets. It has gobbled up competition relying upon its immense resources with a market share that borders on monopoly. The firm demands large discounts from publishers and insists that publishers not undercut their prices. It will frequently disregard cover prices, thereby depriving authors of their hard-earned gains. It is the site authors love to hate.

And so the question is why would we put Return to Order on Amazon. The first clarification is that most modern books cannot be taken off Amazon. The company has access to the large book distributors and would order the books from them directly  anyway upon perceiving there is demand for them. The publisher also cannot prevent the sale of used copies of their books that are carried on the Amazon site.  Like it or not, publishers are captive to the retail giant which has a market share of well over 50 percent of all books sold.

Not only does Amazon have a hold on a book’s selling but also in its promotion. Any authors who seek to get the word out about their works will watch helplessly as talk show host after talk show host refers audiences to Amazon. Book reviews will often carry the unsolicited notice that the book can be obtained on Amazon. Everyone sends interested parties to Amazon which takes a major cut of the profits. Many authors and publishers simply give up on competing and use the store as their primary distributor.

With this said, we can explain why Return to Order is carried by Amazon. While the book is listed with Amazon, we do not rely upon the giant as its main distributor. In fact, the campaign to distribute the book uses every possible means to circumvent the company. Of the nearly 13,000 hard-bound copies sold thus far, less than 1.75 percent were sold by Amazon. All the others were sold using traditional means and hard work such as personal contacts, website sales, signings and event tables. We recognize that Amazon serves as a source of free advertising for the book since readers have posted scores of favorable and unsolicited reviews on its site. In other words, the sales on Amazon amount to little more than those sales that would normally appear for a book of this great scope with or without the cooperation of the publisher.

The second question is why does the Return to Order campaign promote a Kindle version of the book on Amazon. As is well known, the market for e-books is rapidly expanding. Again Amazon’s Kindle has a huge part of market share—close to 80 percent. Granted, there are a few much smaller alternatives, but the most significant e-book format is Kindle.

Here too though, very few Kindle copies of Return to Order were sold. Of the nearly 7,000Subscription11 e-copies out there, the vast majority (94%) were distributed free of charge to interested parties. As a promotion tool, Amazon allows publishers a limited number of days per quarter in which they can offer the book free to readers as a means to create buzz around a book. We have used this option aggressively. In other words, the Return to Order campaign, which seeks the maximum distribution of its ideas, uses the vast Amazon network as a free distribution channel for thousands of Kindle copies. Moreover, this service allows the campaign to send Return to Order e-books to all parts of the world which would never have access to the book were it not for the e-format and the free offer—and not a penny is added to Amazon’s deep coffers.

Given the fact that books cannot get away from Amazon, our goal is to use Amazon and not be used by it. We are doing just that.

From the Mail: How Do You Prepare for the Storm?

Sinking_of_Battleship_Bouvet_at_the_Dardanelles-Tahsin_BeyOne of the major presuppositions of the book, Return to Order, is that we are facing a crisis that will seriously affect the nation. To use the book’s opening metaphor, our situation is like that of a ship facing a threatening storm.

The natural tendency is to take measures and especially stock up on supplies. People sense the essential need to have some degree of self-sufficiency just in case something happens. Still others feel the need to withdraw from society in the hopes of avoiding the problem all together. Yet others are so overwhelmed by the vastness of the crisis or the threat of big government that they simply don’t know what to do. Several readers have asked if there is a Return to Order perspective on how to prepare for the storm.

Indeed, there is a perspective. As the book well notes, an organic Christian society is characterized by a “great tendency to develop and take care of one’s own, [and] results in an astonishing degree of self-sufficiency that filters up to all levels of society.” In medieval times, people not only amply provided for themselves, but safeguarded the future with stocks of food and necessities.

And so it is reasonable that people be materially prepared for the future especially when the storm clouds are dark. But is that the only thing that should be done to prepare for the storm? Is it the most important?

While it is natural for people to seek out self-sufficiency in times of crisis, they also tend to isolate themselves from others as a consequence. Such a preparation is not the best way to weather the storm. It is the equivalent of locking oneself in one of the ship’s cabins to wait out the storm while the whole ship is in danger of sinking.

The best preparation is be involved in the fight over which course the ship must take. It must involve working together with others, and not a me-against-the-world approach.

In the Culture War we are in, we might employ a military principle. Ours is a peaceful and legal fight for our values but it is analogous to that of a real war.

It is said that when new troops first come under fire, their first tendency is to scatter as they see their safety in flight. Such a tactic works to the advantage of the attackers who then can pick off the isolated soldiers.

However, when veteran troops come under fire, their second nature is to unite in a block tosoldiers-1002_640 fire back at the enemy because they realize their safety lies in a united front against the enemy. As a result, they can counter-attack as a unit and carry the day.

The fight for a Return to Order is similar. Rather than scatter and isolate ourselves against an aggressive and hostile culture, it is much better to look for others of similar mind, defy the culture and find our strength in unity.

That is why Return to Order speaks of the principle of subsidiarity in which society organizes itself at various levels contrary to the extreme individualism of our times. The book notes that the only real defense against big government or chaos are plenty of intermediary associations centered on family, community and faith. It stresses the need for “representative characters” or natural leaders at all levels of society to step up to the plate and make us a nation of heroes. Above all, a Return to Order enlists the aid of God, His angels and His saints. A go-at-it alone approach simply will not work.

If those who work so hard materially preparing for dark times could also prepare socially and spiritually, then there is a chance that we might avert many disasters or at least mitigate their effects. The course of the nation is far from predetermined. In fact, sociologists claim that conservatives are much more effective at forming close networks than their liberal counterparts.

And so in answer to the question of preparing for the storm, we should be reasonablySubscription8.11 prepared materially for the future. However, the best preparation for the storm is unite with others of similar mind, strive to implement subsidiarity, leadership, and the other principles of an organic Christian society, place unlimited confidence in God, and stand our ground, disputing inch by inch the future of America.